Information operations

Baghdad – Ten Years Ago: 3 DEC 06

Week 3, Civil War?, of the sixty essays I wrote while serving as the Multi National Division – Baghdad and 1st Cav Division information campaign manager during “The Surge”.  Week 2, Brinksmanship, ended like this, “The future of the government is sliding and is about to go over the brink.  Having the government collapse, however, can be like having the Park Service instigate a snow slide instead of waiting for the avalanche.  The collapse allows the Iraqis to regroup in a somewhat controlled manner.  The alternative is an avalanche also known as Civil War.”

WEEK 3 – 3 Dec 06


A war between political factions or regions within the same country –

Choose your definition and your poison Ladies and Gentlemen.  We have a Civil War in Iraq!  Don’t we?  Yes we do!  The violence is raging across the country and up and down the Sunni-Shia ethnic fault line:  Najaf, Baghdad, Baqaba and Samarra.  Well, this is kind of true.  Najaf has a car bomb now and then and the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) arrested some insurgents in Samarra.

Really, though, all but three of the eighteen provinces, Baghdad, Anbar and Salah al Din are mostly calm.  Ninawa gets hot now and then.  The Kurds are doing so well the Koreans may soon leave.  The Coalition just completed transfer of Provincial Iraqi Control in Hilla and Najaf and Karbala should transfer in December and January.  Okay.

We have a Civil War in Baghdad!  The attacks against the Coalition remain constant and high.  The Extra Judicial Killings continue unabated as the Sunni and Shia are killing each other at will despite the deployment of more ISF and Coalition Forces in the city.  Yeah, but.  Watching the video streams along Route Iowa and other routes with cars coming and going to work in the morning completely unencumbered dispels the notion of a Civil War.  The energy production capacity is increasing and the job market has improved slightly.  Hmmm?

Why all the waffling?  Why not?  Everybody else is waffling.  Earlier in the week, Muqtada al Sadr threatened to withdraw his party from the government to protest the Prime Minister’s summit with President Bush and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.  When the Prime Minister and the President departed for Jordan, the Sadrists emphatically declared they would no longer support the Maliki government albeit on a temporary basis.

Not to be out done, the Prime Minister delayed the start of the summit because he was already meeting with King Abdallah II and because the King wanted to discuss the Israel-Palestine question and because he was affronted by the leaked memo questioning his capabilities and because he kind of sort of didn’t want to lose the Sadrists support and because, well, you get the picture.

The summit was reduced from two days of high level talks to breakfast, a meeting and a joint press conference.  At the joint press conference, President Bush emphatically supported the Prime Minister’s government, acknowledged the Prime Minister’s concerns and committed to do something about it.  Thank goodness somebody could be decisive.

In the information environment, we have Civil War!  Why?  Because the National Broadcasting Company said so, that’s why.  In this business, he who gets his word out first often wins.  Today, The Stars and Stripes political cartoon section provided reinforcing fires to NBC’s declaration of Civil War.  It is a done deal.  We have Civil War in the information environment.  So, what does it mean?

It means information is conditioning the Baghdad populace to believe it is at Civil War and it may be only a matter of time before the people take more definitive actions like erecting road blocks, fortifying neighborhoods, not going to work and not crossing the river unless the parties involved come to a solution.

The breakthrough to a solution may have come on Friday when two high ranking Sunnis, Vice President Tariq Hashimi and Deputy Prime Minister Salam al Zawba’i, unexpectedly aligned themselves with the Sadrists and criticized the current government.

The Supreme Council Islamic Republic of Iraq (SCIRI) and Dawa parties and the Kurds have to be feeling a little nervous.  The Sadrists and Sunnis are nationalists.  If the nationalists come together, they will likely fight for their country harder than those who are an extension of Iran.  The Kurds can always go back to neutrality and find haven up north.  SCIRI and Dawa, however, may not be so fortunate and may find themselves switching their attitudes toward Sunnis and Sadrists as a matter of self preservation.

In a land where the enemy of my enemy is my friend, waffling is not uncommon.  Right now, Baghdad is a hot waffle iron and sometimes waffles get burned.