Not at all surprising

An Iraqi National Guard commander, an ex-general in the ex-evil forces of the ex-regime, has been caught working for the other side.

“Lieutenant General Talib Abd Ghayib al-Lahibi led three Iraqi National Guard battalions in Diyala province, the volatile region north of Baghdad that includes the insurgent strongholds of Baquba and Samarra. The US military detained Lahibi on Thursday “for having associations with known insurgents.”

This is pretty typical of this war. Much of the struggle is a struggle for loyalty, not for territory or force. The Shia uprising showed the benefit of trying to co-opt the bits of the police force that might agree with you and destroying the rest. The mirror image is the gold rush for the brains of the old regime – Ayad “al-Baathi” Allawi being exhibit A. The problem with this superficially attractive strategy is, of course, that betrayers can always re-betray. “You can rat, but you can’t re-rat” never struck me as a very intelligent remark.

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