Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Did the Iraq Surge finger Sunni insurgents for Maliki and his allies?

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, ...

Iraqi Prime Minister Office via Getty Images
Iraqi Prime Minister Office via Getty Images

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."

On Saturday, the Iraqi army shelled Fallujah. It looks like it and Ramadi are going back into the hands of al Qaeda.

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."

On Saturday, the Iraqi army shelled Fallujah. It looks like it and Ramadi are going back into the hands of al Qaeda.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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