1779 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
July 26, 2006
JINSA Report #589
In Another Vacuum
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq should be called to account for
comments quoted in various American publications that Israel is the
aggressor in the fight against Hezbollah. "The Israeli attacks and air
strikes are completely destroying Lebanon's infrastructure … I condemn
these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers' meeting
in Cairo to take quick action… We call on the world to take quick stands
to stop the Israeli aggression."
Interestingly, at the Arab League meeting, the Iraqi delegates joined
Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, the UAE and Bahrain in supporting the Saudi
Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal's denunciation of Hezbollah's,
"unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts." "These acts will
pull the whole region back to years ago, and we cannot simply accept
them," he told his counterparts.
We hope al-Maliki's remark was the product of a spasm, and has no
relation to his actual understanding of the role of militias and
terrorist organizations operating in areas where sovereign governments
fail to exercise sovereign control.
In northern Iraq, PKK terrorists have been engaging in continual
cross-border warfare against Turkey - most recently killing 14 Turkish
soldiers. Iraqi Kurdish officials (with a Kurdish militia) have declined
to take military action against the PKK, saying they want to bring the
organization into the political process - but have failed to do so.
Rather like Lebanon said about Hezbollah and Fatah said about Hamas. In
all cases, it is important to understand that terrorist groups don't
care about the political process, except to the extent that it provides
cover for terrorism.
The U.S. has warned Turkey against cross-border retaliation into Iraq,
but it is really hard to understand how Israel's fight is different from
Turkey's fight in this regard. Israel has little complaint with the
Government of Lebanon except that it did not exert its authority over
the terrorists operating within the country. Turkey has little complaint
with the Government of Iraq, except the same thing.
We are enormously grateful to the President and Secretary of State for
standing on the principle that Israel's actions in Lebanon are
self-defense and that a cease-fire should prevent a return to status quo
ante, and we even understand why U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson
could say, "We have repeatedly said that we believe that unilateral
military action across the border with Iraq would be unwise."
But what will the President say to Mr. al-Maliki? There are 130,000
American soldiers in Iraq to precisely help his government extend its
authority to all areas of the country and to wipe out militias,
terrorists and foreign fighters. If he can't understand the intersection
between our policy toward Iraq, toward Israel and toward Turkey, we
haven't been explaining ourselves very well. If we don't do a better
job, Mr. al-Maliki may find his country on the receiving end of a lesson
from Turkey that, while it might prove "unwise," will not be undeserved.
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