Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
December 09, 2013, 01:29:01 PM
Login with username, password and session length
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
Dog Brothers Public Forum
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities
Politics & Religion
Topic: Iraq (Read 142196 times)
500 escape in jailbreak, including AQ folks.
Reply #850 on:
July 22, 2013, 05:20:35 PM »
HUGE PRISON BREAK IN IRAQ: 500 Escape Including Senior Al-Qaeda Members Who Were Due To Be Executed
Kareem Raheem and Ziad al-Sinjary, Reuters Jul. 22, 2013, 4:47 PM 5,292 12
Iraqi security forces at Abu Ghraib prison.
The deadly raid on the high-security jail happened as Sunni Muslim militants are re-gaining momentum in their insurgency against the Shi'ite-led government that came to power after the U.S. invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
Suicide bombers drove cars packed with explosives to the gates of the prison on the outskirts of Baghdad on Sunday night and blasted their way into the compound, while gunmen attacked guards with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
Other militants took up positions near the main road, fighting off security reinforcements sent from Baghdad as several militants wearing suicide vests entered the prison on foot to help free the inmates.
Ten policemen and four militants were killed in the ensuing clashes, which continued until Monday morning, when military helicopters arrived, helping to regain control.
By that time, hundreds of inmates had succeeded in fleeing Abu Ghraib, the prison made notorious a decade ago by photographs showing abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers.
"The number of escaped inmates has reached 500, most of them were convicted senior members of al Qaeda and had received death sentences," Hakim Al-Zamili, a senior member of the security and defense committee in parliament, told Reuters.
"The security forces arrested some of them, but the rest are still free."
One security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity: "It's obviously a terrorist attack carried out by al Qaeda to free convicted terrorists with al Qaeda."
A simultaneous attack on another prison, in Taji, around 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad, followed a similar pattern, but guards managed to prevent any inmates escaping. Sixteen soldiers and six militants were killed.
Sunni insurgents, including the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, have been regaining strength in recent months and striking on an almost daily basis against Shi'ite Muslims and security forces amongst other targets.
The violence has raised fears of a return to full-blown conflict in a country where Kurds, Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable way of sharing power.
In the northern city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives behind a military convoy in the eastern Kokchali district, killing at least 22 soldiers and three passers-by, police said.
Suicide bombings are the hallmark of al Qaeda, which has been regrouping in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city and capital of the Sunni-dominated Nineveh province.
A separate attack in western Mosul killed four policemen, police said.
Relations between Islam's two main denominations have been put under further strain from the civil war in Syria, which has drawn in Shi'ite and Sunni fighters from Iraq and beyond to fight against each other.
Recent attacks have targeted mosques, amateur football matches, shopping areas and cafes where people gather to socialize after breaking their daily fast for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
Nearly 600 people have been killed in militant attacks across Iraq so far this month, according to violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count.
That is still well below the height of bloodletting in 2006-07, when the monthly death toll sometimes exceeded 3,000.
(Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Suadad al-Salhy in Baghdad; Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
Reply #851 on:
August 29, 2013, 10:22:01 AM »
The tempo of deadly attacks has quickened in Iraq, with coordinated bombings and other assaults occurring almost daily since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. On Aug. 28, for example, some 12 devices reportedly detonated simultaneously in mostly Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, killing 30 people and wounding another 160. Casualties over the past four months have reached their highest levels since the sectarian conflict that raged from 2006 to 2008 during U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom. Near-daily attacks seem likely to continue, but the dramatic rise in violence in Iraq does not portend a return to total instability.
A close look at the tactics, target sets and geographical locations of recent operations indicates that there has not been a marked increase in militant capabilities, despite the high casualty counts. Moreover, militants have avoided attacking critical economic installations and important government targets, and the violence has not disrupted Iraq's delicate balance of power, which has helped facilitate the country's reconstruction after a decade of war.
Coordinated, high-casualty attacks like those on Aug. 28 have become common in Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country at the end of 2011. The majority of operations, which are carried out by groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have been concentrated in certain geographic regions against similar targets by insurgents using a standard set of tactics.
Iraq's Limited Risk of Civil War
The violence has occurred primarily in regions around Baghdad, Tikrit, Kirkuk and Mosul. Less frequently, militants have also attacked national security forces stationed in Sunni regions and targets deeper into areas traditionally controlled by Shia. The geographic focus of the attacks indicates that the reach of militants is limited to areas in which they can routinely operate freely, typically where the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish spheres of influence intersect.
Small Attacks, Soft Targets
The high daily casualty rates are typically achieved by detonating multiple devices dispersed across large areas. Exact details of the attacks are elusive, but the fact that there are relatively few casualties and relatively little structural damage in each explosion suggests the use of weak vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and small improvised explosive devices placed in cars rather than traditional car bombs. Suicide vests have also been used, albeit less frequently, and while small-scale small arms attacks are common, they have been used only rarely in large, coordinated assaults.
Civil War is Unlikely in Iraq Despite a Surge in Violence
Thus far, militants appear to be taking a path of least resistance, preferring softer targets to pillars of Iraqi stability. These targets include civilians in residential areas and security personnel manning exposed checkpoints. More notable is what has not been attacked: oil transportation infrastructure, the revenues from which are critical to uniting Iraq's various power factions, and systems essential for daily needs, such as drinking water and electricity. Government buildings, including ministry headquarters, have also been spared.
Militants have occasionally carried out larger, more complex operations. For example, an assault freed several hundred prisoners from Abu Ghraib on July 21. The attack utilized vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, suicide vests and armed personnel infiltrating a hardened target. However, the prison was not as strategically significant or symbolic as other targets around Baghdad, and such sophisticated operations have remained relatively rare. Moreover, the spike in casualties during Ramadan was not due to improved capabilities among the militants but rather the wider availability of soft targets. Insurgents simply increased the tempo of their attacks to take advantage of the holiday.
Despite Vulnerabilities, a Resilience to Violence
The militants' preference for soft targets was caused in part by the success Iraqi security forces have had hardening and protecting critical targets. Iraqi forces have also proved capable of carrying out successful offensives against insurgent groups, such as one launched in western and central Iraq after the end of Ramadan that resulted in the arrests of more than 800 suspected militants. Still, Iraqi authorities cannot protect the entire country or project strength widely enough to degrade the insurgency. There are just too many targets and too few resources available to protect them, so the Iraqi government has prioritized hardening some targets while leaving others exposed.
Moreover, militants can take advantage of the vast, desolate desert regions in western Iraq, as well as in areas disputed between Kurdish and Iraqi authorities or the security vacuum in eastern Syria. Large, insecure areas with borders that restrict movements of security forces (or require coordination among authorities from multiple territories) serve as ideal sanctuaries for militants to plan operations, access supplies and project power.
For the time being, current levels of violence will likely continue in Iraq, without devolving fully into civil war. Iraqi stability has been achieved through careful cooperation among Sunni, Kurdish and Shiite authorities, and thus far militants have failed to destabilize the balance of power or provoke the three sides into fighting one other. If they are unable to fracture modern Iraq's power structures, militants will continue to achieve high body counts with daily attacks but little else. Iraq's resilience to bloodshed is high after years of war, and the country appears capable of absorbing the recent spike in violence as well.
Read more: Iraq's Limited Risk of Civil War | Stratfor
Warfront with Jihadistan
Reply #852 on:
October 16, 2013, 11:52:47 AM »
Underlining my repeated point that our exiting from Iraq will be revealed to have been a huge historical error.
WSJ: Violence reverses gains in Iraq
Reply #853 on:
October 25, 2013, 11:34:46 AM »
Obama's decision to throw away success in Iraq begins to reify.
Violence Reverses Gains in Iraq
Matt Bradley and
Ali A. Nabhan
Oct. 24, 2013 7:37 p.m. ET
BAGHDAD—A flurry of recent attacks by al Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq—strengthened by their alliance with jihadist fighters in Syria—is threatening to undo years of U.S. efforts to crush the group, widening sectarian conflict in the Middle East.
The chaos across the border in Syria and Iraqi Sunnis' feeling of discrimination under the Shiite-led government has reignited the kind of intense sectarian strife that brought Iraq to the verge of civil war in 2006-2007. A security vacuum left by the withdrawal of American combat troops in December 2011 is also helping the fighters regain a foothold.
The civilian death toll so far this year is nearly double last year's, up to over 5,700 from at least 3,200. In July 2013 alone, 1,057 people were killed—the deadliest month for Iraqis in five years.
Iraqi security officials say al Qaeda-linked fighters from the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, are moving aggressively to re-establish a base of operations in Anbar province, the stronghold of the Sunni insurgency during the U.S.-led war.
If the extremists succeed, they would undo one of the hardest-fought gains of U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies. By the time of the U.S. pullout at the end of 2011, the insurgency had been significantly weakened, in large part by a U.S. alliance with moderate Sunni tribesmen.
"This is a strategic goal for ISIS to control the western part of Iraq," said Ammar Tou'ma, a member of the Iraqi parliament's security and defense committee. "In 2005 and 2006, they were controlling on the ground and used some areas as bases and training camps for their members and as a safe haven to carry out operations."
Sparsely populated Anbar province, with its majority Sunni population, sits on the porous frontier with Syria and borders Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Violence there has risen dramatically since the spring, when a mostly Sunni and primarily peaceful protest movement against the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad drew a violent response from security forces.
Iraqi policemen inspect the damage inside a building after clashes and suicide bomb attacks in Fallujah on Oct. 21. EPA
On Tuesday, at least 22 members of the security forces were killed in a series of suicide bombings and shootings, mostly in Anbar.
No group has claimed responsibility, but the high level of coordination and sophistication—one attack sparked a 10-hour standoff with security forces—points to the involvement of ISIS, which Iraqi and American intelligence forces believe is operating out of eastern Syria.
Following recent attacks in Anbar and the northern city of Mosul, Syrian and Iraqi jihadis openly congratulated ISIS operatives on jihadi Web forums.
Whereas attacks in the rest of the country tend to be isolated acts of terror such as car and suicide bombings, Anbar officials say attacks in the province look more like muscular efforts to gain and hold territory.
The growing instability in Iraq coincides with the strengthening of jihadist rebels in Syria, many of them foreign fighters, battling to unseat President Bashar al-Assad.
The fighters flow fluidly back and forth across the Iraq-Syria border, staging attacks on both sides, Iraqi intelligence officials said.
Cooperation has bolstered the main jihadist groups in both countries and caused an escalation of attacks in Iraq, the officials said.
Security officials in Anbar say the weapons al Qaeda uses in Anbar have become more sophisticated than those used by the police and military, reflecting a relatively new interchange in military hardware between Syria and western Iraq.
"The regional situation is applying huge pressure on us," said Falih al Essawi, the deputy head of Anbar provincial council and a member in a prominent Sunni tribe. "ISIS is trying to control the borders to find a means to transport weapons, equipment and fighters between the two countries."
In Syria, the Nusra Front, an al Qaeda-linked group, has been one of the most effective fighting forces in the revolt against Mr. Assad. But it has also contributed to divisions within the rebel camp and complicated Western efforts to aid the uprising because U.S. officials don't want to help the jihadists.
Iraqi and American intelligence agencies suspect Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of al Qaeda's Iraq division, is operating out of eastern Syria.
During the Iraq war, Syria's regime facilitated a flood of foreign fighters who flowed into Iraq. The militants were battling U.S. forces and the Shiite-led government that took over after Saddam Hussein's minority Sunni regime was ousted in the early days of the war.
American troops fought some costly battles against al Qaeda and its sympathizers in Anbar, particularly in the so-called Sunni Triangle, which extended from Fallujah near Baghdad westward to the provincial capital of Anbar, Ramadi.
U.S. and Iraqi forces were finally able to subdue Anbar province during the "surge" of 2007.
While most local residents in Anbar don't support al Qaeda, many see the group as a last bastion of resistance against Shiite domination.
"ISIS isn't facing any refusal or resistance from the locals," said Mr. Tou'ma, the Shiite legislator.
Iraq, and by extension Anbar, lies at the fulcrum of the Middle East's power struggle between Shiite-majority Iran and Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Assad, who belongs to a sect that is an offshoot of Shiite Islam, has received substantial support from Iran and some tacit encouragement from Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who hasn't blocked Iranian flights suspected of carrying weapons over Iraqi airspace to Damascus, despite U.S. objections.
The Obama administration, in turn, has angered its Persian Gulf allies with its overtures to Iran and its decision not to intervene in Syria.
Inspired by the Arab uprisings sweeping the region, Sunnis in Anbar and other western provinces began weekly protests in December 2012, mostly against antiterrorism laws they claimed were disproportionately aimed at Sunnis.
When security forces killed more than 50 in a raid on a protest encampment in April, the protests evolved into a cycle of rising violence.
Iraqi PM Maliki: Have patience with us/POTH: Senators warn Obama
Reply #854 on:
October 30, 2013, 10:02:57 AM »
BAGHDAD — Imagine how Americans would react if you had a terrorist organization operating on your own soil that killed dozens and maimed hundreds every week. For Iraqis, that isn’t a hypothetical question; Al Qaeda in Iraq and its affiliates are conducting a terrorist campaign against our people.
These terrorists aren’t just Iraq’s enemies. They are also America’s enemies. That is why, when I meet with President Obama on Friday, I plan to propose a deeper security relationship between the United States and Iraq to combat terrorism and address broader regional security concerns, including the conflict in Syria and the threat that proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons could pose in the region.
It has been almost two years since American troops withdrew from Iraq. And despite the terrorist threats we face, we are not asking for American boots on the ground. Rather, we urgently want to equip our own forces with the weapons they need to fight terrorism, including helicopters and other military aircraft so that we can secure our borders and protect our people. Hard as it is to believe, Iraq doesn’t have a single fighter jet to protect its airspace.
The United States is our security partner of choice, so we have been working with the U.S. government and American defense firms to procure the equipment we need. We see this as helping to solidify a relationship that we want to remain the cornerstone of our security strategy. Iraqis are grateful for the great sacrifices Americans have made on behalf of our country. But Iraq today is no longer a protectorate; it is a partner in what President Obama has described as “a normal relationship based on mutual interests and mutual respect.”
These mutual interests include combating terrorism and resolving the conflict in Syria. The war in Syria has become a magnet that attracts sectarian extremists and terrorists from various parts of the world and gathers them in our neighborhood, with many slipping across our all-too-porous borders. We do not want Syria or Iraq to become bases for Al Qaeda operations, and neither does the United States.
While the world sees Syria as a humanitarian tragedy, we also see an immediate threat to the security of our own country. Al Qaeda is engaged in a renewed, concerted campaign to foment sectarian violence and drive a wedge between our people. We will not let that happen again.
Because we do not want Syria to continue to attract violent extremists, much less cause a regional conflagration, our top priority is to end the bloodshed and achieve a negotiated settlement. The Iraqi government is serious about not allowing our own citizens to arm any side of the Syrian conflict.
We are also committed to preventing the territory, the waterways and, yes, the airspace of our country from being used by any outside entity to fuel the conflict in Syria. But, with many better-armed neighbors and no air force or air defenses to speak of, our ability to enforce this policy is limited. This is one of many reasons we are urgently seeking to improve our air defense capabilities.
After some initial differences, American and Iraqi policies toward Syria are converging. We are pleased by the agreement to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons and eager to support it in any way we can. No country would be more threatened than Iraq if these awful weapons fell into the hands of terrorists.
In our region, we worry not just about chemical weapons, but all weapons of mass destruction. We strongly support gradually transforming the Middle East into a nuclear-weapon-free-zone. (MARC: Translation: Israel needs to give up its nukes too) And to underscore our commitment to this goal, Iraq recently became the 161st nation to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
As we combat violent extremism, we are striving to create and improve our vibrant democracy. Iraqis understand and respect the difference between terrorist attacks and peaceful protests. While resisting terrorists and militias, our government is responding to peaceful protesters by engaging in extensive dialogue through the formation of high-level coordinating committees, and we are working to address the demands of protesters. Since the end of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny in 2003, we have conducted more than five free elections, cementing our democracy and creating a coalition government that represents every region and religious group.
Ultimately, the answer to terrorism is progress. We have one of the world’s fastest-growing economies; it expanded by 9.6 percent in 2011 and 10.5 percent in 2012. Our oil production has increased by 50 percent since 2005, and we are expected to emerge as the world’s second largest energy exporter by 2030. We are reinvesting our energy revenues in rebuilding our infrastructure and reviving our education and health care systems. As we rebuild, Iraqis can be promising partners for American companies in all of these fields.
Iraq has matured into a country with democratic institutions. But we are in need of more training, education, practice — and patience.
We are on the road to security, democracy and prosperity. While we still have a long way to go, we want to walk that road together with the United States.
Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is the prime minister of Iraq.
Senators Warn Obama Before Iraq Leader’s Visit
By MICHAEL R. GORDON and ERIC SCHMITT
Published: October 29, 2013
WASHINGTON — As Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq headed to Washington on Tuesday, an influential group of senators sent a strongly worded letter to President Obama warning that Mr. Maliki’s “mismanagement” of Iraqi politics had contributed to the surge of violence there.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq is to meet with President Obama Friday.
Mr. Maliki, who is scheduled to meet with Mr. Obama on Friday, has signaled that he wants the United States to provide sophisticated weapons, including Apache attack helicopters, so that the Iraqi government can fight Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups.
The letter, signed by ranking Democratic as well as Republican lawmakers, sought to put Mr. Maliki on notice that continued American support for Iraq would depend heavily on his willingness to share power with his nation’s Sunni and Kurdish minorities.
Mr. Maliki, a Shiite politician who became prime minister in 2006 with the support of the American ambassador to Baghdad, has often been accused of being sectarian and authoritarian. Those tendencies, the senators wrote, made Iraq more fertile ground for insurgents who have been mounting attacks with increasing frequency.
“This failure of governance is driving many Sunni Iraqis into the arms of Al Qaeda in Iraq and fueling the rise of violence,” the letter said.
Earlier on Tuesday, two of the senators spoke angrily in separate interviews about Mr. Maliki’s failure to unify the competing factions in Iraq. “He’s got a lot of work to do in terms of pulling together diverse elements of his country,” said Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who heads the Armed Services Committee. “He’s not done a particularly good job of it.”
Mr. Levin also criticized Mr. Maliki for acquiescing in, if not facilitating, Iran’s efforts to supply weapons to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, using flights through Iraqi airspace. “They’ve allowed overflights, Iranian planes, to supply Syria,” Mr. Levin said.
Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, which is to meet with Mr. Maliki on Wednesday, was even more critical of the Iraqi leader. “What he’s done is create a situation where the population is more accepting of what Al Qaeda is doing there because of his lack of inclusiveness,” Mr. Corker said.
The other senators who signed the letter were John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both Republicans who have long taken a strong interest in Iraq; Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who is chairman of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee; and James M. Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma who is the ranking minority member of the Armed Services Committee.
In expressing alarm over the rising number of bombings and the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the senators also appeared to chide Mr. Obama for not being more outspoken about developments there.
The letter emphasized that Mr. Maliki’s visit was an opportunity for Mr. Obama to “re-engage with the American people about the continuing strategic importance of Iraq.”
The last American troops left Iraq at the end of 2011 under an agreement signed by President George W. Bush and Mr. Maliki. The United States and Iraq have signed an agreement calling for cooperation on security and economic issues. But critics say that such cooperation has never fully developed.
In their letter, the senators urged the president to step up American efforts to help Iraq’s security force to fight terrorist groups, especially through the increased sharing of intelligence.
The senators stopped short of saying that such support should be withheld if Mr. Maliki did not adopt a more inclusive approach in governing. But they warned that the degree of American support for security assistance and arms sales would be influenced by Mr. Maliki’s “governance strategy.”
A major concern of many lawmakers is that American weapons supplied to the Iraqi government might be used by Mr. Maliki to crack down on his political opponents.
Mr. Maliki is leading a large delegation to Washington and is also scheduled to meet with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other senior officials.
In his remarks in Baghdad before flying to Washington, Mr. Maliki made clear that his priority was to secure support for sale of American arms and other forms of security assistance. “We will discuss security and intelligence in addition to arms needed by the military to fight terrorism,” he said.
Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 10:57:42 AM by Crafty_Dog
DAVID PETRAEUS: How We Won in Iraq, & why gains are in danger of being lost
Reply #855 on:
October 30, 2013, 12:00:41 PM »
How We Won in Iraq
And why all the hard-won gains of the surge are in grave danger of being lost today.
BY DAVID H. PETRAEUS | OCTOBER 29, 2013
One of five internet pages, more at the link. Free registration required or (contact me).
The news out of Iraq is, once again, exceedingly grim. The resurrection of al Qaeda in Iraq -- which was on the ropes at the end of the surge in 2008 -- has led to a substantial increase in ethno-sectarian terrorism in the Land of the Two Rivers. The civil war next door in Syria has complicated matters greatly, aiding the jihadists on both sides of the border and bringing greater Iranian involvement in Mesopotamia. And various actions by the Iraqi government have undermined the reconciliation initiatives of the surge that enabled the sense of Sunni Arab inclusion and contributed to the success of the venture. Moreover, those Iraqi government actions have also prompted prominent Sunnis to withdraw from the government and led the Sunni population to take to the streets in protest. As a result of all this, Iraqi politics are now mired in mistrust and dysfunction.
This is not a road that Iraqis had to travel. Indeed, by the end of the surge in 2008, a different future was possible. That still seemed to be the case in December 2011, when the final U.S. forces (other than a sizable security assistance element) departed; however, the different future was possible only if Iraqi political leaders capitalized on the opportunities that were present. Sadly, it appears that a number of those opportunities were squandered, as political infighting and ethno-sectarian actions reawakened the fears of Iraq's Sunni Arab population and, until recently, also injected enormous difficulty into the relationship between the government in Baghdad and the leaders of the Kurdish Regional Government.
To understand the dynamics in Iraq -- and the possibilities that still exist, it is necessary to revisit what actually happened during the surge, a history now explored in a forthcoming book written by my executive officer at the time, Col. (Ret.) Peter Mansoor, now a professor of military history at the Ohio State University.
Leading the coalition military effort during the surge in Iraq in 2007 and 2008 was the most important endeavor -- and greatest challenge -- of my 37 years in uniform. The situation in Iraq was dire at the end of 2006, when President George W. Bush decided to implement the surge and selected me to command it. Indeed, when I returned to Baghdad in early February 2007, I found the conditions there to be even worse than I had expected. The deterioration since I had left Iraq in September 2005 after my second tour was sobering. The violence -- which had escalated dramatically in 2006 in the wake of the bombing of the Shiite al-Askari shrine in the Sunni city of Samarra -- was totally out of control. With well over 50 attacks and three car bombs per day on average in Baghdad alone, the plan to hand off security tasks to Iraqi forces clearly was not working. Meanwhile, the sectarian battles on the streets were mirrored by infighting in the Iraqi government and Council of Representatives, and those disputes produced a dysfunctional political environment. With many of the oil pipelines damaged or destroyed, electrical towers toppled, roads in disrepair, local markets shuttered, and government workers and citizens fearing for their lives, government revenue was down and the provision of basic services was wholly inadequate. Life in many areas of the capital and the country was about little more than survival.
In addition to those challenges, I knew that if there was not clear progress by September 2007, when I anticipated having to return to the United States to testify before Congress in open hearings, the limited remaining support on Capitol Hill and in the United States for the effort in Iraq would evaporate.
In short, President Bush had staked the final years of his presidency -- and his legacy -- on the surge, and it was up to those on the ground to achieve progress. In the end, that is what we did together, military and civilian, coalition and Iraqi. But as my great diplomatic partner Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and I used to note, Iraq was "all hard, all the time."
The Surge of Forces and the Surge of Ideas
The surge had many components. The most prominent, of course, was the deployment of the additional U.S. forces committed by President Bush -- nearly 30,000 of them in the end. Without those forces, we never could have achieved progress as quickly as we did. And, given the necessity to make progress by the hearings anticipated in September 2007, improvements before then were critical.
As important as the surge of forces was, however, the most important surge was what I termed "the surge of ideas" -- the changes in our overall strategy and operational plans. The most significant of these was the shift from trying to hand off security tasks to Iraqi forces to focusing on the security of the Iraqi people. The biggest of the big ideas that guided the strategy during the surge was explicit recognition that the most important terrain in the campaign in Iraq was the human terrain -- the people -- and our most important mission was to improve their security. Security improvements would, in turn, provide Iraq's political leaders the opportunity to forge agreements on issues that would reduce ethno-sectarian disputes and establish the foundation on which other efforts could be built to improve the lives of the Iraqi people and give them a stake in the success of the new state.
But improved security could be achieved only by moving our forces into urban neighborhoods and rural population centers. In the first two weeks, therefore, I changed the mission statement in the existing campaign plan to reflect this imperative. As I explained in that statement and the guidance I issued shortly after taking command, we had to "live with the people" in order to secure them. This meant reversing the consolidation of our forces on large bases that had been taking place since the spring of 2004. Ultimately, this change in approach necessitated the establishment of more than 100 small outposts and joint security stations, three-quarters of them in Baghdad alone.
The establishment of each of the new bases entailed a fight, and some of those fights were substantial. We knew that the Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias would do everything they could to keep our troopers from establishing a presence in areas where the warring factions were trying to take control -- and those areas were precisely where our forces were needed most. Needless to say, the insurgents and militias would do all that they could to keep us from establishing our new operating bases, sometimes even employing multiple suicide car bombers in succession in attempts to breach outpost perimeters. But if we were to achieve our goal of significantly reducing the violence, there was no alternative to living with the people -- specifically, where the violence was the greatest -- in order to secure them. Our men and women on the ground, increasingly joined during the surge by their Iraqi partners, courageously, selflessly, and skillfully did what was required to accomplish this goal.
"Clear, hold, and build" became the operative concept -- a contrast with the previous practice in many operations of clearing insurgents and then leaving, after handing off the security mission to Iraqi forces that proved incapable of sustaining progress in the areas cleared. Then -- Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, and his staff developed and oversaw the execution of these and the other operational concepts brilliantly. Indeed, in anticipation of the new approach, he ordered establishment of the initial joint security stations in the weeks before I arrived. His successor in early 2008, then Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, did a similarly exemplary job as our operational commander for the final portion of the surge. On receiving the Corps' guidance, division and brigade commanders and their headquarters orchestrated the implementation of these concepts. And our company, battalion, and brigade commanders and their troopers translated the new strategy and operational concepts into reality on the ground in the face of determined, often barbaric enemies under some of the most difficult conditions imaginable.
But the new strategy encompassed much more than just moving off the big bases and focusing on security of the people. Improving security was necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve our goals in Iraq. Many other tasks also had to be accomplished.
The essence of the surge, in fact, was the pursuit of a comprehensive approach, a civil-military campaign that featured a number of important elements, the effects of each of which were expected to complement the effects of the others. The idea was that progress in one component of the strategy would make possible gains in other components. Each incremental step forward reinforced and gradually solidified overall progress in a particular geographic location or governmental sector. The surge forces clearly enabled more rapid implementation of the new strategy and accompanying operational concepts; however, without the changes in the strategy, the additional forces would not have achieved the gains in security and in other areas necessary for substantial reduction of the underlying levels of ethno-sectarian violence, without which progress would not have been sustained when responsibilities ultimately were transferred to Iraqi forces and government authorities.
(Much more at link)
Reply #856 on:
October 31, 2013, 07:47:13 AM »
Following up on Doug's fascinating post of yesterday:
TAMPA, Fla.—The top U.S. commander in the Middle East said Iraq has entered a downward spiral of violence that threatens to drive the country's leader further into the hands of Iran and heighten sectarian tensions across the region.
Gen. Lloyd Austin talking to reporters at Fort Riley, Kansas, in a file photo from July 2012. Associated Press
With Iraqi security forces responding inadequately, U.S. officials are concerned that al Qaeda will develop a haven stretching from western Iraq into Syria.
"If left unchecked, we could find ourselves in a regional sectarian struggle that could last a decade," Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview here.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with Vice President Joe Biden and congressional leaders on Wednesday, at the start of a visit to Washington and is set to meet President Barack Obama on Friday. The Washington visit comes at a pivotal moment. Gen. Austin and other U.S. officials have blamed the violence in part on decisions by Mr. Maliki's government to exclude most Sunni Muslims from access to any real power in the Shiite Muslim-majority country.
Baghdad's alienation of Sunnis has compounded the problems Iraq faces from the civil war raging in neighboring Syria, Gen. Austin said, prompting some Sunnis to support, or at least tolerate al Qaeda. Al Qaeda-linked Sunni extremists have killed thousands of Iraqis this year, most of them Shiites.
Gen. Austin said that Shiite groups haven't yet joined in the fighting in Iraq. But he said if violence continues, Shiites are likely to retaliate, plunging Iraq into even deeper violence.
Iraqi soldiers arrest suspected militants this week. U.S. officials worry Sunni violence is pushing Iraq closer to Iran. Reuters
"What we are very worried about is a continued downward spiral that takes you to a civil war," Gen. Austin said. "It could easily get worse."
The presence of undisputed militant strongholds could lead to a push by al Qaeda-aligned groups in Iraq and Syria to form what Gen. Austin called "a larger caliphate"—a conservative Islamic empire ruled by Shariah law, long a goal of al Qaeda.
The U.S. spent more than $800 billion on the Iraq war, based on Congressional Research Service estimates. But U.S. officials said this week that Mr. Maliki has squandered many of the advantages the U.S. left to him, including a well-trained military. Mr. Maliki has flirted with making Iranian-backed militias part of the nation's security force, a move some U.S. officials believe could further strengthen the influence of Tehran inside Iraq. Gen. Austin said the increased power of al Qaeda in western Iraq has prompted Mr. Maliki to seek closer ties with Shiite-majority Iran.
"We do worry that this has driven Maliki further into the hands of the Iranians, I think it has a bit," Gen. Austin said.
Lukman Faily, Iraq's ambassador to the U.S. "categorically" denied the Iraqi government was reaching out to Iran for assistance. He said there were many causes of the rising violence in Iraq, including growing sectarian tension across the Middle East.
"We have no doubt the situation is a multilayered issue," he said. "One primary driver is spillover from Syria and the whole region is becoming more polarized."
Senior U.S. administration officials said Wednesday they were increasing intelligence cooperation with the Iraqis, but declined to provide specifics.
"We want to help the Iraqis have a better vision of what they face, so they can target it effectively," one official said.
The U.S. withdrew its forces from Iraq in December 2011. Since then, a small contingent of military officers has operated out of the U.S. Embassy, but there has been little U.S. training or advising of Iraqi forces. U.S. officials said Iraq remained opposed to any overt presence of American troops. Still, Iraqi officials said they were open to more cooperation with the Defense Department. Gen. Austin said a closer working relationship between the U.S. and Iraq was possible. "It is wise to help in any way we can, whenever we can," Gen. Austin said. "I do think there is some opportunity here. It will depend on whether their leadership wants the help."
U.S. military officials say many Iraqi units have seemingly forgotten their U.S. training, eschewing targeted raids on al Qaeda camps for heavy-handed tactics that have punished whole Sunni communities and are driving more Iraqis to back extremists. "The Iraqi government's tactics are accelerating the violence," said a military official.
Gen. Austin said the violence could be reversible if the government pursues policies that make the Sunni minority feel better represented. He said a revival of the Sunni Awakening movement, an American program that paid salaries to Sunni militias to fight al Qaeda-aligned militants, could help counter the rising violence. A bipartisan group of lawmakers this week called on Mr. Obama for greater intelligence sharing. Some lawmakers and defense analysts have said now is a good time to reset the relationship between U.S. and Iraq.
Mr. Faily said the government has taken recent steps to reach out to Sunnis and address their concerns. He also said the delegation discussed with Mr. Biden a revival of the Sunni Awakening program. But Mr. Faily added that without more-powerful American weapons, Iraq's security forces cannot move effectively against al Qaeda.
Iraq officials met with U.S. lawmakers Wednesday to press for further arm sales, including the transfer of Apache attack helicopters, arguing they are needed to counter the heavy machine guns of al Qaeda fighters.
In the letter, released Tuesday night, lawmakers including Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.), Carl Levin (D., Mich.), expressed similar concerns as Gen. Austin about rising violence in Iraq. The lawmakers said Mr. Maliki's visit for a meeting with Mr. Obama—his first since December 2011—is an opportunity for the administration to press him to change his leadership style and be more inclusive.
"An Iraqi political strategy should involve sharing greater national power and revenue with Sunni Iraqis, reconciling with Sunni leaders, and ending…policies of blanket retribution," the senators wrote.
Pravda on the Hudson on Maliki's request
Reply #857 on:
November 02, 2013, 10:35:26 AM »
Can Iraq Be Saved?
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: November 1, 2013 207 Comments
With Iraq wracked by the worst violence in three years, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki was in Washington this week looking for military aid and other help. This was quite a turnabout, since he had essentially forced American troops to leave in 2011. Since then, the pressures in Iraq have grown, and Mr. Maliki bears much responsibility for the current turmoil.
His plea for assistance is urgent because Al Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni group and Al Qaeda affiliate that was significantly degraded in 2008, is again a major threat, stoking war against Iraq’s majority Shiites. Since January, more than 7,000 people have been killed in bombings and shootings in outdoor markets, cafes, bus stations, mosques and pilgrimages in Shiite areas.
Al Qaeda in Iraq waged a virulent insurgency that brought the country near civil war in 2006 and 2007, then suffered big defeats from Iraqi Sunni tribal groups and American forces. Since the Americans withdrew, the group has gained strength against Iraqi forces that are incapable of fully protecting civilians and has taken in fighters spilling in from neighboring Syria. These are serious problems. Mr. Maliki, however, has been playing a central role in the disorder. There is no doubt that militant threats would be less pronounced now if he had united the country around shared goals rather than stoked sectarian conflict.
Instead, he has wielded his power to favor his Shiite majority brethren at the expense of the minority Sunnis. The Sunnis, banished from power after Saddam Hussein’s ouster, have grown more bitter as they have been excluded from political and economic life. Mr. Maliki is also at odds with the Kurds, the country’s other major ethnic group in what was supposed to be a power-sharing government.
American officials have often argued that, however imperfect, post-Saddam Iraq has benefited because Iraqis shifted their battles from the street to the political arena. But the escalating bloodshed has steadily poisoned the political space, undermined incipient democratic institutions and made a stable future that much more elusive.
Iraq might be in a safer place today had Mr. Maliki reached a deal with the administration to keep a small number of American troops in the country after 2011 to continue military training and intelligence gathering. (AND MAYBE THE DEAL WOULD HAVE BEEN REACHED IF OBAMA HAD SOUGHT A SERIOUS NUMBER OF TROOPS INSTEAD OF 3000-- A NUMBER WHICH CLEARLY COMMUNICATES AN INTENTION TO LEAVE) He would also have more credibility if he had not aligned Iraq so closely with Iran, a Shiite state, and had not permitted Iran to fly through Iraqi airspace to deliver arms to Syria.
The United States has a strategic interest in Iraq’s stability, and in recent months it has resumed counterterrorism cooperation, including intelligence sharing. That should continue, as should American efforts to foster better relations between Iraq and the region.
President Obama and Mr. Maliki, who met at the White House on Friday, agreed on the need for equipment so Iraqi forces can pursue militants. But there was no indication that Mr. Maliki, who plans to run for a third term, had received new commitments for American-made weapons like Apache helicopters and expedited delivery of F-16 fighters.
Given his authoritarian duplicity, there is no reason to trust him with even more arms unless he adopts a more inclusive approach to governing and ensures that next April’s election will be fair and democratic.
Is This Where We Part Company?
Reply #858 on:
November 30, 2013, 03:51:01 PM »
From the article:
...since the U.S. invasion of 2003, Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region of Iraq, has become an oasis in an otherwise anarchic and dangerous country. The veteran journalist describes celebrations marking the Kurdish New Year in Sulaimaniya: “Never before had I, a Westerner, been able to walk safely through a vast throng of Iraqis, or experienced such tolerance, friendliness, and absence of fear or religious stricture. Women with uncovered heads wore makeup and golden jewelry. Teenagers discreetly flirted. A few obviously gay men, and the odd drunk, wandered uncensored through the crowds.”
With life so good for so many Kurds today, and so bad in the rest of Iraq, might Kurdistan secede?
Please select a destination:
DBMA Martial Arts Forum
=> Martial Arts Topics
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities
=> Politics & Religion
=> Science, Culture, & Humanities
=> Espanol Discussion
Dog Brothers Information
=> Instructor Lists
=> Biographies & Instructor Details
Powered by SMF 1.1.17
SMF © 2011, Simple Machines