Thursday, August 09, 2007

2 Iraq Notes

Reuters has its invaluable daily security report and there were two short items I want to grab for some quick analysis:

1. "NEAR KIRKUK - Militants blew up two small bridges in Salahuddin province in the past 24 hours, police said."

These two bridges are the first ones that I have heard been destroyed by insurgent groups since June. Disconnecting the physical infrastructure is an ongoing process that is fragmenting the idea of a stable and unified nation state instead of a series of state-nations. The bridge campaign is part and parcel of a larger fragmentation and localization of control, commerce and communication within more limited communities. The provincial decisions of the Shi'ite South and northern Kurdish dominated regions to disconnect their electrical grid from the central part of the country is the most recent and pronounced symptom of the de-legitimization of the state.

2. "NEAR RUMAILA OILFIELDS - A roadside bomb killed two British soldiers and seriously wounded two others on Wednesday when it detonated near a military convoy driving north of southern Iraq's Rumaila oilfields, the British military said."

The British are taking casualties at the same or per-capita greater rate than US forces right now. Joe Klein at Swampland seems like he has a pretty decent feel on the pulse of Basra Province and has outlined his view over a series of posts. A recent one looks at some of the potential outcomes of the three or four way fight that is evolving in Basra right now.

" If Sadr wins, he'll have control of Baghdad and the southern oil fields, which will make him the de facto leader of Shi'ite Iraq.

I was interested in the Rumaila oilfields location because that field is significantly outside the urban fringe of Basra. The oil workers and technicians seem to support Fadillah, an opponent of the JAM and M. Sadr. Fadillah is also the leading political and governing party in Basra city and province. I have a bit of a problem with the analysis that a JAM win in Basra means Sadr becomes the de facto Shi'ite leader.

Fadillah has the human capital, the expertise and the money to run the oil extraction, distribution, exporting and smuggling activities that make up a significant chunk of the region's economy. Conversely, Fadillah also has the skillset and the proven example of the Sunni Arab campaign against the Kurdish oil export network to take down the southern oil export economy. If Sadr and the JAM win in Basra, they have to either massively co-opt anyone who has any ability to take out the oil infrastructure or kill everyone remotely connected to Fadillah and thus self-destruct the oil infrastructure due to a lack of skilled workers.

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