This has turned into a series of posts, and I beg our reader's indulgence while I continue to try and cover these events and provide any commentary I feel necessary. I warn you, this is a lengthy post - Colin
The situation in Iraq after the bombing of the Golden Mosque was as tense as Iraq has been since the January 30th, 2005 election, possibly even since the end of major combat operations in May, 2003. Ethnic tensions which had been building for many, many decades under Saddam and his Ba'athist thugs reached what I believe was a crescendo in the civil strife and sectarian violence following the destruction of the Golden Mosque. Tribal anarchy seemed just around the corner in Iraq, but cooler heads prevailed. There are villains in this situation, there are buffoons, and yes, there are heroes, too.
Moqtada al-Sadr is both a villain and a buffoon, and al-Zarqawi stands as the embodiment of evil in all of Southwestern Asia. Sadr's Mahdi Milita was taking advantage of the tense situation by attacking rival factions, sunni and shiite alike. All the while, Sadr was making overtures to sunni leaders by appearing with them publicly and praying with the members of powerful sunni groups. The Prime Minister of Iraq, Ibrahim Jaffari, is proving to the the embodiment of a buffoon. He makes no major statements to his people and refuses to be seen in public, acting as the leader of Iraq. He is not the person we were hoping to lead Iraq ahead after such a successful election in December. The Iraqi Police have also shown themselves to be buffoonish. They could not keep the peace in the streets, and in many cases did not even seem to try. Police training is an area that the Coalition needs to work on in the next year.
Luckily, there were may heroes in Iraq to counteract the buffoons and the villains. One hero is our Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. He is a man of courage and of vision. He is one of the main reasons this situation did not turn out any worse than it did. Working behind the scene, Amb. Khalilzad twisted the arms of the various political groups in Iraq and got them to sit down together and make a show of unity, which greatly aided in calming the nation down. On the Iraqi side, President Jalal Talibani is another person who could properly be described as a hero. Operating as the Iraqi President, a role which was originally intended to be largely ceremonial, President Talibani has become the voice of all Iraq, going beyond the narrow sectarian differences and reaching out to people from all areas of Iraq. Because of this, he has garnered a lot of trust from the Iraqi people and from other Iraqi politicians. He used this trust to call in actors from across the political spectrum and get them to sit down and agree to not act in a hasty manner, to direct their followers to calm down and not engage in violence, and tocome back to the table and continue establishing a new government. In short, he gave an Iraqi face to the demands and cajoling of Amb. Khalilzad. Much credit goes to the Iraqi people themselves, who once again proved the cynics wrong. Every setback we've seen since the fall of Baghdad was supposed to start a civil war, and every time the Iraqis weathered the setback and after a shor period of re-adjustment, went on with their lives. Their incredible resolve deserves to be recognized.Suspects and Motives behind this attack
The second part of this post has to do with possible perpetraitors of this attack, and their motives. Several groups are suspect in this attack, and they will be profiled here. Also, their possible motives will be analyzed.al Qaeda and aQ-affiliated Salafists
: In short, this means Zarqawi. Right now, Zarq is the top suspect, for both he and Zawahiri have announced that it is their goal to push Iraq into open civil war in order to drive the United States from the battlefield. From there, the plan is to take over Iraq and use it to launch a Caliphate engulfing the entire Middle East. Blowing up a religious shrine presents no problem to Zarq, for he sees the Shia as less than human, and the Golden Mosque was a Shiite holy site. Aside from motive, Zarq also has the expertise to carry something like this out. All of the major car-bombs and IEDs that go off in Iraq are coming from Zarqawi's aQ bomb-makers. Many of the IEDs show the kind of sophistication necessary to destroy a building the size of the Golden Mosque. He has conducted attacks of this size before, like when the fuel tanker truck blew up in Baghdad last year.
This explanation also has the advantage of being the simplest, most-likely and least conspiratorial. Although the world of intelligence and warfare is made up of deception and deceit, Occam's razor
still holds true: the easiest explanation is usually the correct one. Still, other possible culprits are out there and their motives deserved to be looked at.The Islamic Republic of Iran:
Iran is a belligerent power, trying to reach regional hegemony using its nuclear program. In doing this, it has found itself a pariah nation, shunned by a great number of the nations of the world. In response to this condition, Iran has given up trying to obtain respectibility and instead tries to engage the world by treachery and deceit. This means that Iran must secretly build up its client states in order to gain equality with the west on a balance-of-power basis. To do this, Iran tries to enlarge its sphere of influence to include not just Syria, but Iraq as well. For Iran to gain power in Iraq (at least in Southern Iraq, where the oil reserves are located), the country has to fall into civil war, like Lebanon did twenty-five years ago. Then Iran can use its intelligence apparatus and its covert military units to create a Hezbollah-like organization (or possibly Hezbollah itself) in the Shiite-dominated areas of Iraq, at which point Iran has de-facto control of Iraq, much like it did in Lebanon (through its client state, Syria, and its state-run terrorist organization, Hezbollah). To start this civil war, Iran would need to spark extreme sectarian violence. Attacking a revered Shiite holy shrine and seeing that the attack is blamed on sunnis would appear to be a provocative-enough move. This is the theory people suspecting Iranian involvement have adopted. It is currently being called the "Reichstag Fire" theory, so named for the fire the Nazis set at the Reichstag (German parliament) in the 1930's and then blamed on the Communists, so that the Nazis could outlaw opposition parties. The Iranians definitely had the capabilities (because of their covert military-intelligence organizations) and the opportunity (because of their penetration of the shiite Iraqi community).
This is probably one of the most dangerous possibilities, because this would constitute and act of war by Iran against Iraq, and by agreement against us, too. That is why this is also not the most likely theory. Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon, and turning Iraq into a sworn enemy, especially when the United States, which has sworn not to let Iran develop nuclear weapons, would not make sense. Alienating the Iraqi shia would not make sense. However, Iran has been doing all sorts of things recently which do not make sense.Combination of Groups and Motives:
It is possible that a combination of the groups mentioned here have acted together. This is the least likely scenario, but it is still a possiblility. Iran and al Qaeda have acted together before, and imagining that they would act together again is not too much of a stretch. Iran could have supplied the explosives, and al Qaeda could have supplied the suicide bombers. It's also possible the weapons were supplied without knowledge or concern to how they would be used. This kind of "blind" state sponsorship is very likely involved in this attack, along with most of the other attacks that happen because its happened so often in the past. This was the hallmark of Saddam Hussein's sponsorship of terrorism because, for the most part, it kept his hands "clean".Conclusion
This is a summation of just one terrorist attack. All of the players (and many wern't even talked about here) are present in many other attacks across the world. Hopefully this gives a glimpse into just how dangerous and interconnected terrorism issues can be and why in the case of terrorism, the only
option is to defeat them before they defeat us.
I'm not sure anyone will actually read to this point, but you do I would love to see your thoughts in the comments on the what you think about the possible suspects and motives.