A lot of sources seem to be pointing to towards a Coalition attack against the insurgent strongholds of Falujah and Ramadi sometime very soon. Many observers and commentators have wondered why it has taken so long for the Coalition and the provisional government to act .
I think they are waiting on the results of the U.S. presidential election.
The power brokers in the Sunni triangle are the traditional tribal leaders. They have been seeking a way of maintaining the traditional Sunni domination of Iraq. If I had to draw a parallel I would say they are like the patrician families of the reconstruction American South, trying to maintain their historic dominance after the end of slavery. Most of these leaders had no love for Saddam and viewed him as just a hiccup in their centuries-long domination of the region.
I think the Coalition and the provisional government have held off attacking these power centers directly, for two reasons. One, they want the people in the region to experience the rule of the insurgents and foreign terrorists, because that weakens support for the insurgency faster than anything else. Two, they were waiting for the Sunni leaders to firmly choose sides.
The Sunni leaders have been straddling a fence, supporting the domestic insurgency and warily allying themselves with the foreign terrorists, while at the same time trying to negotiate with the Coalition and the provisional government. They have been waiting to see how the wind blows in America. If Kerry wins, they will interpret that as a lack of American resolve and they will continue to fight — believing that they can drive out the Americans, destroy or prevent the creation of a democratic government and then regain their traditional role as the aristocrats of Iraq. If Bush wins, they face a crushing attack and at least four more years of unremitting warfare. Some or all of the leaders will choose to join the new Iraq rather than face military defeat and political marginalization.
I think the Coalition and provisional authorities are aware of this Sunni calculation and have been waiting for the U.S. election to be resolved. Make no mistake, there will be significant fighting no matter who wins the election. The major insurgency must be crushed, either way, before January, but if Bush wins the fighting will be far less intense and destructive while at the same time more decisive. A Bush win will deal a devastating psychological blow to the insurgency, making their defeat that much easier.
Ever since Vietnam, America’s enemies have always fought to win the battle of public opinion in America itself. Only here can we be defeated, and the Sunni leaders know it. A Bush victory will mean that the insurgency has failed to crush American morale and that they will face American might for at least another four years. Many insurgents will choose the better part of valor and not fight. The Coalition military planners are waiting for the edge that a possible Bush victory will give them.
If the election resolves cleanly with a clear Bush victory I expect major operations to begin within the week.