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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shiite Control Raises Tensions with Sunni Groups

How does the Shiite Government consolidate the use of force without abandoning Sunni groups that have been instrumental in establishing order in Iraq?

That is the central question facing leaders in Iraq as they go forward in attempting to build a government inside of Iraq. Looking forward, if the government is to establish itself it must be sure to gain legitimacy with both Sunni and Shi'a. As the government continues to consolidate power one central goal must be to find work for unneeded security forces. As quoted in The Washington Post article:

The big issue that concerns us is what happens if the government drops the ball and stops paying these guys," said Capt. Parsana Deoki, 32, of New York. "You'd have up to 400 SOI without jobs, without an income. That presents a problem. They have military training and access to weapons -- unemployed, with weapons, young men with an established chain of command. You can fill in the blanks."

This paragraph illuminates the danger of neglecting these groups once they've outgrown their perceived usefulness and later on the article explains why letting these Sunni groups let loose is so alarming - their ability to gather intelligence. From The Washington Post:

U.S. soldiers see Sons of Iraq leaders as extraordinary sources of intelligence, but what makes them so attractive as allies -- their connections to the insurgency -- is also what makes the prospect of their dissolution so alarming.

So keeping these Sons of Iraq employed is paramount to the efforts of U.S. and Iraqi ground troops. Their presence as allies reminds me of the natives v.s. tourists question that often arises in economic questions. Essentially the difference between the Sunni groups (natives) and the Tourists (Coalition forces) is information. Natives have more information than tourists. They know everyone in town, the good restaurants, and how much you should be paying for goods and services. Tourists, on the other hand, have little information and therefore pay more for goods and services because they don't know any better.

Since the surge, the U.S. and Iraqi government forces have bought their way around this problem - paying the natives for information. What will the natives do once the tourists are no longer willing to pay? The answer to that question is critical.

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