Taking sides

U.S. commanders are now arming Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq.


Tim Grieve
June 11, 2007 5:36PM (UTC)

At a speech in Washington last month, George W. Bush said: "For America, the decision we face in Iraq is not whether we ought to take sides in a civil war, it's whether we stay in the fight against the same international terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11."

It seems that Bush was right about that: Taking sides in the civil war wasn't a decision "for America" to make because the president had already decided to do so himself.

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According to the New York Times, American commanders "earlier this year" began arming groups of Sunni insurgents who say they're willing to fight al-Qaida. In some cases, the Times says, the groups now getting American weapons and money are "suspected of involvement in past attacks on American troops or of having links to such groups."

They're also the same groups, of course, that are working to undermine the Iraqi government the Bush administration is trying to prop up.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch told reporters over the weekend that the United States wouldn't support any Sunni group that has attacked U.S. forces in the past. While that may be the case in Baghdad, the Times says the no-help-for-enemies ban appears to have been "set aside or loosely enforced in negotiations with the Sunni groups elsewhere, including Amiriya, where American units that have supported Sunni groups fighting to oust al-Qaida have told reporters they believe that the Sunni groups include insurgents who had fought the Americans."


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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