- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2007

The enemies of America’s enemies in Iraq Before we let Sens. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, and George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican, write off the war in Iraq (“GOP doubts on war widen,” Page 1, Wednesday), let’s consider some positive “blowback.”

While it is true that the U.S. is no longer “invulnerable” because of our geographic advantages (e.g., surrounded by water or allies), as demonstrated on September 11, we are allowing the true “war of civilizations,” i.e., within Islam, to blossom in Iraq. And this may erect a major distraction among — if not a barrier from — our adversaries.

Consider this:

Sunni tribal leaders and warlords and their militias in Anbar province and elsewhere are tentatively “allied” with our forces against their Sunni brethren, al Qaeda in Iraq. There are other Sunni splinter groups, such as the Islamic Army in Iraq, who are battling al Qaeda in Iraq as well.

Shi’ites are fighting Shi’ites: Moqtada al Sadr, who supports Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Sheikh Sadr’s Mahdi Army, are fighting internal as well as external opposition Shi’ite militias. These militias may be sponsored by Iran, such as the Badr Brigade militia under ailing Abdul Aziz Hakim’s Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), who is also supported by the United States. Sheikh Sadr meanwhile may have recently returned from Iran (go figure) and by the way is also wooing Sunnis.

And Sunnis and Shi’ites are also, of course, fighting each other.

So, the war in Iraq has divided what were allies, and splintered what were relatively cohesive, and, in many cases, anti-Western, groupings. This war includes often solipsistic rules against our way of life, for example the religious dogma circumscribing clothing and other cultural statements to exclude Western influence.

Antagonisms among groups that were always adversaries are exacerbated on the one hand, and courted on the other.

The more warring groups focus against each other, the less energy they have to focus against us and our allies around the world. So, the cauldron that we stirred up is redounding against our multiple adversaries.

Mr. Lugar feels we risk a “wider regional conflict stimulated by Sunni-Shi’ite tensions,” if we withdraw. Perhaps we should split the differences, start to retrench presaging phased withdrawal, and watch the “enemies of our enemies” and even the friends of our enemies in these internal contradictions go at it.

ONA M. BUNCE

Bethesda

Deception in Castro’s Cuba

A regional briefing (World, Tuesday) stated that economic reform is being considered by the Cuban government because of an increase in survey activity, instigated by the shift in power from the weakened Fidel Castro to his younger brother, Raul.

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