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ICG Risk Blog - [ Parts of Iraq vote, the Red Eminence does not, and the Gray Eminence does not show his hand ]

Parts of Iraq vote, the Red Eminence does not, and the Gray Eminence does not show his hand


Red Eminence (l’Eminence rouge), Armand-Jean du Plessis, cardinal et duc de Richelieu
Gray Eminence (l’Eminence grise), François Joseph le Clerc du Tremblay

Provisional Iraqi election results (which become official after a three-day validation and challenge period) show an 8.55 million turnout, 58% of registered voters, under the expectations at poll closing.

The major groups (which often contain more than one party) in contention were:

The news in the major winners was that the United Iraqi Alliance won at the low end of predictions:

  • United Iraqi Alliance, 47.6%
  • Kurdish Unity List (PUK and KDP et al), 25.4%
  • Iraqi List, 13.6%
  • All others, 13.4%

The major losers were the Iraqiyun (Iraqis) and Independent Iraqi Democrats Movement parties. No surprise that there was almost no turnout among Sunnis and that the highest turnout was among Kurds.

My attention is now on what I call the Red and Gray Eminence, how the other factions deal with them, and how the US influences that process:

  • Iraqi Islamic Party is the Red Eminence, the visibly non-voting Sunni minority, the '0' of the 6:2:1:0
  • Kamal and the other guy, which seem to be respective CIA and DoD insurgent specters beneath the Islamic Party

Kamal the tailor is the CIA's pseudonym for an insurgent described as a resentful "at-large Iraqi fighter who is motivated to fight because the United States is occupying his country." Opinions on Kamal vary, with dissenters describing him as "highly speculative" and understating ties to at least one major Baathist insurgent group. The 'other guy', my term, is DoD's Central Command headquarters' description of an individual for a more Abu Musab Zarqawi-like figure.

As an analyst, this bifurcation, said to have commenced when remote-control and suicide bombings started in earnest around August 2003, is intriguing. The CIA is said to be drawing upon, or confined to, the "deeply dependent on the conflicted, Sunni-run intelligence agencies and regimes of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region" and that its Kamal "fits like a glove over the CIA's prewar scenarios for co-opting and rewarding Iraq's Sunni Baathist leaders." DoD is drawing its intel directly from the theater of conflict in which it finds itself.

Hoagland is led to believe that the four political policy changes and one military policy change recently recommended to the National Security Council by DoD reflect its vision and not that of the CIA. I would imagine that the divide centers around the nature of the insurgency - internally or externally led - and would a US drawdown disarm an "essentially nationalist uprising."

I still think that it is a marriage of convenience (also here) between the two and that when the better organized Kamal no longer needs the other guy, that the other guy goes. I am not comforted by an either/or strategy.

How the US deals with its perception of the insurgent threat will have a real-time affect on the willingness and political calculations of the voting parties to deal with the Red Eminence, and it with the others.

Gordon Housworth

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