- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
Almost every day, it seems, Aswat al-Iraq carries news stories about former members of the Sahwa movement (the Sunni insurgents who were put on the American payroll but not disarmed during the Surge of 2007-08) getting whacked:
Interior Ministry sources reported the killing of ex-pro-government Sahwa (Awakening) member by unknown gunmen in Abu Ghraib area, west Baghdad.
The source told Aswat al-Iraq that the gunmen stormed into the deceased house and killed him with his family.
The family comprised of two women and two children.
Tom again: This pattern of killings makes me wonder if the Surge effectively surfaced and identified the local leadership network of Sunni insurgents, and whether that knowledge is now being used by Prime Minister Maliki and his allies in the low-grade civil war that has resumed in central Iraq.
If so, did the Americans "let a hundred flowers bloom" — and so create the conditions for the harvesting of those Sunni flowers? By so doing, did we enable a quiet Iranian offensive inside Iraq? If so, I suspect that we did not, in Maoist terms, correctly "handle the contradictions among the people."
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and of the Project on Middle East Political Science. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He is the author of The Arab Uprising (March 2012, PublicAffairs).
He publishes frequently on the politics of the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Arab media and information technology, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and Islamist movements.| Marc Lynch |