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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #900 on: June 19, 2014, 02:09:18 PM »

Worth noting that PC's post makes for an excellent talking point.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #901 on: June 19, 2014, 05:13:51 PM »

Nothing stops terrorists like advisers on the ground, each with a phone and a pen.

Obama Doctrine, mentioned elsewhere as failed:
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/02/27/the_obama_doctrine
"...what could be called an "Obama doctrine" on the use of force. Obama's embrace of multilateralism, drone strikes, and a light U.S. military presence in Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen, they contend, has proved more effective than Bush's go-heavy approach in Iraq and Afghanistan."

It's been a few years since anyone argued that approach is working around the world.

I don't see why we want to pretend to be engaged, just to take partial credit for failure.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #902 on: June 19, 2014, 07:56:09 PM »

 Iraq's Kurds Could Find Leverage With Baghdad in Fighting Sunni Militants
Analysis
June 19, 2014 | 0421 Print Text Size
Iraq's Kurds Could Find Leverage With Baghdad in Fighting Sunni Militants
Kurdish peshmerga soldiers parade during their graduation ceremony in the northern Kurdish city of Arbil in 2010. SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images
Summary

Recent moves by the Iraqi and Iranian governments suggest that their Shiite leaders are content to let Kurdish peshmerga forces contain the Sunni militants in northern Iraq, relieving pressure on the Iraqi army and enabling Baghdad to focus on threats closer to home before looking north. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could be willing to bargain for Kurdish military support. Baghdad's dependence on the peshmerga gives the government in Arbil leverage, which the Kurds will likely use to further pressure Baghdad on key issues -- such as recognizing the Kurdish political status in disputed territories and allowing limited Kurdish energy exports.

Even if a short-term compromise is reached, the peshmerga are unlikely to venture far into Sunni Arab-dominated regions. Although the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and its Sunni militant allies have avoided opening a new front against the Kurds, wary of overextending themselves by challenging Iraqi forces and peshmerga simultaneously, the Kurdish forces are well aware of the dangers they would face if they launched operations against the militant group and its supporters. Moreover, any concessions al-Maliki offers to stabilize the security environment will prove to be stopgap measures and must be limited in scale so as not to alienate his remaining support among nationalist Sunni Arabs or hard-liners within his own Shiite camp. The constraints on both sides will prevent anything more than a short-term marriage of convenience, meaning the underlying dispute between Baghdad and Arbil will remain unresolved.
Analysis

Since the start of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant's offensive across northern Iraq, there have been no major confrontations between Sunni Arab militants and Kurdish peshmerga. Aside from isolated shellings and low-level clashes around Kirkuk, Mosul and Diyala provinces, the Kurdistan Regional Government and its security forces have remained relatively buffered from the recent Sunni Arab uprising in Iraq. The Kurds have proved reluctant to extend beyond their new security cordons on the outer fringes of Iraq's disputed territories, which peshmerga forces were able to occupy quickly following the withdrawal of the Iraqi army. On June 16, the Kurdish Rudaw news agency reported that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant had requested a truce with Kurdish militants based near Tuz Khurmato. The same day, rumors emerged that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant fighters stationed in militant-occupied Tikrit had freed some 18 Kurdish soldiers -- including three senior officers -- attached to the Iraqi army. With the Kurds content to operate defensively, the Sunni Arab militants seem reluctant to devote meaningful resources against the peshmerga.
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant Activity
Click to Enlarge

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has not yet publicly criticized the Kurds' rapid expansion of control to the edges of Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland. Kurdish peshmerga now occupy many cities with strong Arab minorities, including Kirkuk. At the moment, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is devoting its very limited resources to working with an array of Sunni militants to challenge regime forces along the main highways to Baghdad and across Iraq's east-west Sunni Arab belt.

Nevertheless, the militant group's leadership appears aware that any army marching from the north could attack its exposed flank. Drawing the Kurds into a fight would open up a second front and risk encouraging military cooperation between the Kurds and Shia. Thus, the Sunni militants have been extremely cautious to avoid taking any action that could prompt the Kurds to go on the offensive. The militants could also be hoping to persuade the Kurds to maintain the flow of crude from Kirkuk's oil fields -- now under peshmerga protection -- to the Bayji refinery. The Sunni militant group is fighting for control of the refinery to provide fuel and revenue to sustain its campaign.

The leadership in Arbil seems far more interested in consolidating its new control of the disputed territories and establishing solid lines of defense in case Baghdad or militant forces come looking for a fight in the future. The Kurds have more than a decade of experience dealing with Sunni Arab jihadists and are under no illusions about the dangers involved in confronting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, including potential threats to the Kurds' long-sought-after sphere of control. A peshmerga offensive against the Sunni militants would also risk inciting Sunni Arab minorities in the newly peshmerga-occupied cities. For the government in Arbil, there is little to gain by striking out in Sunni Arab-dominated cities and regions beyond the Kurdish security cordons.
The Shiite Leaders' Perspective

Al-Maliki and the Shiite authorities in Baghdad are struggling to regain control of areas across northern Iraq. They likely see the peshmerga as a useful tool for containing the Sunni Arab militants in these regions and preventing the insurgents from moving south to Baghdad and the Shiite heartland. Opening up a second front would also ease the pressure on the Iraqi security forces. Thus, despite Kirkuk's importance for the regime, al-Maliki's inner circle has yet to publicly condemn Kurdish mobilization in the disputed territories, not wishing to press the issue at a time when the peshmerga's assistance could prove useful. In fact, according to Kurdish BasNews, Iraqi National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayyad announced June 16 that Baghdad had approved of the peshmerga's continued presence in the disputed regions, a concession that would have been unthinkable prior to the Sunni uprising.

Tehran has also been pressuring Arbil to mobilize the peshmerga against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. A senior Iranian delegation reportedly arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan in recent days to persuade the Kurds to take military action. Given the tense state of the Arbil-Baghdad relationship, Iran could be willing to help the two sides work out a compromise that enables military cooperation in return for key concessions from Baghdad. Only hours after Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani's meeting with Iranian officials, al-Maliki sent a letter via the general commander of the Iraqi army, Babakir Zebari, to Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani reportedly mentioning a "shared solution" to the current security situation.
Arbil's Likely Demands

Arbil will try to ensure that any agreement on peshmerga assistance includes important concessions from Baghdad on outstanding disagreements. In particular, Barzani likely will seek a resolution outlining the future status of the disputed territories, ensuring Arbil's portion of the national oil revenue and formalizing the Kurdish right to export limited crude quantities.

Baghdad's current dependence on Kurdish military cooperation provides the Kurdistan Regional Government with unprecedented leverage that Arbil is unlikely to give up without a major negotiation breakthrough. A peshmerga offensive against Sunni militants in northern Iraq would carry enormous risks, meaning Arbil would expect something major in return. In the meantime, the Kurds have raised the stakes in the negotiations, with an official Kurdistan Regional Government spokesman announcing June 18 that the region now demands a 25 percent share of the country's oil revenue (rather than the 17 percent outlined in the Iraqi Constitution). Arbil also has announced that preparations are underway to load a third tanker of unilaterally piped Kurdish crude, and Turkey continues to claim that the exports are being bought on the international market (although neither of the tankers loaded with Kurdish oil appear to have unloaded their cargo yet). All of these developments increase pressure on Baghdad to reach a temporary settlement.

Signs of an agreement could be emerging in Diyala province, where al-Maliki has sent his newly appointed commander of the region's security forces to Khanaqin -- a disputed Kurdish-majority city in the northeast -- to negotiate military coordination with local peshmerga. In this context, it is notable that al-Fayyad's announcement on June 16 was clear in highlighting that peshmerga are "legal and registered in the list of Iraqi security forces" and that the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government had agreed on their use to bolster Iraqi security and fight the Sunni militants "in the near future." However, a short-term agreement on security cooperation is unlikely to resolve the underlying tensions between Baghdad and Arbil, especially with Kurdish peshmerga occupying key disputed regions and Arbil's recent announcement that it has linked its pipeline export infrastructure to the peshmerga-occupied Kirkuk oil fields.

Read more: Iraq's Kurds Could Find Leverage With Baghdad in Fighting Sunni Militants | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
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objectivist1
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« Reply #903 on: June 20, 2014, 07:00:10 AM »

The Threat Is Blowback

Posted By Caroline Glick On June 20, 2014 - frontpagemag.com

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.


Watching the undoing, in a week, of victories that US forces won in Iraq at great cost over many years, Americans are asking themselves what, if anything, should be done.

What can prevent the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – the al-Qaida offshoot that President Barack Obama derided just months ago as a bunch of amateurs – from taking over Iraq? And what is at stake for America – other than national pride – if it does? Muddying the waters is the fact that the main actor that seems interested in fighting ISIS on the ground in Iraq is Iran. Following ISIS’s takeover of Mosul and Tikrit last week, the Iranian regime deployed elite troops in Iraq from the Quds Force, its foreign operations division.

The Obama administration, along with Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, views Iran’s deployment of forces in Iraq as an opportunity for the US. The US, they argue should work with Iran to defeat ISIS.

The idea is that since the US and Iran both oppose al-Qaida, Iranian gains against it will redound to the US’s benefit.

There are two basic, fundamental problems with this idea.

First, there is a mountain of evidence that Iran has no beef with al-Qaida and is happy to work with it.

According to the 9/11 Commission’s report, between eight and 10 of the September 11 hijackers traveled through Iran before going to the US. And this was apparently no coincidence.

According to the report, Iran had been providing military training and logistical support for al-Qaida since at least the early 1990s.

After the battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, al-Qaida’s leadership scattered. Many senior commanders – including bin Laden’s son Said, al-Qaida’s chief strategist Saif al-Adel and Suleiman Abu Ghaith – decamped to Iran, where they set up a command center.

From Iran, these men directed the operations of al-Qaida forces in Iraq led by Abu Musab Zarqawi. Zarqawi entered Iraq from Iran and returned to Iran several times during the years he led al-Qaida operations in Iraq.

Iran’s cooperation with al-Qaida continues today in Syria.

According to The Wall Street Journal, in directing the defense of Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, Iran has opted to leave ISIS and its al-Qaida brethren in the Nusra Front alone. That is why they have been able to expand their power in northern Syria.

Iran and its allies have concentrated their attacks against the more moderate Free Syrian Army, which they view as a threat.

Given Iran’s 20-year record of cooperation with al-Qaida, it is reasonable to assume that it is deploying forces into Iraq to tighten its control over Shi’ite areas, not to fight al-Qaida. The record shows that Iran doesn’t believe that its victories and al-Qaida’s victories are mutually exclusive.

The second problem with the idea of subcontracting America’s fight against al-Qaida to Iran is that it assumes that Iranian success in such a war would benefit America. But again, experience tells a different tale.

The US killed Zarqawi in an air strike in 2006.

Reports in the Arab media at the time alleged that Iran had disclosed Zarqawi’s location to the US. While the reports were speculative, shortly after Zarqawi was killed, then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice floated the idea of opening nuclear talks with Iran for the first time.

The Iranians contemptuously rejected her offer. But Rice’s willingness to discuss Iran’s nuclear weapons program with the regime, even as it was actively engaged in killing US forces in Iraq, ended any serious prospect that the Bush administration would develop a coherent plan for dealing with Iran in a strategic and comprehensive way.

Moreover, Zarqawi was immediately replaced by one of his deputies. And the fight went on.

So if Iran did help the US find Zarqawi, the price the US paid for Iran’s assistance was far higher than the benefit it derived from killing Zarqawi.

This brings us to the real threat that the rise of ISIS – and Iran – in Iraq poses to the US. That threat is blowback.

Both Iran and al-Qaida are sworn enemies of the United States, and both have been empowered by events of the past week.

Because they view the US as their mortal foe, their empowerment poses a danger to the US.

But it is hard for people to recognize how events in distant lands can directly impact their lives.

In March 2001, when the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas statues in Afghanistan, the world condemned the act. But no one realized that the same destruction would be brought to the US six months later when al-Qaida destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon.

The September 11 attacks were the blowback from the US doing nothing to contain the Taliban and al-Qaida.

North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic-missile tests, as well as North Korean proliferation of both nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to rogue regimes, like Iran, that threaten the US, are the beginnings of the blowback from the US decision to reach a nuclear deal with Pyongyang in the 1990s that allowed the regime to keep its nuclear installations.

The blowback from Iran’s emergence as a nuclear power is certain to dwarf what the world has seen from North Korea so far.

Yet rather than act in a manner that would reduce the threat of blowback from Iraq’s disintegration and takeover by America’s worst enemies, the Obama administration gives every indication that it is doubling down on the disastrous policies that led the US to this precarious juncture.

The only strategy that the US can safely adopt today is one of double containment. The aim of double containment is to minimize the capacity of Iran and al-Qaida to harm the US and its interests.

But to contain your enemies, you need to understand them. You need to understand their nature, their aims, their support networks and their capabilities.

Unfortunately, in keeping with what has been the general practice of the US government since the September 11 attacks, the US today continues to ignore or misunderstand all of these critical considerations.

Regarding al-Qaida specifically, the US has failed to understand that al-Qaida is a natural progression from the political/religious milieu of Salafist/Wahabist or Islamist Islam, from whence it sprang. As a consequence, anyone who identifies with Islamist religious and political organizations is a potential supporter and recruit for al-Qaida and its sister organizations.

There were two reasons that George W. Bush refused to base US strategy for combating al-Qaida on any cultural context broader than the Taliban.

Bush didn’t want to sacrifice the US’s close ties with Saudi Arabia, which finances the propagation and spread of Islamism. And he feared being attacked as a bigot by Islamist organizations in the US like the Council on American Islamic Relations and its supporters on the Left.

As for Obama, his speech in Cairo to the Muslim world in June 2009 and his subsequent apology tour through Islamic capitals indicated that, unlike Bush, Obama understands that al-Qaida is not a deviation from otherwise peaceful Islamist culture.

But unlike Bush, Obama blames America for its hostility. Obama’s radical sensibilities tell him that America pushed the Islamists to oppose it. As he sees it, he can appease the Islamists into ending their war against America.

To this end, Obama has prohibited federal employees from conducting any discussion or investigation of Islamist doctrine, terrorism, strategy and methods and the threat all pose to the US.

These prohibitions were directly responsible for the FBI’s failure to question or arrest the Tsarnaev brothers in 2012 despite the fact that Russian intelligence tipped it off to the fact that the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers were jihadists.

They were also responsible for the army’s refusal to notice any of the black flags that Maj. Nidal Hassan raised in the months before his massacre of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, or to take any remedial action after the massacre to prevent such atrocities from recurring.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the progenitor of Islamism. It is the organizational, social, political and religious swamp from whence the likes of al-Qaida, Hamas and other terror groups emerged. Whereas Bush pretended the Brotherhood away, Obama embraced it as a strategic partner.

Then there is Iran.

Bush opted to ignore the 9/11 Commission’s revelations regarding Iranian collaboration with al-Qaida. Instead, particularly in the later years of his administration, Bush sought to appease Iran both in Iraq and in relation to its illicit nuclear weapons program.

In large part, Bush did not acknowledge, or act on the sure knowledge, that Iran was the man behind the curtain in Iraq, because he believed that the American people would oppose the expansion of the US operations in the war against terror.

Obama’s actions toward Iran indicate that he knows that Iran stands behind al-Qaida and that the greatest threat the US faces is Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But here as well, Obama opted to follow a policy of appeasement. Rather than prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, or stem its advance in Syria and Iraq, Obama treats Iran as though it poses no threat and is indeed a natural ally. He blames Iran’s belligerence on the supposedly unjust policies of his predecessors and the US’s regional allies.

For a dual-containment strategy to have any chance of working, the US needs to reverse course. No, it needn’t deploy troops to Iraq. But it does need to seal its border to minimize the chance that jihadists will cross over from Mexico.

It doesn’t need to clamp down on Muslims in America. But it needs to investigate and take action where necessary against al-Qaida’s ideological fellow travelers in Islamist mosques, organizations and the US government. To this end, it needs to end the prohibition on discussion of the Islamist threat by federal government employees.

As for Iran, according to The New York Times, Iran is signaling that the price of cooperation with the Americans in Iraq is American acquiescence to Iran’s conditions for signing a nuclear deal. In other words, the Iranians will fight al-Qaida in Iraq in exchange for American facilitation of its nuclear weapons program.

The first step the US must take to minimize the Iranian threat is to walk away from the table and renounce the talks. The next step is to take active measures to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration appears prepared to do none of these things. To the contrary, its pursuit of an alliance with Iran in Iraq indicates that it is doubling down on the most dangerous aspects of its policy of empowering America’s worst enemies.

It only took the Taliban six months to move from the Bamiyan Buddhas to the World Trade Center. Al-Qaida is stronger now than ever before. And Iran is on the threshold of a nuclear arsenal.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
DougMacG
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« Reply #904 on: June 20, 2014, 09:29:16 AM »

Thank you for posting this great piece.  Wouldn't it be great if we had a US President who understood what was happening as well as this one columnist.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #905 on: June 20, 2014, 09:42:18 AM »

OBJ:  Please post in the Foreign Policy thread too.

TIA.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #906 on: June 20, 2014, 10:05:27 AM »

Crafty: What is "TIA?"

Doug: Obama understands that he is weakening the U.S., which is his intention.  His interests are not ours.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
DougMacG
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« Reply #907 on: June 20, 2014, 10:26:43 AM »


Doug: Obama understands that he is weakening the U.S., which is his intention.  His interests are not ours.
[/quote]

Obj:  That is outrageous of you to say about him.  Unfortunately you are right!  (You are also right that Bill Ayers wrote his main book.)

Not just Obama but for the 40% who still cling to him, it is tempting to think the world would be safer if power were more evenly distributed around the world and everyone took responsibility for their part in it.  In fact though, it isn't so.  Where the US retreats, people like the Mullahs of Iran, the Taliban, al Qaida and its iterations and affiliates, a KGB guy in Russia and the New Soviet Union, and a old communist Politburo backed by the Peoples Liberation Army are the ones who step in to fill the void.  The void is not filled by the honest, hard working, peace loving people and nations around the world.


Crafty: What is "TIA?"

My understanding, TIA = Thanks in advance.  TAC = The adventure continues.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #908 on: June 20, 2014, 11:00:56 AM »

First oil delivery from disputed Kurdish pipeline set for Israel

http://news.yahoo.com/first-oil-delivery-disputed-kurdish-pipeline-set-israel-100744734.html

          P.C.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #909 on: June 23, 2014, 07:42:59 AM »

Leaving aside the fact that there were plenty of reasons other than WMDs to go to war with Iraq, and that Democrats demanded a second unanimous vote IN FAVOR OF authorizing the war,
This latest information establishes just how dishonest and politically-motivated Democrats - including John Kerry and Hillary Clinton - have been since shortly after the war began - turning on G.W. and waging war against the Republicans over these trumped-up charges of "manipulated intelligence."  Both are beneath contempt for betraying our soldiers in harms way (John Kerry for the second time - having viciously slandered soldiers in Vietnam with made-up stories of atrocities before a Congressional committee.)  It is to our shame as a nation that these people retain their political viability after such statements and actions.


Saddam’s WMDs: The Left’s Iraq Lies Exposed

Posted By Arnold Ahlert On June 23, 2014 @ frontpagemag.com

The recent turmoil in Iraq brought on by the rise of the Sunni extremist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has ironically struck a blow to the American Left’s endlessly repeated narrative that there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq prior to the war. The State Department and other U.S. government officials have revealed that ISIS now occupies the Al Muthanna Chemicals Weapons Complex. Al Muthanna was Saddam Hussein’s primary chemical weapons facility, and it is located less than 50 miles from Baghdad.

The Obama administration claims that the weapons in that facility, which include sarin, mustard gas, and nerve agent VX, manufactured to prosecute the war against Iran in the 1980s, do not pose a threat because they are old, contaminated and hard to move. “We do not believe that the complex contains CW materials of military value and it would be very difficult, if not impossible to safely move the materials,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The administration’s dubious rationale is based on information provided by the Iraq Study Group, which was tasked with finding WMDs in the war’s aftermath. They found the chemical weapons at Al Muthanna, but they determined that both Iraq wars and inspections by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) had successfully dismantled the facility, and that the remaining chemical weapons were rendered useless and sealed in bunkers. The report called the weapons facility “a wasteland full of destroyed chemical munitions, razed structures, and unusable war-ravaged facilities,” the 2004 report stated.

Yet other sections of the same report were hardly reassuring. “Stockpiles of chemical munitions are still stored there,” it stated. “The most dangerous ones have been declared to the UN and are sealed in bunkers. Although declared, the bunkers’ contents have yet to be confirmed.” It added, “These areas of the compound pose a hazard to civilians and potential black-marketers.”

Another report paints an even more disturbing picture of the Muthanna facility. It warned that the number and status of Saddam’s sarin-filled rockets was unknown because facilities were not able to be inspected, leaving investigators only able to surmise about the weapons’ condition. Even in degraded conditions, the report said, these rockets still posed a proliferation risk:

Although the damaged Bunker 13 at Muthanna contained thousands of sarin-filled rockets, the presence of leaking munitions and unstable propellant and explosive charges made it too hazardous for UNSCOM inspectors to enter. Because the rockets could not be recovered safely, Iraq declared the munitions in Bunker 13 as ‘destroyed in the Gulf War’ and they were not included in the inventory of chemical weapons eliminated under UNSCOM supervision.

Because of the hazardous conditions in Bunker 13, UNSCOM inspectors were unable to make an accurate inventory of its contents before sealing the entrances in 1994. As a result, no record exists of the exact number or status of the sarin-filled rockets remaining in the bunker. … In the worst-case scenario, the munitions could contain as much as 15,000 liters of sarin. Although it is likely that the nerve agent has degraded substantially after nearly two decades of storage under suboptimal conditions, UNMOVIC cautioned that ‘the levels of degradation of the sarin fill in the rockets cannot be determined without exploring the bunker and taking samples from intact warheads.’ If the sarin remains highly toxic and many of the rockets are still intact, they could pose a proliferation risk.”

Nonetheless, U.S. officials, who claimed they were well aware of the facility insisted that the United States wouldn’t have left it there if it were a genuine threat. They also continued to stress that the takeover by ISIS doesn’t constitute a military gain by the group because the weapons would prove useless, even if ISIS were able to penetrated the sealed bunkers where they are stored. ISIS has reportedly yet to gain access to the bunkers.

However, there are numerous holes in these assessments. The Obama administration, eager to leave a “sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq” as the president described it in 2011, paid little heed to the prospect of large swaths of that nation being overrun by terrorists who have taken over key cities and military bases, and confiscated sophisticated American military equipment in the process. One defense official conceded as much, telling the Wall Street Journal that had they known the Maliki government would lose control so soon, they might not have left the weapons behind. And Psaki’s contention that the weapons could not be moved safely even by terrorists is hardly reassuring when one considers the reality that ISIS uses suicide bombings as one of it chief military tactics.

A far more critical consideration is the possibility that many of the Iraqi Sunnis who have joined ISIS due in large part to their alienation by the Shi’ite-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki are comprised of former Saddam Hussein loyalists, some of whom may have working knowledge of the chemical weapons stored at Al Muthanna. Former WMD specialist Paul Perrone extrapolated on where such working knowledge might lead. “I’m more concerned with the prospect that these Muslim terrorists have access to formulas or precursors that would enable them to create their own WMD,” he warned.

The latest revelations on the details of Saddam’s weapons stockpile, now potentially in the hands of Sunni radicals, affirm the Bush administration’s characterization of Iraq as a territory situated in a hotbed of radicalism, flooded with a bevy of highly dangerous weapons and overseen by a criminal rogue regime. Indeed, the WMDs are to say nothing of the Hussein government’s nuclear weapons program, also put to a stop by intervention in Iraq. In 2008, American and Iraqi officials had “completed nearly the last chapter in dismantling Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program with the removal of hundreds of tons of natural uranium from the country’s main nuclear site,” the New York Times reported. Approximately 600 tons of “yellowcake” was removed from the Tuwaitha facility, the main site for Iraq’s nuclear program. According to global security.org, uranium enrichment levels of 95 percent were achieved at the Tuwaitha facility. That site was also the location of the Osirak nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel in 1981.

And in what sounded like a harbinger of the future, the Times noted that although the yellowcake could not be used in its current form to produce a nuclear device or dirty bomb, the “unstable environment” in Iraq necessitated its removal, lest it fall into the “wrong hands.” In an updated correction to the article, the Times notes that the Osriak nuclear reactor “theoretically produced plutonium, which can fuel an atomic bomb.”

The Left dismissed this reality by claiming the yellowcake had been in Iraq prior to 1991 and thus was not the same yellowcake Bush referred to in his 2003 State of the Union address as part of his justification for invading Iraq. Led by former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, the emboldened anti-war Left attempted to turn the claim into a scandal saying that Bush knowingly lied to the American public regarding Iraq’s effort to procure yellowcake from Niger.

Ultimately, Wilson and his story were thoroughly discredited a year later by a Senate Select Committee report, which further noted that President Bush had been fully justified in including the infamous “16 words” regarding that intelligence in his speech. Moreover the left has never bothered to explain why yellowcake procured before 1991 was any less dangerous in terms of its WMD potential, given Saddam Hussein’s regular defiance of international law also enunciated by Bush as one of the primary reasons for deposing him.

In 2010, documents procured by Wikileaks revealed more information on the WMD threat posed by Iraq that was known to the government. The self-described whistleblowers, who could hardly be called pro-war, released 392,000 military reports from Iraq that revealed several instances of American encounters with potential WMDs or their manufacture. These included 1200 gallons of a liquid mustard agent in Samarra that tested positive for a blister agent; tampering by large earth movers thought to be attempting to penetrate the bunkers at Muthanna; the discovery of a chemical lab and a chemical cache in Fallujah; and the discovery of a cache of weapons hidden at an Iraqi Community Watch checkpoint with 155MM rounds that subsequently tested positive for mustard.

Foreign involvement with WMDs in Iraq was documented as well. A war log from January 2006 speaks of 50 neuroparalytic projectiles smuggled into Iraq from Iran via Al Basrah; Syrian chemical weapons specialists who came in to support the “chemical weapons operations of Hizballah Islami” (Hezbollah); and an Al Qaeda chemical weapons expert from Saudi Arabia sent to assist 200 individuals awaiting an opportunity to attack coalition forces with Sarin. As Wired Magazine characterized it, the Wikileaks documents revealed that for several years after the initial invasion, “U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction.”

Left-wing members in Congress were certainly aware of these threats and more posed by the Hussein regime, which lead them to unanimously authorize war and even vocally champion its necessity. Their assessment was based on nothing less than the very intelligence known to the Bush administration at the time. Secretary of State John Kerry, as a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations before war was authorized, said, “There’s no question in my mind that Saddam Hussein has to be toppled one way or another, but the question is how” and that there was likewise “no question” that Hussein “continues to pursue weapons of mass destruction, and his success can threaten both our interests in the region and our security at home.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intoned in 2002:

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members … It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Justifying her well-known position, Clinton said later said in a 2003 interview with Code Pink, “I ended up voting for the resolution after carefully reviewing the information, intelligence that I had available, talking with people whose opinions I trusted … I would love to agree with [Code Pink], but I can’t, based on my own understanding and assessment of the situation.”

However, these statements were made in the wake of 9/11 when Democrats sensed hawkishness was the key to their political fortunes. A few short years later, sabotaging the war that they had started and betraying the troops that they had sent to the field was where Democrats’ political futures lied. Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and others made this transition through a blatant campaign of deceit that went virtually unchallenged by the media. Clinton, for example, averred on the campaign trail, “f we had known then what we know now there never would have been a vote and I never would have voted to give this President that authority” and claimed that she didn’t know that her vote for the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002″ was a vote for war.

The con is still on going. In September of last year, Secretary Kerry brazenly asserted that he and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had “opposed the president’s decision to go into Iraq” and that “evidence was used to persuade all of us that authority ought to be given.” Chuck Hagel, in fact, also voted in favor of the war before jumping ship, forsaking the lost lives he squandered in the field and joining with the hard left. As for the “manipulated evidence” canard cited by Kerry, the latest details of Saddam’s WMD stockpile — something there can be no doubt that the Secretary of State was aware of — exposes yet again the left’s great deception on the danger of Hussein and the motivation behind the Iraq war.

And now ISIS, disowned by al Qaeda for being even more ruthless than it is, controls a chemical facility containing contents declared “destroyed” because they couldn’t be recovered safely, along with bunkers containing contents “yet to be confirmed.” And an administration with an unparalleled facility for lying assures us everything will be fine because the chemical weapons have no useful military value and can’t be moved safely.  As with the rest of the Left’s handling of Iraq, this is an analysis that no one should have faith in.

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« Reply #910 on: June 24, 2014, 12:19:55 PM »




Summary

Over the weekend of June 22, Sunni opposition fighters, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant militants, seized several important towns and border crossings in western Iraq's Anbar province. The insurgents took advantage of the army's reduced presence there; troops are being redeployed northward and eastward ahead of a planned offensive along the Tigris River. The Sunni gains made in Anbar will pressure the government and distract Baghdad from the impending offensive.
Analysis

The militant attacks in Anbar province were fast and concentrated, and they were directed against weak government forces hundreds of kilometers away from Baghdad. The result was the seizure of the towns of Rutba, Qaim, Rawah and Anah and three border crossings: the Qaim and Al Waleed crossings into Syria and the Trebil crossing into Jordan.

The militants' success is owed partly to Baghdad's offensive to the north. In preparation for the offensive, the government withdrew large numbers of regular Iraqi army units from Anbar province and dispatched further reinforcements from the south, massing these forces near As Samarra, northwest of Baghdad. The government continues to call for volunteers, and in response, large numbers of Shiite militia fighters have mobilized and moved north. Others are returning from Syria, where they had been defending the regime of Bashar al Assad against rebel forces that also included Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant militants.
Click to Enlarge

There are an estimated 50,000 Iraqi soldiers around As Samarra, and their presence has already slowed the militants' momentum south along the Tigris River. With these troops in place, the government will likely push north along two routes. One will seek to reinforce Baquba and move against Sunni militant forces in Diyala province. The other will head north from As Samarra toward Mosul, with the short-term goal of clearing Tikrit and securing the oil refinery at Baiji.

However, redeploying troops from Anbar province left the region vulnerable. Baghdad hoped to maintain control by coordinating with local Sunni tribes against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, in part by paying tribal fighters overdue salaries. Despite these efforts, Sunni tribes appear to have largely sided with the opposition coalition of Sunni militants against the government. Armed parades by Shiite militias in Baghdad and southern cities have aggravated concerns that the conflict would be divided along sectarian lines.

The recent Sunni advances have intensified the threat to the west of Baghdad, diverting government attention from the offensive toward the northeast. In addition, Sunni militants are now close to the important Haditha Dam on the Euphrates River. With control of the dam, rebels would be able to disrupt Iraq's national electric grid and cause major flooding. Baghdad has mobilized 2,000 soldiers toward the dam in an effort to maintain control accordingly.

Militant control of the Saudi and Jordanian borders in Anbar province virtually cut off land routes to Jordan and Syria from government-controlled areas. This has already severely disrupted Iraqi-Jordanian trade and will have a substantial impact on the Syrian regime's war effort, making it completely dependent on air and sea routes. Anonymous sources in the Iraqi security forces, however, issued unconfirmed reports June 23 that Baghdad has retaken the border stations at Trebil and Al Waleed, suggesting that these disruptions may be temporary.

As Baghdad prepares to begin its offensive toward the north, it will remain distracted by the deteriorating security situation in Anbar province, a situation that could eventually threaten the capital. But Sunni opposition forces will find it difficult to seize the capital or even make progress outside Sunni-majority areas, especially as tens of thousands of Shiite militiamen mobilize to defend the central government. This in turn will lead to an increasingly sectarian conflict amid slow, painful government advances.

Read more: Iraq Update: Sunni Militants Make Key Gains in Anbar Province | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #911 on: June 24, 2014, 12:21:31 PM »

second post


Analysis

Editor's Note: The renewed insurgency in central Iraq led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has prompted Bret Boyd, Stratfor's Vice President of Custom Intelligence Services, to reflect on the potential spillover effects in the country's south. He recently returned from Basra and offers his observations on the region. Boyd has been to Iraq previously, having deployed four times with the infantry and Army Rangers. While the views expressed here are personal and not institutional, we are publishing them in light of Boyd's unique insight.

I began to write this set of reflections from downtown Basra, overlooking the Shatt al Arab River. I left Iraq during this most recent visit four days before a Sunni Islamist insurgency overran Mosul. Since then, the erratic march of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has captured the world's headlines and once again riveted attention on the country's basic ethno-sectarian split along Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish lines.
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant Activity
Click to Enlarge

Many of the secondary headlines have keyed on Basra, Iraq's second largest city, with a population of just over 2 million. It is a largely Shiite city but more heterogeneous and cosmopolitan than others due in part to the fact that it is a port city. It controls Iraq's access to the Persian Gulf, primarily through the ports of Um Qasr, Al Maqal, Khor al Zubair and Mina al Bakr. Basra was occupied by the British after defeating the Ottoman troops at the Battle of Basra in 1914 and was more recently managed primarily by British troops after the 2003 invasion through the withdrawal of coalition forces in 2011.

As violence flares anew in the north, Basra garners global attention because it is the gateway to Iraq's southern oil fields, which contain the overwhelming majority of Iraq's hydrocarbon resources. Eighty percent of Iraq's petroleum reserves are estimated to be in the south, reflected by seven major fields -- Rumaila, Majnoon, West Qurna-1, West Qurna-2, Zubair, Halfaya and Maysan. The majority of Iraq's energy export infrastructure also flows south through Basra, to the Al-Faw Peninsula and the Al Basra Offshore Terminal in the Persian Gulf.

Basra has been scarred by war, both from the Iran-Iraq war and the more recent occupation by the British and Americans. One does not have to look hard to find toppled structures or bomb craters. Basra is years away from the fine hotels and modern infrastructure seen in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil. Yet there is a vibrancy to the town, and there is growth. Streets have been repaved and bridges built. A large shopping mall is being built -- aspiringly titled Times Square Basra.

Many foreign businesses operate in this region, primarily in the energy sector. However, given the concentration of hydrocarbon resources and infrastructure development in the area, the lack of American businesses here is striking. ExxonMobil, Halliburton and others are present at some level, but the seven major fields in southern Iraq are overwhelmingly operated by Russian, Chinese and European firms.

This is immediately apparent before even setting foot in Iraq. The Emirates flight I arrived on, which operates daily from Dubai at the time of writing, was populated primarily by Russian and Chinese oil field workers. I admittedly make this generalization from the observation of a single data point, but I am told that this is typically the case. I did not identify another American on the flight and have encountered very few after several days of staying at a hotel downtown and eating at local restaurants.

My general assessment after many conversations with Iraqis and others operating in the country is that Russian and Chinese state-owned or state-sponsored firms are realizing the economic benefit of the eight years of blood and treasure that the United States and its allies poured into Iraq. I readily admit to personal bias, being an American citizen and having participated in our most recent Iraq war. I perhaps also suffer from aspiration bias, as I deeply respect the Iraqi people both as antagonists in conflict and partners in rebuilding, and desire to see American industry continue to support their growth.

Some of the lack of investment relates to perceptions of Iraqi instability and its impact on energy producing regions. Iraq has two primary ethnically and culturally homogeneous regions that provide relatively high levels of safety: the Kurdish region in the north and Shiite Arab core in the south. The majority of the Iraqi violence occurs in Iraq's borderlands, places where population centers blend the lines between Sunnis, Kurds and Shia. Baghdad, in addition to now representing Shiite political hegemony over Iraq, lies at the crossroads of these divisions and is often a focus of insurgent attacks.

But Iraq's distinct ethnic and sectarian population centers also create very distinct realities on the ground; even while many in the mainstream media report from Arbil on the violence raging to the south of the Kurdish region's borders, they neglect to illustrate the stability and lack of violence in both the Kurdish region and Basra. The Kurdish and Shiite communities have rallied local forces in defense of their sizable regional oil reserves, and Baghdad's success in preventing the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant from directly impacting this oil production relies heavily on security coordination with locals. While the rebels continue to lead a pro-Sunni offensive north of Baghdad, Iraq's primary oil exporting regions remain relatively calm. Political and bureaucratic impediments pose a bigger challenge to Iraq's steadily growing oil industry than jihadists and insurgent attacks.

There are significant growth opportunities in Iraq. The sanctions regime imposed from 1991 to 2003, combined with the reality that oil production was less a strategic priority for Saddam Hussein than was internal control, led to underdevelopment. The small influx of foreign investment in 2010 and 2011 has caused oil production to increase -- a trend that is likely to continue as production gains from modern technologies have not yet been fully realized. Iraqi production is currently at its highest level ever yet is nowhere near capacity. In May, Iraq produced 3.37 million barrels of oil per day, an increase of 1.2 million barrels per day from pre-invasion production levels in 2002.

Production forecasts have fluctuated in recent years, but the disagreement has been over the magnitude of growth, as opposed to the likelihood of growth. The federal government in Baghdad and international bodies like the International Energy Association have recently come closer together, forecasting production targets from 6 million to 8 million barrels per day by 2020. Growth of 3 million to 5 million barrels per day over the next six years presents a remarkable opportunity. The only other markets that the International Energy Association forecast to grow by more than 2 million barrels per day during this time period are the United States, Canada and Brazil, and all show less growth potential than Iraq.

To be clear, there is risk here alongside opportunity. This is still Iraq, a nation struggling from decades of conflict as well as the complexity resulting from the forced convergence of unique and ancient peoples, with rich and conflict-ridden histories. The Kurdish north and the Shiite south each have some measure of physical security resulting from relative cultural homogeneity and the shared interest of safeguarding hydrocarbon resources. But challenges remain, especially in central and western Iraq.

The recent election, budget impasse and machinations required to form a new coalition government exacerbate these challenges. This process will inevitably be lengthy. Some of the violence recently experienced in Ar Ramadi, As Samarra and elsewhere is likely a manifestation of post-election politics, as different groups exert influence and vie for power. Current levels of violence are unlikely to abate in the near term, but they will generally remain contained to a central Sunni belt in Iraq, leaving the south relatively stable.

However, businesses that operate in complex emerging and frontier market environments understand that they get paid for risk. Risk often creates outsized returns and thus is an element of business to be managed, not necessarily avoided. Understandably, the costs associated with managing risks sometimes provide for a poor investment, regardless of the potential value of the opportunity. Perhaps that is the case with Iraq today.

But perhaps not. The businesses that can best calculate and manage risk are naturally positioned to capture emerging opportunities and achieve risk-adjusted return. This is simply a statement of fact, not a political statement, security assessment or endorsement that companies should necessarily flock to Iraq, American or otherwise.

The opportunities in hydrocarbons, infrastructure projects and both consumer and services markets are of such potential magnitude that they merit thoughtful evaluation. As I sit, sipping instant coffee, unguarded, watching Iraqis walk the boulevard of the Shatt al Arab, I wonder if American firms are mispricing risk and thus bequeathing gains from the rise of this region to the Russians, Chinese and others.

American firms are eager to engage Iraq's large -- and growing -- hydrocarbons sector. The difficulty lies in navigating a patchwork of local and national political interests, a system that violence in northern Iraq is revealing to be fraught with competition and that requires a deep awareness of local sensibilities. Baghdad is set to face a period of both regional security challenges and a difficult and complex political negotiation involving Kurds, Sunnis and Shia. Despite these challenges, we expect oil exports to continue to grow and the stability of Iraq's Kurdish and core Shiite regions to endure.

Read more: Observations From Basra | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #912 on: June 25, 2014, 10:07:21 AM »

(How Obama's withdrawal from Iraq became a surrender.)


Relief Over U.S. Exit From Iraq Fades as Reality Overtakes Hope

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/23/world/middleeast/relief-over-us-exit-from-iraq-fades-as-reality-overtakes-hope.html?_r=0



PETER BAKERJUNE 22, 2014

WASHINGTON — Standing in Al Faw palace in Baghdad, surrounded by an artificial lake and the ragged remnants of eight years of war, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. felt a surge of emotion on that day in December 2011.

He had gone to Iraq to note the end of an era, the departure of American troops from a country that had cost his own so much. Ebullient, he praised the troops, congratulated the generals, wished Iraqi leaders good luck and called President Obama to share his excitement.

“All I’ve said about this job, I take it back,” Mr. Biden later recalled telling Mr. Obama. “Thank you for giving me the chance to end this goddamn war.”

“Joe,” he remembered the president responding, “I’m glad you got to do it.”

For two men who had run for office on the promise of getting out of Iraq, it seemed like a moment of validation. But that moment has proved achingly ephemeral. It was not the end of the war or even the end of their involvement.
 

Two and a half years later, Mr. Obama has ordered up to 300 Special Operations members back to Iraq and may yet authorize airstrikes to prevent the collapse of the government at the hands of a brutal Islamic insurgency.
 
President Obama greeted soldiers at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Dec. 14, 2011, and spoke about the end of American military involvement in Iraq. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times 

The journey from then to now is a tale of premature celebration and dashed hopes. A president who thought he had set Iraq on a more stable course that could be sustained without American help has now determined that American diplomacy and power are critical to saving it. Tired of war, like most Americans, he found his aspiration to move on bedeviled by forces tearing across a region in a story punctuated by miscalculation and missed opportunities.

The withdrawal ceremony on that winter day in 2011 was, in the end, the result of a failed negotiation. In theory, both Mr. Obama and the Iraqi leadership wanted a small American detachment to stay behind. In reality, neither side was enthusiastic and seemed just as happy that a dispute over legal conditions scotched the deal.

The residual troops would not have been a combat force, but might have mounted counterterrorism missions and helped Iraqi forces gain better intelligence on the militants. Whether it would have made a difference is impossible to know, but will be a subject of debate for a long time.

Just as important if not more so, however, was the impact of the civil war in next-door Syria. Few if any expected on that day in 2011 just how far the Syria conflict would escalate, leading to the creation of virulent new Islamist jihadist groups like the Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS or sometimes ISIL, that would ultimately spill over the border and threaten Baghdad.

“The notion that Syria would completely fall apart and become this major staging ground for Nusra and ISIS, which wasn’t even ISIS at the time, I don’t think people anticipated and I don’t think could have been anticipated,” said Colin Kahl, who was the Pentagon official in charge of Iraq until the withdrawal.

But in the months that followed, as Syria degenerated into a toxic stew of rebellion and jihadism, some inside and outside the administration warned of the dangers of a broader regional destabilization. The administration overestimated the capacity of the Iraqi security forces and underestimated the power of ISIS. And it felt stymied by Iraqi leaders and a Syria crisis that it considered beyond its control.

“We’ve had to overcome Iraqi reluctance, political dysfunction and the chaos in Syria,” said Antony J. Blinken, the president’s deputy national security adviser and a key player on Iraq policy. “It was a work very much in progress when ISIL launched its offensive.”

At various points, the president approved modest measures to shape the Syria conflict but resisted a broader intervention, afraid of another Iraq. Now he finds himself facing another Iraq anyway — in Iraq. And the war that Mr. Biden cursed is again cursing the Obama administration.

Quieted War Offers Hope

Mr. Obama came to office vowing to withdraw from Iraq but he largely followed an agreement signed by his predecessor, George W. Bush, with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki committing the United States to leave by the end of 2011. Both Washington and Baghdad had imagined that they would negotiate a new agreement for a small residual force after that.

But as 2011 opened, the war had quieted down. After a troop increase ordered by Mr. Bush, a strategy shift by Gen. David H. Petraeus and a change of sides by Sunni militias, Mr. Maliki’s government seemed in a strong position. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander on the ground, developed proposals for keeping as many as 24,000 troops in Iraq after 2011, only to run into instant resistance.

“The White House looks at the 20,000 number and was like, you’ve got to be kidding,” Mr. Kahl recalled. “This looks like a permanent Korea-style presence in Iraq, which nobody supported.” Mr. Obama’s appointees concluded that the military was trying to still do everything it was doing before, just with fewer troops, rather than changing the mission to reflect a more reduced role. At a meeting in the White House Situation Room, Robert M. Gates, then the defense secretary, made clear that was not acceptable.

Pentagon officers and General Austin’s team refined the plans, developing options of 19,000 troops, 16,000 troops and 10,000 troops. The general preferred the highest number and deemed the lowest unwise. Mr. Biden aggressively pushed for a smaller force. Tom Donilon, the president’s national security adviser, asked Mr. Gates if he could live with 10,000. Mr. Gates said he could.

At a May 19 meeting, Mr. Obama decided to keep up to 10,000 troops and on June 2 talked with Mr. Maliki by secure video to open the discussions. To help negotiate an agreement, the administration brought back Brett McGurk, a Bush aide who had negotiated the original 2008 withdrawal deal. But the talks quickly foundered on the question of maintaining legal protections for American troops from Iraqi law. The 2008 agreement had been approved by Iraq’s Parliament, and Pentagon lawyers insisted a follow-on agreement would have to be as well.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq and President Obama in December 2011, as the American pullout was being completed. Credit Pool photo by Olivier Douliery 

Though Mr. Maliki was willing to send it to Parliament, chances of passage seemed slim. Kurdish leaders supported it, but Sunni and other Shiite leaders did not. Mr. Maliki suggested instead that he sign an executive agreement guaranteeing immunity for American troops and Mr. McGurk supported that, arguing that the need to keep some troops was worth some risk. But lawyers in Washington rejected it, and even Iraq’s chief justice quietly advised it had to be approved by Parliament.


Even as that debate raged, the White House was rethinking the 10,000-troop option. Mr. Obama was locked in tense deficit negotiations with Republicans and the cost of a residual force weighed on the discussions. Officials concluded that one part of the planned mission, keeping troops along the line dividing Arabs and Kurds in northern Iraq, was unnecessary. With that discarded, they reduced the plan to 5,000 troops.

James Jeffrey, then ambassador to Iraq, said it was clear that some around the president were not eager to stay.

“Certainly there were people close to him in the White House that were uncomfortable with his decision,” he said, “and every time we were running into trouble trying to get the Iraqis to go along, they wanted to pull the plug.”

But he added that the immunity dispute left them little choice. Without parliamentary approval of the agreement, American troops would fall under Iraqi legal jurisdiction, a position rejected by the Pentagon. Ultimately, Mr. Obama had enough. “He wasn’t going to beg the Iraqis to let us stay,” Mr. Kahl said.

On Oct. 21, Mr. Obama talked with Mr. Maliki by video again and they agreed that American troops would pull out by the end of the year according to the original agreement. Neither seemed unhappy.

“We really didn’t want to be there and he really didn’t want us there,” said a former senior White House official. “It’s not like Maliki went out of his way to get a deal. It was almost a mutual decision, not said directly to each other, but in reality that’s what it became. And you had a president who was going to be running for re-election, and getting out of Iraq was going to be a big statement.”

Reason for Optimism

For Mr. Biden, that day in December 2011 was suffused with emotion — not triumph, a former aide said, but a sense that they had put Iraq back on a stable course and put an end to a terrible catastrophe for the United States.

“That’s why I ran for president in the first place,” Mr. Biden said in an interview last year. The same was true for Mr. Obama. “He felt as happy and as fulfilled as I did,” Mr. Biden said. “He knew it meant a lot to me. And it meant a lot to him.”

Mr. Obama at the time called it a “moment of success” and said “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government.”

There was reason for optimism. The insurgency seemed exhausted and the remaining threat could be managed by a newly trained Iraqi Army. An intelligence assessment at the time concluded that without American troops “things might get a little worse than they were in 2011 but Iraq would not fall off the rail,” Mr. Kahl recalled.

But ominously, the intelligence analysts said a few things could change their conclusion: There could be a major external shock. Iraq’s government could overreact to residual bombings by alienating the Sunni minority. And Iraqi factions could fail to resolve outstanding differences.

Those caveats, Mr. Kahl said, proved “fairly prescient.” Within days of the departure, the Maliki government issued an arrest warrant for a Sunni vice president accused of orchestrating bombing attacks. Mr. Maliki began consolidating power at the expense of Sunni leaders.
 
President Obama last Thursday, announcing steps to shore up Iraqi forces against Sunni insurgents. Credit Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times 
 
The year 2012 was relatively quiet in terms of violence but some saw signs of a resurgent problem. Michael Knights, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, briefed the National Security Council staff on indicators of a reviving insurgency, but officials said there was internal debate over whether his numbers showed what he said they did.

With American troops gone, Mr. Obama focused his attention on other issues, not to mention his re-election. There was ample evidence that Mr. Maliki might return to the sort of sectarian approach that alienated Sunnis in the past, sowing the sort of disaffection that would ultimately create an environment that would prove fertile for ISIS. But Mr. Obama had no regular contact with Mr. Maliki, leaving it to others to manage.

“The last three years saw a continuous erosion of Iraq’s institutions — from the marginalization of Parliament to the politicization of the military and judiciary — without much or any public criticism or U.S. pushback from the highest levels,” said Meghan O’Sullivan, who was Mr. Bush’s deputy national security adviser.

Mr. Obama believed it was time for Iraq to handle its own affairs.

“It’s hard to say the president should spend every week nurturing this guy and keep troops in there,” said Mr. Jeffrey, who also served as a deputy national security adviser to Mr. Bush. “The whole purpose of propping it up is so it will stand on its own.”

‘You Could See This Coming’

At that time the Syria civil war was raging and the scattered remnants of Al Qaeda in Iraq were reconstituting themselves as ISIS. “You could see this coming,” said another administration official. “It was a little dot and it was growing and growing and growing.” But the official said that while some raised alarms, senior levels in Washington were not focused on the implications for Iraq until a year ago.

Other officials blamed Iraqi leaders who were not all that interested in American help. In early 2012, Obama advisers said they tried to create a joint “fusion center” in Baghdad to share intelligence, but the Iraqis backed out. Similarly, in March 2012, when Iraq was hosting an Arab League summit meeting, the Americans offered to conduct surveillance flights for security, but Mr. Maliki said no.

“Iraq kept a distance until about a year ago when the pressure from western Iraq was threatening the state,” said Mr. Donilon, who stepped down as national security adviser in mid-2013. “They failed to deal with it and exacerbated it through the political process.”

Iraqi leaders began asking Washington for help and the administration responded by increasing military sales. It could provide small arms and Hellfire missiles but Iraq had only two Cessna planes to carry such missiles. The administration pushed Congress to authorize the sale or lease of Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets, but lawmakers were wary of empowering Mr. Maliki, who they feared might use the power to strengthen his political hand.

Mr. Maliki came to Washington last October seeking aid and Mr. Obama authorized setting up a targeting cell in Baghdad to help Iraqis combat the growing threat from ISIS. A group of Special Operations members — “small double digits,” according to one official — were sent to the United States Embassy in Baghdad, the largest American diplomatic outpost in the world, but were limited in what they could do. The Americans flew just one surveillance flight a month over Iraq at the time.

Suicide bombings spiked, up from five a month when the Americans left to 50 a month by last winter. Then came the fall of Falluja and Ramadi in western Iraq in January. While stunned, the administration responded with only modest efforts to turn the tide, still unwilling to consider a more robust intervention. American officials focused on making sure Mr. Maliki went through with April elections in hopes of defusing political unrest.

“From virtually the day our troops left because the Iraqi people wanted them out, we pressed Baghdad to accept our security assistance” and “urged its leaders to govern inclusively,” Mr. Blinken said. “In 2013, when Syria added accelerant to ISIL, Baghdad finally began to welcome our help and we’ve been building it quietly ever since, with arms, intelligence and advice.”

By the time Mosul, Tikrit and Tal Afar fell this month, it was too late. Like Mr. Bush before him, Mr. Obama misjudged the American-trained Iraqi forces, which melted away in the face of the ISIS advance. The White House was stunned, and Mr. Obama confronted the choice of letting Iraq sink into a fratricidal civil war with a safe haven for Islamic jihadists or re-engaging in a place he wanted to leave. Mr. Biden was back on the phone with Mr. Maliki, calling from a trip in Latin America. And some wondered whether the results in Iraq foreshadow a similar result after Mr. Obama’s planned withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The debate in recent days examined a range of options, from letting Iraq handle its own problems to launching airstrikes on ISIS forces. Mr. Obama tried to “resist calls to leap before we look,” one aide said. He chose what another adviser called the “70 percent” option, ordering Special Operations Forces to help the Iraqi government assess the threat. Surveillance flights were up to more than 30 a day. An aircraft carrier was moved into the Persian Gulf, with the option of delivering strikes.

But Mr. Obama rejected a full-scale return. “We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq,” he said in announcing his decision. “Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis.”


                             P.C.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #913 on: June 27, 2014, 03:07:21 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/opinion/the-iraqi-friends-we-abandoned.html?emc=edit_th_20140626&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
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bigdog
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« Reply #914 on: June 28, 2014, 11:35:31 AM »

http://2paragraphs.com/2014/06/isis-has-control-of-saddam-husseins-wmd-in-iraq/?se_id
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #915 on: June 29, 2014, 10:07:03 AM »

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/381242/looking-back-iraq-victor-davis-hanson

======================

Effort to retake Tikrit stalls , , ,http://online.wsj.com/articles/iraqi-forces-set-back-in-push-against-militants-say-officials-1404028148?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories
« Last Edit: June 29, 2014, 10:34:16 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
objectivist1
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« Reply #916 on: June 30, 2014, 07:32:07 AM »

ISIS/ISIL declares Islamic State, shortens name to “The Islamic State” (IS)

Robert Spencer    Jun 29, 2014 at 2:28pm

They clearly intend to hold the territory they have captured. They’ve also declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the new caliph; he claims to be a descendant of Muhammad, so it is possible that if they can make their state viable, this claim will gain currency. If that happens, it will be interesting to see how Muslims in the West react to the idea that he is the “leader for Muslims everywhere,” which historically was always a claim of the caliph.

“ISIS declares creation of Islamic state in Middle East, shortens name to ‘IS,’” RT, June 29, 2014:

ISIS jihadists have declared the captured territories from Iraq’s Diyala province to Syria’s Aleppo a new Islamic State – a ‘caliphate.’ They removed ‘Iraq and the Levant’ from their name and urged other radical Sunni groups to pledge their allegiance.

ISIS announced that it should now be called ‘The Islamic State’ and declared its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as “the caliph” of the new state and “leader for Muslims everywhere,” the radical Sunni militant group said in an audio recording distributed online on Sunday.

This is the first time since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 that a Caliph – which means a political successor to Prophet Muhammad – has been declared. The decision was made following the group’s Shura Council meeting on Sunday, according to ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani.

The new Islamic State has marked its borders, spanning the territory captured by the group in a bloody rampage, from Iraq’s volatile Diyala province to Syria’s war-torn Aleppo.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #917 on: July 02, 2014, 02:57:11 PM »

The 'Sons of Iraq,' Abandoned by Their American Allies
Sunnis who battled al Qaeda with us were left to the mercies of Maliki. Now the ISIS killers are slaughtering them.
By Philip 'PJ' Dermer
July 1, 2014 6:21 p.m. ET

A former colleague with whom I served in the coalition forces in Iraq recently sent me one of the slick YouTube productions by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, now rampaging through the country. I was extremely reluctant to watch the video by this al Qaeda spin-off. I was already depressed about the chaos in Iraq, given how much effort my colleagues and I spent with Iraqis after 2003 attempting to forge the great democratic experiment in the Middle East.

As the video of jubilant ISIS members extolling their bloody conquests slipped by, I began to fast forward to get through the madness, but I froze when I saw ISIS thugs attacking captured Iraqis. Many of the men being taunted, tortured and killed were leaders of the Sahwa, the Sunni militants who once fought against the American military and the Iraqi government before they realized that their bigger enemy was al Qaeda and joined us in the fight. U.S. forces, grateful for their support, dubbed them Sons of Iraq.

The Sahwa's decision to ally with us was the primary contributor to the calming of central Iraq from 2007-09. Without the Sahwa, I suspect the outcome of the vaunted military "surge" would have been vastly different. The number of Iraqis in the Sahwa movement grew into the tens of thousands, as U.S. forces' outreach to small groups of armed men evolved into larger circles of family members, friends and tribal groups.
Enlarge Image

Shiite Turkmen at a checkpoint in the Iraqi town of Taza Khurmatu in June. AFP/Getty Images

Working with the Sahwa in a sense became a two-way aid program. The coalition delivered small monthly payments in return for the much larger dividends of safety for U.S. soldiers and the Iraqi civilian population.

What to do about the Sahwa in the long term was complicated. In 2007-08, I was part of a small office in Baghdad chartered to work with representatives of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on how to reconcile with the Sahwa and integrate them into Iraq's post-surge environment. We understood that unless the Sahwa and their Sunni support base could be integrated in mainstream Iraq, our battle successes would be short-lived.

The dilemmas were immense. First, the movement was almost exclusively Sunni while the government in Baghdad and its political support mechanisms were largely Shiite. Second, while the Sahwa had "reconciled" to a large degree with the U.S. by turning against al Qaeda, it had not made such a commitment toward the Iraqi government, which many Sahwa saw as an agent of Iran. For its part, the Iraqi government viewed thousands of armed Sunnis as a strategic threat (this view has not diminished). Most of Iraq's senior security leadership wanted no part of any militia, Sahwa or otherwise.

Still, the goal of our office was to find ways to foster life after the fight with the Sahwa fully embedded in Iraq, including in its security services. This is what we told the Sahwa and their U.S.-commander counterparts who were trying to manage Sahwa fears and expectations. This is why I froze while watching the ISIS lunacy on YouTube. We, the United States of America, had made the Sahwa and their Sunni popular base a promise, a moral commitment, when they took up the fight beside us beginning in 2007. We told the Sons of Iraq that we would work out the operational mechanisms with the Iraqi government and not leave them twisting in the wind. We made this promise time and again all over Iraq.

The coalition's payment program for the Sahwa necessitated gathering personal identification data on every member, close to 100,000 names; continuing the payments was going to be under the obligation of the Iraqi government after the coalition turned over governing authority to Baghdad. I remember when we delivered the database to Prime Minister Maliki's office. The rest is history. He never attempted to fulfill his part of the bargain. Instead, the Sahwa were dismembered piecemeal, including extrajudicial killings, internment and expulsion from Iraq. After U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011, U.S. diplomats sat idly by behind concrete walls.

A couple of years ago I was in Amman, Jordan, and was invited to meet with one of the Sahwa leaders we had worked closely with in western Baghdad. When I entered the home arranged for our meeting, he had his hands in his pockets and his countenance was not one of seeing a long-lost friend. Staring at me, he pulled his hands out of his pockets and dumped two handfuls of military-unit coins—decorated with logos of various U.S. units—on the table. The coins represented mementos of appreciation from various American commanders the Sahwa leader had worked with. Now they crashed onto the table and several fell to the floor. He said: "What good are these now?"

I had no answer then and I still don't. When I think of the ISIS goons on the video accusing Sahwa members of the heinous crime of now working with the "apostate" government in Baghdad, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. But the Sahwa episode should not be forgotten as we forge our way through this crisis. America's promises and moral commitments must stand for something. If not, we may pay an even greater price as events unfold. No one will believe anything we say and will act strictly in their own interests. The Sahwa from 2007-09 is no more. And, yes, the Sunni are now doing what it takes for their own political interests, so things have come full circle because ISIS is the new al Qaeda—the vanguard.

Col. Dermer, a retired Army officer, served two tours in Iraq, where he now works in a private business.
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G M
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« Reply #918 on: July 02, 2014, 04:56:24 PM »

It's a proud democrat traditional to ensure that those who allied themselves with us end up in mass graves.

Ask the South Vietnamese.
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« Reply #919 on: July 02, 2014, 05:30:38 PM »

GM:  That was as much a function of popular opinion being turned against the war by the monopoly media at the time, as it was the Democrat Party.  Similarly, as David Horowitz lays out brilliantly in his book "Party of Defeat," the Democrat Party, having unanimously voted to support sending troops to Iraq, only one month hence decided to demonize George W. Bush as a war criminal and undermine the troops in unprecedented fashion while they were deployed.  Of course the establishment media went along with this narrative, and one of G.W.'s great failings was that he refused to respond to these treasonous attacks.  Karl Rove and Dick Cheney have said as much.  Bush 43 to this day refuses to defend his record or criticize the current President - to his shame in my opinion.  The welfare of this nation is damn well worth defending, especially by a former President who enacted these policies.  If he actually thinks he is benefiting the country by remaining silent in the face of its destruction he is sadly misguided.  Neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama has shown any hesitation to trash G.W. at every opportunity and continue the false narrative about the Iraq war, seriously damaging U.S. interests in the process.  If G.W. won't defend his own record, and the Republican Party leadership has no will to do so, who will?    As Horowitz has said for decades - politics is war by other means, and you don't win it by remaining silent in the face of lies specifically designed to demoralize the troops and the citizenry for craven political purposes.  Said another way - lies repeated endlessly without rebuttal soon become accepted as truth by the low-information citizenry.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 05:44:54 PM by objectivist1 » Logged

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« Reply #920 on: July 02, 2014, 07:14:20 PM »

http://therightscoop.com/fantastic-bill-whittle-anti-war-democrats-are-losing-the-peace-in-iraq-just-like-they-did-in-vietnam/
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« Reply #921 on: July 08, 2014, 12:36:11 PM »

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/06/why-the-white-house-ignored-all-those-warnings-about-isis.html#
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« Reply #922 on: July 09, 2014, 06:58:18 AM »

The Associated Press
Published: July 9, 2014
     
UNITED NATIONS — Iraq said the Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, where 2,500 chemical rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin or their remnants were stored along with other chemical warfare agents.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/iraq-terrorists-seize-chemical-weapons-site-24476238
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I didn't know Iraq had WMD.  Was this under Saddam Hussein?

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MikeT
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« Reply #923 on: July 15, 2014, 10:32:05 AM »

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/11/4231510/expansion-of-secret-facility-in.html
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« Reply #924 on: July 15, 2014, 10:36:50 AM »

http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2014/07/us_advisers_give_dark_assessme.php#
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« Reply #925 on: July 15, 2014, 11:19:43 PM »

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/07/15/Reports-ISIS-Using-Chemical-Weapons-on-Kurds

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/07/15/Report-ISIS-Starving-out-Christians-in-Mosul-May-Have-Used-Chemical-Weapons
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« Reply #926 on: July 16, 2014, 10:12:23 AM »



http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/15/isil-captured-52-us-made-howitzers-artillery-weapo/
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« Reply #927 on: July 20, 2014, 08:39:18 AM »

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/17/gen-james-amos-marine-corps-commandant-slams-obama/
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« Reply #928 on: July 20, 2014, 01:28:27 PM »

"... the worst military reversal Iraqi troops have suffered since the Islamist forces captured nearly half the country last month."

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/07/18/233786/islamic-state-overwhelms-iraqi.html#storylink=cpy
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« Reply #929 on: July 20, 2014, 01:38:46 PM »

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/20/us-iraq-security-kurds-idUSKBN0FP06320140720
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« Reply #930 on: July 21, 2014, 11:39:11 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/21/world/middleeast/concern-and-support-for-iraqi-christians-forced-by-isis-militants-to-flee-mosul.html?emc=edit_th_20140721&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
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« Reply #931 on: July 24, 2014, 10:01:17 AM »

Defeating the Islamic State: Crafting a Regional Approach' (Douglas A. Ollivant and Terrence Kelly, War on the Rocks)

"It is important not to overstate ISIL's connection with the current dysfunction in Iraqi politics. It is not 'an al-Qaeda army marching across Iraq' as some news commentators have claimed. It has succeeded in Iraq through a partnership with local Sunni forces. While it is true that current sectarian tensions have led Iraqi Sunnis to support ISIL to oust the Shi'a dominated government, this has happened before during the Iraqi resistance in 2004-2007. Moreover, this alliance need not be permanent; Iraq's Sunnis, with U.S. help, decimated ISIL's predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq, in 2007 and 2008 because of the threat it posed to local Iraqi leaders and their way of life through their imposition of a strict version of Sharia law and other social changes they sought to impose on the local communities (e.g., forced marriages into important tribal families). Further, it will be interesting to see how Iraq's more nationalist Sunnis, including the outlawed Ba'ath Party, react to the Caliphate announcement and similar threats to local leaders, which will no doubt occur. It is likely that these groups will turn on ISIL again once they have realized their true goal of getting Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki out of power."
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« Reply #932 on: July 24, 2014, 10:26:50 AM »

second post

U.S. Increases Surveillance, Military Advisers in Iraq
Total U.S. Military Personnel in Iraq Now at 825
By Felicia Schwartz
Updated July 23, 2014 5:16 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The U.S. has increased surveillance efforts and has sent additional military advisers to Iraq to better aid national forces and understand the expanding extremist insurgency there, officials told Congress on Wednesday.

Since extremists seized control of Mosul in June, U.S. surveillance flights over Iraq have increased to nearly 50 a day, up from one flight a month, said Brett McGurk, the deputy assistant defense secretary for Iraq and Iran, in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Pentagon said 20 additional military advisers recently arrived in Iraq, bringing total U.S. military personnel there to 825. Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said there are now 90 advisers working with Iraqi military forces, assessing their capabilities, and 160 Americans are assigned to joint operation centers in Baghdad and Erbil.

Mr. McGurk and Elissa Slotkin, a Pentagon policy official, emphasized the continued threat that the extremist group Islamic State poses to the U.S. and its allies. Mr. McGurk spent the past seven weeks in Iraq and described the group as a "full-blown army," not just a terrorist organization, and said it was worse than al Qaeda.

Lawmakers from both parties expressed frustration that the U.S. didn't do more to help Iraqi forces and Syrian groups fighting extremists sooner.

Lukman Faily, Iraq's ambassador to the U.S., said the U.S. was sending mixed signals to Baghdad about its intentions regarding military support. "If Iraqis don't believe that meaningful U.S. assistance is forthcoming, then they will not have enough incentive to adopt the political reforms that America is urging," he said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.

Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the committee, said the Obama administration denied repeated requests for drone strikes from the Iraqi government, which he said Iraqi leaders had made since last August. Mr. McGurk said the U.S. received a formal request for support from Iraq in May.

Mr. McGurk said the U.S. has continued to study the possibility of drone strikes in Iraq. When asked about assessments of Iraqi forces on the ground, Ms. Slotkin said there are some "very capable units" that could assist the U.S. with airstrikes, should President Barack Obama pursue that option.

However, both Mr. McGurk and Ms. Slotkin said military support alone wouldn't sufficiently address instability in Iraq, and that the formation of a new Iraqi government would be key to lessening the Islamic State's strength.

Ms. Slotkin said a "strong, capable" federal government in Baghdad would be the best defense against threats from the Islamic State and strong Iranian influence in the region.

U.S. officials have been pushingfor the formation of a new government that can convincingly move away from exclusionist policies that Washington believes have been in effect under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Of the U.S. troops sent to Iraq, 475 are providing security for the American Embassy in Baghdad.

The Obama administration's priorities in Iraq are improving U.S. intelligence, supporting the formation of a new government and aiding Iraqi forces in repulsing the Islamic State, which has taken control of much of Iraq, Mr. McGurk said in the hearing Wednesday.
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« Reply #933 on: July 24, 2014, 12:51:40 PM »

http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/terrified_christians_driven_out_of_mosul
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« Reply #934 on: July 24, 2014, 02:44:01 PM »

second post-- be sure to see first one


Summary

Nouri al-Maliki, the only prime minister Baghdad has known since the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein, may soon lose his job as his country struggles to form a government. Like al-Maliki, Iraq's next head of state will almost certainly be beholden to Tehran, even as he manages an insurgency that threatens to tear the country apart.
Analysis

Al-Maliki owes his tenure largely to his ability to placate U.S. and Iranian interests. For eight years he was able to keep his Shiite coalition intact, but his tactics alienated Iraq's once-dominant Sunnis and the Kurds, who were once allied with the Shia. In some ways, his exclusion of the country's minority populations explains why the country is fraying.
Government Formation

There are several factors in Iraq's struggle to form a government. The Kurds have sought more autonomy by assuming control over oil-rich areas. More important, the ongoing Sunni rebellion, led by the Islamic State, has overrun large swaths of Syria and central Iraq, and rebels have captured parts of Mosul and Tikrit.

It is under these circumstances that Iran is trying to forge a new power-sharing agreement among al-Maliki's erstwhile allies. While replacing the prime minister with someone likewise friendly to Iran will be difficult, it appears Tehran has narrowed down its choices to four candidates: Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, National Alliance chair Ibrahim al-Jaafari, al-Maliki's former chief of staff and close adviser Tariq Najm, and Ahmed Chalabi, the onetime darling of the George W. Bush administration.

The international community has clamored for al-Maliki's departure ever since the Islamic State began its campaign of violence, which is brutal even by Iraq's standards. But the momentum really turned on the prime minister July 21, when Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said his country did not support al-Maliki. Specifically, Zarif said in a CNN interview that Tehran would support whomever the Iraqi people elected. Zarif's statement comes after Iranian national security chief Ali Shamkhani traveled to Iraq to meet with al-Maliki, Iraq's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and several other Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders.
Iraqi Parliamentary Elections Results
Click to Enlarge

The problem for Iran is that al-Maliki, his party (Hizb al-Dawah) and the State of Law coalition constitute Iraq's political establishment, which Tehran has no interest in dislodging. Baghdad's ruling coalition is based on a delicate balance of power within the Shiite community and, more broadly, Iraq's three main population groups. In fact, the outcome of the April 30 elections, which gave the State of Law coalition a majority in parliament, validated Iran's strategy. And even though there were rising calls for al-Maliki's ouster, Iran was unprepared to replace him because it was dealing with an even bigger crisis: Syria.

But the Islamic State offensive has forced Iran to reconsider its strategy. Not only has the jihadist assault emboldened Kurdish separatists, it has also forced Iran to work with its Shiite allies to elect Salim al-Jubouri, a prominent Sunni politician, as parliamentary speaker. (Tehran needs as many Sunni partners as possible so that it can help manage the Islamic State-led uprising.) By Aug. 15, Iraqis should also select the president and his vice president, though internal rivalries among the Kurds, who typically occupy the presidency, could delay this process.
Iran's Endorsement

But these posts are not nearly as important as the premiership, a fact that Iraq's minorities understand well. In this context, determining the next prime minister is no longer a purely internal matter among the Shia; they will have to consider the Kurds and the Sunnis. Already there have been signs of discord between rival Shiite parties. A member of Hizb al-Dawah, Heidar al-Abadi, recently was elected as one of the country's two deputy parliamentary speakers (one post always goes to a Shi'i). The move may be part of a compromise whereby al-Maliki surrenders the premiership. Bayan Jabr Solagh, a former interior and finance minister and a senior leader of the Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, went so far as to say that since al-Maliki's party got the deputy speaker post, it should not be given the premiership.
Potential Iraqi Prime Ministers
Click to Enlarge

Meanwhile, Chalabi reappeared to submit his own candidacy for the deputy speaker's position. Interestingly, Chalabi took 107 votes -- 42 fewer than al-Abadi -- which was enough to force a run-off. After Chalabi agreed to withdraw his candidacy, al-Abadi won the second round with 188 votes. Chalabi's move showed that he may not have enough votes to win the premiership, but he does have the numbers to block al-Maliki from retaining his post.

Chalabi's maneuvering has fueled speculation that he is staging his political comeback. Already he has the support of the two main rivals of al-Maliki's party, the movement of Muqtada al-Sadr and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which enabled him to be elected as a lawmaker. Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq chief Ammar al-Hakim has even said Chalabi is one of his top candidates for prime minister. Chalabi has considerable support from the Kurds, and with his secular credentials, he also has influence among the Sunnis.

However, there are some obstacles to Chalabi's election. Al-Maliki's bloc has 92 seats while Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Sadrists combined have 63. Legally, the largest parliamentary bloc is entitled to the premiership. This is why other Shiite stalwarts such as Abdul-Mahdi and Solagh, who are Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq members, are not strong contenders for the job. If al-Maliki is replaced, the premiership is still likely to stay with Hizb al-Dawah. That leaves Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Hussain al-Shahristani, an independent politician in the State of Law, on the outside -- unlikely to succeed al-Maliki despite being one of his top lieutenants. 

There are several members in Hizb al-Dawah that are suitable for the premiership. These include national security adviser Falah al-Fayadh, al-Maliki's closest adviser, Najm, and Ali al-Adeeb, who is seen as the second-in-command in the party. Ultimately, the premiership will be determined according to an internal power-sharing agreement that all the main stakeholders endorse.

In geopolitics, personalities matter more in the short term than in the long term. This is particularly true in Iraq, where a functional three-way power-sharing arrangement has yet to take hold. According to a July 22 report by the Kurdish news website Khandan, Shamkhani told the leaders of the National Alliance that Tehran approved of the list of four candidates. All these candidates are close to Iran, and though the Sunni insurrection has weakened Iraq, the state remains firmly under Iranian influence, even if al-Maliki's successor is untested.

Read more: Iraq's Prime Minister May Be Replaced | Stratfor

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« Reply #935 on: July 26, 2014, 01:55:48 PM »

http://online.wsj.com/articles/jihadists-in-iraq-erase-cultural-heritage-1406313661?mod=trending_now_5

Jihadists in Iraq Erase Cultural Heritage
By Nour Malas
connect
July 25, 2014 2:41 p.m. ET

Raw footage shows the Shrine of Yunus (Tomb of Jonah) mosque in Mosul being blown up by Islamic State militants. Courtesy: YouTube

BAGHDAD—A campaign by Sunni insurgents to establish an Islamic caliphate across Iraq and Syria and expel other Muslim sects and religions is taking a sharp toll on the countries' cultural heritage.

The latest casualty was a shrine in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul said to contain the tomb of Jonah, who is revered as a prophet by Jews, Christians and Muslims—who call him Younes. The Nabi Younes Mosque, a towering structure that housed the shrine, was also destroyed in Thursday's blast.

Militants from Islamic State, the al Qaeda spinoff that seized Mosul on June 10, wired the periphery of the mosque with explosives and then detonated them, residents said, erasing a revered piece of Iraqi heritage. It collapsed in a massive explosion that sent clouds of sand and dust tumbling into the air.

"They turned it to sand, along with all other tombs and shrines," said Omar Ibrahim, a dentist in Mosul. "But Prophet Younes is something different. It was a symbol of Mosul," said Mr. Ibrahim, a Sunni. "We cried for it with our blood."

Though its population is predominantly Sunni, Mosul was a symbol of religious intermingling and tolerance in Iraq. Nineveh, the wider province, is a Assyrian Christian center dating back thousands of years. That Jonah's shrine was in a mosque was a proud reflection of that coexistence.

Visitors used to stream from across Iraq to pray at the mosque, unique in the country for its grand ascending stairs and alabaster floors. Its large prayer rooms had arched entrances inscribed elaborately with Quranic verses.

The Nabi Younes Mosque, which housed Jonah's tomb, was left in rubble on Friday, a day after extremists detonated explosives around it. Reuters

The site was a monastery centuries ago before it was turned into a mosque, said Emil Nona, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul. "Nabi Younes was famous in the city of Mosul, the most famous mosque in the area," Archbishop Nona said. "I'm very sorry to see this place destroyed."

Islamic State and other groups following ultraconservative Sunni ideology believe the veneration of shrines or tombs is unholy. Many also denounce the veneration of any prophet besides Muhammad, believed by Muslims to be God's messenger.

The group has announced by decree its plan to destroy graves and shrines, a strategy it has already followed in neighboring Syria, where the militants have thrived in parts of the north and east.

Iraqis inspect the wreckage of the Nebi Younes mosque in Mosul on Thursday. European Pressphoto Agency

In Mosul, they have already destroyed at least two dozen shrines, as well as Shiite places of worship, and raided the Mosul Museum, officials said.

"This most recent outrage is yet another demonstration of the terrorist group's intention to shatter Iraq's shared heritage and identity," said Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations secretary-general's special representative for Iraq, on Friday.

Iraqi officials at the tourism ministry and religious officials in Mosul confirmed the shrine as destroyed in a militant attack on Thursday. The attack is captured in amateur video footage shot by locals and posted online. In one, a thick plume of brown smoke rises in the air, presumably over the mosque as it collapsed, as the narrator says: "No, no, no. There goes the Prophet Younes."

The shrine held particular significance for Iraqis because Jonah—who in stories in both the Bible and Quran is swallowed by a whale—"was a prophet for all," said Fawziya al-Maliky, director of heritage at the tourism ministry. "We don't know what these backward militants are thinking, what kind of Islam they are pursuing," she said. "They are pursuing the end of civilization."

The attack was another blow to the country's Christian community. The Islamic State has been pursuing a deliberate anti-Christian campaign in Iraq.

The Muslim shrine, seen above on July 19, was destroyed on Thursday by militants who overran the city in June and are imposing their harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Associated Press

Thousands of Christians fled Mosul last week after Islamic State posed an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a tax, flee or face death. Christian residents said they were terrorized and humiliated in their own city as militants singled out their homes.

Candida Moss, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, called it "part of the irreversible eradication of Christian history and culture in Iraq."

—Ali A. Nabhan
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« Reply #936 on: August 11, 2014, 12:18:17 AM »

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obamas-2012-debate-boast-i-didnt-want-leave-any-troops-iraq_802219.html
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« Reply #937 on: August 11, 2014, 12:41:24 AM »


It would not be fair to these other creatures to call him a weasel or a snake for the way he passes blames and shifts positions.
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« Reply #938 on: August 11, 2014, 03:53:24 AM »


It would not be fair to these other creatures to call him a weasel or a snake for the way he passes blames and shifts positions.

http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2014/08/10/past-performance-is-no-guarantee-of-future-results-5/
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« Reply #939 on: August 22, 2014, 06:06:04 AM »

http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/08/iraqs-fight-mosul-dam-water-security/

From the article:

It is clear water has ascended as a key security variable for the Islamic State, for Iraq, and for the wider international community. And it’s understandable that in the rush to portray the existential threat posed by the Islamic State controlling vast water resources, officials and journalists have focused on the struggle over scarce resources and the potential for catastrophic damage. A careful reading of the situation, however, reveals multiple layers of complexity and interaction between water and security that suggest more calculated motives.
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« Reply #940 on: September 04, 2014, 05:37:32 AM »

An interesting read in it's own right, but catching my attention was the part about the consequences of Bush-1 standing aside while Hussein massacred Shias and Kurds after Gulf War 1 on the attitudes of the Shias in Gulf 2 and now.



http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/04/world/middleeast/surviving-isis-massacre-iraq-video.html?emc=edit_th_20140904&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
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« Reply #941 on: September 04, 2014, 06:02:37 AM »

second post of the morning:

Though this is the WSJ, I am not wild about the reporter's description of things.  Nonetheless , , ,

Iraqi Lawmakers Back U.S. Intervention
By Matt Bradley
WSJ
Sept. 3, 2014 2:48 p.m. ET

BAGHDAD—Iraqi politicians appeared to unite Wednesday around hopes that the U.S. would intervene more forcefully to fight Islamic State militants in the country after Islamist insurgents released a video showing the beheading of a second American journalist.  (Allow me to rewrite this:  The same Shias who demanded us to leave and fuct up what we left them by their political and military treatment of the Sunnis and whose army ran away from a FAR smaller force and abandoned the vast armament now in the hands of ISIL, want us to bail their collective ass out without putting their names to the request-- so Iran won't have to do it.)


Nearly three years after Iraqi politicians hurried the last U.S. troops out of Iraq in December 2011 following a nearly decadelong occupation, the brutality of the Islamist insurgency brought a rare consensus calling for U.S. intervention from across the country's typically divided political spectrum.

Even those politicians who recently called for America's departure are now urging U.S. forces to return. Many of them hope Islamic State's Tuesday release of a videotape showing the execution of Steven Sotloff, a 31 year-old American freelance journalist who disappeared in Syria last year, will goad Americans into re-engaging in a conflict many would like to forget.

"Within one week, America would be able to force an end to terrorism in Iraq," said Hakim Al Zamili, an Iraqi politician from a bloc allied with Moqtada Al Sadr, a once viscerally anti-American Shiite cleric, in an interview.

Mr. Zamili, who spent a year and a half in American custody, acknowledged that he had helped fight the U.S. occupation. "What I hope from the American administration and Obama is that they show more seriousness in dealing with the issue of terrorism."

Yet few Iraqi leaders, particularly those within Iraq's Shiite-dominated leadership, have been eager to demand U.S. help in public or acknowledge its military role in helping with a few rare recent victories over the Islamic State. The U.S. has launched more than 100 airstrikes since President Barack Obama announced that he would crack down on Islamic State on Aug 8.

Mr. Zamili, for his part, said he hoped to see more U.S. airstrikes but cautioned against U.S. troops "declaring themselves the occupiers again." He said he was unimpressed with the American attacks so far, which he said focused on less strategic targets.

In a speech before Wednesday's parliament session, outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had pushed for the U.S. troop departure three years ago, made no reference to Mr. Sotloff's killing nor the American airstrikes that helped liberate the town of Amirli from a nearly three-month blockade last week.

The masked militant who decapitated Mr. Sotloff blamed his killing on the U.S. attacks around Amirli this week that helped Iraqi militias to end the Islamic State's siege of the town and its environs.

"The readiness of many countries of the world to support Iraq in its war against the Islamic State came because of the determination and the will of the Iraqi people," Mr. Maliki said. "If you want a real international war on terrorism, then let it begin from Iraq."

The Obama administration has made its further intervention in Iraq contingent upon political unity.

The process of forming a new government has proceeded smoothly by Iraqi standards. Lawmakers have so far largely abided by a timeline to select a new speaker of parliament, president and prime minister. That is a marked improvement over 10 months of negotiations in 2010.

Members of parliament announced on Wednesday that Haider al-Abadi, who was appointed last month to replace Mr. Maliki as the new premier, will begin the final stages of selecting a new power-sharing cabinet on Thursday—a week before the constitutional deadline.

But Iraqi politicians' rare consensus on the question of U.S. intervention belies deeper divisions among the Sunni Arabs, Shiites and ethnic Kurds that have divided Iraq's most important institutions.

Those differences were on full display during a special session of parliament on Wednesday when lawmakers heard testimony about an Islamic State massacre of Iraqi soldiers at the Camp Speicher base in June.

After interim Minister of Defense Saadun Al Dulaimi told parliament that the massacre of hundreds of mostly Shiite Iraqi troops wasn't a sectarian issue, Iraq's military spokesman, Lt. Gen. Qassim Atta, publicly contradicted him and declared that the insurgents acted with the help of local Sunni tribes.

A public bickering between a top general and the defense minister ensued.

"The most outrageous thing that I heard at the session today was what was said about the Sunni tribes, trying to give the image that they were collaborating with the Islamic State," said Dhafer Al Ani, a Sunni lawmaker, who also said he hoped to see more U.S. intervention. "The military officers just proved how weak the Iraqi army is."
« Last Edit: September 04, 2014, 10:09:09 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
MikeT
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« Reply #942 on: September 04, 2014, 12:09:55 PM »

(That's a University of Michigan hockey taunt for those not in the know.)

http://www.businessinsider.in/Iraqi-Military-Top-Aide-To-ISIS-Leader-Baghdadi-Killed-In-Airstrike-In-Mosul/articleshow/41719410.cms
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DougMacG
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« Reply #943 on: September 04, 2014, 01:12:14 PM »


This seems like great news, a hit in the inner circle.   Also good to learn about rival hockey.  )
« Last Edit: September 04, 2014, 04:27:21 PM by DougMacG » Logged
DougMacG
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« Reply #944 on: September 05, 2014, 11:48:12 PM »

People are noticing lately that George Bush warned in 2007 exactly what would happen when we left:

“I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we're ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaida … It'd mean that we'd be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It'd mean we'd allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It'd mean we'd be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”
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Bush was told this scenario by his top military advisers.  Obama;s top military advisers would have told him the same thing if they were allowed to give him security briefings.  Instead Pres. Obama makes foreign policy decisions based on ignorance and political considerations, which turns out to not be a very good political consideration.
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