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Topic: Iraq (Read 230653 times)
Reply #650 on:
July 25, 2011, 11:22:30 AM »
From "Our man formerly in Iraq":
Two civilians killed, three others injured in Iranian bombardment of Arbil villages
7/25/2011 1:31 PM
ARBIL / Aswat al-Iraq: Two citizens have been killed and three others were injured by Iranian artillery bombardment of Kurdish villages in northeast Arbil over the past 24 hours, the Border Guards Command in Arbil reported on Monday.
“The Iranian artillery has continued its bombardment of Seidakan area (this is well inside Iraq) of Soran Township, 110 km to the northeast of Arbil, beginning from last night till this (Monday) afternoon, killing 2 civilians and wounding 3 others of villages inhabitants,” the Border Guards Command announced, adding that the “Iranian forces have given the inhabitants of those villages 3 days to leave their home villages.”
Noteworthy is that northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Region’s border areas, close to Iran and Turkey, had become targets for Turkish and Iranian bombardment, under justification of chasing the anti-Ankara Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the anti-Tehran Free Life Party (PJAK), taking refuge in those areas.
Expect more of this as the US withdrawal continues.
Last Edit: July 25, 2011, 11:25:47 AM by Crafty_Dog
Forwarded by Our Man formerly in Iraq
Reply #651 on:
July 30, 2011, 08:05:04 AM »
“Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work,” U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen Jr. wrote in his quarterly report to Congress and the Obama administration. “It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago.”
Should/will we stay or go?
Reply #652 on:
August 02, 2011, 05:57:00 AM »
US troops must have legal immunity to stay in Iraq
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen speaks to reporters at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. The top U.S. military officer says American troops must be given protection from legal prosecution as part of any agreement to keep them in Iraq beyond the end of the year. (AP Photo - Maya Alleruzzo)
LOLITA C. BALDOR
From Associated Press
August 02, 2011 5:24 AM EDT
BAGHDAD (AP) — The top U.S. military officer said Tuesday that American troops must be given immunity from prosecution as part of any agreement to keep them in Iraq beyond the end of the year and that this protection must be approved by Iraq's parliament.
The comments by Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen could make it more difficult for the troops to stay here.
Mullen and other U.S. officials have been pushing Iraq to decide whether they would want additional American forces to stay in the country past their Dec. 31 departure date, and the immunity issue has been one of the key sticking points.
"An agreement, which would include privileges and immunities for our American men and women in uniform will need to go through the COR," said Mullen, referring to the Council of Representatives as Iraq's parliament is known.
Washington has offered to let up to 10,000 U.S. troops stay and continue training Iraqi forces on tanks, fighter jets and other military equipment.
Mullen told reporters in Baghdad that Iraq's president and prime minister have promised to quickly consider the offer, and stressed that time is running out.
U.S. officials have said repeatedly that they need to know soon whether Iraq wants them to stay longer so they can figure out which of their forces must stay and which must go. Right now, about 46,000 American forces remain in country, and this fall their departure will begin ramping up.
"A significant part of this is just a physics problem. You get to a point in time where you just can't turn back and all the troops must leave. That's why it's so important to make the decision absolutely as soon as possible," he said.
But Iraqi lawmakers and government officials have been leery about taking a public stand on whether they want American forces to stay or go.
U.S. troops are still unpopular with many Iraqis who are tired of eight years of war. One of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's top allies, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has made it his mission to drive American forces from the country, leaving the prime minister in a tough position.
Neighboring Iran is also lobbying for American forces to leave Iraq. The U.S. says Iran is behind a campaign of violence against American forces that began back in March and is intended to make it appear Shiite militias are driving the Americans from the country.
Mullen accused Iran of supplying the militias with arms and interfering with Iraq's internal affairs.
"These are hardly the acts of a friend. It is clear that Tehran seeks a weak Iraq and an Iraq more dependent upon and more beholden to a Persian worldview," he said.
Mullen credited U.S. and Iraqi forces with bringing down the violence in recent weeks by going after Shiite militias, something Iraq's Shiite leadership has been reluctant to do in the past.
Mullen met Monday night with al-Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. He said they know a decision must come soon but acknowledged that they face "internal challenges, associated with reaching this decision."
"They're very aware of the urgency of the issue," said Mullen. "It was apparent to me in meeting with both the prime minister and the president that they're anxious to resolve and reconcile those differences. but that's really up to them."
Al-Maliki said in a statement on his website late Monday that he hoped Iraqi political blocs would be able to reach a consensus Tuesday night when they are expected to meet.
The Shiite prime minister stressed that regardless of the decision on U.S. troops that he wanted Washington and Baghdad to continue cooperation, especially in the area of air defense.
Iraq is unable to provide for its own air sovereignty. Over the weekend al-Maliki announced that Iraq would purchase 36 F-16 fighter planes from the U.S., which is a jump from the 18 that Baghdad initially planned to buy.
But even after the purchase goes through it would take years of training for the Iraqi Air Force to be able to protect its air space.
Iraq's divided Shia complicate Iran's plans
Reply #653 on:
August 12, 2011, 06:55:03 AM »
Thursday, August 11, 2011 STRATFOR.COM Diary Archives
Iraq's Divided Shia Complicate Iran's Regional Plans
An AFP report on Wednesday quoted radical Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr criticizing Iran, his principal benefactor. Al-Sadr claimed that he had asked Tehran to hand over a renegade leader of his movement, Abu Deraa (who was thrown out of the al-Sadrite movement some three years ago and has been living in the Islamic Republic ever since), but Iranian authorities refused to do so. “The one who must be eliminated is not being eliminated, and the one who needs shelter is not sheltered,” remarked al-Sadr.
“Intra-Shia rifts in Iraq represent the biggest challenge to Tehran’s efforts to consolidate influence in Baghdad. The divisions among Shia place serious arrestors in the path of the Persian Islamist state and its ambitions of becoming a regional player”
These remarks are rather extraordinary, considering the close ties that al-Sadr has enjoyed with Iran, a nation where he has spent most of the past three years. Al-Sadr, with his Iraqi nationalist credentials and his independent streak, has never been fully under Iranian control. These latest remarks, however, suggest a shift is under way in this patron-client relationship.
From Iran’s point of view, a wide range of Iraqi Shiite political and militant entities are needed to maintain influence in its western neighbor. Al-Sadr has always known that his group is one of many Shiite assets that the Iranians have in his country. However, it appears that Iran’s support for entities that have splintered from his movement is now beginning to threaten al-Sadr’s political plans, and he is speaking out.
This apparent souring of relations comes at a time when Iran is focused on the prospect of filling the geopolitical vacuum that will exist once the U.S. military withdraws from Iraq by the end of the year. Intra-Shia rifts in Iraq represent the biggest challenge to Tehran’s efforts to consolidate influence in Baghdad. The divisions among Shia place serious arresters in the path of the Persian Islamist state and its ambitions of becoming a regional player. This dissent is comforting for both the region’s Sunni Arab countries and the United States as they look for ways in which to stem the rising Iranian tide.
Only a few months ago, Saudi Arabia prevented Iran from exploiting popular unrest in Bahrain, despite the protests being led largely by Bahrain’s majority Shia and being targeted to undermine the stability of the Sunni monarchy. As in Iraq, Bahraini intra-Shia differences worked counter to Iran’s strategic impetus. But divisions among Shiite communities are endemic across the region, a part of the historical evolution of the minority Islamic sect.
The fragmented nature of Shia communities has its roots in the structure of Shia religious leadership. The clergy hold a very strong role in Shia Islam. Shia are obligated to follow a cleric known as marjaa taqleed. Clearly, every community has multiple clerics who in turn become rival centers of power.
Despite the preeminent position enjoyed by the clerics, Shiite politics have no shortage of non-clerical rival political forces. Between the clerics who concern themselves with religious matters and the non-clerics who focus on political matters, there exists the clerics who double as politicians. Add competing ideological trends to this mix, and the result is the highly fragmented Iraqi Shia landscape.
In spite of this factionalized state of affairs, the Iranians have been successful in pulling together a single Shiite coalition that currently dominates the Iraqi state. This alliance, however, remains extremely tenuous. The Iranians will have to continuously spend a great deal of resources to hold this coalition together, which in turn means that they will likely struggle to dominate Iraq for the foreseeable future.
Our man formerly in Iraq
Reply #654 on:
August 26, 2011, 11:02:25 AM »
From "Our man formerly in Iraq"
I can't help but wonder if this was the police station/courthouse complex I did an assessment at. I think there was only one police station in the town.
--- --- ---
9 Killed in Bomb Attack Against Iraqi Police
Published August 25, 2011 | Associated Press
Iraqi police and hospital officials say two bombings west of the capital have killed nine people, including eight policemen.
Gunmen attacked a police station Thursday in the town of Karmah, about 50 miles west of Baghdad . After exchanging gunfire with the policemen, the attackers withdrew and a car bomb exploded near the police station, killing five of the police officers. About 30 minutes later a car bomb exploded near a police checkpoint in a village outside of Fallujah , 40 miles west of Baghdad. Three policemen and one civilian were killed in the second attack.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
WSJ: US military seeking expanded options against Iran
Reply #655 on:
September 06, 2011, 07:54:48 AM »
JULIAN E. BARNES, ADAM ENTOUS and SIOBHAN GORMAN
WASHINGTON—Military commanders and intelligence officers are pushing for greater authority to conduct covert operations to thwart Iranian influence in neighboring Iraq, according to U.S. officials.
The move comes amid growing concern in the Obama administration about Iran's attempts in recent months to expand its influence in Iraq and the broader Middle East and what it says is Tehran's increased arms smuggling to its allies.
Compounding the urgency is the planned reduction in the U.S. military presence in Iraq by the end of the year, a development that many fear will open up the country to more influence from Iran, which also has a majority Shiite population.
If the request is approved by the White House, the authorization for the covert activity in Iraq likely would take the form of a classified presidential "finding." But unlike the secret order that authorized the Central Intelligence Agency's campaign against al Qaeda in 2001, the current proposal is limited in scope, officials said.
Still, such a step would reflect the U.S.'s effort to contain Iranian activities in the region. Ending the U.S.'s involvement in the Iraqi conflict was a central promise of President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, and the administration wants to ensure it doesn't withdraw troops only to see its main regional nemesis, Iran, raise its influence there.
Officials declined to provide details about the kinds of covert operations under consideration, but said they could include more aggressive interdiction efforts at the Iraq-Iran border and stepped-up measures to stop Iranian arms smuggling after the American drawdown.
The United Nations has blocked Iran from exporting sophisticated arms, guided missiles and nuclear technology. U.N. resolutions don't ban small arms exports or the kind of primitive weapons Tehran has provided Shiite militias in Iraq, defense officials said.
The U.S. has conducted secret operations against Iran in Iraq before. In recent months the U.S. military has quietly boosted efforts to capture Iranian agents and intercept Iranian munitions in Iraq.
The U.S. government conducts covert operations when it wants to maintain the ability to deny a secret mission took place for security or diplomatic reasons.
The White House has become more worried about Iranian meddling in Iraq, Syria and Bahrain in recent months and has pushed the military and intelligence communities to develop proposals to counter Tehran.
U.S. soldiers searched a truck last month in Babil Province, Iraq. The U.S. says it has evidence Iran smuggles arms.
.In Iraq, U.S. officials say they have evidence that Iran has been providing Shiite militias with more powerful weapons and training, helping to increase the lethality of their attacks against U.S. forces—in particular, with the crude but deadly IRAM, or improvised rocket-assisted munitions.
Iran also has stepped up its support of the embattled Syrian government, providing equipment and technical know-how for the crackdown on antiregime protests, U.S. officials say. Tehran also has provided backing to Shiite protesters in Bahrain, though its support there has been limited, the officials say.
Iranian officials have repeatedly denied that they have played any role in arming militants in Iraq or worked to destabilize other Arab nations. Tehran has claimed the U.S. has leveled charges of arms smuggling to justify a continued American military presence.
Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the U.S. and Iranian competition for influence in Iraq was part of an attempt by both countries to preserve their interests in the Middle East amid a reordering of interests under the Arab Spring revolutions.
"From a U.S. viewpoint, containing Iran is critical and our strategic relationship with Iraq is critical," Dr. Cordesman said. "This is one set of moves in a much more complicated chess game."
In part, the proposal for new covert operations reflects a more hawkish attitude toward Iran within the Obama administration's reshuffled national security team. Leon Panetta, the former CIA director now leading the Pentagon, has pressed Iraq to deal more forcefully with the threat from Iran.
Many members of the national security team, such as recently retired Gen. David Petraeus, who assumes the role of CIA director on Tuesday, have served in the U.S. Central Command, where military leaders have long viewed Iran as a threat to America and its Arab allies.
Nonetheless, both military and senior Obama administration officials believe they must proceed cautiously to ensure that any expansion in covert action doesn't prompt Tehran to retaliate and inadvertently trigger a wider conflict.
.While expanding covert activity, some government officials also want to improve communication with the Iranian military. Doing so could help ensure that Tehran doesn't misconstrue covert actions that the U.S. sees as self-defense.
Attacks by Iranian-backed Iraqi militias pose the most immediate concern for U.S. officials. In June, 15 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq, the highest monthly total in three years.
American officials blamed Iranian involvement for many of the deaths and the White House approved a counterterrorism campaign to defend American troops.
Senior U.S. officials said those missions, which included secret operations on the Iran-Iraq border, helped curb Iranian backed attacks. There were no American deaths in August.
But the U.S. military is slated to withdraw nearly all of its 47,000 forces from Iraq by the end of December. U.S. and Iraqi officials are negotiating over whether to allow some troops to remain, but even if Baghdad approves a small residual force, that effort could be restricted to training activities.
Top Iraqi officials visited Tehran this summer to ask Iran to stop supplying Shiite militias with arms, and officials have condemned such Iranian interference. But the government remains divided over whether to more closely ally itself with the U.S. or Iran.
After December, the job of ensuring that Tehran can't mount attacks in Iraq, arm militia groups or destabilize the government in Baghdad will fall more heavily on U.S. intelligence.
The CIA isn't expected to draw down in Iraq as quickly as the military after December.
It also is possible that the agency will need to work with the U.S. military's secretive special operations forces, as it did in the May raid in Pakistan resulting in the killing of Osama bin Laden.
If the presidential finding for an expansion of covert action is approved—and if some special operations forces remain in Iraq—they could be assigned to operate temporarily under CIA authority. The agency, under the National Security Act, is the only U.S. entity that can conduct covert operations.
Special operations forces would have the ability to carry out risky capture-or-kill missions that the CIA may not be able to conduct on its own.
Iran Cracks Down on Dissent
.A new finding also would ensure that the CIA and military special operations forces working for the agency have the legal ability under U.S. law to shut down the flow of arms from Iran to allied militia groups—even if those weapons aren't explicitly banned by the U.N.
Other officials, including some in Congress, favor a broader secret campaign against Iran to block its support to Syria or to other militant groups elsewhere in the Middle East.
But officials said the current proposals being considered by the administration are focused more on countering malign Iranian influence in Iraq.
The Chickens come home to roost
Reply #656 on:
September 09, 2011, 08:27:54 AM »
The natural results of the Dems continuous war against US success in Iraq come to their natural conclusion.
U.S. Military Presence in Iraq Will Struggle to Counter Iran
Most U.S. officials Tuesday and Wednesday denied that any decision had been made regarding the number of American troops that might remain in Iraq beyond the end-of-year deadline for complete withdrawal stipulated under the current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). However, The New York Times reported Tuesday that newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta supported a plan keeping 3,000-4,000 troops as the continued U.S. military presence in Iraq— a number far less than previously discussed. Only a day after the Times report which cited an unnamed senior military official, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery went a step further than most in responding to the leak. The ambassador rejected the given figure as having ‘no official status or credibility.’
“The continued maintenance of U.S. forces in Iraq is ultimately merely a symptom of the larger, unresolved issue of Tehran’s increasing regional influence.”
Washington is less concerned with Iraq itself, and more with how the changes in Iraq following the U.S. invasion have affected Iran. Despite the accommodation reached with the Sunnis in 2006 and the successes of the surge of 2007, no extension of U.S. troop presence in Iraq is going to change the fact that Iran has been the single biggest beneficiary of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Iran has seen a rapid rise in the magnitude of its regional influence — and has every intention of keeping it.
Despite domestic politics at home, the U.S. desire to maintain some military presence in Iraq beyond the end of the year is motivated by Iran’s increased influence. Tehran’s regional rise is a problem to which Washington has no ready solution — unless, of course, Washington wants to engage in a politically unpalatable rapprochement with the Persians from a disadvantageous negotiating position.
Thus, Washington is left with an unresolved and, at least in the near term, unsolvable problem — an increase in Iranian power, not just in Iraq, but across the Persian Gulf and the wider region. Iraq benefits from direct military-to-military relations with the United States through training, advising and assistance (particularly with things like planning, logistics and maintenance) and modern arms. These ties provide Iraq and its security forces with capabilities they would otherwise lack. For Washington, a residual military force in Iraq helps maintain the influence, leverage and situational awareness that having its personnel in these positions provides. This capability is not something Washington wants to lose, particularly after longstanding American-Egyptian military-to-military relations proved so crucial in communicating with Cairo in February.
While the benefits to Washington of a continued military presence in Iraq are real — starting with its impact on Washington’s influence in Baghdad — they do little to address the larger problem of Iranian power in the region. Even if tens of thousands of troops remained in Iraq beyond 2011, they could not halt the decline of American influence and power in Iraq vis-a-vis Iran.
While the question of the size, role and disposition of any U.S. military contingent in Iraq beyond 2011 is an important one, the continued maintenance of forces in Iraq is ultimately merely a symptom of the larger, unresolved issue of Tehran’s increasing regional influence. Even if no American uniformed forces remain save a Marine Security Guard detachment and attache personnel at the embassy, the United States will still be maintaining the largest diplomatic presence in the world in Iraq. Nevertheless, no quantity of U.S. forces currently under discussion — not 3,000 and not even 30,000 — will change the fact that this American presence, while attempting to hold the line against Persian influence, leaves personnel and troops vulnerable to Iranian proxies and covert Iranian forces in the country.
Our man formerly in Iraq reports
Reply #657 on:
September 12, 2011, 07:52:23 PM »
BAGHDAD – Gunmen forced their way onto a bus of traveling Shiite pilgrims Monday and shot all 22 men onboard as they traveled through western Iraq's remote desert on a trip to a holy shrine, security officials said.
The bodies were discovered late Monday night, hours after the gang of gunmen stopped the bus at a fake security checkpoint and told all the women and children to get off, according to one security official who interviewed a survivor.
The gunmen then drove the bus a few miles (kilometers) off the main highway between Baghdad and the Jordanian border in Iraq's Sunni-dominated Anbar province. The pilgrims were ordered off the bus and shot one by one, the security officials said.
"The terrorists stopped the bus at gunpoint and killed 22 men," said Maj. Gen. Abdul-Hadi Rizayig, the provincial police chief.
Turkey vs. Iran vs. Kurds in Iraq
Reply #658 on:
September 17, 2011, 09:34:09 AM »
MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images
Turkish soldiers on patrol near the Turkey-Iraq borderSummary
An uptick in attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group has killed more than 40 Turkish soldiers in southeastern Turkey since the beginning of August. Media reports from both Turkey and Iraq have indicated that Ankara wants to improve its existing military assets in northern Iraq as a way to attack PKK hideouts and prevent the infiltration of Turkey’s borders. While this improved military capability would be tactical and intended to undercut the current threat posed by Kurdish militancy, it also has a strategic component in that it would allow Turkey to gradually build up its military presence in northern Iraq, which Iran — as a long-term competitor for influence in Iraq — views with serious concern.
Fighting between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish military has intensified since a de facto cease-fire expired in June. More than 40 Turkish soldiers have been killed in southeastern Turkey since August. The Turkish military has responded with increased airstrikes and artillery attacks on PKK hideouts in northern Iraq.
The Turkish offensive is unlikely to lead to a sustained conventional ground operation in Iraq in the near future. Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party is already facing pressure over the number of deaths sustained in fighting, and a large-scale operation in rough, mountainous terrain where the PKK has the advantage as a guerrilla force would certainly increase that figure. However, reports emerging from both Turkey and Iraq indicate Ankara is interested in improving its existing military assets and adding new bases in northern Iraq to better collect and act on intelligence, in order to prevent PKK attacks and incursions into Turkish territory.
This potential increase in Turkey’s military capability would be largely tactical in nature, intended to reduce the threat posed by Kurdish militant groups. Yet there is an inevitable strategic component: It would allow Turkey to build up its military presence in northern Iraq over the longer term. This development is being eyed with concern in Tehran, which is one of Turkey’s long-term competitors for influence in Iraq and is currently undertaking its own battle with Kurdish militants along its border.
Turkey’s Presence in Iraq
Turkey first established a military presence in northern Iraq in the mid-1990s when a full-blown war was raging between rival Kurdish factions. Turkey supported the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by the Barzani clan (Massoud Barzani is the current president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG) against an alliance of the PKK and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by the Talabani clan (Jalal Talabani is Iraq’s president). The U.S.-imposed cease-fire agreement signed in 1997 formalized Turkey’s military presence.
Turkey’s main military base in northern Iraq is the Bamerni airfield, located in Dahuk province, along with several security checkpoints near the towns of Batufa and al-Amadiyah. Turkey is believed to have roughly 2,000 troops, a few dozen tanks and a few helicopters in the region. The main duty of these units is to gather intelligence, not to engage PKK militants in combat. Increasing the number of troops in these areas would help Turkey improve logistical support and monitoring for combat troops that could be mobilized against the PKK, though it would necessarily expose more troops for the PKK to target and provide a longer logistical supply train to be harassed.
While reportedly considering ramping up its military assets in Iraq, Turkey has also worked to keep ties with the KRG on an even keel. Senior Turkish Foreign Ministry officials met with Jalal Talabani on Sept. 11 and visited with Kurdish officials in Arbil the following day, and KRG members are expected to visit Ankara soon. Ankara’s relations with the KRG have always been uneasy — the KRG represents a semi-autonomous Kurdish government, something that Kurdish separatists in Turkey hope to emulate. Turkey has considerable leverage over the KRG because the KRG’s economic livelihood depends on Turkey keeping open the main export routes that run north through Turkish territory, and Turkey does not hesitate to use military force when it perceives the KRG to be overstepping its bounds.
The escalating threat posed by the PKK is Turkey’s top national security concern, and increasing its military presence in Iraq is one way to contain it. But this prospective move also comes at a time of major geopolitical changes in the region. As the United States draws down its forces from Iraq by the end of the year, Iraqi Kurds will be left more vulnerable to Iranian and Turkish influence as well as pressure from the Arab-dominated federal government in Baghdad. As a political vacuum opens in the country, Kurd-dominated northern Iraq is becoming a natural battleground between two historical competitors: Turkey and Iran. Regardless of whether Turkey is pursuing additional assets expressly for this purpose, those assets would certainly allow Turkey to increase its influence in northern Iraq in a way that could later be used to counter Iran.
The Iranian Calculus
Iran is well aware of Turkey’s PKK problem and knows it can leverage its actions in northern Iraq to influence its relationship with Turkey. Iran does not want to push Turkey into a confrontational stance; rather, it wants to court Ankara for more cooperation on regional matters, such as Syria, by working with Turkey against the PKK. This is likely part of the reason Iran has been waging an offensive against the PKK’s Iranian branch, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), despite the PJAK’s repeated calls for a cease-fire. Even though Tehran does not formally have bases in northern Iraq as Ankara does (Turkey’s bases are in areas dominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, a legacy of the 1990s Kurdish civil war), it maintains significant intelligence facilities near its borders, mainly in areas where the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is more influential. Iran also has a strategic interest in making clear to the KRG the costs of hosting a large U.S. military presence in Iraq, so the offensive against the PJAK is not intended to send a message solely to Turkey.
Iran tries to maintain relations with both the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which make up the current KRG, though it has closer ties with the former. Iran has worked closely in diplomacy with Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan since the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Iran even helped it reclaim territory from Kurdistan Democratic Party forces during the 1990s civil war, though it has regular military contacts with both. Iran’s principal areas of influence in northern Iraq are close to the border, usually under the jurisdiction of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, including the cities Sulaymaniyah and Halabja. A growing point of contention, however, between both the parties and Iran has been Tehran’s assistance in directly or indirectly funding other smaller parties such as the Goran party as it attempts to diversify its options in the region. This, along with occasional acts of subversion on Kurdish soil such as kidnappings and bombings, has led to a great deal of mistrust and undermined Iran’s position.
Turkey, in contrast, pursues a much more nuanced approach in dealing with its Kurdish neighbors. Because of Turkey’s commercial interests in northern Iraq — Turkish firms have been increasingly dominant in the area, often at the expense of Iranian firms — Ankara’s interest are served best by maintaining stability and making clear to the KRG that their economic livelihood depends on Ankara’s consent. And unlike Iran, which has no natural sectarian allies in Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey has a sizable Turkmen minority in Iraq on which to rely.
Both Iran and Turkey have a mutual interest in battling Kurdish militants and clamping down on separatist aspirations, by force if necessary. To this end, the two powers will likely engage in short-term cooperation. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said he plans to visit Iran and noted the potential for Iran and Turkey to work together against the PKK. Over the longer term, however, Turkey’s rise as a regional power will make competition between the two inevitable, and the KRG’s economic dependence on Turkey is likely to give Ankara the long-term advantage.
troops to stay in Kurdistan?
Reply #659 on:
October 07, 2011, 11:48:13 AM »
October 7, 2011
WEIGHING AN EXTENDED U.S. PRESENCE IN IRAQI KURDISTAN
Kurdish officials in northern Iraq on Wednesday raised the possibility of some 1,500
U.S. troops remaining stationed at the airport in the contested city of Kirkuk past
January 2012, the deadline for all American military forces to withdraw from the
country under the current U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement.
"What is at stake for Washington is not the fate of Iraqi Kurds, but the most
powerful means of leverage the United States has left in Iraq: its military
Washington has been pushing for an agreement that would keep U.S. troops in Iraq
past the deadline as a way to counter Iran, and some Iraqi factions would also like
to see an extended U.S. presence for their own reasons -- especially the Kurds, who
see the prospect of U.S. troops in northern Iraq as a way to ensure Kurdish
autonomy. However, other Iraqi factions, many of which are influenced by Iran, have
thus far been successful in preventing any such accord from being struck. Given the
fractious nature of Iraqi politics and the logistical requirements for removing
forces by the deadline, the longer these factions delay an extension, the more
difficult it becomes to enact one.
What is at stake for Washington is not the fate of Iraqi Kurds, but the most
powerful means of leverage the United States has left in Iraq: its military
presence. The U.S. State Department plans to maintain the largest embassy in the
world in Baghdad and the Iraqi government will continue to accept American aid and
military hardware (as well as the contractors necessary to maintain it). But neither
the diplomatic presence nor U.S. aid and equipment can provide the deterrent to Iran
that military forces stationed in the country could, and the removal of troops will
inevitably erode U.S. influence, along with situational awareness and
intelligence-gathering capabilities. In addition, the advisory and assistance
support the U.S. military has provided its Iraqi counterpart in areas of planning,
logistics, intelligence and air sovereignty (among others) will be denied, meaning
that Iraqi security forces will be somewhat less capable, particularly in the near
By invading in 2003, the United States destroyed the Iranian-Iraqi balance of power
that had defined American foreign policy in the region since the fall of the Shah in
1979, and the Iraq of today is not capable of containing and counterbalancing Iran.
This is not a problem that can be solved by military force, or at least by the
military force the United States is willing to keep committed to the region. Because
of this, a political accommodation and understanding with Iran is necessary. The
question is about the terms of that accommodation and understanding, and at the
moment the U.S. negotiating position is weak. Some sort of residual American
military presence in Iraq is ultimately intended to buy time for the American
negotiating position to improve while attempting to provide allies and partners in
the region like Saudi Arabia enough reason to stay with Washington instead of
reaching an independent accommodation with Iran on Iranian terms.
This is the context in which any residual American military presence in Iraq must be
understood. That presence -- however it is officially described -- could be
composed, equipped and positioned to serve as a credible conventional blocking force
in coordination with U.S. forces stationed in Kuwait (though this looks increasingly
unlikely). Alternately, the remaining U.S. forces could take the shape of a training
mission with very limited applicability to the larger strategic problem
(particularly if it is limited to 1,500 troops in Kirkuk). Either way, it will be
vulnerable to attack by Iranian proxies while failing to address the real means of
Iranian power in the region -- its extensive network of covert operatives that are
able to move quite freely across the Persian Gulf region.
The United States wants to prevent Tehran from filling the power vacuum that would
be left in Iraq after the withdrawal until other means of leverage can be brought to
bear against Iran -- ideally when most U.S. and allied forces have also withdrawn
from Afghanistan and the global economy is not being held hostage to skirmishes in
the Strait of Hormuz. A residual military presence can be can be composed in ways
that make it better- or worse-suited to deal with this, but it cannot solve the
underlying problem of Iranian power in the region.
It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.
From our man formerly in Iraq
Reply #660 on:
October 24, 2011, 10:00:07 AM »
In that he was involved in training the Baghdad police and others, his words carry particular weight here.
This is not a surprise to me. We have spent 8-years over there trying to impose a U.S. centric view on a culture that has no need for this U.S. centric view. Like training police in evidence collection. The police there do not collect evidence. That is not their system. We may want it to be that way, but it ain't. Over there "judicial investigators" are the collectors of evidence.
We have spent 8-years practicing mirror imaging at its absolute finest....
BAGHDAD — A U.S. State Department program to train Iraqi police lacks focus, could become a "bottomless pit" of American money and may not even be wanted by the Iraqi department it's supposed to help, reports released Monday by a U.S. government watchdog show. The findings by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction paint what is supposed to be the State Department's flagship program in Iraq in a harsh light.
Reply #661 on:
October 24, 2011, 03:02:13 PM »
• From the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush: Rethinking the Region
On Oct. 21, U.S. President Barack Obama formally announced that, with a few minor exceptions, all U.S. military personnel would be leaving Iraq before the end of the year in accordance with the status-of-forces agreement between Washington and Baghdad.
The U.S. has spent most of the year, both officially and unofficially, attempting to arrange some sort of an extension for as many as 20,000, and as few as a couple thousand, U.S. troops to remain in Iraq beyond the end of the year deadline for a complete withdrawal. What none of this would do is address the underlying issue of resurgent Iranian power, not just in Iraq, but the wider region, and this is something the U.S. has yet to come up with a meaningful response for. From a military perspective, the U.S. training presence’s advisory and assistance role, particularly in issues of maintenance, planning and logistics, will inherently leave the Iraqi military and Iraqi security forces less capable than they are now.
The U.S. military presence in Iraq has been pivotal to U.S. situational awareness across the country. In some cases, U.S. forces were still operating alongside Iraqi forces, but even where they were not, the disposition of American forces and the nature of their presence meant that the U.S. had a considerable awareness of the way in which Iraqi forces were being employed and their operational performance on the field, as well as the ways in which Iraqi commanders were directing and employing those forces. The U.S. also maintained considerable freedom of action in terms of the way in which it employed intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance platforms in Iraqi airspace. This means that even as the U.S. inevitably ramps up its covert collection capabilities, both inside Iraq and by other means, there will be a considerable lapse and degradation of the U.S. intelligence gathering and situational awareness capabilities in Iraq.
In terms of the drawdown itself, while contingency plans have long been in place and forces in Iraq have been preparing for the contingency of drawdown, just under 40,000 U.S. troops remain in the country, positioned at over a dozen facilities that have to be sanitized and handed over to Iraqis. This means that an enormous challenge remains for the U.S. in Iraq, in terms of managing vulnerabilities and exposure during the process of withdrawal. But the other significant question was the security of U.S. nationals that remained behind beyond the deadline for withdrawal. Some military forces, a couple hundred total, remain behind to facilitate the transfer of U.S. arms, training and the presence at the U.S. Embassy.
The U.S. military has been an enormously important backstop for the overall security of U.S. nationals in the country. Without the presence of nearly 50,000 U.S. troops that has defined the security environment in recent years, there will inherently be a greater exposure and vulnerability of the U.S. personnel that remain behind in the years ahead.
Reply #662 on:
October 24, 2011, 03:05:41 PM »
Without the presence of nearly 50,000 U.S. troops that has defined the security environment in recent years, there will inherently be a greater exposure and vulnerability of the U.S. personnel that remain behind in the years ahead.
No worries, I'm sure the Iranian forces will look after them.
Reply #663 on:
November 09, 2011, 01:57:20 PM »
Analyst Kamran Bokhari discuses the emerging regional competition for influence in Iraq that is expected to intensify as American troops withdraw.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
• Iraq’s Attempt to Protect its Autonomy
• Iraq: Possibilities and Complications After the U.S. Drawdown
• Libya and Iraq: The Price of Success
Iraq’s prime minister on Nov. 9 came out with some tough words on attempts by several provinces in the country to establish autonomous zones in the country. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned that every single piece of Iraq’s territory should be governed by its central government. Al-Maliki’s statements have implications for the domestic balance of power at a time when U.S. forces are about to withdraw from the country, but more importantly it speaks volumes about the regional tug-of-war, particularly that between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Now that it is clear that the United States will be withdrawing its forces completely from the country, save a few hundred troops that would be engaged in security for diplomatic and international entities in Baghdad, Iraq’s minority Sunni community is feeling threatened and is trying to make the best use of the options that it has available. And one of the options is to establish an autonomous zone within its areas, at least one if not more, as a means of trying to counter the overbearing power of Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, which on its end is trying to make use of the American withdrawal to consolidate its hold over the new Iraqi republic.
The move on the part of Iraq’s disenfranchised Sunni community has the Shia majority worried because from the point of view of the Shia their hold over power is a very nascent development, and with American forces leaving it is creating a new dynamic in which that balance of power needs time to settle, and they are worried about any attempts by the Sunnis to disrupt the attempt of the Shiites to consolidate their influence in the post-Baathist republic.
So what we have here is a revival of a Sunni-Shia tug-of-war at a time when American forces are not going to be around to prevent a direct clash. It is not inevitable that there will be a direct violent clash. Much will depend upon how both sects and their principal stakeholders are able to negotiate with one another.
But far more important than the role of the Iraqi factions is the role of their external patrons. In the case of the Sunnis it is Saudi Arabia, and in the case of the Shiites it is Iran. Both countries are looking at the American withdrawal from Iraq from very different perspectives. From the point of view of the Iranians, this is the moment that they have been waiting for — i.e. the withdrawal of American forces — which creates a vacuum that Tehran can use to consolidate its influence in Iraq. On the other hand, the Saudis have been dreading this moment and they see this as a threat to their national security. The Iranian attempt to consolidate its influence has to be countered from the Saudi point of view.
How do you do that? Well there are not that many good options because Iran does have the upper hand, so what Riyadh is hoping is that the Sunnis can make use of this constitutional provision to create autonomous regions as a means of securing their influence in this post-Baathist Iraq.
And one of the more interesting angles to the Iranian-Saudi struggle in post-American Iraq is the implications for Syria. From the point of view of Iran and its Iraqi allies, they do not want to see anyone using Iraqi territory, particularly that of the Sunni areas that border Syria, for action against the Syrian regime that is facing an uprising on the home front. Conversely, the Saudis and their allies would like to do just that.
So the question is how far are the Iranians and the Saudis willing to push their respective Iraqi proxies?
WSJ: Oh, this should work , , ,
Reply #664 on:
December 10, 2011, 11:10:08 AM »
By NATHAN HODGE
U.S. troops are on track to leave Iraq before the end of December, but the U.S. involvement there is anything but over—meaning local resistance to Americans, and the security challenges that come with it, will continue.
In place of the military, the State Department will assume a new role of unprecedented scale, overseeing a massive diplomatic mission through a network of fortified, self-sufficient installations. After the troops have left, the U.S. presence in Iraq—which peaked at 170,000—will number between 15,000 and 16,000, including federal employees and private contractors.
Federal officials are busily signing hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for on-site health care, food, protection and other needs, so that American personnel can steer clear of a perilous security situation on Iraq's city streets.
The State Department will hire more than 5,000 private security contractors for armed details and has contracted with a private service to ferry U.S. personnel in helicopters and planes.
The State Department will command four major diplomatic centers and seven other facilities, a total of 11 sites around the country. The tab will be around $3.8 billion for the first year, far above the operating cost of any other U.S. diplomatic mission—but far lower than the more than $40 billion in U.S. spending budgeted for fiscal 2011 in Iraq.
With the new mission, U.S. officials hope to redefine a strategic relationship that has rested for nearly nine years almost solely on war. They say they will work with Iraq's central bankers, justice officials and agriculture experts, while trying to improve its police and armed forces.
The U.S. posture is likely to be controversial within Iraq. The militant cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called a truce through year-end to allow U.S. troops to leave, but has called on followers to resist the "occupiers" that remain.
U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey acknowledged the dangers. "If we move out into the Iraqi economy, out into the Iraqi society in any significant way, it will be much harder to protect our people," he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Jeffrey said Iraq still has "significant and highly trained, quite large terrorist groups, with very potent weapons that are trying to target us, and we have to be prepared for that."
The U.S.'s reliance on private security contractors troubles many in Washington, particularly since a 2007 incident in which guards working under a State Department contract opened fire in a crowded Baghdad traffic circle, leaving 17 Iraqis dead.
"The long history of the lack of transparency and accountability and the legal limbo in which these contractors operate mean that it could be a formula for problems," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.), a longtime critic of the U.S. government's reliance on contractors overseas.
U.S. officials said they hope eventually to reduce reliance on security contractors, or at least shift to hiring more local guards, as Iraq's security improves.
Meanwhile, officials have awarded a series of contracts, including a $974 million deal to SOC Inc. for a "static guard" force at the Baghdad embassy and a $1.5 billion award to Triple Canopy Inc. to operate diplomatic convoys. DynCorp International Inc., a subsidiary of Tucker Holdings Inc., will run the State Department's air operations.
The four main U.S. diplomatic facilities—the embassy in Baghdad, consulates general in Basra and Irbil and a consulate in Kirkuk—will be comparable in size to important diplomatic posts in other countries, with one crucial difference: The core personnel will be outnumbered by security. Contract security at some sites will outnumber "mission personnel" by as much as two to one, according to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The flagship is the mammoth U.S. Embassy, the high-walled complex on the Tigris River occupying 104 acres, or twice the area of the White House and its adjoining Ellipse.
In describing the embassy, Mr. Jeffrey avoided the frequent comparisons to fortresses, prisons or compounds. Instead, he likened it to a "college campus in a desert."
The State Department has faced tough questions in Washington about its readiness to take on this new mission.
"There is no doubt that the scope of the department's diplomatic activities in Iraq is beyond anything that we have done in the past," Patrick Kennedy, the State Department's top management official, said this summer in congressional testimony.
In some ways, the State Department's record of operating in crisis zones is "under-appreciated," said Richard Douglas, a former foreign service officer and onetime Pentagon counter-narcotics official. The State Department, Mr. Douglas noted, operates drug-interdiction aircraft in other countries.
The departure of the military may leave crucial gaps. Areas of "lost functionality" include the recovery of downed vehicles and aircraft, clearing of roadside bombs and disposal of unexploded ordnance, according to an official briefing slide viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Another question is how to counter insurgents firing rockets and mortars.
Iraqi security forces are supposed to provide the first line of defense for U.S. facilities, and the Pentagon will also provide some support. A defense official said the Defense Department would operate a system to provide warning of incoming rocket and mortar attacks.
—Sam Dagher contributed to this article.
WSJ: XOM contract won't be cancelled
Reply #665 on:
December 10, 2011, 11:14:31 AM »
BTW I note this thread joins the evergrowing list of threads with over 100,000 reads.
By SAM DAGHER
BAGHDAD—Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Friday that Baghdad wouldn't terminate ExxonMobil Corp.'s contract to develop the West Qurna-1 oil field in southern Iraq as punishment for signing a deal with the country's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, with whom Baghdad has a long-running dispute over land and the sharing of oil resources.
"We haven't cancelled its contract in the south," said Mr. Maliki in an interview with The Wall Street Journal ahead of a scheduled state visit to Washington next week. "We are looking for a way for [ExxonMobil's] other contracts in any area to be within the legal contexts, but as for cancelling its contract in the south, no."
Mr. Maliki also said that Exxon has "frozen" its controversial contract with the KRG, which was announced in November, and suggested that his government was willing to find a way to ultimately make the deal work if negotiations were restarted with the involvement of the Ministry of Oil.
"It [the contract] has a legal violation, it doesn't work unless Exxon comes back and negotiates with the Ministry of Oil in the presence of a representative of the Kurdistan region, then possible," Mr. Maliki said. "Even Exxon I think has frozen the project, now the contract is frozen and we will try to find a formula to remedy it."
It wasn't immediately clear if Mr. Maliki's comments were motivated by an eagerness to avoid any potentially protracted legal battle with oil major, which could cast a shadow over Iraq's existing deals with other energy giants and its hugely ambitious plans to quadruple production to 12 million barrels a day by 2017.
Exxon is currently producing 370,000 barrels a day at West Qurna-1 under a central government service contract. The government had warned the company that it could lose its contract to develop the field, which has proven reserves of about 8.7 billion barrels, for signing the deal for six exploration blocks in the north with the Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG.
Some of those blocks are in a hotly contested oil-rich territory claimed by both the KRG and the central government, stretching from the Iranian border to the east to the Syrian border in the northwest.
An Exxon Mobil media officer in the U.S. declined to comment. So far the company has said nothing about the deal.
KRG Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami couldn't be reached for comment, but another well-placed Kurdish source said the KRG is "unaware of anything of this nature.
"We are working within Iraq's Constitution for the benefit of the whole of Iraq," he said, on condition of anonymity because he was unauthorized to discuss the deal.
The KRG and the Baghdad government are at loggerheads over scores of oil deals that the KRG signed with international oil companies. Baghdad has said they are nul and void because they need approval by the central government, while the Kurds say they are in line with the country's new constitution.
Baghdad has also blacklisted companies that maintain deals with the Kurds, excluding them from working elsewhere in Iraq. Among those is U.S. oil firm Hess Corp., which was barred in September from competing in a fourth energy auction scheduled by the Ministry of Oil for next year.
POTH/NYT Sunni Awakening and the US departure
Reply #666 on:
December 14, 2011, 07:52:53 AM »
RAMADI, Iraq — Meeting various neighbors and supplicants on a recent evening, America’s staunchest ally in Iraq, Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, sat in a tent sipping tea from an implausibly tiny glass cup. He greeted each new visitor with a hearty outburst of “dear one” and a kiss on the cheek.
At one point a young man walked in carrying an M-16 rifle, leaned over and kissed the sheik on the cheek, too, in a clear sign of loyalty from a member of a tribal militia.
Mr. Abu Risha is often credited with helping turn the tide of the Iraq war beginning in 2006 by rallying local tribal leaders to fight Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, which has some foreign members. He still commands, by his own estimate, about 80,000 militia members.
With two weeks left before the United States military completes its withdrawal from Iraq, these units, known broadly as the Sunni Awakening, still remain outside the new Iraqi police force and army. Ragtag groups of men wearing jeans and carrying rifles at dusty checkpoints throughout western Iraq, they are a loose end left by the United States.
Some Awakening members are former insurgents and members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party who fought in a nationalist wing of the Sunni uprising early in the war, a matter of grave concern to the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Without the buffer provided by the Americans, relations between the Awakening and the central government, always touchy, are growing increasingly strained, and the government now wants the Awakening to disband by Dec. 31, the deadline for the exit of the United States military.
Mr. Abu Risha, in an interview in his compound beside a lazy bend in the Euphrates River, said members of the tribal militias in western Iraq were not likely to disarm quickly — and certainly not by the end of the month.
“I don’t think the Awakening members will give up their weapons,” he said, contending that the problem was a lack of government protection against Al Qaeda. “They want to defend themselves. The weapons they carry are their personal weapons.”
In the tradition of the endless negotiations, feints and shifting alliances of desert tribes, the Sunni chieftains in Anbar Province unexpectedly switched sides in 2006 and 2007, in perhaps the most important single step for establishing stability here after the war and the insurgency. Once on the American side, they were an enormous help in hunting down their former insurgent allies, members of the Islamic militias, including Al Qaeda.
Members of the Abu Risha family first caught the eye of American commanders in Anbar Province by attacking trucks carrying Qaeda militants passing on the highway in front of their compound in 2006.
These were acts of vengeance more than politics; Al Qaeda had killed eight family members. But they illustrated that the tribe and the United States had a common enemy. Soon, platoons of Marines were dropping into the Abu Risha compound for feasts of lamb and rice, and fighting side by side with former insurgents and Baathists they might have been battling just months before.
But the pendulum is now swinging back toward repression of Baathists, something being discussed over tea in places like Mr. Abu Risha’s tent, pitched in the courtyard of his fortresslike compound.
The Shiite-dominated central government has arrested prominent Sunnis on accusations that they are secret members of the long-disbanded Baath Party, which has alienated Sunni elites. Meanwhile, a Sunni revolt a few hundred miles to the north of here against the Shiite-aligned government in neighboring Syria is gathering force.
Last month, government police officers wounded two guards and detained two others in a raid on the home of a Sunni, Sheik Albo Baz, in Salahuddin Province, prompting a protest by several thousand Sunnis in Samarra, a city divided by sect.
This followed the roundup by police officers of 600 suspected Baath Party sympathizers in October; they were accused of planning a coup.
Distressingly for Sunnis, the government paraded some of those arrested on state television in a bizarre spectacle: relatives of their supposed victims were invited into the room and screamed at the suspects, and demanded their execution. Such a program was a tradition on Mr. Hussein’s state television, though the suspects then were more likely to be Shiites.
In the interview, Mr. Abu Risha produced an envelope containing photographs of shrapnel damage on an armored sport utility vehicle, proof, he said, that he was the target of an assassination attempt two months ago on a highway in Abu Ghraib.
He said a Shiite-dominated police brigade that is part of the central government was responsible, because the roadside bomb that struck his car, ineffectually, was set 50 yards from one of the brigade’s watch towers.
The government has denied this, though the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr agreed to open an investigation into the unit, called the Muthana Brigade.
Mr. Maliki and other Shiite politicians insist that they are legally fighting sedition among former Baathists, and that the police are evenhanded with Sunnis.
Mohammad Rida, a member of the Sadrist party in Iraq’s Parliament, said in an interview that the government had documents indicating that Baath Party sleeper cells intended to stage a coup after the American withdrawal. The police obtained the names of hundreds of conspirators in a confession by a former Baathist detained in July, he said.
In addition, Mr. Rida said, documents found in the ruins of the Libyan intelligence office after the fall of Tripoli corroborated the plot. “Iraq did what any other country would do,” he said. “We responded.”
Mr. Abu Risha’s compound is less than a mile from what used to be Camp Blue Diamond, home of the young United States Army officers who first struck up a friendship with him, and who brought him to the American side. (A grandfather of Mr. Abu Risha had chosen a different path, choosing to fight the British occupation in the 1920s.)
About 30,000 former Awakening militia members have received jobs in the Anbar police, and thousands more have entered the army. Mr. Abu Risha said about 80,000 remained in irregular tribal-based units. The central government has put thatfigure at 50,000.
Mr. Abu Risha has entered politics, with nine supporters in Parliament, but he does not hold public office, wielding power instead in informal gatherings over tea or feasts at his house.
He often cites the Iraqi Constitution in asserting rights for Anbar Province and describes himself as an Iraqi patriot opposed to any foreign meddling in Iraq, whether from Syria or Iran.
In the latest calibration of his loyalties, Mr. Abu Risha has become a steadfast supporter of Kurdistan-style autonomy for the Sunni desert regions of western and northern Iraq, a position gaining traction in provincial councils. This, he said, would resolve disagreements with the central government about the expected wealth from natural gas fields in the desert and the future of militias, with regions being granted the right to field their own guard units.
“We will form a region,” he said.
Stratfor: US Closes out Miltary Presence in Iraq
Reply #667 on:
December 17, 2011, 12:52:40 AM »
Any thoughts or reflections?
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2011 STRATFOR.COM Diary Archives
U.S. Closing Out Military Presence in Iraq
By Nate Hughes
United States Forces-Iraq (USFI), the American military command in Iraq, cased its colors Thursday outside Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). During the traditional military ceremony, the unit’s colors and the American flag were rolled and stowed, symbolizing the disestablishment of the formation and the end of the U.S. military’s nondiplomatic presence in the country. The last U.S. forces (save a company-sized Marine Security Guard detachment at the U.S. Embassy) are slated to leave the country next week, well ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline stipulated by the status of forces agreement between Washington and Baghdad.
“The invasion did reshape the region, but not in the way Washington had intended.”
In April 2003, then-Saddam International Airport was designated Objective Lions and seized by Task Force 2-7 in an assault for which an Army combat engineer would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor. These were the days of “shock and awe,” as the outset of the war in Iraq was dubbed, during which the United States military occupied the Iraqi capital in a matter of weeks. Objective Lions would quickly become the sprawling Victory Base Complex, the iconic centerpiece of the United States’ eight-year war in Iraq. Two American presidents would subsequently pass through BIAP, the center of the operation that became the focal point of U.S. military operations and foreign policy for the better part of a decade.
In invading Iraq, the United States had hoped to fundamentally reshape the region’s geopolitical reality by establishing a pro-American regime in Baghdad. The invasion did reshape the region, but not in the way Washington had intended. The invasion and subsequent American pressure did ultimately push Saudi Arabia to cooperate with Washington’s counterterrorism objectives, as well as prompt Riyadh to begin meaningfully, and with increased aggression, confronting the radical Islamist elements within its own borders. But the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime also destroyed the established balance of power between Iran and Iraq, which had stood as a pillar of American foreign policy in the region for generations.
As the American war effort deteriorated into a protracted counterinsurgency and nation-building project, resurgent Iranian influence and power became increasingly difficult to ignore. The United States and its allies found themselves fighting not only foreign jihadists but domestic Sunni nationalists and Shiite militias, some armed with improvised explosive devices provided by Iran — the single most deadly and effective weapons used to kill U.S. and allied troops.
The war ultimately cost the lives of almost 4,500 American troops, more than 300 allied troops, and a likely unknowable number of Iraqis. The United States maintained more than 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq — and for a significant period closer to 200,000 — throughout almost the entire duration of the war. That number does not count significant contributions made by allies, not to mention the legions of private security contractors that supplemented those forces. While this was never sufficient to impose a military reality on the country — the numbers, in other words, were not substantial enough to pacify the population — this nevertheless represented an enormous and sustained commitment. It impacted the entire power structure in Iraq, the balance of power in the region and American military commitments elsewhere in the world. The structural significance of this commitment of forces is difficult to overstate, therefore it is difficult to overstate the significance of that force’s removal.
Only a few thousand American troops remain in the country, and for all practical purposes, USFI has long been declining as a significant military presence. But few elements operating in Iraq or Iran had any interest in taking any action that might delay the U.S. withdrawal. When USFI finally leaves next week, it is hard to envision a force of any magnitude being redeployed to the country in the foreseeable future — barring an extreme scenario — for any length of time. The circumstance most likely to lead U.S. troops to intervene would probably involve a noncombatant evacuation of diplomatic personnel and American nationals (for the purposes of that evacuation, the runway at BIAP will likely play a central role in American thinking about Iraq.)
In short, a key structural element of the framework in which Iraq and the wider region has operated for nearly a decade officially ceased to exist on Thursday. And this framework played a central role in the apparent quietude of Iraq in recent years. That quietude cannot be taken for granted moving forward, and the most important geopolitical result of the American invasion of Iraq — the emergence of Iran as a regional power — has yet to be meaningfully addressed and countered.
Reply #668 on:
December 17, 2011, 03:05:48 AM »
I said way back when, that we would give them a chance at a free society and in the end we would just walk away from it and leave them to their own designs. I also said that they didn't have a chance in hell of keeping it free after we left. I'm glad Saddam is gone, I'm glad we killed a lot of terrorist fighters there. I feel sorry for the Iraqi people that do want freedom. We should have done it like we did Japan, but there were too many people invested in it's failure back here at home to have had that kind of success. It takes commitment to do things right, unfortunately our News Media and Press are committed to an ideology that breeds failures like this then they will turn their back on the massacre to come and have no shame in saying they are not to blame, much like the million or so slaughtered after we pulled out of Vietnam. It won't come as immediate as Vietnam but in time it will.
The President was correct in not celebrating this as victory in Iraq, because it is not a victory, it's a retreat from the frontlines of the war on Western civilization by the Islamic Fascist's. We should be building more bases in Iraq, right in Iran's backyard, not shutting them down. Iraq should be paying us in oil for every cent we have spent there too. History has shown us that you must win a peace and that you cannot retreat your way to it. Retreats, most often end in massacre's. For you Liberal, so called, peace activist's out there that have facilitated this result, and are celebrating this as being the end of the Iraq war; the war there is just starting, thanks to you.
Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 06:53:47 AM by prentice crawford
Reply #669 on:
December 17, 2011, 09:25:11 AM »
Quote from: prentice crawford on December 17, 2011, 03:05:48 AM
We should be building more bases in Iraq
, right in Iran's backyard, not shutting them down.
Iraq should be paying us in oil for every cent we have spent there too
. History has shown us that you must win a peace and that you cannot retreat your way to it. Retreats, most often end in massacre's. For you Liberal, so called, peace activist's out there that have facilitated this result, and are celebrating this as being the end of the Iraq war; the war there is just starting, thanks to you.
Sounds like Colonialism and Imperialism at it's finest.
Reply #670 on:
December 17, 2011, 11:08:46 AM »
I agree with the points well-articulated by Prentice. It seems odd in a crucial national and global security question that we leave without declaring any kind of victory, defeat or followup plan. We are declaring our adherence to a politically calculated timetable, no matter the outcome, after all the investment and sacrifice.
Lost in translation throughout the Middle East is that we didn't mean 'democracy,' we meant consent of the governed in a way that individual liberties would flourish. Not old oppression replaced with new oppression.
Soon our on the ground intelligence gathering capabilities from both the Af-Pak and Iran-Iraq regions will go back to Sept 10 2001 levels, this time with two radical Islamic nuclear threats possible. What could possibly go wrong?
Reply #671 on:
December 17, 2011, 11:35:23 AM »
Woth noting at this moment is the misdirection by Baraq that we are leaving because of the deal that Bush signed. Anyone who followed this at all understands that the intention was to give the Iraqis the chance to innoculate themselves against accusations of being puppets by giving them the respect to negotiate the terms of our presence there instead of having them dictated-- but with Baraq's obvious determination to leave regardless of the costs, no one was willing to stand up only to be abandoned to the mercies vicious enemies once we were gone.
I agree with almost everything that PC said, but I do disagree with the notion of charging the Iraqis for what we spent. Of course I get the logic for saying so, and it is sound, but it leaves the door open to muddy-the-waters accusations such as we see JDN making.
I would add my particularly hearty agreement with this"
" there were too many people invested in it's failure back here at home to have had that kind of success. It takes commitment to do things right, unfortunately our News Media and Press are committed to an ideology that breeds failures like this."
I would flesh this out by distinguishing honorable disagreement and dissent from the dissent that crossed the line into sabotage, and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
There were plenty of good reasons to disagree with the Iraq War, but once we were in all good Americans should have united in desire for our success. Bad Americans such as the NY Times and the LA Times published articles on how we were tracing the enemy’s money and how we were paying Iraqi journalists to get out our side of the story. Bad Americans ranted and raved about US torture in Saudi Arabia (Gore? Kerry? Both?) at Abu Graib instead of pointing out that it was our Army’s own internal processes that brought it to light of day. Ambitious Americans such as Hillary Clinton furthered their campaigns by accusing General Petraeus of lying about the Surge and by associating and taking money from those who called him a traitor (Soros, Move On.org et al) Power hungry Americans such as Sen. Majority leader Harry Reid worked for our failure.
Also worth noting is the utterly destructive actions taken by our “allies” in Europe, particularly the French and Germans (and UN bureaucrats too) who profited scandalously and illegally from the Food for Oil program (the Volcker Commission estimated about $26 BILLION) and by continuing to disable sanctions against Iran so they could make money.
I could go on an on, but my morning moves on.
Reply #672 on:
December 17, 2011, 04:54:47 PM »
Quote from: JDN on December 17, 2011, 09:25:11 AM
Quote from: prentice crawford on December 17, 2011, 03:05:48 AM
We should be building more bases in Iraq
, right in Iran's backyard, not shutting them down.
Iraq should be paying us in oil for every cent we have spent there too
. History has shown us that you must win a peace and that you cannot retreat your way to it. Retreats, most often end in massacre's. For you Liberal, so called, peace activist's out there that have facilitated this result, and are celebrating this as being the end of the Iraq war; the war there is just starting, thanks to you.
Sounds like Colonialism and Imperialism at it's finest.
I don't deny that, and I know those labels, just like being called Hitler or racist can be applied broadly enough to discredit any solution to any problem. Nothing happens in war without some pain but that doesn't mean the pain lasts forever. The reality is, one: Iraq should pay for it's own reconstruction because they can afford it, and it is they that benefit from it not us. I didn't say load up the ships then set fire to what's left or let's make a profit off the deal, but quite frankly we couldn't afford to do this on our own, and two: our enemies are going to grab the oil for themselves after we leave and they are going to set fire to the place. So short term name calling or long term failure. The President has picked failure.
Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 04:59:21 PM by prentice crawford
Reply #673 on:
December 17, 2011, 05:24:57 PM »
The fact that we killed Saddam and his evil sons and built hospitals, schools and governmental structures and then walked away proves how false the leftist "imperialism" claims were.
Reply #674 on:
December 17, 2011, 06:17:28 PM »
GM, I don't think anyone is making "imperialism" claims at this time. We're leaving. Thankfully. Frankly, it was a mistake. 62% of all Americans are happy we are leaving. Thousands of American lives were lost,
many many more thousands of lives were physically injured some very seriously, 100's of thousands of innocents were killed, and billions upon billions of our needed dollars were wasted. And wow, we
killed Saddam and his evil sons. The world is full of Saddam's who have evil sons; we are better off minding our own business.
However, if we had followed PC's suggestion, it would be the worst form of imperialism if we stayed and built more bases in Iraq against the wishes of the Iraqi government.
Further, it would be colonialism at it's worst if we demanded oil to pay for our invasion. Ahhh the spoils of war. Maybe we should take slaves too.
I mean why not attack Venezuela. Then we can demand their oil too. Even Cuba; then we can demand beach front property for our Hotels and good cigars
Or maybe Saudi Arabia;
again, we can take their oil as payment. They are all dictatorships of the worst kind. Actually, there is a long list of countries we could invade in the name of righteousness.
Heck, following PC's opinion, since we should demand payment, maybe we can turn our Defense Department into a profit center.
On another subject, Crafty said, "There were plenty of good reasons to disagree with the Iraq War, but once we were in all good Americans should have united in desire for our success."
I don't get it; if I thought the war was wrong before it started, or if I changed my mind and thought the war was wrong later, why can't I oppose the war and work for and support our withdrawal in any way that's legal? It's not "treason" to oppose our government's wars or actions. We live in a democracy and are entitled to our opinion, even if our opinion is contrary to our government's policy and position.
Reply #675 on:
December 17, 2011, 06:23:05 PM »
"GM, I don't think anyone is making "imperialism" claims at this time. We're leaving."
That was the left's claim at the start of the war, including Frau-eed and Noam "Pol Pot" Chomsky. Remember "No blood for oil"? Well, it wasn't.
From the Bin Laden 1998 Indictment
Reply #676 on:
December 17, 2011, 06:28:35 PM »
"The world is full of Saddam's who have evil sons; we are better off minding our own business."
4. Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in
the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist
group Hezballah for the purpose of working together against their
perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.
al Qaeda reached an understanding with the
that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on
particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al
Qaeda would work cooperatively with the
Government of Iraq
Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 11:02:40 PM by G M
Reply #677 on:
December 17, 2011, 06:33:02 PM »
Quote from: G M on December 17, 2011, 06:23:05 PM
"GM, I don't think anyone is making "imperialism" claims at this time. We're leaving."
That was the left's claim at the start of the war, including Frau-eed and Noam "Pol Pot" Chomsky. Remember "No blood for oil"? Well, it wasn't.
But if you listen to PC, we should be getting oil for our blood. Following that logic, we would be "imperialists". I think PC is disappointed.
However, I'm not claiming "imperialism", we've packed out bags and are leaving; I'm, like most Americans, am just glad we are finally getting out and wish we had never entered into the war
or if we had, I wish we had gotten out a long time ago.
Reply #678 on:
December 17, 2011, 06:38:39 PM »
Who said this?
But Saddam Hussein could end this crisis tomorrow simply by letting the weapons inspectors complete their mission. He made a solemn commitment to the international community to do that and to give up his weapons of mass destruction a long time ago now. One way or the other, we are determined to see that he makes good on his own promise.
Saddam Husseins Iraq reminds us of what we learned in the 20th century and warns us of what we must know about the 21st. In this century, we learned through harsh experience that the only answer to aggression and illegal behavior is firmness, determination, and when necessary action.
In the next century, the community of nations may see more and more the very kind of threat
Iraq poses now a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction
use them or provide them to terrorists,
drug traffickers or organized criminals who travel the world among us unnoticed.
If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity, even in the face of a clear message from the United Nations Security Council and clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program.
But if we act as one, we can safeguard our interests and send a clear message to every would be tyrant and terrorist that the international community does have the wisdom and the will and the way to protect peace and security in a new era. That is the future I ask you all to imagine. That is the future I ask our allies to imagine.
If we look at the past and imagine that future, we will act asone together. And we still have, God willing, a chance to find adiplomatic resolution to this, and if not, God willing, the chanceto do the right thing for our children and grandchildren.
Reply #679 on:
December 17, 2011, 07:22:35 PM »
That is the genius behind the Lefts' political correctness. They can define anything, in part or as a whole, for any amount of time, as being some terrible thing. Political correctness is going to insure our ultimate defeat in any war we have to undertake if we don't secure the victory. And if you can find anywhere in the history of man where at least a short term form of occupation or form of imperialism wasn't used to successfully do it, I'd like you to name it. You completely ignored what I actually said and redefined it as being oil for blood. I said the Iraqi's should pay for what we have spent there, meaning the cost of their reconstruction, not the cost of our blood and treasure or for our profit and I clarified that in a follow up post which you ignored all together so you could continue your attack and add to it the asinine crap about Cuba just to further distort the debate and malign me personally; all the while not directly addressing me. That is a very disrespectful way of debate and verge's on being dishonest. However, time will tell as to what is going to be the out come in Iraq, the die has been cast, and I'm afraid it's going to be much worse than if we had kept at least a presence there. @JDN THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER DEBATE BETWEEN ME AND YOU ON THIS SUBJECT.
Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 08:48:46 PM by prentice crawford
Reply #680 on:
December 17, 2011, 10:34:23 PM »
PC; If you don't want to debate the subject further, that's your prerogative, and I don't care. We can agree to disagree.
As to the "asinine crap about Cuba" and "malign you personally" I don't get it. Are you Cuban? Or? Personally, I like Cuba and think we should open relations. Maybe you don't? So we disagree again.
While we may disagree on this and many subjects, I have never maligned you "personally". So don't get so huffy.
As for Iraq, that's my point, "let the die be cast"; I don't care what happens. We NEVER should have been there in the first place. There were no WMD - it was all BS. America was probably better off with Hussein in power; now Iraq's future is bedlam and unpredictable.
We lost thousands of AMERICAN lives, 10's of thousands of AMERICAN'S were injured, 100's of thousands of Iraqis dead or injured, and we spent billions upon BILLIONS of OUR dollars and for what???
We killed Hussein and his sons. We "freed" Iraq. So what... Guess what? The Iraqi's still hate us...
And as a side note, and as proof, the democratically elected Iraqi government has CLEARLY said THEY don't want us there. THEY are the ones kicking us out. Doesn't that tell us something....?
We're the fools....
Shhhhhh, it's naptime in Kurdistan
Reply #681 on:
December 17, 2011, 10:39:44 PM »
"There were no WMD - it was all BS."
These Kurds just got sleepy all at once.
Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 11:01:38 PM by G M
Reply #682 on:
December 17, 2011, 11:00:32 PM »
Please allow me to correct your statement:
"The government of Iraq has no one in stupid enough to speak up for wanting America to stay when it is clear we have a President who was against the War, against the Surge, could not admit that the Surge worked, and who generally has made it clear that the US is leaving."
"I don't get it; if I thought the war was wrong before it started, or if I changed my mind and thought the war was wrong later, why can't I oppose the war and work for and support our withdrawal in any way that's legal? It's not "treason" to oppose our government's wars or actions. We live in a democracy and are entitled to our opinion, even if our opinion is contrary to our government's policy and position."
You are right, you don't get it. One can certainly say "I think this war is a mistake. I think we should leave. I will vote for candidates who agree with me."! What I am talking about it people who do their best to undercut our efforts so that the war goes badly so they will be proven "right" and come to power.
@GM: Dammit man! Please use the subject line for your posts so I can find the cool excrement you post at later dates!
ABC News from 1999
Reply #683 on:
December 17, 2011, 11:24:51 PM »
Funny how this went down the memory hole.
Re: Iraq- bin Laden, Congressional Record
Reply #684 on:
December 18, 2011, 12:59:52 AM »
A little stroll down memory lane with Saddam and Osama, Sept 12 2002 Sen.Fritz Hollings D-S.C. entered a reprint from the Iraqi state newspaper from exactly two months before the attacks of Sept 11 2001 arguably praising bin Laden and naming the targets of the attacks. Hollings, a Democrat, entered this in support of his decision to vote to authorize military action in Iraq.
Here is a news story from July 21,
2001, before 9/11 of last year, in the
Iraqi news. The name of that particular
newspaper is Al-Nasiriya.
Quoting from it:
Bin Ladin has become a puzzle and a proof
also, of the inability of the American federalism
and the CIA to uncover the man and
uncover his nest. The most advanced organizations
of the world cannot find the man and
continues to go in cycles in illusion and presuppositions.
It refers to an exercise called ‘‘How
Do You Bomb the White House.’’ They
were planning it.
Let me read this to all the colleagues
The phenomenon of Bin Ladin is a healthy
phenomenon in the Arab spirit. It is a decision
and a determination that the stolen
Arab self has come to realize after it got
bored with promises of its rulers; After it
disgusted itself from their abomination and
their corruption, the man had to carry the
book of God . . . and write on some white
paper ‘‘If you are unable to drive off the Marines
from the Kaaba, I will do so.’’ It seems
that they will be going away because the
revolutionary Bin Ladin is insisting very
convincingly that he will strike America on
the arm that is already hurting.
In other words, the World Trade Towers.
Here, over a year ahead of time in
the open press in Iraq, they are writing
that this man is planning not only to
bomb the White House, but where they
are already hurting, the World Trade
I ask unanimous consent to print
this article in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the material
was ordered to be printed in the
RECORD, as follows:
[From Al-Nasiriya, July 21, 2001]
AMERICA, AN OBSESSION CALLED OSAMA BIN
(By Naeem Abd Muhalhal)
Osama Bin Ladin says that he took from
the desert its silence and its anger at the
He has learned how to harm America and
has been able to do it, for he gave a bad reputation
to the Pentagon as being weakened
in more than one spot in the world. In order
to follow one step taken by Bin Ladin America
has put to work all its apparatus, its
computers and its satellites just as the governor
cowboy of Texas has done. Bin Ladin’s
name has been posted on all the internet
sites and an amount of $5 million dollars has
been awarded to anyone who could give any
information that would lead to the arrest of
this lanky, lightly bearded man. In this
man’s heart you’ll find an insistence, a
strange determination that he will reach one
day the tunnels of the White House and will
bomb it with everything that is in it.
We all know that every age has its revolutionary
phenomenon. In Mexico there was
Zapata. In Bolivia there was Che Guevara,
during the seventies came out Marcos and
the Red Brigades in Italy, the Baader
Meinhof Gang in Germany and there was
Leila Khaled the Palestinian woman and
others. They all appeared in violence and disappeared
quietly. During the nineties Bin
Ladin came out in the open having been
completely overtaken in his mind by the robbery
happening to his country and its treasurers.
For him it was the beginning of the
revolution. For this endeavor he mobilized
everything that he had of money, of investments
and Sudan was his first stop. Bin
Ladin ended up in Afghanistan where his revolutionary
drive pushed this stubborn revolutionary
to plan very carefully, and in a
very detailed manner, his stand to push back
the boastful American onslaught and to
change the American legend into a bubble of
Because Bin Ladin knows what causes pain
to America, he played America’s game, just
as an oppressed man entertains itself with
the thing oppressing him. He countered with
the language of dynamite and explosives in
the city of Khobar and destroyed two US embassies
in Nairobi and Dar al Salaam.
America says, admitting just like a bird in
the midst of a tornado, that Bin Ladin is behind
the bombing of its destroyer in Aden.
The fearful series of events continues for
America and the terror within America gets
to the point that the Governor of Texas increases
the amount of the award, just as the
stubbornness of the other man and his challenge
increases. This challenge makes it
such that one of his grandchildren comes
from Jeddah traveling on the official Saudi
Arabia airlines and celebrates with him the
marriage of one of the daughters of his companions.
Bin Ladin has become a puzzle and
a proof also, of the inability of the American
federalism and the C.I.A. to uncover the man
and uncover his nest. The most advanced organizations
of the world cannot find the man
and continues to go in cycles in illusion and
presuppositions. They still hope that he
could come out from his nest one day, they
hope that he would come out from his hiding
hole and one day they will point at him their
missiles and he will join Guevara, Hassan
Abu Salama, Kamal Nasser, Kanafani and
others. The man responds with a thin smile
and replies to the correspondent from Al
Jazeera that he will continue to be the obsession
and worry of America and the Jews,
and that even that night he will practice and
work on an exercise called ‘‘How Do You
Bomb the White House.’’ And because they
know that he can get there, they have started
to go through their nightmares on their
beds and the leaders have had to wear their
Meanwhile America has started to pressure
the Taliban movement so that it would hand
them Bin Ladin, while he continues to smile
and still thinks seriously, with the seriousness
of the Bedouin of the desert about the
way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after
he destroys the White House . . .
The phenomenon of Bin Ladin is a healthy
phenomenon in the Arab spirit. It is a decision
and a determination that the stolen
Arab self has come to realize after it got
bored with promises of its rulers: After it
disgusted itself from their abomination and
their corruption, the man had to carry the
book of God and the Kalashnikov and write
on some off white paper ‘‘If you are unable to
drive off the Marines from the Kaaba, I will
do so.’’ It seems that they will be going away
because the revolutionary Bin Ladin is insisting
very convincingly that he will strike
America on the arm that is already hurting.
That the man will not be swayed by the
plant leaves of Whitman nor by the ‘‘Adventures
of Indiana Jones’’ and will curse the
memory of Frank Sinatra every time he
hears his songs. This new awareness of the
image that Bin Ladin has become gives
shape to the resting areas and stops for every
Arab revolutionary. It is the subject of our
admiration here in Iraq because it shares
with us in a unified manner our resisting
stand, and just as he fixes his gaze on the Al
Aqsa we greet him. We hail his tears as they
see the planes of the Western world taking
revenge against his heroic operations by
bombing the cities of Iraq . . .
To Bin Ladin I say that revolution, the
wings of a dove and the bullet are all but one
and the same thing in the heart of a believer.
Iran's Plan for Mayhem
Reply #685 on:
December 18, 2011, 02:23:22 AM »
Iran's Secret Plan For Mayhem
By ELI LAKE, Staff Reporter of the Sun | January 3, 2007
WASHINGTON — Iran is supporting both Sunni and Shiite terrorists in the Iraqi civil war, according to secret Iranian documents captured by Americans in Iraq.
The news that American forces had captured Iranians in Iraq was widely reported last month, but less well known is that the Iranians were carrying documents that offered Americans insight into Iranian activities in Iraq.
An American intelligence official said the new material, which has been authenticated within the intelligence community, confirms "that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups." The source was careful to stress that the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, and said the documents rather show how the Quds Force — the arm of Iran's revolutionary guard that supports Shiite Hezbollah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads — is working with individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna.
Another American official who has seen the summaries of the reporting affiliated with the arrests said it comprised a "smoking gun." "We found plans for attacks, phone numbers affiliated with Sunni bad guys, a lot of things that filled in the blanks on what these guys are up to," the official said.
One of the documents captured in the raids, according to two American officials and one Iraqi official, is an assessment of the Iraq civil war and new strategy from the Quds Force. According to the Iraqi source, that assessment is the equivalent of "Iran's Iraq Study Group," a reference to the bipartisan American commission that released war strategy recommendations after the November 7 elections. The document concludes, according to these sources, that Iraq's Sunni neighbors will step up their efforts to aid insurgent groups and that it is imperative for Iran to redouble efforts to retain influence with them, as well as with Shiite militias.
Rough translations of the Iranian assessment and strategy, as well as a summary of the intelligence haul, have been widely distributed throughout the policy community and are likely to influence the Iraq speech President Bush is expected to deliver in the coming days regarding the way forward for the war, according to two Bush administration officials.
The news that Iran's elite Quds Force would be in contact, and clandestinely cooperating, with Sunni Jihadists who attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra (one of the holiest shrines in Shiism) on February 22, could shake the alliance Iraq's ruling Shiites have forged in recent years with Tehran. Many Iraq analysts believe the bombing vaulted Iraq into the current stage of its civil war.
The top Quds Force commander — known as Chizari, according to a December 30 story in the Washington Post — was captured inside a compound belonging to Abdul Aziz Hakim, the Shiite leader President Bush last month pressed to help forge a new ruling coalition that excludes a firebrand Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr.
According to one Iraqi official, the two Quds commanders were in Iraq at the behest of the Iraqi government, which had requested more senior Iranian points of contact when the government complained about Shiite death squad activity. The negotiations were part of an Iraqi effort to establish new rules of the road between Baghdad and Tehran. This arrangement was ironed out by Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, when he was in Tehran at the end of November.
While Iran has openly supported Iraqi Shiite militias involved in attacks on American soldiers, the Quds Force connection to Sunni insurgents has been murkier.
In 2003, coalition forces captured a playbook outlining Iranian intentions to support insurgents of both stripes, but its authenticity was disputed.
American intelligence reports have suggested that export/import operations run by Sunni terrorists in Fallujah in 2004 received goods from the revolutionary guard.
"We have seen bits and piece of things before, but it was highly compartmentalized suggesting the Iranian link to Sunni groups," a military official said.
A former Iran analyst for the Pentagon who also worked as an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority, Michael Rubin, said yesterday: "There has been lots of information suggesting that Iran has not limited its outreach just to the Shiites, but this has been disputed."
He added, "When documents like this are found, usually intelligence officials may confirm their authenticity but argue they prove nothing because they do not reflect a decision to operationalize things."
A former State Department senior analyst on Iraq and Iran who left government service in 2005, Wayne White, said he did not think it was likely the Quds Force was supporting Sunni terrorists who were targeting Shiite political leaders and civilians, but stressed he did not know.
"I have no doubt whatsoever that al-Quds forces are on the ground and active in Iraq," he said. "That's about it. I saw evidence that Moqtada al Sadr was in contact with Sunni Arab insurgents in western Iraq, but I never saw evidence of Iran in that loop."
Mr. White added, "One problem that we all have is that people consistently conduct analysis assuming that the actor is going to act predictably or rationally based on their overall mindset or ideology. Sometimes people don't.
"One example of a mindset that may hinder analysis of Iranian involvement is the belief that Iran would never have any dealings with militant Sunni Arabs. But they allowed hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives to escape from Afghanistan across their territory in 2002," he said.
Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 02:51:58 AM by prentice crawford
Iran lays low
Reply #686 on:
December 18, 2011, 02:25:14 AM »
After Deadly Attacks in Iraq, Iran Lays Low While U.S. Plans Withdrawal
By Jennifer Griffin & Justin Fishel
Published October 03, 2011
A failed Improvised Rocket-Assisted Missile attack on a U.S. military outpost in eastern Iraq led an explosives team to this nearby weapons cache in July. Analysis indicates that the 107mm rockets are unique to Iranian design and manufacturing, validating U.S. assertions that the Iranian Regime has been playing an increasingly nefarious role within Iraq’s borders.
U.S. intelligence officials suspect that Iran, after deadly attacks by proxy militia in Iraq, is laying low until U.S. troops leave Iraq at the end of the year.
An Iranian militia on July 12 attempted to fire 41 Iranian-made rockets at a U.S. military post in eastern Iraq near the border with Iran. Seventeen of the 107 mm rockets were confiscated by U.S. and Iraqi forces before they could be launched, but the rest missed the U.S. base known as COS Garry Owen in Maysan province just north of Basra and instead hit the base for the Iraqi 10th Army division, killing several Iraqi women and children.
U.S. defense officials familiar with the incident tell Fox News that in response an angry Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki issued a communiqué warning his Iranian counterparts that should such destabilizing operations continue he would be forced to ask U.S. forces to remain in Iraq past December 31, the current deadline for all U.S. forces to leave.
Since then, the number of Iranian proxy attacks by Asaib ahl al-Haq (AAH), or the League of the Righteous, against U.S. forces has dropped significantly. The reduced attacks led U.S. intelligence officials to conclude that Iran’s short term strategy may now be to wait for U.S. troops to leave at the end of the year before trying to reassert itself through the militias which have been trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps - Quds Force.
Until the misfire in July the Iranian strategy, according to U.S. military commanders, was to step up the number of attacks on U.S. forces in order to make it look as though U.S. troops were being forced to leave the region. The July incident appears to mark a shift in strategy, according to one senior defense official. The Revolutionary Guard asked the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia to stand down while Maliki completes a difficult round of negotiations with the U.S. ambassador and State Department, determining how many, if any, U.S. troops will stay past December.
The 107 mm rockets fired at the U.S. base had writing on them that linked them to Iran and color bands on the munitions that also link them to Iraq’s next door neighbor, according to classified weapons manuals shared by Iraqi and U.S. forces.
AAH, the group that fired the rockets, is led by the notorious. Shiite cleric Qais Khazali who founded the group in 2006 after splitting from Muqtada al Sadr at the height of the Iraq civil war, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Khazali led a daring raid on U.S. forces in January 2007 in Karbala using American vehicles, uniforms and identification cards that left 5 U.S. soldiers dead. He and his brother and a Lebanese Hezbollah operative were captured by U.S. troops two months later.
AAH then carried out a coordinated attack on Iraq’s Finance ministry, kidnapping a British consultant. Khazali was released by U.S. forces in 2009 as part of a prisoner swap and attempt by the Maliki government to bring the Shiite militia into the political process.
Recently Khazali was photographed at a conference sponsored by the Iranian government in Iran celebrating the “Islamic Awakening,” Iran’s answer to the Arab Spring. He sat 4 rows behind President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, raising eyebrows among U.S. military officials who have faced dozens of attacks by his Shiite Iraqi militia since his release in 2009.
In June of this year, 9 U.S. soldiers were killed as a result of Iranian rockets. U.S. troops were attacked 6 times this year by militias firing Iranian rockets, twice as many times as the year before. Admiral Mike Mullen before retiring as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs last week warned, “If they [Iran] keep killing our troops that will not be something that we will sit idly by and watch.” Now it seems that Iran’s leadership has made a new calculation that it may be more beneficial to slow the attacks until the government of Iraq finalizes its request for how many U.S. troops it will ask to remain.
Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 02:52:32 AM by prentice crawford
Russia get's chummy with Iraq
Reply #687 on:
December 18, 2011, 02:37:31 AM »
Very chummy. I wonder why? See post 4
Russia and Iraq present peace plans for Syria
Posted By Mary Casey, Tom Kutsch Friday, December 16, 2011 - 8:47 AM Share
Russia and Iraq present peace plans for Syria
After months of reticence on international involvement in Syria, Russia has proposed a surprisingly tougher draft resolution on Syria to the United Nations Security Council. The resolution would call on all parties to immediately end violence, "including disproportionate use of force by the Syrian authorities." Western countries believe the language was too weak, but were willing to negotiate, optimistic that these efforts would end the Security Council deadlock. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was encouraged that Russia acknowledged the need for the Security Council to address the violence in Syria, however said "There are some issues in it that we would not be able to support. There's unfortunately a seeming parity between the government and peaceful protesters." Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraq will send a delegation to Syria to discuss an Iraqi peace initiative encouraging dialogue between the government and opposition in efforts to end the conflict. Elsewhere, Syrian army defectors killed 27 soldiers in a three-pronged, seemingly coordinated attack. The insurgency is becoming increasingly better armed and organized, with the Free Syrian Army claiming to have orchestrated many recent attacks.
Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 03:20:19 AM by prentice crawford
Syria's plan for Iraqi oil and gas pipeline.
Reply #688 on:
December 18, 2011, 02:40:09 AM »
Syria Today | Coast to CoastHOMEPOLITICSBUSINESSFOCUSLIFEARCHIVETIME OUTCONTACTSUBSCRIPTION January 2011 - Politics
Coast to Coast
What is the "Five Seas Vision", how will it be achieved and what does it mean for Syria?
By Dania Akkad
President Bashar al-Assad travelled to Bucharest in November where he met with Romanian President Traian Basescu.
Look at any regional map and you will see Syria in the middle, encircled by the numerous blue shapes that represent the Caspian, Black, Mediterranean, Red and Arabian Gulf seas. Syria's foreign policy is now being shaped by this strategic location through a concept dubbed the "Five Seas Vision", a strategy announced by President Bashar al-Assad in 2004 that seeks to use Syria's geographic position to put it at the centre of a regional energy and transportation network.
Assad, with delegations in tow, has crisscrossed the Black Sea in recent months, meeting with leaders in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Azerbaijan. Closer to home, Syria and its neighbours – Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – are moving closer to forming a free-trade bloc.
The 11th Five-Year Plan beginning this year aims to build the roads, ports and pipelines to attract the energy Syria hopes will pass through it from its neighbours. Syria may soon serve as a pipeline route to Turkey and Europe for oil from Iraq, which plans to ramp up its production this year.
Though the Five Seas remains a nascent idea, experts say that it could eventually transform Syria, enriching its coffers as well as its international reputation. Nevertheless, making Syria a strategic hub is still a long way off, requiring two important measures that have thus far eluded the country – securing unprecedented foreign investment and achieving regional stability.
To understand Five Seas, it helps to go back seven years. In the midst of the war in Iraq and the introduction of US sanctions, Syria felt pressured and isolated.
That year, Assad became the first Syrian head of state to make an official visit to Turkey. In light of the strained relationship with the US, the president's time in Turkey sparked the idea for the Five Seas partnership, said Joshua Landis, Syria expert and director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
"I think [Assad saw Turkey as] a world that was dynamic, that branched east and west, was creative and vital," Landis said. "I'm sure he thought: 'Why shouldn't Syria get a piece of this? This is the model. We don't want to be Iran. We want to be Turkey.'"
Soon after the trip, Assad first began to publicly articulate what he dubbed his "Five Seas Vision". Looking locally and eastward for business partners meant that Syria was less reliant on the sometimes-fickle whims of western countries – a consideration that remains relevant today, as US sanctions remain in place.
Despite its name, the Five Seas, analysts said, should not be interpreted literally as a strategy designed to align Syria with countries that border nearby bodies of water. Rather, it should be taken as a symbol that Syria will no longer depend on the US and its main allies for stability, a message that many other countries – Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina, for example – have also been asserting in recent years.
Beyond the symbolic message that the policy sends, Assad and other Syrian officials have made tangible progress with the Five Seas Vision since 2004. Perhaps the best example is the improvement in Turkish-Syrian relations, culminating in the start of a free-trade area and visa-free border crossing between the countries in 2007.
More recently, Syrian delegations have paid visits to several of Syria's Five Seas partners, securing a number of agreements. Syrian and Iraqi officials have agreed to build new cross-border pipelines for oil and natural gas, running from Kirkuk in Northern Iraq to Syria's port at Banias, near Tartous. A previous pipeline connecting the same cities from 2000 to 2003 generated an estimated SYP 46bn (USD 1bn) for Syria annually, before it was bombed by the US in the beginning of its war in Iraq, according to Raymond Hinnebusch, director of the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Secondly, a deal signed in December allows Syria to start importing natural gas from Azerbaijan this year via a pipeline running through Turkey. Currently, Syria imports all its natural gas from Egypt.
Syria and Iran also signed a free-trade agreement in the summer of 2010, though the benefits of this are questionable as trade between the two countries has historically been limited. There has, however, been an ongoing discussion about importing Iranian gas – via Iraq – to Syria. Iraqi officials have reportedly authorised plans for an Iranian pipeline running through their territory.
Transportation agreements between Syrian ports and ports in Bulgaria and Ukraine – both countries which Assad visited recently – have also been completed. Further, Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych and Assad are scheduled to sign a free-trade agreement in February.
Benefits and challenges
Before such a plan can be successful, however, Syria must build the kind of infrastructure needed to make it a central hub. It needs new ports, railways, roads and pipelines. The five-year plan relies heavily on foreign investment for infrastructure upgrades. While Syria received SYP 69bn (USD 1.5bn) in foreign investment last year, this is far from the SYP 506bn (USD 11bn), which Abdullah al-Dardari, deputy prime minister for economic affairs, has said Syria needs annually over the next five years in order to achieve its infrastructure upgrades.
Economist Jihad Yazigi said the government plans to cover some of the infrastructure costs through the December 2010 introduction of bond sales and with funding from international institutions such as the World Bank.
Some costs may also be recouped. In addition to the increased revenue Syria could earn through charging fees for pipelines, electricity grids and boats docked at its ports, Landis said new infrastructure could also attract companies that find it too expensive to do business in other countries.
"If you can tie this all together," he said, "it jump starts all sorts of other things."
Inside Syria the opening of new markets and relations creates "huge expectations", said a source who has travelled with Assad to many of the Five Seas countries but asked not to be named.
"It's basically a huge window for choice and alternatives for Syrians [involved in business]", he said.
Daily News Brief
15 December 2011
Iran signs economic agreements with Syria
SANA reported that following a meeting of the Syrian-Iranian officials in Damascus,
Reports on clashes in Homs, Hama and Dera’a
Yesterday in Homs three people were killed when armed groups targeted a bus, Syrian private daily Al-Watan reported.
Iraq prepares to send its delegation to Syria, meanwhile SNC announces its first conference in Tunisia
The Daily Star has reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki has announced that Iraq
Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 02:54:22 AM by prentice crawford
Reply #689 on:
December 18, 2011, 02:49:49 AM »
PLEASE USE THE SUBJECT LINE IN YOUR POSTS
Iran get's chummy with Iraq
Reply #690 on:
December 18, 2011, 02:50:39 AM »
Iraq’s announcement last week that U.S. forces would be required to leave Iraq under terms of the Status of Forces Agreement by 31 December blindsided Washington, and aroused predictable partisan cries of Iraqi ingratitude.
Since 2003 Washington has watched with growing alarm Iraq’s rapprochement with neighboring Iran, though any Middle Eastern specialist could have observed that a military intervention that overthrew a brutal but secularist dictatorship would allow the country’s repressed Shi’a majority an increased say in a new democratic regime, and the subsequent government would undoubtedly look more kindly on its Shi’a neighbors than Washington might like.
Proof of the changing regional dynamics was underlined on 29 October, when Iraqi Kurdistan's Regional Government President Massoud Barzani at the head of a high-powered delegation met in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
Obviously relishing the moment to discomfit the Obama administration, Salehi emphasized to journalists the Iranian government's commitment to further expand relations with neighboring countries commenting upon the two nations’ friendly relations and the two nations' historical, cultural and religious bonds and commonalities, and expressing his government’s wish to expand ties and cooperation between Iran and Iraq's Kurdistan region, particularly in the areas of economy, bilateral trade, culture, transit links, border issues and reciprocal official visits by the two countries' nations.
Barzani in turn expressed his pleasure in his visit to Iran, and thanked Iran's minister for his country’s aid and assistance to the Iraqi people in hard times before concluding that Kurdistan attaches priority to cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran as an important neighbor.
The following day Barzani met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who told reporters after referring to Iran's cordial and friendly relations with different Iraqi tribes and religions that, "Iran supports progress, development and security in Iraq. It also considers Iraq's progress beneficial to the entire region."
In a not so oblique swipe at Washington’s policies Ahmadinejad stated that the world's superpowers have been weakened, people everywhere are unhappy with the global status quo and hence they should unite to set up a suitable alternate political system in the world before concluding, "Iran and Iraq should step toward development and establishment of security in the region. Iran's security is of paramount importance for Iraq. We consider insecurity along borders harmful to both countries. We are fully ready for cooperation in all areas."
Barzani’s busy schedule also included a meeting with Iranian Vice President for International Affairs Ali Saeedlou, who remarked that Iran and Kurdistan should expand their trade and economic ties through setting up a joint economic committee.
The same day that Barzani met with Ahmadinejad in Tehran Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad, where they discussed bilateral ties and the development of Iraq along with the current political situation in Arab and Muslim countries. Salehi has also scheduled meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
Why can a region of Iraq have such an autonomous foreign policy? Because, the Iraqi government has allowed Iraqi Kurdistan to have oversight, to some degree, of its foreign relations without reference to Baghdad.
Despite the warm diplomacy, an interesting element was absent from both the Kurdish and Iranian remarks about cooperation – energy, more specifically, oil.
Iraqi Kurdistan exports its oil via Iraq's North Oil Company main export pipeline, which carries about 100,000 barrels of crude per day to Turkey’s deepwater port at Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. In August Iraq exported 2.189 million bpd, including 461,000 bpd from fields in the north of the country. Baghdad has ambitious plans to ramp up oil production to 12 million barrels per day within just five years and, as Iraqi Kurdistan is the most stable part of the country, it could turn the region into a magnet for foreign investment and make it a competitor to Iran, where decades of sanctions have stymied government efforts to raise production above is current level of approximately 4.5 million bpd.
If energy issues might impact growing Iranian-Kurdish relations, the attendant foreign policy issues are equally complex. Iran has persistently sought to improve relations with its neighbors, seeing it as both a way to weaken international sanctions and provide surety against any possible Israeli-U.S. military strike on its civilian nuclear facilities.
Iraqi Kurdistan is well aware that the March 2003 U.S. invasion opened up political opportunities for the region denied it by the dictatorship of former President Saddam Hussein, and will undoubtedly be loathe to overly antagonize to anger its U.S. patron by siding too closely with Tehran.
Finally, Iran has issues with the Kurdish Regional Government about reigning in the activities of the Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistan, better known by the acronym PJAK, a Marxist Kurdish nationalist group responsible for numerous terrorist attacks against Iran. Turkey has a similar problem with The Kurdish Marxist Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan, or PKK, and the failure of the Kurdish Regional Government to reign in the groups recently led Turkey and Iran to agree to share military intelligence. While the Barzani administration is understandably nervous about repressing PJAK and the PKK lest they turn their guns on them, exasperation in both Ankara and Tehran is rising over the lack of concrete action and if Iran is eventually forced to choose between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan, there is little doubt that Iran will side with Turkey.
But at the moment, there is a warm glow in Arbil and Tehran about improving relations.
As a corollary to the flurry of diplomatic activity, Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Barham Saleh on 30 October left for the U.S. for an official visit accompanied by Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami and Minister of Planning Ali Sindi, where they will meet with U.S. officials and participate in some symposiums on the Arab Spring. The representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government to the United States is Qubad Talabani, the youngest son of Iraqi president Jalal Talabani.
Beyond discussing the Arab Spring, doubtless the quartet will be pressed by eager U.S. officials to learn all about the Arbil-Tehran “thaw,” engaging in “frank and candid” discussions, to use diplomatese.
By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com
Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 02:55:22 AM by prentice crawford
Reply #691 on:
December 18, 2011, 02:57:46 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on December 18, 2011, 02:49:49 AM
PLEASE USE THE SUBJECT LINE IN YOUR POSTS
Oh, ye of little faith. I wasn't done yet, but thanks for the stern reminder.
Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 03:16:46 AM by prentice crawford
China get's chummy with Iraq
Reply #692 on:
December 18, 2011, 04:12:16 AM »
China becomes chummy with Iraq.
Iraq, China to improve relations: Iraqi PM
English.news.cn 2011-07-16 15:47:31 FeedbackPrintRSS
by Zhang Ning
BAGHDAD, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki here on Thursday said Iraq and China have the common wish to further improve the mutual relations.
The Iraqi premier, who is slated to pay a visit to China from Sunday to July 21, said in an joint interview by Xinhua and China's CCTV that Iraq and China both have long history of civilizations and the two cultures have had impact on each other.
"We'd like to renew the Silk Road," said Maliki, referring to the ancient trade route from China to Europe which had a stop in Iraq.
In the modern history, said the Iraqi leader, the two countries have seen close relations in politics and economy.
"China has become a major power in the world arena and Iraq wishes to strengthen the ties with China," said the premier.
He said China's economy is on good track and Iraq is eager to enhance the economic cooperation with China.
Chinese companies have been working in Iraq in sectors including oil, electricity and construction.
Maliki said Iraq is faced with difficulties in its reconstruction effort, as infrastructure, public service and government institutions are all in need of more fund.
"So the first step is to improve the production of crude oil, in a bid to increase revenue," said the prime minister.
In his tour to China, Maliki wishes he could bring more Chinese companies to Iraq to help with the country's reconstruction.
"These companies will find in Iraq a good investment environment. Iraq is capable of rewarding the investors with benefits," said the prime minister.
In regard to the country's government reform plan, Maliki said he has sent a letter to the national parliament, asking for the approval to decrease the number of cabinet positions.
Maliki's government has over 40 ministers, which is criticized by the public and rival groups.
"The aim of the reform is to urge the ministries to help people more efficiently and successfully," said the prime minister.
As to the security situation, Maliki said, "things have improved compared with years ago."
He said the Iraqi security forces have strengthened in training and equipment, adding "They can take responsibility without the help of foreign troops."
However, he added the Iraqi security forces still need U.S. help in training.
Editor: Wang Guanqun
Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 04:24:25 AM by prentice crawford
Reply #693 on:
December 18, 2011, 04:30:07 AM »
Venezuela is chummy again.
The Republic of Iraq in Caracas
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Reply #694 on:
December 18, 2011, 09:30:06 AM »
Quote from: prentice crawford on December 17, 2011, 07:22:35 PM
@JDN THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER DEBATE BETWEEN ME AND YOU ON THIS SUBJECT.
Gee, you could have fooled me.
Since then you have posted 7 long mostly irrelevant posts with no comments so I'm not sure what they have to do with your support for American IMPERIALISM ("We should be building more bases in Iraq, right in Iran's backyard"). It doesn't matter to you that this is against the will of the Iraqi government? Oh that's right, your answer is we are the CONQUERORS. Did you notice, the AMERICAN people don't want us there either. But that doesn't seem to matter to you either.
Or what do your most recent posts have to do with your previous post suggesting that we participate in vile COLONIALISM "Iraq should be paying us in oil for every cent we have spent there too." We invade them, we've foolishly spent billions upon billions, so now you want make them pay and bleed them dry huh? Back to the days of to the victor go the spoils. Do you think we should take slaves too?
Following that bent, maybe you are right. Let's go invade and conqueror Venezuela, Cuba, Saudi Arabia et al (anyone who is weak and has assets we want), let's conquer them all, it should be relatively easy, then let's "build some bases" and make them pay for "every cent" we spent. As I said, maybe some good accountant can turn the Defense Department into a profit center. And your PR department can say we are doing it for their own good.
Reply #695 on:
December 18, 2011, 09:54:14 AM »
That's strange I can only hear crickets on this thread.
Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 09:58:51 AM by prentice crawford
Reply #696 on:
December 18, 2011, 09:57:01 AM »
Finally it's peaceful...
Loose ends in Iraq - Ali Mussa Daqduq
Reply #697 on:
December 18, 2011, 01:20:43 PM »
Outrage In Iraq
As our involvement in Iraq has wound down, a few loose ends remained. The most important was the status of Ali Mussa Daqduq. Daqduq is a Hezbollah operative, apparently directed by Iran, who was responsible for the capture, torture and murder of five American servicemen. Under the status of forces agreement, he was to be turned over to Iraqi authorities, and could only be removed from that country with the permission of its government. A number of conservative activists and politicians campaigned to retain custody of Daqduq and bring him to Guantanamo Bay or another suitable venue for trial. A correspondent forwarded this email:
I know Captain Dan Fritz, Jake Fritz’s brother. He’s been to our house in Morgantown — in fact, one year to the day after Jake was abducted and murdered in Iraq.
I know Noala Fritz, Jake’s mother, from Verdon, Nebraska. She is one of the most humble, down to earth, pleasant people you will ever meet. Jake’s father, Lyle, a Marine and Viet Nam vet, passed away in June of this year. Together, they raised one of the most patriotic, caring, and giving families in America.
I write you to seek your assistance in stopping this absolute lunacy and ultimate travesty of justice that is about to occur. Please, contact anybody and everybody you can, and enlist their support in stopping Daqduq’s release from happening. Use the power of the internet, social media, or whatever means available, and get people to speak up. Leverage what you can (political parties, TEA parties, prayer groups, etc.) to let our Congressmen and Senators in DC know of our interest to stop the release of this calculated, cold-blooded murderer.
The Fritz’s are a family that has seen more than its share of suffering, and is “all in” on the War on Terror. We owe it to them, and to Jake’s honor, to see that his killer faces justice.
Thank you for your engagement — there is little time to act.
All such pleas fell on deaf ears, and the Obama administration turned Daqduq over to the Iraqis, despite widespread predictions that they will send him to Iran, where he will receive a hero’s welcome and soon return to the fight. The Wall Street Journal reported:
U.S. officials have feared turning [Daqduq] over to Iraq would lead to his release without trial.
The Obama administration “sought and received assurances that he will be tried for his crimes,” a White House spokesman said. “We have worked this at the highest levels of the U.S. and Iraqi governments, and we continue to discuss with the Iraqis the best way to ensure that he faces justice.”
We will see. My guess is that Daqduq will be released and will be lavished with wealth and honors until we encounter him on a battlefield once again. My own view–call me a Neanderthal–is that things never should have gone this far. If Daqduq is who we think he is, and to my knowledge there is no dissent on that point, he should simply have been shot, long ago.
Reply #698 on:
December 18, 2011, 06:28:12 PM »
One of the most widely photographed acts of President Obama's first year in office was his symbolic pre-dawn salute to the caskets of U.S. soldiers returning to Dover Air Force Base. In the case of a terrorist named Ali Musa Daqduq, who was released yesterday from U.S. custody in Iraq, the President is letting down those fallen soldiers and their families.
Daqduq is a Lebanese national and top Hezbollah operative who in January 2007 masterminded the ambush, kidnapping and murder of five American soldiers in the Iraqi city of Karbala. Arrested by U.S. forces in Basra two months later, Daqduq is said to have initially pretended to be deaf and mute. But he eventually talked, giving U.S. interrogators an extensive picture of the ways in which Iran was arming and training Iraq's insurgents.
Now Daqduq is in Iraqi custody—released, according to the Administration, because it could not lawfully do otherwise. "We have sought and received assurances [from the Iraqi government] that he will be tried for his crimes," said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
Mr. Vietor surely knows the likelier outcome is that Daqduq will be released or acquitted so that he can rejoin his comrades in Beirut or Tehran. The Iraqi government has already released some 50 other prisoners responsible for attacks on U.S. forces.
The Administration contends that its hands were tied by the U.S.-Iraq status-of-forces agreement negotiated by the Bush Administration, which required Iraq's consent—not forthcoming—to remove any prisoners from the country. But it's hard to see why that stipulation would apply to Daqduq, who is not an Iraqi citizen.
The Administration also thought of bringing Daqduq to the U.S. for trial in federal court or a military tribunal. Both ideas would have meant taking political heat, but at a minimum it showed that the status-of-forces deal was not an insuperable obstacle to keeping Daqduq in U.S. custody provided the Administration was determined to do so.
Alas, it wasn't. The one place Daqduq unquestionably belongs is in the prison at Guantanamo, which also happens to be the one place the Administration wouldn't countenance having him. By now, even Mr. Obama understands that Gitmo serves a vital role in housing terrorists who either can't be safely released or easily tried. Daqduq, the most senior Hezbollah figure in U.S. custody and a man who conspicuously disdained the laws of war, fits that bill.
But even if Mr. Obama can't close Gitmo as he promised, neither can he bring himself openly to acknowledge its benefits. Leftist furies are more than he's willing to face. Instead, the Administration has made the calculation that one more terrorist kingpin on the loose with American blood on his hands is an acceptable price to pay for not establishing the precedent that new prisoners may again be brought to Guantanamo.
In a different world, Daqduq would not be heading for a hero's welcome in Beirut or Tehran but instead would be on a military flight to Cuba, with the (feigned) indignation of the Iraqi government receding in the distance. In a different world, too, the families of Daqduq's victims would have the solace that he is behind bars and unable to do further harm. That's a world that will have to await a different Administration.
Reply #699 on:
December 18, 2011, 06:36:27 PM »
In the WSJ-- second post of afternoon.
By FOUAD AJAMI
'The tide of war is receding, and the soul of Baghdad remains, the soul of Iraq remains," Vice President Joe Biden said at Camp Victory, by the Baghdad airport, earlier this month, in the countdown to the official end of the Iraq war. In truth, the receding tide Mr. Biden glimpsed was that of American power and influence in Iraq and in the Greater Middle East.
This wasn't something the people of that region pined for. These are lands that crave the protection of a dominant foreign power as they feign outrage at its exercise. Nor was it decreed by the objective facts of American power, for this country still possesses all the ingredients of influence and prestige. It was, rather, a decision made in the course of the Obama presidency—the ebb of our power has become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
America was never meant to stay in Iraq indefinitely. In all fairness to President Obama, he had ridden the disappointment with Iraq from the state legislature in Illinois to the White House. He was not a pacifist, he let it be known. He did not oppose all wars. It was only "dumb" wars he was against. In every way he could, he kept Iraq at arm's length. He never partook of the view that we had secured strategic gains in that country worth preserving. It was thus awkward to watch the president on Monday, with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki by his side, explaining as we exit that "We think a successful, democratic Iraq can be a model for the entire region." The words rang hollow.
A president who understood the stakes would have had no difficulty justifying a residual American presence in Iraq. But not this president. At the core of Mr. Obama's worldview lies a pessimism about America and the power of its ideals and reach in the world.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki meets this week with President Obama.
.The one exception to this strategic timidity is the pride Mr. Obama takes in prosecuting the war against terrorists. In a moment evocative of George W. Bush, Mr. Obama last week swatted away the charge that he had been appeasing America's enemies abroad: "Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top Al Qaeda leaders who've been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement." Fair enough. But the world demands more than that, it begs for a larger strategic reading of things.
We shall never know with certainty what was possible and open to us in Iraq. On the face of it, the Iraqis wanted us out, and Mr. Maliki and his coalition had been unwilling to give our troops legal immunity from prosecution. But how we got there is less understood. The U.S. commanders on the ground thought that a residual presence of 20,000 soldiers would suffice to keep the order in Iraq and give the United States an anchor in that country. The White House had proposed a much lower figure, somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000. That force level would have been unsustainable, a target for the disgruntled and the conspirators.
No Iraqi government would run the gauntlet of a divided country, and a feisty parliament, for that sort of deal. Mr. Maliki may not be fully tutored in the ways of American democracy, but he is shrewd enough to recognize that this American leader was not invested in Iraq's affairs.
Six years ago, when this war was still young and its harvest uncertain, a brilliant Iraqi diplomat and writer, Hassan al-Alawi, wrote a provocative book titled "al-Iraq al-Amriki" ("American Iraq"). It was proper, he observed, to speak of an American Iraq as one does of a Sumerian, a Babylonian, an Abbasid, an Ottoman, then a British Iraq. He didn't think that America would stick around long in Iraq, but he thought the American impact would be monumental. Whereas British Iraq empowered the Sunnis, the Americans would tip the scales in favor of the Shiites.
All three principal communities in Iraq had a vested interest in American protection. The Kurds, the most pro-American population in the region, were desperate to have America remain—a balance to the power of Turkey, a buffer between their autonomous zone in the north and the Baghdad government. The Sunnis, the erstwhile masters of the country, had come around: An American presence with enough authority would be their shield against a sectarian, Shiite regime that would cut them out of the spoils.
Ironically, the Shiite majority, the followers of the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr aside, had a vested interest in an American deterrent on the ground. For all their edge in the politics of Baghdad, the Shiites are still given to a healthy measure of paranoia about the world around them. The Iraq midwifed by U.S. power had been delivered into a hostile neighborhood. The Sunni Arabs had yet to accept and make their peace with the rise of a Shiite-led government in Baghdad. And the rebellion in Syria added to the uncertainty, feeding the anxiety of Mr. Maliki and the Shiite political class over a Syrian regime to their west ruled by the Sunni majority. There is also Turkey, large and now with economic means and a view of itself as a protector of the Sunnis of the region.
And there remained Iran, to the east, with the traffic of commerce and pilgrimage, with the religious entanglements born of a common Shiite faith. For the Sunni Arabs—and for Americans who had opposed this war—Iraq is destined to slip, nay it has already slipped, into the orbit of the Persian theocracy. The American war, with all its sacrifices, had simply created a "sister republic" of the Persian state, it is said.
Those who love to organize an untidy world have spoken of a "Shiite crescent" that stretches from Iran, through Iraq, all the way to the Mediterranean and Syria and Lebanon. But the image is false. Iraq is a big and proud country, with a strong sense of nationalism, and oil wealth of its own. An Iraqi political class, with its vast oil reserves, has no interest in ceding its authority to the Iranians.
The Shiism that straddles the boundaries of the two countries divides them as well. The sacred lands of Shiism are in Iraq, and the Shiism of the Iraqis is Arab through and through. The pride of Najaf is great, I can't see it deferring to the religious authority of strangers.
One of our ablest diplomats, Ryan Crocker, then ambassador to Baghdad, now our envoy in Kabul, once pronounced the definitive judgment on these contested Iraqi matters: "In the end, what we leave behind and how we leave will be more important than how we came." It so happened that when it truly mattered, the president who called the shots on Iraq had his gaze fixated on the past and its disputations.
Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and co-chair of Hoover's Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.
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