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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #100 on: January 16, 2007, 09:13:21 PM »

GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT

01.16.2007


Rhetoric and Reality: The View from Iran

By George Friedman

The Iraq war has turned into a duel between the United States and Iran. For the United States, the goal has been the creation of a generally pro-American coalition government in Baghdad -- representing Iraq's three major ethnic communities. For Iran, the goal has been the creation of either a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad or, alternatively, the division of Iraq into three regions, with Iran dominating the Shiite south.

The United States has encountered serious problems in creating the coalition government. The Iranians have been primarily responsible for that. With the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June, when it appeared that the Sunnis would enter the political process fully, the Iranians used their influence with various Iraqi Shiite factions to disrupt that process by launching attacks on Sunnis and generally destabilizing the situation. Certainly, Sunnis contributed to this, but for much of the past year, it has been the Shia, supported by Iran, that have been the primary destabilizing force.

So long as the Iranians continue to follow this policy, the U.S. strategy cannot succeed. The difficulty of the American plan is that it requires the political participation of three main ethnic groups that are themselves politically fragmented. Virtually any substantial group can block the success of the strategy by undermining the political process. The Iranians, however, appear to be in a more powerful position than the Americans. So long as they continue to support Shiite groups within Iraq, they will be able to block the U.S. plan. Over time, the theory goes, the Americans will recognize the hopelessness of the undertaking and withdraw, leaving Iran to pick up the pieces. In the meantime, the Iranians will increasingly be able to dominate the Shiite community and consolidate their hold over southern Iraq. The game appears to go to Iran.

Americans are extremely sensitive to the difficulties the United States faces in Iraq. Every nation-state has a defining characteristic, and that of the United States is manic-depression, cycling between insanely optimistic plans and total despair. This national characteristic tends to blind Americans to the situation on the other side of the hill. Certainly, the Bush administration vastly underestimated the difficulties of occupying Iraq -- that was the manic phase. But at this point, it could be argued that the administration again is not looking over the other side of the hill at the difficulties the Iranians might be having. And it is useful to consider the world from the Iranian point of view.

The Foundation of Foreign Policy

It is important to distinguish between the rhetoric and the reality of Iranian foreign policy. As a general principle, this should be done with all countries. As in business, rhetoric is used to shape perceptions and attempt to control the behavior of others. It does not necessarily reveal one's true intentions or, more important, one's capabilities. In the classic case of U.S. foreign policy, Franklin Roosevelt publicly insisted that the United States did not intend to get into World War II while U.S. and British officials were planning to do just that. On the other side of the equation, the United States, during the 1950s, kept asserting that its goal was to liberate Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union, when in fact it had no plans, capabilities or expectations of doing so. This does not mean the claims were made frivolously -- both Roosevelt and John Foster Dulles had good reasons for posturing as they did -- but it does mean that rhetoric is not a reliable indicator of actions. Thus, the purple prose of the Iranian leadership cannot be taken at face value.

To get past the rhetoric, let's begin by considering Iran's objective geopolitical position.

Historically, Iran has faced three enemies. Its oldest enemy was to the west: the Arab/Sunni threat, against which it has struggled for millennia. Russia, to the north, emerged as a threat in the late 19th century, occupying northern Iran during and after World War II. The third enemy has worn different faces but has been a recurring threat since the time of Alexander the Great: a distant power that has intruded into Persian affairs. This distant foreign power -- which has at times been embodied by both the British and the Americans -- has posed the greatest threat to Iran. And when the element of a distant power is combined with one of the other two traditional enemies, the result is a great global or regional power whose orbit or influence Iran cannot escape. To put that into real terms, Iran can manage, for example, the chaos called Afghanistan, but it cannot manage a global power that is active in Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously.

For the moment, Russia is contained. There is a buffer zone of states between Iran and Russia that, at present, prevents Russian probes. But what Iran fears is a united Iraq under the influence or control of a global power like the United States. In 1980, the long western border of Iran was attacked by Iraq, with only marginal support from other states, and the effect on Iran was devastating. Iran harbors a rational fear of attack from that direction, which -- if coupled with American power -- could threaten Iranian survival.

Therefore, Iran sees the American plan to create a pro-U.S. government in Baghdad as a direct threat to its national interests. Now, the Iranians supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003; they wanted to see their archenemy, former President Saddam Hussein, deposed. But they did not want to see him replaced by a pro-American regime. Rather, the Iranians wanted one of two outcomes: the creation of a pro-Iranian government dominated by Iraqi Shia (under Iran's control), or the fragmentation of Iraq. A fragmented Iraq would have two virtues. It would prove no danger to Iran, and Iran likely would control or heavily influence southern Iraq, thus projecting its power from there throughout the Persian Gulf.

Viewed this way, Iran's behavior in Iraq is understandable. A stable Iraq under U.S. influence represents a direct threat to Iran, while a fragmented or pro-Iranian Iraq does not. Therefore, the Iranians will do whatever they can to undermine U.S. attempts to create a government in Baghdad. Tehran can use its influence to block a government, but it cannot -- on its own -- create a pro-Iranian one. Therefore, Iran's strategy is to play spoiler and wait for the United States to tire of the unending conflict. Once the Americans leave, the Iranians can pick up the chips on the table. Whether it takes 10 years or 30, the Iranians assume that, in the end, they will win. None of the Arab countries in the region has the power to withstand Iran, and the Turks are unlikely to get into the game.

The Unknown Variables

Logic would seem to favor the Iranians. But in the past, the Iranians have tried to be clever with great powers and, rather than trapping them, have wound up being trapped themselves. Sometimes they have simply missed other dimensions of the situation. For example, when the revolutionaries overthrew the Shah and created the Islamic Republic, the Iranians focused on the threat from the Americans, and another threat from the Soviets and their covert allies in Iran. But they took their eyes off Iraq -- and that miscalculation not only cost them huge casualties and a decade of economic decay, but broke the self-confidence of the Iranian regime.

The Iranians also have miscalculated on the United States. When the Islamic Revolution occurred, the governing assumption -- not only in Iran but also in many parts of the world, including the United States -- was that the United States was a declining power. It had, after all, been defeated in Vietnam and was experiencing declining U.S. military power and severe economic problems. But the Iranians massively miscalculated with regard to the U.S. position: In the end, the United States surged and it was the Soviets who collapsed.

The Iranians do not have a sterling record in managing great powers, and especially in predicting the behavior of the United States. In large and small ways, they have miscalculated on what the United States would do and how it would do it. Therefore, like the Americans, the Iranians are deeply divided. There are those who regard the United States as a bumbling fool, all set to fail in Iraq. There are others who remember equally confident forecasts about other American disasters, and who see the United States as ruthless, cunning and utterly dangerous.

These sentiments, then, divide into two policy factions. On the one side, there are those who see Bush's surge strategy as an empty bluff. They point out that there is no surge, only a gradual buildup of troops, and that the number of troops being added is insignificant. They point to political divisions in Washington and argue that the time is ripe for Iran to go for it all. They want to force a civil war in Iraq, to at least dominate the southern region and take advantage of American weakness to project power in the Persian Gulf.

The other side wonders whether the Americans are as weak as they appear, and also argues that exploiting a success in Iraq would be more dangerous and difficult than it appears. The United States has substantial forces in Iraq, and the response to Shiite uprisings along the western shore of the Persian Gulf would be difficult to predict. The response to any probe into Saudi Arabia certainly would be violent.

We are not referring here to ideological factions, nor to radicals and moderates. Rather, these are two competing visions of the United States. One side wants to exploit American weakness; the other side argues that experience shows that American weakness can reverse itself unexpectedly and trap Iran in a difficult and painful position. It is not a debate about ends or internal dissatisfaction with the regime. Rather, it is a contest between audacity and caution.

The Historical View

Over time -- and this is not apparent from Iranian rhetoric -- caution has tended to prevail. Except during the 1980s, when they supported an aggressive Hezbollah, the Iranians have been quite measured in their international actions. Following the war with Iraq, they avoided overt moves -- and they even were circumspect after the fall of the Soviet Union, when opportunities presented themselves to Iran's north. After 9/11, the Iranians were careful not to provoke the United States: They offered landing rights for damaged U.S. aircraft and helped recruit Shiite tribes for the American effort against the Taliban. The rhetoric alternated between intense and vitriolic; the actions were more cautious. Even with the Iranian nuclear project, the rhetoric has been far more intense than the level of development seems to warrant.

Rhetoric influences perceptions, and perceptions can drive responses. Therefore, the rhetoric should not be discounted as a driving factor in the geopolitical system. But the real debate in Iran is over what to do about Iraq. No one in Iran wants a pro-U.S. government in Baghdad, and blocking the emergence of such a government has a general consensus. But how far to go in trying to divide Iraq, creating a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad and projecting power in the region is a matter of intense debate. In fact, cautious behavior combined with extreme rhetoric still appears to be the default position in Tehran, with more adventurous arguments struggling to gain acceptance.

The United States, for its part, is divided between the desire to try one more turn at the table to win it all and the fear that it is becoming hopelessly trapped. Iran is divided between a belief that the time to strike is now and a fear that counting the United States out is always premature. This is an engine that can, in due course, drive negotiations. Iran might be "evil" and the United States might be "Satan," but at the end of the day, international affairs involving major powers are governed not by rhetoric but by national interest. The common ground between the United States and Iran is that neither is certain it can achieve its real strategic interests. The Americans doubt they can create a pro-U.S. government in Baghdad, and Iran is not certain the United States is as weak as it appears to be.

Fear and uncertainty are the foundations of international agreement, while hope and confidence fuel war. In the end, a fractured Iraq -- an entity incapable of harming Iran, but still providing an effective buffer between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula -- is emerging as the most viable available option.

 

© Copyright 2006 Strategic Forecasting Inc. All rights reserved.
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Stray Dog
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« Reply #101 on: January 18, 2007, 10:44:45 AM »

'The jihad now is against the Shias, not the Americans'
 
As 20,000 more US troops head for Iraq, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, the only correspondent reporting regularly from behind the country's sectarian battle lines, reveals how the Sunni insurgency has changed...these are his interviews with Sunni insurgents:
 
One morning a few weeks ago I sat in a car talking to Rami, a thick-necked former Republican Guard commando who now procures arms for his fellow Sunni insurgents.
Rami was explaining how the insurgency had changed since the first heady days after the US invasion. "I used to attack the Americans when that was the jihad. Now there is no jihad. Go around and see in Adhamiya [the notorious Sunni insurgent area] - all the commanders are sitting sipping coffee; it's only the young kids that are fighting now, and they are not fighting Americans any more, they are just killing Shia. There are kids carrying two guns each and they roam the streets looking for their prey. They will kill for anything, for a gun, for a car and all can be dressed up as jihad."

Rami was no longer involved in fighting, he said, but made a tidy profit selling weapons and ammunition to men in his north Baghdad neighbourhood. Until the last few months, the insurgency got by with weapons and ammunition looted from former Iraqi army depots. But now that Sunnis were besieged in their neighbourhoods and fighting daily clashes with the better-equipped Shia ministry of interior forces, they needed new sources of weapons and money.

He told me that one of his main suppliers had been an interpreter working for the US army in Baghdad. "He had a deal with an American officer. We bought brand new AKs and ammunition from them." He claimed the American officer, whom he had never met but he believed was a captain serving at Baghdad airport, had even helped to divert a truckload of weapons as soon as it was driven over the border from Jordan.

These days Rami gets most of his supplies from the new American-equipped Iraqi army. "We buy ammunition from officers in charge of warehouses, a small box of AK-47 bullets is $450 (£230). If the guy sells a thousand boxes he can become rich and leave the country." But as the security situation deteriorates, Rami finds it increasingly difficult to travel across Baghdad. "Now I have to pay a Shia taxi driver to bring the ammo to me. He gets $50 for each shipment."

The box of 700 bullets that Rami buys for $450 today would have cost between $150 and $175 a year ago. The price of a Kalashnikov has risen from $300 to $400 in the same period. The inflation in arms prices reflects Iraq's plunge toward civil war but, largely unnoticed by the outside world, the Sunni insurgency has also changed. The conflict into which 20,000 more American troops will be catapulted over the next few weeks is very different to the one their comrades experienced even a year ago.

In Baghdad in late October I called a Sunni insurgent I had known for more than a year. He was the mid-level commander of a small cell, active against the Americans in Sunni villages north of Baghdad. Sectarian frontlines had been hardening in the city for months - it took us 45 minutes of haggling to agree on a meeting place which we could both get to safely. We met in a rundown workers' cafe.

Kidnapped

"Its not a good time to be a Sunni in Baghdad," Abu Omar told me in a low voice. He had been on the Americans' wanted list for three years but I had never seen him so anxious; he had trimmed his beard in the close-cropped Shia style and kept looking towards the door. His brother had been kidnapped a few days before, he told me, and he believed he was next on a Shia militia's list. He had fled his home in the north of the city and was staying with relatives in a Sunni stronghold in west Baghdad.

He was more despondent than angry. "We Sunni are to blame," he said. "In my area some ignorant al-Qaida guys have been kidnapping poor Shia farmers, killing them and throwing their bodies in the river. I told them: 'This is not jihad. You can't kill all the Shia! This is wrong! The Shia militias are like rabid dogs - why provoke them?' "

Then he said: "I am trying to talk to the Americans. I want to give them assurances that no one will attack them in our area if they stop the Shia militias from coming."

This man who had spent the last three years fighting the Americans was now willing to talk to them, not because he wanted to make peace but because he saw the Americans as the lesser of two evils. He was wrestling with the same dilemma as many Sunni insurgent leaders, beginning to doubt the wisdom of their alliance with al-Qaida extremists.

Another insurgent commander told me: "At the beginning al-Qaida had the money and the organisation, and we had nothing." But this alliance soon dragged the insurgents and then the whole Sunni community into confrontation with the Shia militias as al-Qaida and other extremists massacred thousands of Shia civilians. Insurgent commanders such as Abu Omar soon found themselves outnumbered and outgunned, fighting organised militias backed by the Shia-dominated security forces.

A week after our conversation, Abu Omar invited me to a meeting with insurgent commanders. I was asked to wait in the reception room of a certain Sunni political party. A taxi driver took me to a house in a Sunni neighbourhood that had recently been abandoned by a Shia family. The driver came in with me - he was also a commander.

The house had been abandoned in a hurry, cardboard boxes were stacked by the door, some of the furniture was covered with white cloths and a few cheap paintings were piled against a wall. The property had been expropriated by the local Sunni mujahideen and we sat on sofas in a dusty reception room.

Abu Omar had been meeting commanders of groups with names like the Fury Brigade, the Battalions of the 1920 Revolution, the Islamic Army and the Mujahideen Army, to discuss options they had for fighting both an insurgency against the Americans and an escalating civil war with the Shia.

Abu Omar had proposed encouraging young Sunni men to enlist in the army and the police to redress the sectarian balance. He suggested giving the Americans a ceasefire, in an attempt to stop ministry of interior commandos' raids on his area. Al-Qaida had said no to all these measures; now he wanted other Iraqi insurgent commanders to support him.

'Do politics'

A heated discussion was raging. One of the men, with a very thin moustache, a huge belly and a red kuffiya wrapped around his shoulder, held a copy of the Qur'an in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. I asked him what his objectives were. "We are fighting to liberate our country from the occupations of the Americans and their Iranian-Shia stooges."

"My brother, I disagree," said Abu Omar. "Look, the Americans are trying to talk to us Sunnis and we need to show them that we can do politics. We need to use the Americans to fight the Shia."

He looked nervously at them: suggestions of talking to the Americans could easily have him labelled as traitor. "Where is the jihad and the mujahideen?" he continued. "Baghdad has become a Shia town. Our brothers are being slaughtered every day! Where are these al-Qaida heroes? One neighbourhood after another will be lost if we don't work on a strategy."

The taxi driver commander, who sat cross-legged on a sofa, joined in: "If the Americans leave we will be slaughtered." A big-bellied man waved his hands dismissively: "We will massacre the Shia and show them who are the Sunnis! They couldn't have done anything without the Americans' support."

When the meeting was over the taxi driver went out to check the road, then the rest followed. "Don't look up, we could be monitored, Shia spies are everywhere," said the big man. The next day the taxi driver was arrested.

By December Abu Omar's worst fears were being realised. The Sunnis had become squeezed into a corner fighting two sides at the same time. But by then he had disappeared; his body was never found.

Baghdad was now divided: frontlines partitioned neighbourhoods into Shia and Sunni, thousands of families had been forced out of their homes. After each large-scale bomb attack on Shia civilians, scores of mutilated bodies of Sunnis were found in the streets. Patrolling militias and checkpoints meant that men with Sunni names dared not venture far outside their neighbourhoods, while certain Sunni areas came under the complete control of insurgent groups the Shura Council of the Mujahideen and the Islamic Army. The Sunni vigilante self-defence groups took shape as reserve units under the control of these insurgent groups.

Like Abu Omar before him, Abu Aisha, a mid-level Sunni commander, had come to understand that the threat from the Shia was perhaps greater than his need to fight the occupying Americans. Abu Aisha fought in Baghdad's western Sunni suburbs, he was a former NCO in the Iraqi army and followed an extreme form of Islam known as Salafism.

Jamming

Deep lines criss-crossed his narrow forehead and his eyes half closed when he tried to answer a question He seemed to evaluate every answer before he spoke. He claimed involvement in dozens of attacks on US and Iraqi troops, mostly IEDs (bombs) but also ambushes and execution of alleged Shia spies. "We have stopped using remote controls to detonate IEDs," he volunteered halfway through our conversation. "Only wires work now because the Americans are jamming the signals."

On his mobile phone he proudly showed me grainy images of dead bodies lying in the street, their hands tied behind their backs . He claimed they were Shia agents and that he had killed them. "There is a new jihad now," he said, echoing Abu Omar's warning. "The jihad now is against the Shia, not the Americans."

In Ramadi there was still jihad against the Americans because there were no Shia to fight, but in Baghdad his group only attacked the Americans if they were with Shia army forces or were coming to arrest someone.

"We have been deceived by the jihadi Arabs," he admitted, in reference to al-Qaida and foreign fighters. "They had an international agenda and we implemented it. But now all the leadership of the jihad in Iraq are Iraqis."

Abu Aisha went on to describe how the Sunnis were reorganising. After Sunni families had been expelled from mixed areas throughout Baghdad, his area in the western suburbs was prepared to defend itself against any militia attack.

"Ameriya, Jihad, Ghazaliyah," he listed, "all these areas are becoming part of the new Islamic state of Iraq, each with an emir in charge." Increasingly the Iraqi insurgency is moving away from its cellular structure and becoming organised according to neighbourhood. Local defence committees have intertwined into the insurgent movement.

"Each group is in charge of a specific street," Abu Aisha said. "We have defence lines, trenches and booby traps. When the Americans arrive we let them go through, but if they show up with Iraqi troops, then it's a fight."

A few days later Rami was telling me about the Sunni insurgents in his north Baghdad area. A network of barricades and small berms blocked the streets around the car in which we sat talking. A convoy of two cars with four men inside whizzed past. "Ah, they are brothers on a mission," Rami said.

Like every man of fighting age, Rami was required to take part in his local vigilante group, guarding the neighbourhood at night or conducting raids or mortar attacks on neighbouring Shia areas.

But he paid $30 a week to a local commander and was exempted.

According to Rami and other commanders, funding for the insurgents comes from three sources. Each family in the street pays a levy, around $8, to the local group. "And when they go through lots of ammunition because of clashes," Rami said, "they pay an extra $5." Then there are donations from rich Sunni businessmen, financiers and wealthier insurgent groups. A third source of funding was "ghaniama", loot which is rapidly becoming the main fuel of the sectarian war

'A business'

"Every time they arrest a Shia, we take their car, we sell it and use the money to fund the fighters, and jihad," said Abu Aisha. The mosque sheik or the local commander collects the money and it is distributed among the fighters; some get fixed salaries, others are paid by "operations", and the money left is used for ammunition.

"It has become a business, they give you money to kill Shia, we take their houses and sell their cars," said Rami. "The Shia are doing the same.

"Last week on the main highway in our area, they killed a Shia army officer. He had a brand new Toyota sedan. The idiots burned the car. I offered them $40,000 for it, they said no. Imagine how many jihads they could have done with 40k."

· Names have been changed in this report.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #102 on: January 20, 2007, 11:25:40 PM »


Petraeus Time
Bush's new Iraq strategy has a chance--but it needs revision.

BY REUEL MARC GERECHT
Sunday, January 21, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Can one back President Bush's new strategy in Iraq? Yes. For all its serious faults, his new approach is the first one since the fall of Baghdad to offer a chance to reverse the radicalization of Iraq. But it needs revision quickly.

Too much of this new plan leaves unchanged the disastrous approach of John Abizaid and George Casey, the two top generals on Iraq. The new offensive, assuming it doesn't peter out through a slow arrival of soldiers, or become enfeebled by "Iraqi leadership" in its execution, envisions a too-small U.S. force doing too much. Recent remarks by Defense Secretary Robert Gates--predicting troop reductions within a year, and saying that we might not need an additional five brigades in Baghdad for a successful operation--are a frightening echo of the self-defeating, undermanned optimism that came from the U.S. military under Mr. Gates's predecessor.





The good news is that by emphasizing a military, not political, strategy to diminish Iraq's debilitating violence, the president has correctly set aside one of the primary factors destroying the Shiite Arab center. While waiting for a "political solution" to the Sunni insurgency, we watched Shiite timidity and patience turn to anger--and to a revenge which now threatens the integrity of the Shiite-led Iraqi government. Gens. Abizaid and Casey had gambled that they could stand up an effective Iraqi military and police against the Sunnis before violence threatened everything in Baghdad. That bet collapsed with the destruction of the Shiite shrine in Samarra in February 2006--but the administration kept playing the same hand as if nothing had happened. The reversal of this soft-power, politics-not-troops mentality is an essential step forward.
Still, David Petraeus, who will succeed Gen. Casey as the overall boss in Iraq and who is one of America's finest, most adaptable commanders, may have to perform a miracle to compensate for this shortfall in manpower, especially if the required five brigades for Baghdad take months to arrive, and if Washington allows the offensive to move forward before he is even in charge. The president can pre-empt these lethal problems by ensuring Gen. Petraeus's rapid arrival in Iraq and by allowing him to determine how many soldiers he needs.

Nevertheless, there is a dismaying hesitancy in the military's and the White House's deliberations on this conflict. Although the president wants a new approach, the Pentagon, the State Department and even the National Security Council appear wedded to the past. The contradiction between what the president says and what his government does has never been greater. We need to move rapidly: The enemy is digging in and the drift to full-scale civil war is gaining speed.

The administration needs to rethink its understanding of Iraqi culture and politics, as the "new" strategy still contains ideas that have catastrophically guided American officials in the Green Zone ever since Sunni Arab insurgents started killing Americans in significant numbers. U.S. officials still believe they must soon see sectarian reconciliation, a reversal of de-Baathification, and a nonsectarian, equitable distribution of oil wealth.

All these achievements are meant to placate the aggrieved Sunni Arabs, who represent 15% of the population. But no one knows how many Sunni Arabs sympathize with their brethren who've been killing Shia. It certainly seemed like a very large number before the Shiites started counterattacking through their militias. The statements of Iraqi Sunni Arab organizations, the coverage of the Iraqi Sunni press and the region's Sunni Arab media, which often quotes and echoes the opinions of Iraqi Sunnis, suggest strongly that there is substantial communitarian support for both domestic and foreign suicide bombers.





For the serious ex-Baathists, Sunni supremacists and Iraqi Sunni fundamentalists--the lethal hardcore of the insurgency--it's still a good bet that they're not into democratic negotiations. They probably don't think much at all about an equitable distribution of oil revenues--or wanting their jobs back in the new army's officer corps.
De-Baathification for the Shiites and the Sunnis is really about only one thing: the army. But from the moment the U.S. started building a more representative Iraqi military in 2003, there was no way in hell the old Baathist Sunni officer corps could come back. And now, with the Shiites killing Sunnis, even the most enlightened of the proscribed Baathist officers (this isn't a large group) know that return would be suicide. No one knows how many Sunni Arabs would turn against their uncompromising, murderous brethren and align themselves with Shiites if the right "deal" were struck. It's a very good guess that such men, if they exist in any number, would get mowed down by their radical compatriots.

If the U.S. and Iraqi governments are going to bring peace to the "Sunni triangle," they must break the back of the insurgency. A minority, used to the prerogatives of a communitarian dictatorship, the Sunnis have been trying to derail the new Iraq: They must come to know that they will lose everything if they don't abandon violence as their principal political tool. They must know that if they choose to cease their violent opposition, they will not be murdered for doing so. This means, as it has always meant, a combined American and Shiite Iraqi occupation of major Sunni Arab cities. If the Sunni community hasn't hopelessly gone into a dominance-or-death opposition, then it could still come to its senses, provided the violent hardcore among them is neutralized and the Shiites and the Kurds allow them sufficient access to oil wealth. Shiite death squads have certainly taught the Sunnis of Baghdad that there are worse things than infidel U.S. troops in their neighborhoods.

Baghdad is the first step. And as retired general Jack Keane and the military historian Frederick Kagan have been pointing out, restoring security in Baghdad will take at least 18 months and all the troops the president pledged. To quote Gen. Keane: "We need all five brigades in Baghdad as soon as possible. It will take three to four months to clear neighborhoods of death squads and insurgents, and at least the rest of the year to establish proper security for the population." This is going to be a long, hard slog. And the Americans, not the Iraqis, are going to have to lead it.

The president's stated contention--that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's army and police will lead efforts to cleanse the city, while the Americans just support them--will produce dismal results. Mr. Maliki's pride doesn't win battles. George Bush has been fond of underscoring the counterinsurgency success in Tal Afar, in which the Iraqi army played an important supporting role. If Gen. Petraeus is really put into a supporting role in the Battle of Baghdad, then we've lost already.





Gen. Petraeus will have to deal with Muqtada al-Sadr. The thuggish son of Iraq's most revered clerical family, he has become for many Shiites in Baghdad a rapturously praised defender. This esteem is merited: He, not any American general, increased the security of the average Shiite in the capital. And if he is smart, he'll attack the Americans before they have the chance to deploy much new strength. If the Americans successfully down Sunni insurgents in the capital, then they will go after Mr. Sadr.
But the U.S. military should absolutely not go after Mr. Sadr first. We may barely have sufficient forces to handle a one-front war against Sunni insurgents and holy warriors. We need to show the Shiite community, which by no means has embraced Mr. Sadr's radicalism en masse, that the Battle of Baghdad's primary thrust isn't against the capital's large Shiite ghetto.

The key here is how Shiites view the first encounter. If it goes against the insurgents, then a subsequent attack on Mr. Sadr and his militia might not provoke a large-scale uprising. And he just may play along. He and his forces were mauled by the Americans in 2004. Since then they haven't been particularly bold in attacking U.S. soldiers. Mr. Sadr has recently manifested some statesmen-like behavior, and has been more correct in his behavior toward Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the spiritual guide of Iraq's Shia and a bulwark of moderation. Yet Washington ought to plan on Mr. Sadr hitting U.S. forces--another reason why Gen. Petraeus, who appears acutely sensitive to the Sadr conundrum, should be given as many brigades as the U.S. can rapidly pull together.

Wars are often decided by one battle, where the genius and resources of one commander proves decisive. We are undoubtedly at that point in Iraq. The Bush administration should ensure that Gen. Petraeus has everything he needs, and that any opposition inside the military to him and a larger, longer counterinsurgency campaign is squelched. America and Iraq probably won't get a second chance.

Mr. Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #103 on: January 22, 2007, 03:36:22 PM »

Iraq: Al-Sadr and the Shiite Understanding
Summary

U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested a key aide of radical Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr on Jan. 19. The arrest follows a string of similar recent moves against the al-Sadrite bloc. Surprisingly, the incident did not spark the usual violent reaction from the al-Sadrite movement's militia, the Mehdi Army. The al-Sadrite bloc's tolerance for operations against it suggests Iraq's Shia might have reached an understanding aimed at strengthening the government of Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's Shiite prime minister.

Analysis

One of radical Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's top aides, Sheikh Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, was arrested from a Baghdad mosque in a pre-dawn joint operation by U.S. and Iraqi forces. Al-Darraji was the media director for the al-Sadrite bloc in Iraq's capital. His arrest is just the latest in a series of moves against the radical Shiite Islamist movement.

Even in the face of this escalation of operations against the al-Sadrite bloc, al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia has remained unusually restrained. The group's behavior typically involves engaging in intra-Shiite fighting, clashing with U.S. and Iraqi forces, and most recently, carrying out sectarian attacks against Sunnis. The al-Sadrite bloc's newfound tolerance for operations against it suggests Iraq's Shia might have reached an understanding aimed at strengthening the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Al-Sadr has said his militias will not fight back during the Shiite holy month of Muharram, which begins Jan. 20, since killing at this time violates Islamic teaching. He added, however, that "after Muharram, we'll see." The radical Shiite leader went on to say he fears for his own life, and has moved his family to a secure location. Al-Sadr added that he is constantly on the move as well, and has drawn up a will.

It is interesting, however, that al-Sadr has tried to explain away his restraint on the basis of the holy month of Muharram, because that month has not yet begun. Operations against his group have been ongoing for some time, including:


the Dec. 19 capture of a Mehdi Army bomb cell leader in the city of Al Kut.


reports that began surfacing Dec. 20 that Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has tentatively approved a move to isolate extremists.


major violence that broke out Dec. 23-24 in As Samawa between the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and al-Sadrite forces, prompting a curfew in the southern Iraqi city.


a raid by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers Dec. 27 on the family home of Sahib al-Ameri, secretary-general of the Martyrs Foundation, a pro-Sadr political foundation in the holy city of An Najaf; al-Ameri died in the raid.


the abandonment of Mehdi Army checkpoints in Baghdad that began Jan. 10; militia members have stopped wearing their uniforms, hidden their weapons, stopped communicating by cell phone and purged members suspected of disloyalty.


the Jan. 16 arrest of some 400 individuals affiliated with the al-Sadrite bloc.


Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's acknowledgement for the first time Jan. 17 that his government is going after the Mehdi Army.


Prior to these developments, a number of militiamen and commanders of the Mehdi Army, to whom the al-Sadrites have referred as "rogue elements," were killed.

This all suggests that an understanding has been reached between al-Sadr and Iraq's other Shiite factions: al-Sadr has decided to allow the al-Maliki government to demonstrate that it is reining in Shiite militants, especially those from the Mehdi Army. This probably has been assisted by the Iranians, who likely have used their influence to get the Mehdi Army to lower its profile.

Such developments do not mean the Iraqi Shia and their Iranian patrons have reached a broad agreement to stabilize Iraq. Rather, the Shia are acting out of self-interest. The al-Maliki government is under intense U.S. pressure to demonstrate progress toward stability. And if the government does not meet this expectation, it could collapse.

The Iraqi Shia realize that they are the most divided of all the key communal factions in Iraq, which is why it took six months after Iraq's December 2005 elections to finalize the al-Maliki government. They are also aware that at present, the 128 Shiite seats in the parliament and their control over the Cabinet is the best that the Shia can get -- and they are at risk of losing it if they do not get their act together. Considering that al-Sadr's group forms the largest component within the Shiite alliance (at 32 seats, it controls the largest number of Shiite parliamentary positions), the radical Shiite leader cannot be eliminated from the alliance altogether. At the same time, his militia cannot be allowed to run amok.

Meanwhile, the Iranians realize that over time, exploiting intra-Shiite differences has diminishing marginal utility, and that Tehran's long-term interests are best served through Iraqi Shiite unity.

Al-Sadr himself does not want to appear to be conceding on his long-held opposition to the presence of U.S. forces in the country. But he also cannot continue business as usual.

Thus, we have a movement toward allowing the government to demonstrate it is reining in Shiite militias, the actions of which are an obstacle to containing the Sunni insurgency. At the same time, al-Sadr likely has received assurances that his political position remains secure so long as he does not block efforts to contain the militias. Whether this succeeds is something else again.
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ccp
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« Reply #104 on: January 22, 2007, 08:06:09 PM »

How would Iraqis and Americans respond if the White House proposed having Iraqis vote on becoming the 51st state?

 
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Stray Dog
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« Reply #105 on: January 27, 2007, 11:52:35 AM »

 
6 weapons caches destroyed, 8 terrorists, 7 captured
 
BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops killed 8 terrorists and captured 7 terrorists during a series of raids which began Saturday and ended Monday to capture al-Qaida in Iraq leaders in the Tarmiyah area.

During the second day of the raids, U.S. troops began taking enemy fire as terrorists were attempting to remove weapons and explosives from a weapons cache on an island in the Tigris River.  U.S. troops engaged, killing four terrorists.

That evening, more armed terrorists attempted to gain access to the weapons cache and began firing at a U.S. troops security detail.  U.S. troops returned fire and killed an additional four terrorists.

The weapons caches, six in all, consisted of 12 AK-47s, 20 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 20 rocket-propelled grenades, five 82 mm mortar systems, sniper rifles, armor piercing rounds, several 80 mm rocket launchers and 7 improvised explosive devices.
 
Clearing operations continue, 85 terrorists killed, 25 captured in 7 days in Balad Ruz

BALAD RUZ, Iraq – After seven days of combined operations south of Balad Ruz, Iraqi Army Soldiers, in partnership with the 1st Cavalry Division, continue to discover large weapons caches and destroy anti-Iraqi forces throughout the area.   

The 5th Iraqi Army, with support from 3-1 Cav., has unearthed approximately 20 caches, killed more than 85 terrorists and captured 25 anti-Iraqi forces.

In fighting yesterday, CF and IA engaged eight different small enemy elements with small-arms fire, mortars, artillery, Bradley fighting vehicles and close air support, resulting in the deaths of more than two dozen insurgents.

The operation began with a combined air and ground assault. They continue to target terrorists that are believed to have tortured and executed more than 40 members of rival tribes in the area in November. 

Since discovering more than 1,150 57-mm rockets Saturday, the Soldiers have uncovered several more caches containing improvised explosive device-making material, more than 1,000 rocket-propelled grenades, 13 anti-tank mines, more than 1,000 small-arms munitions, 1,050 heavy machine gun rounds, dozens of anti-tank missiles and other terrorist planning documents.   

Operation seizes two bomb insurgents

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq —  Two terrorists were captured and improvised explosive device-making materials were found during a joint combat operation in southwest Mahmudiyah, Iraq Jan.7.

The operation was conducted by Soldiers of the 6th Iraqi Army Division and the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry).  The operation was intended to disrupt anti-Iraqi forces activity within the area.

One of the terrorists may be linked to previous IED attacks in the area and was found with 34 doorbells, a common item used to fabricate roadside bombs.

Iraqi Army Kills 5 Insurgents and Captures Insurgent Leader, 16 Others

BAGHDAD –  5 insurgents were killed during a 5th Iraqi Army operation Jan. 7 in Tahrir village near Baqubah to detain the leader of an insurgent cell responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Iraqi civilians.
   
During the operation, insurgents exited a nearby mosque and began firing upon Iraqi Force members and U.S. advisors with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Iraqi and U.S. troops returned fire killing 5 insurgents.
   
A U.S. squad observed other armed insurgents maneuvering into position to attack the ground force, and upon clearance engaged the insurgents. The targeted leader surrendered to Iraqi Army Forces.

In another operation, U.S.-backed Iraqi police captured 6 insurgents during raids in Doura in southern Baghdad. Another 10 men captured had commited sectarian murders and planted roadside bombs in Jazaar in southeast Baghdad.


6 CAPTURED IN GREATER IRBIL AREA

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops conducted routine security operations in northern Iraq and took six individuals into custody. They were closely tied to activities targeting Iraqi and U.S. troops.  This operation was part of an ongoing effort by U.S. troops targeting individuals involved in activities aimed at the killing of Iraqi citizens and Coalition forces. The suspects surrendered without incident.

Joint operation captures 10, seizes caches in Baghdad

BAGHDAD – A joint operation combining Iraqi national policemen and Coalition force members seized three weapons caches and captured 10 men who were committing sectarian murders and emplacing road-side bombs in the Jaza’r neighborhood Jan. 10.
   
Soldiers from the 12th Infantry regiment, together with members of 6th Iraqi National Police Brigade seized three large weapons caches containing one rifle fitted with a silencer, one machine gun, one sniper rifle, assorted small arms ammunition and bomb-making materials.

Troops capture 21 insurgents in early morning raids in Baghdad

BAGHDAD – U.S. troops captured 21 insurgents in two simultaneous raids in the early morning today. Acting on tips, Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division, conducted two unrelated but simultaneous raids on homes in the Iraqi capital. In one raid, 9 insurgents were caught when sizable quantities of materials for making roadside bombs were found in the residence. 

In a second raid, Soldiers surrounded and entered a home in southwestern Baghdad after receiving information about a possible insurgent cell operating out of the home.  After entering the home, they found four pistols, three AK-47s, 12 magazines of ammunition, seven armored vests, $2000 in cash and Iraqi Dinar worth $3000.  12 more insurgents were taken into custody following this raid. 


6 Terrorists captured

BAGHDAD – National police captured 6 terrorists in a joint operation conducted in the Iraqi capital.
   
Policemen from the 6th National Police Division and Soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division, conducted a combined  mission successfully clearing 80 houses in the al Doura district of Baghdad.
   
The purpose of this mission, dubbed Operation “Spartan II,” was to clear the area of weapons caches and disrupt insurgent and militia activities to provide a secure environment for Iraqi citizens.
   
This section of the capital, as well as surrounding neighborhoods, has been subjected recently to an increase in sectarian violence including intimidation, murders and indirect fire. As a result, six individuals were captured by the Iraqi national police force.

7 terrorists captured in joint operation

YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — The Iraqi Army captured 7 terrorists near Yusufiyah, in an air assault operation.

The purpose of the operation, conducted by Soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division and the U.S. 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), was to deny enemy sanctuary within the area. The multi-company air assault resulted in the capture of 7 terrorists, two wanted by the Iraqi Army and two caught with improvised explosive-making materials in their possession. All of the individuals have been linked to IED and mortar attacks.

Iraqi Soldier Killed by 13 Year-old Bomber

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – An Iraqi Soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device carried by a 13 year-old Iraqi boy in Anbar Province. Also, insurgents using a mosque as a fighting position, fired at an adjacent outpost of the Iraqi Army 1st Division, 350 meters from the site of the bombing in the town of Khalidiyah, 15 miles northwest of Fallujah. 
   
It is not known if the boy knew he was carrying an IED.  His identity is unknown at this time. 
   
This is the second incident where a 13 year-old was used to deliver IEDs to attack security forces in Anbar Province.  On November 25, 2006, Safa Husayn’s body was found in the burned wreckage of a vehicle that drove erratically before detonating near a Marine patrol just northwest of the area of yesterday’s bombing.  Killed in the attack were five Iraqi civilians and a Marine. 
   
“To dupe children to be mules, unwitting bombers, is not how honorable men behave,” said Marine Lt. Col. Bryan Salas.  “The tribes in Ramadi would never stand for this type of practice.”

30 insurgents killed in fighting

BAGHDAD, Iraq  - In the opening battle of a major drive to tame the violent capital, the Iraqi army killed 30 militants Saturday in a firefight in a Sunni insurgent stronghold just north of the heavily fortified Green Zone. 8 militants, including 5 Sudanese fighters, were captured in the battle near a Sunni insurgent stronghold on the west bank of the Tigris where police reported finding the bodies of 27 torture victims earlier in the day.

67 Insurgents, supporters killed,  26 captured  in several operations

Iraqi forces killed 23 insurgents on Sunday in an operation in a Sunni Arab neighborhood. The ministry had already reported killing 30 insurgents on the first day of the operation in the Haifa Street area.

In another operation, an official in a tribal council in the western province of Anbar said an insurgent leader from a group called Ansar al Sunna had been captured and two of his aides, both from Yemen, were killed on Sunday near Ramadi.

In yet another operation, conducted completely by the Iraqi army, Iraqi troops killed 26 insurgents and wounded 43 others during the past 24 hours in different parts of Iraq.

In Yusufiya, U.S. and Iraqi troops rounded up 82 insurgents and insurgents supporters in raids Baghdad the U.S. military said. 21 of the captured insurgents were wounded during fighting. 16 insurgents were killed in that operation.

total insurgents/terrorists killed:      195       

total insurgents/terrorists captured:  128

                total taken out of action:    323   in a 5-day period

(captured includes 64 wounded)                  CONTINUE ...

Iraqi Police Net 301 Recruits in Fallujah, Habbaniyah

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – The Fallujah Police District enlisted 102 Iraqi males and the Habbaniyah Police District enlisted 199 in recruiting drives held Jan. 10 in Fallujah and Habbaniyah, respectively.
   
“It was a success,” said Lt. Col. Race Roberson, the Regimental Combat Team 5 police implementation officer. “They’ll bring stability to their stations and communities. The more police we have and the more we can retain shows the citizens of their communities the police are concerned about the stability of those areas.” The Iraqi recruits will be shipped to the Jordanian International Police Training College to be schooled in the fundamentals of law enforcement during a six-week course.
   
When the recruits return to their home districts, they will undergo supplemental training sessions. “We are trying to establish a consistent, enhanced patrol package to build upon the basics they learn at the training academy,” Roberson said.

Marine police transition team advisors, Army advisors and international police liaison officers all contributed to the drive. “We haven’t shipped 300 since August ’06,” Roberson said.
   
The 301 recruits will be joined in Jordan by 550 recruits from other parts of the province.  There are currently over 1,900 Iraqi Police candidates in training in Jordan who are scheduled to return to the province for duty in January and February.


Very good story:

Hundreds of Ramadi Residents Join the Police Force

AR RAMADI – Gunshots echoed in the distance as hundreds of hopeful Iraqi police recruits waited in line to join the fight against the insurgents still present within the city of Ramadi.

After three days of screening, roughly 400 Iraqi citizens out of the more than 600 applicants got their wish to become Iraqi police officers.  On Jan. 8, the police recruits were transported to Jordan for the beginning of a five-week training course.

One year ago a murderous intimidation campaign prevented local Iraqis from enlisting in Ramadi.  Recruiting numbers for police were insignificant. 
More than 1,000 enlisted in the police force last month.  Over 800 are expected to enlist in Anbar Province this month. 

“The local tribes stood up to the intimidation campaign and are taking back their city from the terrorists,” said the Coalition spokesman in Ramadi Marine Maj. Riccoh Player. 

“Hundreds of Iraqi Police are holding areas cleared by Iraqi and American forces in recent operation in the worst neighborhoods of Ramadi,” said Player.   “Building and manning a police station in Ramadi is what progress looks like in a counterinsurgency.”

“It’s a good thing for them,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Estes, the operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge for 2nd Battalion, 152 Infantry from Greenfield, Ind. “It’s going to better their country and that’s what we are over here for — to train them so they can start patrolling their own area and take back what was taken from them.”

Estes said that before an Iraqi police recruit can pack his bags for training camp, he must go through a screening process to determine if he is mentally and physically ready for the challenges ahead.

The Ministry of the Interior sets the standards, such as being a male between the ages of 18 and 53, while service members are here to enforce those standards, Estes said.

Throughout the day, American vehicles periodically dropped off the optimistic candidates out front of the tiny building on Camp Blue Diamond where Soldiers and Marines were busy inside doing the screenings.

The potential police officers were checked for pre-existing medical conditions prior to making their way to the physical fitness test. The recruits had to complete 10 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, and finish a 100-meter dash.

At the security station, Iraqis were asked about their education level, prior work experience, and their native tribe. The recruits were also questioned about previous arrests and had to a sign a waiver denouncing the Ba’ath Party, the political party of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Prior experiences are not necessarily a disqualifying factor, said Capt. Michael Murphy, the Iraqi Security Forces operations officer with the 1st Armored Division.

Murphy, from Bedford, Pa., said the service members do background checks on each applicant, and depending on the level of the crime, an Iraqi can still be considered for the police force.

“A guy who wants to get a job to feed his family and protect his neighborhood but maybe had some indiscretions in the past … we are giving them the opportunity now to rectify that and to come back onto the side of their people,” he said.

If an Iraqi was a former member of the Ba’ath party and can provide the paperwork proving his disassociation with the group, he may still be considered for the force, Murphy said. Yet, the troops are not taking any chances.

“If we have any recent reporting that they are corrupt or that they are insurgents, then we disqualify them,” Murphy said. “But, by and large, insurgent activity from 2003 is not a disqualifying factor.”

Something that will prevent an applicant from moving on is a failure on the literacy test, and Murphy said that it the biggest challenge so far.
To minimize this obstacle, a new three-week literacy training program is being headed at local Iraqi community centers to boost the literacy rate for those who have failed the exam.

“Although it is not going to get them to a Shakespeare literature level of literacy, they are going to be able to pass the basic literacy test for entrance into the police academy,” he said.

Iraqis turned away because of the written exam are encouraged to acquire remedial training and then return the following month.

Once recruits make it successfully through all the stations, they are shipped to Jordan to receive the fundamentals in police work. After five weeks, they return to their station and begin working side-by-side with the Police Transition Teams and the Iraqi Police Liaison Officers.

After successful completion of the academy in Jordan and 90 consecutive days of work, the IP is given a pistol in addition to his rifle. Murphy said receiving your pistol is a huge status symbol, which is important in the Iraqi culture.

Along with the pistol, the IP is granted a sizeable bonus almost the amount of a full month’s salary. “It is a pretty generous bonus given the quality of life here and cost of living,” Murphy said.  None of the events that occurred over the course of the three days would have been possible without the help of the Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army, Murphy said.

“They are our greatest opportunity for advertising,” he said.
Murphy said that after the word gets out about the drive, many of the Iraqi’s have a hard time getting to the site for processing. On this particular day, troops brought in more than 40 recruits from an area that has never had any applicants before, because it was always too dangerous.
Marines traveled down the Euphrates River and safely escorted them to the screening center. Murphy said it was a fantastic sight.

“In a month and a half, they are going to man a new police station in an area where there hasn’t been a police station before,” he said. “That is the kind of stuff that we can do and the capabilities we bring to supplement the capabilities of the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police to make this kind of thing very successful.”

These recruiting drives are usually held on a monthly basis to help up the manning level at area IP stations.
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Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.

(I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.)
DougMacG
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« Reply #106 on: January 28, 2007, 04:55:11 PM »

I think many critics of Bush and the war overplay their case every bit as much as they say Bush did.  This piece summarizes that view IMO.
--

Ten Myths of the Iraq War, http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/topten/articles/20070128.aspx

January 28, 2007: Top 10 Myths of the Iraq War. In no particular order. There are more, but ten is a manageable number.

1-No Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Several hundred chemical weapons were found, and Saddam had all his WMD scientists and technicians ready. Just end the sanctions and add money, and the weapons would be back in production within a year. At the time of the invasion, all intelligence agencies, world-wide, believed Saddam still had a functioning WMD program. Saddam had shut them down because of the cost, but created the illusion that the program was still operating in order to fool the Iranians. The Iranians wanted revenge on Saddam because of the Iraq invasion of Iran in 1980, and the eight year war that followed.

2-The 2003 Invasion was Illegal. Only according to some in the UN. By that standard, the invasion of Kosovo and bombing of Serbia in 1999 was also illegal. Saddam was already at war with the U.S. and Britain, because Iraq had not carried out the terms of the 1991 ceasefire, and was trying to shoot down coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone. 

3-Sanctions were working. The sanctions worked for Saddam, not for Iraq. Saddam used the sanctions as an excuse to punish the Shia majority for their 1991 uprising, and help prevent a new one. The "Oil For Food" program was corrupted with the help of bribed UN officials, and mass media outlets that believed Iraqi propaganda. Saddam was waiting out the sanctions, and bribing France, Russia and China, with promises of oil contracts and debt repayments, to convince the UN to lift the sanctions.

4-Overthrowing Saddam Only Helped Iran. Of course, and this was supposed to make Iran more approachable and open to negotiations. With the Iraqi "threat" gone, it was believed that Iran might lose its radical ways and behave. Iran got worse as a supporter of terrorism and developer of WMD. Irans clerical dictatorship did not want a democracy next door. The ancient struggle between the Iranians and Arabs was brought to the surface, and the UN became more active in dealing with problems caused by pro-terrorist government of Iran. As a result of this, the Iranian police state has faced more internal dissent. From inside Iran, Iraq does not look like an Iranian victory.

5-The Invasion Was a Failure. Saddam's police state was overthrown and a democracy established, which was the objective of the operation. Peace did not ensue because Saddam's supporters, the Sunni Arab minority, were not willing to deal with majority rule, and war crimes trials. A terror campaign followed. Few expected the Sunni Arabs to be so stupid. There's a lesson to be learned there.

6-The Invasion Helped Al Qaeda. Compared to what? Al Qaeda was a growing movement before 2003, and before 2001. But after the Iraq invasion, and especially the Sunni Arab terrorism, al Qaeda fell in popularity throughout the Moslem world. Arab countries cracked down on al Qaeda operations more than ever before. Without the Iraq invasion, al Qaeda would still have safe havens all over the Arab world. 

7-Iraq Is In A State of Civil War. Then so was Britain when the IRA was active, and so is Spain today because ETA is still active. Both IRA and ETA are terrorist organizations based on ethnic identity. India also has tribal separatist rebels who are quite active. That's not considered a civil war. This is all about partisans playing with labels for political ends, not accurately describing a terror campaign.

8-Iraqis Were Better Off Under Saddam. Most Iraqis disagree. Check election results and opinion polls. Reporters tend to ask Iraqi Sunni Arabs this question, but they were the only ones who benefited from Saddams rule.

9-The Iraq War Caused Islamic Terrorism to Increase in Europe. The Moslem unrest in Europe was there before 2001, and 2003. Interviews of Islamic radicals in Europe reveals that the hatred is not motivated by Iraq, but by daily encounters with hostile natives. Blaming Islamic terrorism on Iraq is another attempt to avoid dealing with a homegrown problem.

10- The War in Iraq is Lost. By what measure? Saddam and his Baath party are out of power. There is a democratically elected government. Part of the Sunni Arab minority continues to support terror attacks, in an attempt to restore the Sunni Arab dictatorship. In response, extremist Shia Arabs formed vigilante death squads to expel all Sunni Arabs. Given the history of democracy in the Middle East, Iraq is working through its problems. Otherwise, one is to believe that the Arabs are incapable of democracy and only a tyrant like Saddam can make Iraqi "work." If democracy were easy, the Arab states would all have it. There are problems, and solutions have to be found and implemented. That takes time, but Americans have, since the 18th century, grown weary of wars after three years. If the war goes on longer, the politicians have to scramble to survive the bad press and opinion polls. Opposition politicians take advantage of the situation, but this has nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with local politics in the United States.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #107 on: January 29, 2007, 01:13:16 AM »

Doug:

Nice find!  I will be spreading this one around.

Marc
==========

Here is another fine blog entry from Michael Yon:


http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/desolate-roads-part-2-of-2.htm

« Last Edit: January 29, 2007, 12:55:48 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #108 on: January 30, 2007, 11:54:04 PM »

If this is right then , , ,

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


      The American Iraq
      By FOUAD AJAMI
      January 30, 2007; Page A17

      So this government in Baghdad, fighting for its life, has not mastered
even the grim science of the gallows, and has no knowledge of the "drop
charts" used for hangings around the world. The Tikritis had been much
better at this sort of thing. They had all the time in the world to perfect
the skills and techniques of terror; they had done it against the background
of relative indifference by outside powers. And they had the indulgence of
the neighboring Arabs who gave their warrant to all that played out in Iraq
under the Tikriti despotism.

      Pity those men now hunkered down in Baghdad as they walk a fine, thin
line between the yearning for justice and retribution in their land, and the
scrutiny of the outside world. In the annals of Arab history, the Shia have
been strangers to power, rebels and dissidents and men on the run hunted
down by official power. Now the ground has shifted in Baghdad, and an Arab
world steeped in tyranny reproaches a Shia-led government sitting atop a
volcano. America's "regional diplomacy" -- the name for our earnest but
futile entreaties to the Arab rulers -- will not reconcile the Arab regimes
to the rise of the Shia outcasts.


      In the fullness of time, the Arab order of power will have to come to
a grudging acceptance of the order sure to take hold in Baghdad. This is a
region that respects the prerogatives of power. It had once resisted the
coming to power of the Alawites in Syria and then learned to accommodate
that "heretical" minority sect and its conquest of Damascus; the Shia path
in Iraq will follow that trajectory, and its justice is infinitely greater
for it is the ascendancy of a demographic majority, through the weight of
numbers and the ballot box. Of all Arab lands, Iraq is the most checkered, a
frontier country at the crossroads of Arabia, Turkey and Persia. The Sunni
Arabs in Iraq and beyond have never accepted the diversity of that land. The
"Arabism" of the place was synonymous with their own primacy. Now a
binational state in all but name (Arab and Kurdish) has come into being in
Iraq, and the Shia underclass have stepped forth and staked a claim
commensurate with the weight of their numbers. The Sunni Arabs have recoiled
from this change in their fortunes. They have all but "Persianized" the Shia
of Iraq, branded them as a fifth column of the state next door. Contemporary
Islamism has sharpened this feud, for to the Sunni Islamists the Shia are
heretics at odds with the forbidding strictures of the Islamists' fanatical
variant of the faith.

      Baghdad, a city founded by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mansour in 762, was
sacked by the Mongols in 1258: The invaders put it to the sword, and dumped
its books and libraries in the Tigris. In the (Sunni) legend, a Shia
minister by the name of Ibn Alqami had opened the gates of the city to the
invaders. History never relents here. In a commentary that followed the
execution of Saddam, a Palestinian commentator in the West Bank city of
Jenin wrote in a pan-Arab daily in London that a descendant of Ibn Alqami
(read Nouri al-Maliki) had put to death a descendant of al-Mansour.

      These kinds of atavisms cannot be conciliated. The truth of Iraq will
assert itself on the ground, but the age of Sunni monopoly on power has
passed. One of Iraq's most respected scholar-diplomats, Hassan al-Alawi, has
put the matter in stark terms. It is proper, he said, to speak of an
"American Iraq" as one does of a Sumerian, a Babylonian, an Abbasid, an
Ottoman, and then a British Iraq. Where Iraq in the age of the Pax
Britannica rested on an "Anglo-Sunni" regime, this new Iraq, in the time of
the Americans, is by the logic of things an American-Shia regime. The
militant preachers railing against the fall of Baghdad to an alliance of the
"American crusaders" and the "Shia heretics" are the bearers of a dark, but
intensely felt conviction. We should not be apologetic, in Arab lands
seething with bigotry and rage, about our expedition into Iraq. We shouldn't
fall for Arab rulers who tell us that they would have had the ability to
call off the furies had we had in place a "process" for resolving the claims
of the Palestinians, and had we been able to "deliver" Israel. Those furies
have a life of their own: In truth, they are aided and abetted by these same
rulers in the hope of tranquilizing their own domains and buying off the
embittered in their midst.

      The Sunni Arab regimes, it has to be noted, are not of one mind on
Iraq. Curiously, the Arab state most likely to make peace with the new
reality of Iraq is Saudi Arabia; those most hostile are the Jordanians, the
Egyptians and the Palestinians. The Saudi monarch, King Abdullah, has read
the wind with accuracy; he has a Shia minority in his domain, in the
oil-bearing lands of the Eastern Province, and he seems eager to cap the
Wahhabi volcano in the Najdi heartland of his kingdom. There is pragmatism
in that realm, and the place lives by its own coin. In contrast, Jordan and
Egypt present the odd spectacle of countries heavily invested in an
anti-Shia drive but with no Shia citizenry in their midst. The two regimes
derive a good measure of their revenues from "strategic rent" -- the aid of
foreign powers, the subsidies of Pax Americana to be exact. The threat of
Shiism is a good, and lucrative, scarecrow for the rulers in Cairo and
Amman. The promise of standing sentry in defense of the Sunni order is what
these two regimes have to offer both America and the oil states.

      The Palestinians, weaker in the scale of power and with troubles of
their own, are in the end of little consequence to the strategic alignment
in the region. But to the extent that their "street" and their pundits
matter, they can be counted upon to view the rise of this new Iraq with
reserve and outright hostility. For six decades, the Palestinians have had a
virtual monopoly on pan-Arab sentiments, and the Arabic-speaking world
indulged them. Iraq -- its wounds, and the promise of its power and
resources -- has been a direct challenge to the Palestinians and to their
conception of their place in the Arab scheme of things. A seam is stitched
in Palestinian society between its Muslim majority and its minority
Christian communities. Palestinians have little by way of exposure to the
Shia. To the bitter end, the Palestinian street remained enamored of Saddam
Hussein. Iraq's Shia majority has returned the favor, and has come to view
the Palestinians and their cause with considerable suspicion.

      For our part, the Pax Americana has not been at peace with the Shia
genie it had called forth. We did not know the Shia to begin with; we saw
them through the prism of our experience with Iran. Moqtada al-Sadr in
Baghdad and Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut: This was the face of the new Shiism
and we were spooked by it. And we were susceptible as well to the
representations made to us by Arab rulers about the dangers of radical
Shiism.

      This was odd: We had been in the midst of a searing battle with al
Qaeda and the Taliban, zealous Sunni movements, but we were still giving
credence to the Arab warnings about the threat of Shiism. Nor were the Shia
who would finally claim power in Iraq possessed of an appreciable
understanding of American ways. Nouri al-Maliki speaks not a word of
English; with years of exile in Syria behind him, he was at considerable
disadvantage in dealing with the American presence in his country. He and
the political class around him lacked the traffic with American diplomacy
that had seasoned their counterparts in Cairo, Amman and the Arabian
Peninsula. Without that intimacy, they had been given to premonitions that
America could yet strike a bargain, at their expense, with the Sunni order
of power.

      We held aloft the banner of democracy, but in recent months our faith
in democracy's possibilities in Iraq has appeared to erode, and this
unnerves the Shia political class. President Bush's setback in the
congressional elections gave the Iraqis legitimate cause for concern: Prime
Minister Maliki himself wondered aloud whether this was the beginning of a
general American retreat in Iraq. And there was that brief moment when it
seemed as though the "realists" of the James Baker variety were in the midst
of a restoration. The Shia (and the Kurds) needed no deep literacy in
strategic matters to read the mind of Mr. Baker. His brand of realism was
anathema to people who tell their history in metaphors of justice and
betrayal. He was a known entity in Iraq; he had been the steward of American
foreign policy when America walked away, in 1991, from the Kurdish and Shia
rebellions it had called for. The political class in Baghdad couldn't have
known that the Baker-Hamilton recommendations would die on the vine, and
that President Bush would pay these recommendations scant attention. The
American position was not transparent, and there were in the air rumors of
retrenchment, and thus legitimate Iraqi fears that the American presence in
Baghdad could be bartered away in some accommodation with the powers in
Iraq's neighborhood.

      These fears were to be allayed, but not put to rest, by the military
"surge" that President Bush announced in recent days. More than a military
endeavor, the surge can be seen as a declaration by the president that
deliverance would be sought in Baghdad, and not in deals with the rogues
(Syria and Iran) or with the Sunni Arab states. Prime Minister Maliki and
the coalition that sustains his government could not know for certain if
this was the proverbial "extra mile" before casting them adrift, or the sure
promise that this president would stay with them for the remainder of his
time in office.

      But there can be no denying that with the surge the landscape has
altered in Baghdad, and that Mr. Bush is invested in the Maliki government
as never before. Mr. Maliki's predecessor -- a man who belongs to the same
political party and hails from the same traditional Shia political class -- 
was forced out of office by an American veto and Mr. Maliki could be
forgiven his suspicion that the Americans might try this again. It was known
that he had never taken to the American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, and that he
fully understood that American officials would rather have other Shia
contenders in his post -- our old standby Ayad Allawi, the current vice
president Adel Abdul Mahdi, both more worldly men at ease with American
ways. So if this is America's extra mile in Baghdad, it has to be traversed
with a political leader whose abilities and intentions have been repeatedly
called into question by American officials.

      This marriage of convenience may be the best that can be hoped for.
Mr. Maliki will not do America's bidding, and we should be grateful for his
displays of independence. He straddles the fence between the things we want
him to do -- disarming the militias, walking away from Moqtada al-Sadr -- 
and the requirements of political survival. We have been waiting for the
Iraqis to assume responsibility for their own affairs and we should not be
disconcerted when they take us at our word. The messages put out by American
officials now and then, that Mr. Maliki is living on borrowed time, and the
administered leaks of warnings he has been given by President Bush, serve
only to undermine whatever goals we seek in Baghdad.

      With Saddam's execution, this prime minister has made himself a power
in the vast Shia mainstream. Having removed Ibrahim Jaafari from office last
year, the American regency is doomed to live with Mr. Maliki, for a policy
that attempts to unseat him is sure to strip Iraqis of any sense that they
are sovereign in their own country. He cannot be granted a blank check, but
no small measure of America's success in Iraq now depends on him. If he is
to fall, the deed must be an affair of the Iraqis, and of the broad Shia
coalition to be exact. He may now to able to strike at renegade elements of
the Mahdi Army, for that movement that once answered to Moqtada al-Sadr and
carried his banners has splintered into gangs led by bandit warlords. In our
concern with Moqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army, we ought to understand the
reluctance of Mr. Maliki's ruling coalition to take on the Shia militias.
The terror inflicted on the Shia -- an unrelenting affair of the last three
years -- makes it extremely difficult for a Shia-led government to disarm
men who pose as defenders of a community still under brutal siege.

      Boldness and despair may have come together to carry forward this new
drive in Baghdad. Fear of failure often concentrates the mind, and President
Bush's policy could yet find its target right as the skeptics have written
off this whole project in Baghdad. Iraq has had its way of meting out
disappointments at every turn, but the tide of events appears to be working
in the president's favor.

      There is a "balance of terror" today between the Sunni and Shia
protagonists. More and more Sunni Arabs know that their old dominion is
lost, and that they had better take the offer on the table -- a share of the
oil revenues, the promise that the constitution could be amended and
reviewed, access to political power and spoils in return for reining in the
violence and banishing the Arab jihadists. The Shia, too, may have to come
to a time of reckoning. Their old tormentor was sent to the gallows, and a
kinsman of theirs did the deed with the seal of the state. From the poor
Shia slums of Baghdad, young avengers answered the Sunni campaign of terror
with brutal terror of their own. The old notion -- once dear to the Sunnis,
and to the Shia a nagging source of fear and shame -- that the Sunnis of
Iraq were a martial race while the Shia were marked for lamentations and
political quiescence has been broken for good.

      The country has been fought over, and a verdict can already be
discerned -- rough balance between its erstwhile Sunni rulers and its Shia
inheritors, and a special, autonomous life for the Kurds. Against all dire
expectations, the all-important question of the distribution of oil wealth
appears close to a resolution. The design for sharing the bounty is a
"federal" one that strikes a balance between central government and regional
claimants. The nightmare of the Sunni Arabs that they would be left stranded
in regions of sand and gravel has been averted.

      This is the country midwifed by American power. We were never meant to
stay there long. Iraq will never approximate the expectations we projected
onto it in more innocent times. But we should be able to grant it the gift
of acceptance, and yet another dose of patience as it works its way out of
its current torments. It is said that much of the war's nobility has drained
out of it, and that we now fight not to lose, and to keep intact our larger
position in the oil lands of the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf.
This may not be the stuff of glory, but it has power and legitimacy all its
own.

      Mr. Ajami is a 2006 recipient of the Bradley Prize, teaches at Johns
Hopkins and is author of "The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs,
and the Iraqis in Iraq" (Free Press, 2006).
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #109 on: January 31, 2007, 10:37:01 AM »

Second post of the day:

Geopolitical Diary: Deciphering the An Najaf Battle

An Iraqi Shiite messianic group the government has labeled a cult, and which Baghdad says fought with U.S. and Iraqi troops over the weekend near An Najaf, has issued a statement saying it was not engaged in the battle that resulted in the deaths of 250 militants and the cult's leader. Cult spokesman Abdul Imam Jaabar said the cult is peaceful, denying that it has ties to the "Soldiers of Heaven," which the Iraqi government said plotted to kill senior Shiite clerics. Jabbar said cult leader Imam Ahmed al-Hassan al-Yamani is a civil engineer who founded the group in 1999 after proclaiming he had met the messiah-like figure Mahdi, who declared him his grandson; Jabbar says al-Hassan quickly gained a following in southern Iraq of around 5,000 people.

This denial has triggered great speculation about the government's version of what actually happened. An Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman said at least 263 Shiite fighters were killed, 502 arrested and another 210 people injured. Iraqi government officials say security forces launched the operation against the cult, which consists of fanatical Shiite and al Qaeda-linked Sunni militants, to prevent it from executing a plot to assassinate senior Shiite clerics. According to an understanding among Shiite Muslims, killing clerics is supposed to hasten the coming of Mahdi. When Iraqi forces were overwhelmed with the cult's firepower they had to call in U.S. ground support.

Not only is this perhaps the most bizarre incident in almost four years of incessant violence that has ravaged the country, the government's version of what allegedly transpired raises more questions than provides answers.



How could a cult evolve into such a major threat without getting noticed?

If this was an obscure cult, why were government forces unable to deal with it on their own?

From where did the group acquire such a large cache of weaponry?

Given the deep sectarian differences, how can extremist Shia and jihadists both be part of the group?

Why would a Shiite religious group risk alienation by engaging in the murder of the clerical hierarchy, especially during the holy month of Muharram?



These and other such questions indicate the government is withholding a lot of information. However, Stratfor has received some information that provides insight into the circumstances leading up to the battle.

We are told the al-Hawatim tribe wanted to organize its own Karbala procession during Ashurah but that a rival group with considerable influence prevented it from doing so. A number of tribesmen were killed at a checkpoint operated by this influential group, including a senior tribal sheikh. The tribe then launched a retaliatory attack that led to the battle. The fact that a large number of those arrested are women and children lends some credence to the report that the fighting was related to Ashurah ceremonies.

Given the emotionally charged atmosphere during the Muharram ceremonies commemorating the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and several other members of his family, why did this battle fail to disrupt the gatherings in An Najaf? Moreover, how was the violence contained?

Such a major battle could only be contained if it did not in fact occur in An Najaf. This raises doubts about the claims of a plot to kill senior clerics, which would require that the group be based inside the city. Additionally, a large force is not usually sent to carry out assassinations.

The report about a dispute over holding a procession suggests the group in question was engaged in a local power struggle. The Shiite establishment made up of the country's largest Shiite group, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa Party, faces opposition from several groups at the provincial and district level in the Shiite south -- such as from the al-Sadrite Bloc, al-Fadhila and other smaller factions.

Regardless of its identity, the group in question likely wanted to use the occasion of Muharram to gain control over certain areas in the south. The government got wind of its plans and decided to pre-empt it. This would also explain the implausible official version, which was designed to justify the killing of fellow Shia during the holy month.

Reality notwithstanding, what is clear is that this incident proves what we have been saying about the Shiite community -- it is the most internally divided of the country's three major ethno-sectarian communities. The intra-Shiite divisions go far beyond the usual suspects -- a situation that bodes ill for the surge strategy of the Bush administration.
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« Reply #110 on: February 01, 2007, 07:47:53 AM »

0018 GMT -- IRAQ -- Iraq has halted all flights to and from Syria for at least two weeks and closed a border crossing with Iran in preparation for a new security crackdown aimed at halting violence in Baghdad and the surrounding areas, The Associated Press reported Feb. 1, citing an unnamed parliament member and an airport official.

stratfor.com
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« Reply #111 on: February 05, 2007, 07:39:08 PM »

 

14 INSURGENTS KILLED, FOREIGN FIGHTER SAFE HOUSE DESTROYED 

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops killed 14 terrorists, captured 2 terrorists and destroyed a known foreign fighter safe house during a raid south of Baqubah. Intelligence reports indicated that a foreign fighter facilitator responsible for conducting multiple attacks on Iraqi and U.S. troops was operating in the area.

As ground forces approached the objective building, several terrorists began to flee the targeted and surrounding buildings.  Others were observed maneuvering against the U.S. troops. 

Ground forces called for close air support resulting in 14 enemy fighters killed during the air strikes. Additionally, U.S. aircraft delivered precision munitions and destroyed the building to prevent it from further use as a terrorist safe haven.


11 insurgents killed, 10 captured during weapons distribution

FALLUJAH, Iraq –American Soldiers observed 6 insurgents unloading AK-47 rifles into a building near the gas station in Central Ramadi Jan. 23.  The soldiers attacked the insurgents with grenades and gunfire killing 3 and wounding & capturing the other three.
 
Another U.S. post was subsequently attacked by 6 insurgents later the same morning.  The U.S. Soldiers defended themselves and killed 3 of the attackers and captured the other 3 wounded insurgents.
 
Two hours later in the same area, the same U.S. members observed additional insurgents distributing hand grenades to approximately seven others near the same building as before.  The insurgents then attacked the U.S. outpost.  U.S. troops  defended themselves killing 5 of the assailants and injuring 4 more.   


Iraqi Police-led operation finds torture house, captures 21

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – Iraqi Police and Marines completed Operation Three Swords in an area south of Fallujah.  The purpose of the operation was to CAPTURE OR KILL members of murder and intimidation cells within the rural area and villages.  It was led by the Iraqi Police with support from U.S. Marines
       
During the operation, members of the Fallujah Police Department and U.S. troops discovered a torture house and rescued 3 individuals.  Two of the hostages were transported and treated at Camp Fallujah.  The third hostage was transported by helicopter to Camp Taqqadum for further treatment.  Torture devices were found and confiscated.  The house was demolished by U.S. troops in order to remove the reminder of such violence from the landscape.  Also, one of the victims asked that it be destroyed so that no one will ever be taken there and tortured like him.
     
Additionally, U.S. troops uncovered numerous weapons caches during the operation.  Among the caches, two 14.5 mm anti-aircraft guns, high explosive mortar sights, rocket propelled grenade related materials, a sniper rifle with scope and four assault rifles.   Two vehicles were also discovered in which one was rigged as a car bomb and the other with an anti-aircraft gun mounted.   The explosives were destroyed on scene by U.S. troops and the weapons were returned to Camp Fallujah.
       
The Iraqi Police and Marines captured 21 individuals for coordinating insurgent attacks against Iraqi Security Forces or U.S. troops. 


8 HOSTAGES RESCUED, 9 TERRORISTS CAPTURED IN ARAB JABOUR

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops rescued 8 Iraqi citizens who had been tortured while being held hostage in Arab Jabour Wednesday.  During the same operation, ground forces also captured 9 terrorist while conducting a raid targeting a vehicle-borne improvised explosives devices network. 

According to the hostages who were tied up and hidden in an underground bunker, they were tortured, beaten, deprived of food and water and told they were being held for ransom.  One of the hostages reported he had been held hostage for 50 days, and another for 47 days.  Another hostage indicated the terrorists had captured other Iraqis and tortured them before receiving ransom payments.

Ground forces stated the hostages were very afraid for their safety and looked as if they had been physically abused and severely mistreated.

Military medical personnel provided on-scene first aid to the liberated hostages after which U.S. troops transported the men to a medical facility for further treatment.  Seven of the men have since been released to their families; the eighth hostage, who had been held for 50 days and had to be carried out of the bunker, is currently undergoing medical treatment and will be released to his family.

While searching the scene, U.S. troops found 10 caches consisting of IED-producing materials, machine guns, military-style uniforms and boots.


13 terrorists captured in raids
 
BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops captured 13  terrorists during raids Thursday morning in Karmah and Mosul.
 
In Karmah, 12 terrorists were captured.  Intelligence reports indicate the detainees have key logistical ties to the al-Qaida in Iraq network and to improvised explosive device production.  Reports indicate that they are responsible for the recent increase in IED attacks in the Karmah area.  During the raid, U.S. troops found several AK-47s and ammunition.
 
In Mosul, U.S. troops captured a foreign fighter facilitator with ties to a senior al-Qaida leader responsible for bringing large numbers of suicide bombers into Iraq.



Operation ‘Wolverine Feast’ nets 10 terrorists, 4 weapons caches

BAGHDAD — U.S. and Iraqi Army soldiers captured 10 terrorists and seized 4 caches in the Al-Doura district as part of Operation Wolverine Feast. The operation began as witnesses reported seeing several men load a mortar tube and ammunition into the trunk of a car.

The 10th Mountain Division and the 6th Iraqi Army Division were alerted and cordoned off the target area.  They then conducted a systematic clearance of the area.

In the first objective they captured one wanted man with an 82mm mortar system, two AK-47 assault rifles, a 9mm pistol and two hand grenades. A sweep of a second targeted area uncovered six men with 10 120mm mortar rounds.

The third cache found contained a 60mm mortar system and various rocket-propelled grenade launchers and RPG rounds.  Three men were detained at this location. The last cache contained several RPG rockets and accelerators.


3 tortured Iraqi captives freed 

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – As part of a planned security operation near Fallujah, U.S. troops discovered an insurgent torture house with blood-stained walls and freed three torture victims found inside.
       
“A lot of the insurgents are in this area,” said U.S. Army Captain Chip R. Rankin, Company B commanding officer, 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment. “Our guys were expecting to find a torture house, but were a little shocked to find both the house and torture victims inside. There’s no doubt we saved those three individuals’ lives by getting there when we did.”
       
Torture devices found in and around the house included shackles, chains, syringes, rifles, knives, chord, clubs and a blow torch. The condition of the torture victims was dire.

“They looked like they hadn’t eaten or had any water in a long time,” said Rankin. “One victim had been burnt, cut and his kneecaps shattered. He was slipping into shock when we found him.”
       
The two victims who could walk on their own left the building thanking the U.S. troops who rescued them, Rankin added. Following the rescue of the torture victims, U.S. troops  searched the area for those responsible for the torture house.
       
In their search, they arrested 10 individuals to add to 11 others captured earlier in the operation. Fifteen of these detainees were sent to a detention facility. 7 of those detainees were identified as known Al Qaeda operatives and the other seven were identified as known insurgents or criminals. The rescued victims identified several of the detainees as members of the torture house.


Iraqi Police Captures Leader Of Terrorist Bombing Cell, 8 others Near Haswah

BAGHDAD – Special Iraqi Police Forces captured the leader of a terrorist bombing cell during operations in northern Babil Province near Haswah. The cell leader is responsible for coordinating and carrying out improvised explosive device attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces in the area.
       
The cell is suspected of being linked to al Qaeda in Iraq and facilitates AQI efforts in targeting Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces in IED and indirect fire attacks.  The cell is  responsible for several attacks against ISF and CF convoys in Babil Province. The cell is also suspected of murdering Iraqi civilians in sectarian attacks and ambushes. Iraqi Forces captured 8 other men in the same operation.



IA Captures a Second Leader Of Terrorist Bombing Cell in Mosul

BAGHDAD – Soldiers of the 2nd Iraqi Army Division captured another leader of a terrorist bombing cell, during operations in Mosul, who is responsible for coordinating  mortar, small arms and improvised explosive device attacks against Iraqi Forces and Coalition Forces.
       
The cell leader was allegedly involved in an IED attack carried out against an Iraqi Police convoy in Mosul last year. He is also implicated in coordinating and conducting IED.



ISF captures 5 members of illegally armed militia

BAGHDAD – Special Iraqi Police Forces captured five members of an illegally armed militia and detained seven others during operations near Baghdad. The terrorists are allegedly responsible for coordinating and carrying out numerous improvised explosive device and other attacks against Iraqi Police, Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces in the Babil Province.

 
IP Captures Six During Operations Near Fallujah

BAGHDAD – Iraqi Police Forces captured 6 members of an insurgent cell during operations with Coalition advisors Jan. 23 in Fuhaylat, near Fallujah. The insurgent cell is believed to be responsible for carrying out improvised explosive device attacks against Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces. The insurgent cell is reportedly linked to Al Qaeda


Iraqi Army stops illegal checkpoint after tip from resident

BAGHDAD — A tip from a local citizen to an Iraqi Army unit enabled them to stop an illegal checkpoint in a western Baghdad neighborhood.

Shortly after noon, an unidentified Iraqi phoned the 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army stating that a number of men had set up an illegal checkpoint in a Ghazaliyah neighborhood. 

A patrol was dispatched to the area and upon arrival was engaged by AK-47 and pistol fire.  The patrol returned fire but was unable to prevent the escape of the terrorists. 

The patrol did confiscate a black Daewoo sedan and a motorcycle left behind when the terrorists fled.



Three Terrorists Captured During Baghdad Raid

BAGHDAD, Iraq – 3 terrorists were captured during a raid Wednesday north of Baghdad targeting an individual with ties to a senior al-Qaida leader who has executed Iraqi civilians and conducted extortion operations against the Iraqi people.

During the raid of a known terrorist safe house, Coalition Forces used a small explosives charge to gain entrance into the building.  Once inside, Coalition Forces captured the targeted individual and two other terrorists.

Coalitions Forces provided immediate medical care to a 12-year old male injured during the forced entry.  Coalition forces then evacuated the child to a local medical facility but he died upon arrival.   

Coalition Forces regret the child’s death and strive to mitigate risks to civilians while in pursuit of terrorists.  Terrorists and those who harbor terrorists continue to put innocent Iraqis in harms way.  Terrorists do not hesitate to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence.



Operation continues on heated Haifa Street

BAGHDAD – Seven insurgents have been captured and a weapons cache uncovered as Iraqi Army, Iraqi national police and U.S. forces continued a security operation on Haifa Street.
   
Operation Tomahawk Strike 11 is a series of targeted raids to disrupt illegal militia activity and help restore Iraqi Security Forces control in the area.
       
As the operation commenced early this morning, U.S. and Iraqi forces were engaged by an enemy mortar team before daylight broke on Baghdad. A single mortar round was launched by U.S. forces and the insurgent mortar team dispersed.
   
As light broke on the city, troops met enemy resistance, including small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades from high rise buildings.
   

Operation in Lutifiyah nets 8 terrorists captured, 5 killed during fighting

LUTIFIYAH, Iraq — U.S. troops and Iraq Army troops captured eight terrorists and seized weapons during a combat patrol northwest of Lutifiyah, Iraq Jan. 23.
       
Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and the 6th Iraqi Army Division were on a combat patrol when they came under a small arms fire attack from a canal.
       
The troops called in for aviation support after the attack ensued. One insurgent died in the aerial attack.  The remaining four insurgents tried to escape down a canal.  Iraqi troops pursued, killing the four terrorists.
       
Following the fire fight, troops searched the area for more insurgents.  They found nine Iraqis hiding in a nearby house.  8 of the nine were arrested, all wanted for terrorist acts.
       
The search also turned up a weapons cache consisting of three medium machine guns, two AK-47 assault rifles, a shotgun and a sniper rifle with a scope.


In other areas:
 
KUT -  Iraqi soldiers captured two men on Tuesday on suspicion of smuggling roadside bombs, the U.S. military said on Friday.

BAGHDAD - Iraqi and U.S. forces seized a prominent follower of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad. The U.S. military described the man arrested as a senior death squad leader.
 
RAMADI - Iraqi police shot and killed a suicide bomber after his explosive vest failed to detonate near a checkpoint in Ramadi, the U.S. military said.

SAMARRA - Iraqi police with U.S. advisers captured the suspected leader of several al Qaeda cells on Thursday in Samarra, the U.S. military said.
 
Terrorists/insurgents taken out of action:
  31 terrorists killed
122 terrorists captured
153 terrorists killed & captured    total
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Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.

(I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #112 on: February 06, 2007, 12:12:12 AM »

Thank you for that C-Stray Dog!

Here's some more little covered news:

IRAQ: Khadhim al-Hamadani, reportedly the head of radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's political office in Iraq's Diyala province, was killed by Iraqi and U.S. forces during a raid on his home. The U.S. military said al-Hamadani was responsible for attacks against U.S. and Iraqi troops and was believed to have assisted in kidnappings, assassinations and other acts of violence.

stratfor.com
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #113 on: February 06, 2007, 10:43:03 PM »

U.S.-Iranian Tensions and an Abduction in Baghdad
By George Friedman and Kamran Bokhari

Iraqi officials said Tuesday that gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms kidnapped an Iranian Embassy official in central Baghdad on Sunday. Jalal Sharafi, a second secretary at the Iranian Embassy, was abducted from the Karrada district while on his way to a ribbon cutting at a new branch of an Iranian state-owned bank.

According to witnesses and unnamed Iraqi officials, gunmen wearing uniforms of the Iraqi army's elite 36th Commando Battalion -- part of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces Brigade, an aggressive unit that specializes in counterinsurgent operations -- were involved in the snatch. They reportedly used two of their vehicles to block Sharafi's car and then seized him. During the ambush, nearby Iraqi police -- apparently suspecting a kidnapping was taking place -- opened fire on one of the vehicles and brought it to a halt. The four gunmen inside -- all with official Iraqi military identification -- were arrested.

The story did not end there, however. On Monday, individuals showing official Iraqi government badges arrived at the police station where the gunmen were being detained and claimed to have authority to transfer them to the serious crimes police unit. It was later discovered that the suspects never arrived.

Iran has accused the United States of engineering the abduction through the Sunni-controlled Defense Ministry; the U.S. military has denied any involvement in the matter.

Given the tactical details of the operation and the geopolitical backdrop, there are two possible explanations for the incident. One is that Sunni insurgents are responsible: They have the means and motivation to pull off such an operation, and any number of Sunni factions would be interested in carrying out an abduction like this. But the United States has a motive as well.

It is important to note that Sharafi's position at the embassy is the kind of diplomatic posting that frequently would be a cover for intelligence operatives. So if he were an Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security operative of some importance, kidnapping him would disrupt Iranian operations as the U.S. security offensive in Baghdad gets under way. Second, the United States has been very public in saying it intends to become more aggressive toward Iranian covert operations as part of its effort to bring pressure against Tehran. U.S. intelligence has substantially ramped up the collection of information on Iran -- a move that would serve whether the goal was to actually attack Iran, plan negotiations or just try to figure out the mind of Tehran. The snatch of a second secretary would fit into this effort.

This is not the first incident of this kind. In January, U.S. forces arrested five officials from an Iranian diplomatic office in Arbil, a northern city, and have been holding them ever since -- a maneuver that fits with the Bush administration's strategy of demonstrating that Washington has the ability to weaken the Iranian position in Iraq. In an act of apparent retaliation, Shiite militants attacked the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in the southern city of Karbala on Jan. 20, and after a 20-minute gunbattle, abducted five U.S. soldiers, who later were killed. The operatives spoke English, had U.S. military uniforms and identification cards and arrived in armored white GMC suburbans. Using their English-language skills, the gunmen were able to arm themselves at a local police station and then penetrate multiple layers of security before opening fire on a U.S. civil affairs team.

At this point, this much is clear: No matter who is actually responsible for the Sharafi abduction, it will further heighten U.S.-Iranian tensions and could force Tehran to retaliate against the pressure being generated by the United States. The Iranians will blame the Americans under any circumstances. In the logic of the region, the Iranians will reason that even if the perpetrators were Sunnis, the United States somehow manipulated them into carrying out the operation. The Iranians are now as fixated on U.S. covert operations against Iran as the United States has become on Iranian covert operations in Iraq and elsewhere against U.S. interests.

Whatever the facts of this particular case might be, the United States has been transmitting numerous signals -- official and otherwise -- that Iran is vulnerable and is placing itself at risk by opposing U.S. interests in Iraq. The Sharafi abduction seems designed to enhance Tehran's sense of vulnerability, and hence to fuel disagreements among those in Iran who feel the United States is at a weak point and those who warn that the United States is most dangerous at its weakest. The debate between these camps is about how to deal with the United States: whether to retaliate against provocations, pursue negotiations or a mix of both. This is precisely the kind of re-evaluation of its stance and options that the United States wants to see from Iran. The Americans want the Iranians to view the United States as a dangerous foe, and to moderate their appetite for power in the region. Therefore, even if the United States didn't order the Sharafi operation, it still fits into a pattern of warnings that the Americans have been issuing.

There are some factors that allow us to speculate -- and this remains speculation -- that U.S. forces working with partners within the Iraqi Defense Ministry engineered the kidnapping. More specifically, the 36th Commando Battalion, whose uniforms were worn by the gunmen in the course of the kidnapping, is known to work closely with U.S. forces. Amid efforts to quell the Sunni insurgency and contain the growth of Iranian influence in Iraq, the United States in 2005 began moving to bring the Baathists back into Iraq's political system, especially the security forces. This policy has been central to the tensions between the Americans and Iraqi Shia, but it is a tool the Bush administration is using to counter Iranian moves.

Another point to consider is that Sharafi -- as an official with diplomatic immunity -- could not be held in detention for long under normal measures. The standard procedure for dealing with foreign diplomats who are deemed undesirable is to declare them persona non grata and order them out of the country within a matter of days. This is the course of action generally pursued if the goal is to rid a country of potential intelligence operatives -- and it is a sign of escalating tension between the diplomat's home state and the host country. In Sharafi's case, expulsion would have been the prerogative of the Iraqi government. But since the Shiite-dominated government has close ties to Iran, it is hardly likely that he would have been expelled.

In this case, the objective of the United States would not be simply to secure the Iranian's expulsion, but given his position, to extract intelligence about Tehran's plans and operational networks in Iraq. Arresting him and holding him for questioning would not be possible under international law, let alone in the face of the scandal that would ensue if U.S. forces had done this. Nevertheless, an opportunity to question him would be of real value to the United States. Maintaining plausible deniability would be the key. But arranging for Sharafi's abduction by a third party would be a feasible way of obtaining the intelligence sought by the United States. It is therefore quite possible that this was a U.S.-authorized operation executed by Washington's Sunni allies.

The Sunnis in Iraq -- both the nationalists and the jihadists -- have reasons of their own to abduct an Iranian official, and hence could have seized Sharafi as part of a completely independent operation. Sunni nationalists and jihadists feel that they are more threatened by Iranian influence in Iraq than by the U.S. military presence, which most believe eventually will come to an end. The Iranian-Shiite threat, however, is a permanent feature of the region and poses long-term danger.

The Sunnis also recognize that they do not have the means to deal with Iran or its Iraqi Shiite allies by themselves -- but the United States has the power to weaken the position of Iran, and by extension, its Iraqi patrons. With tensions between Washington and Tehran at their current heights, there is an opportunity to be exploited.

The Sunnis could exacerbate those tensions further by abducting an Iranian diplomat at a time when the United States already has five Iranian officials in custody. No claims of responsibility for the operation were issued, which means Tehran's suspicions of the Americans easily could be fueled.

The timing is interesting in another way as well. In efforts to maximize its position in Iraq, Tehran has been angling for negotiations with Saudi Arabia -- and this leaves Iraqi Sunnis feeling nervous. As a minority group that occupies a region without oil, the Sunnis would be at an inherent disadvantage: No matter what kind of support Riyadh might offer them, they would find it difficult or impossible to escape the pull of Iranian and Shiite power. Neither the nationalist insurgents nor the jihadists could accept such an outcome.

On the day of Sharafi's abduction, the al Qaeda-led alliance called the "Islamic State of Iraq" issued a statement saying U.S. military action against Iran would benefit Islamist militants. Therefore, it is entirely possible that the abduction was an attempt to provoke Iran -- which already is demanding the release of the officials captured in Arbil -- into retaliation against the Americans. The jihadists' hope would be that this could provoke a wider U.S.-Iranian conflict and hence torpedo any U.S.-Iranian dealings.

The Iranians seem sincere in their conviction that the abduction was the work of the United States. Their likely reaction would be to encourage their allies within the Iraqi Shiite militias to strike at both U.S. and Sunni targets -- reminding Washington that Tehran is not without options -- while at the same time pressing ahead on the diplomatic front. In other words, the likely short-term outcome of this incident will be increased violence.

At the same time, the United States is engaged in a long-term process designed to convince the Iranians that the risks incurred in destabilizing Iraq and blocking a political settlement in Baghdad are greater than they might have imagined, and that the U.S. resolve to resist Iran is sufficient to block Tehran's ambitions. From Washington's point of view, the primary hope for any satisfactory end to the Iraq war rests in a change of policy in Tehran. Regardless of whether this abduction triggers retaliation, if Iran comes to believe that Washington is dangerous, it might come to the bargaining table or -- to be more precise -- allow its Iraqi allies to come to the table.

An action like the Sharafi abduction allows the signal to be sent, while still falling short of mounting overt military strikes against Iran -- something for which the United States currently has little appetite or resources. A covert war is within the means of the United States, and the Americans might hope that their prosecution of that war will convince Iran they are serious and to back off. Therefore, even if the kidnapping had nothing to do with the United States and Iran misreads the incident, it still could serve American interests in signaling American resolve. Given the state of the U.S. position in Iraq, the strategy well might fail -- but once again, it is one of the few cards the United States has left to play.
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« Reply #114 on: February 08, 2007, 08:28:01 AM »

The Iranian Ambassador to the UN offers his take on things:

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How Not to Inflame Iraq
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By JAVAD ZARIF
Published: February 8, 2007
BEFORE the United States invaded Iraq on false pretexts nearly four years ago, the overwhelming view of analysts and diplomats was that war would plunge the region and the world into greater turmoil and instability. Echoing the views of my colleagues from the region and beyond, I told the Security Council on Feb. 18, 2003, that while the ramifications of the war could go beyond anyone’s calculations, “one outcome is almost certain: extremism stands to benefit enormously from an uncalculated adventure in Iraq.”

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Alex Nabaum
This assessment came not from any sympathy for the former Iraqi dictator or his regime. Certainly Iran — which had suffered the carnage of an eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, and on which Saddam Hussein unleashed chemical weapons — had no affinity for him. Rather, it was based on a sober recognition of the realities of the region and the inescapable dynamics of occupation.

Now the United States administration is — unfortunately — reaping the expected bitter fruits of its ill-conceived adventurism, taking the region and the world with it to the brink of further hostility. But rather than face these unpleasant facts, the United States administration is trying to sell an escalated version of the same failed policy. It does this by trying to make Iran its scapegoat and fabricating evidence of Iranian activities in Iraq.

The United States administration also appears to be trying to forge a regional coalition to counter Iranian influence. But even if it succeeds in doing so, such a coalition will prove practically futile, dangerous to the region as a whole and internally destabilizing for Iraq. By promoting such a policy, the United States is fanning the flames of sectarianism just when they most need to be quelled.

Coalitions of convenience like the one the United States government now contemplates were a hallmark of American policy in the region in the 1980s and 1990s, and their effect then was to contribute to the creation of monsters like Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Short memories may be responsible for this ill-advised return to old habits.

But who can forget that Saddam Hussein used the very same scare tactic, invoking the “Iranian threat” to extort money, loyalty and military hardware from the region and the world, only to turn them later against his suppliers? Who cannot remember that to contain the supposed “Shiite Crescent” after the 1979 Iranian revolution, the extremism of the fundamentalist Salafi movement was nourished by the West — only to transform later into Al Qaeda and the Taliban? Why should the same policy in the same region produce any different result now?

There are already indications that extremists are exploiting the most emotional sectarian and ethnic divides in the region in an effort to sell possible collaboration with old and new occupiers of Arab lands to a restive, frustrated and resentful populace. Such a shortsighted campaign of hatred will compound regional problems, and it will have global implications, from the subcontinent to Europe and the United States, long after the current crisis in Iraq ends.

We need to remember that sectarian division and hatred in Iraq and the wider region was most recently instigated by none other than the leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The shameful legacy of Mr. Zarqawi and his collaborators should have been buried with him. To that end, all of us in the region need to set aside shortsighted schemes and engage with the government of Iraq in a common effort to contain sectarian violence.

The Persian Gulf region is in dire need of a truly inclusive arrangement for security and cooperation. Only through such regional cooperation, with the necessary international support, can we contain the current crisis and prevent future ones. I wrote in these pages almost four years ago that the removal of Saddam Hussein provided a unique opportunity to finally realize the long sought objective of regional confidence-building and cooperation, as well as to reverse the dangerous trend of confrontation, exclusion and rivalry.

We have lost many valuable opportunities to effect this arrangement, with hundreds of thousands of innocent lives shattered in the interim. The forthcoming meeting of Iraq’s neighbors, to be held in Baghdad next month, will be a good place to begin this difficult but necessary journey toward regional security.

The American administration can also contribute to ending the current nightmare — and preventing future ones — by recognizing that occupation and the threat or use of force are not merely impermissible under international law, but indeed imprudent in purely political calculations of national interest. As authoritative studies have repeatedly shown, no initiators of war in recent history have achieved the intended results; in fact, in almost all cases, those resorting to force have ultimately undermined their own security and stature.

When 140,000 American troops could not bring stability to Iraq, and in fact achieved exactly the opposite, an additional 20,000 soldiers with a dangerous new mandate can only be expected to worsen tension and increase the possibility of unintended escalation. Only a reversal of the logic of force and occupation can dry up the hotbeds of insurgency.

Similarly, forging imaginary new threats, as the United States administration is now doing with Iran, may provide some temporary domestic cover for the failure of the administration’s Iraq policy, but it can hardly resolve problems that — as widely suggested — require prudence, dialogue and a genuine search for solutions.

We all need to learn from past mistakes and not stubbornly insist on repeating them against all advice — including the advice George Bush gave as a presidential candidate in 2000: “If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us; if we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us.”

Javad Zarif is the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations.
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« Reply #115 on: February 09, 2007, 11:07:15 AM »

Stratfor.com

IRAQ: Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army will not be provoked into a confrontation with U.S. troops, despite the detention of several high-ranking loyalists during the latest security crackdowns in Baghdad, Reuters reported, citing Nasser al-Rubaie, the head of the al-Sadrite parliamentary bloc.
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NY Times

Published: February 9, 2007
BAGHDAD, Feb. 8 — Just past the main checkpoint into Sadr City, children kick soccer balls at goals with new green nets, on fields where mounds of trash covered the ground last summer. A few blocks away, city workers plant palm trees by the road, while men gather at a cafe nearby to chatter and laugh.


Sadr City, once infamous as a fetid slum and symbol of Shiite subjugation, is recovering, with the help of $41 million in reconstruction funds from the Shiite-led government, all of it spent since May, according to Iraqi officials, and millions more in American assistance.

But as Shiite areas like Sadr City begin to thrive as self-enclosed fiefs, middle-class Sunni enclaves are withering into abandoned ghettos, starved of government services.

Many residents credit a Shiite militia, the Mahdi Army, and its powerful political leader, the radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr, for keeping the area safe enough to allow rebuilding. Yet the Mahdi Army has also killed American troops and has been linked to death squads preying on Sunnis, making the district a potential target as American troops pour into Baghdad to enforce the new security plan.

The neighborhood, which is Baghdad’s largest Shiite area and was named in honor of Mr. Sadr’s father, is a web of contradictions, at once a test of whether its progress can be sustained, a flash point for sectarian tensions and the heart of the government’s political and military base.

“Sadr City is different because it has been left without services for 35 years,” said Hassan al-Shimmari, a Shiite member of Parliament with the Fadila Party. “And with the presence of the Mahdi Army, and its agenda against the Americans — that is what makes it disturbing.”

Over three days of interviews in homes, businesses and political offices, residents described their community as tight-knit, often abused and increasingly isolated.

Abdul Karim Kassem, the prime minister in the late 1950s and early 1960s, built the neighborhood as a public housing project for the poor. The rectangle of roughly 125,000 homes northeast of central Baghdad covered an area about half the size of Manhattan, with streets in a grid and simple brick homes of about 1,550 square feet.

These days, after decades of neglect under Saddam Hussein (though the area was once called Saddam City), many of the houses have been divided into apartments and many more are crumbling.

Sadr City officials, including Rahim al-Daraji, the elected mayor, claim that more than two million people live there, almost all Shiites but with a smattering still of Sunnis and Kurds.

If that number is correct, the district has a higher population density than Calcutta or Hong Kong, which demographers say is unlikely, given the low-rise architecture.

Undeniably, Sadr City has grown in recent months as families moved in from what Iraqis call hot zones, typically Sunni areas where violence has brought daily routines to a standstill. Schools are packed with children, rents have increased and the economy has come alive.

More surprising than the pyramids of fruit at the bustling market, near a park with new red fences, are the signs of leisure, like the new children’s bicycles with tassels on the handlebars and the silvery computer shops.

“Our neighborhood is much better than other areas,” said Hussail Allawi, 41, in a crowd of men smoking flavored tobacco, a pastime now rare in much of the city. “The people are cooperative. There are many volunteers, including the Mahdi Army, and we are doing our best.”

City officials said 16 sewer mains had been cleaned to eliminate the putrid waste that once collected in large puddles, while 22 roads are to be repaved.

Louis J. Fintor, a spokesman for the United States Embassy, said American agencies were also working on more than 35 projects, mostly in health and education. He did not identify their locations or say how much money had been spent. “Getting credit,” he said, “is not the motivating force.”

Abu Firas al-Amtari, a spokesman for the Sadr political party in Sadr City, said the American and Iraqi governments spent reconstruction money haphazardly. But he acknowledged that the neighborhood was gaining momentum.

“The situation inside is very good,” he said in an interview. “We are always afraid of what comes from other neighborhoods.”

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Bombings here have become less common than in other parts of Baghdad, though a coordinated series of explosions last fall killed 144 people. Residents and Sadr party officials said they felt more secure because the Mahdi Army kept watch. As members of the community, militiamen have an advantage.

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Max Becherer/Polaris, for The New York Times
Hussail Allawi, in cap, a laborer relaxing at a cafe in Sadr City, says of the Shiite district, “Our neighborhood is much better than other areas.”

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Using horsepower to deliver propane power. Under the protection of the Shiite-led government and the Mahdi Army, and with aid projects by American agencies, the area has become relatively calm and safe.
“The Mahdi are more loyal because they feel they are protecting their own families,” said Ahmed Hashem, 30.

Sadr officials have seized on a simpler refrain: The Mahdi Army makes peace, not war.

Mr. Amtari described the militants as humanitarians, community volunteers and part of “a moral army” that checked vehicles and enforced the law. Naeem al-Kabbi, a deputy mayor affiliated with the Sadr party, said the battles between American troops and the militia in Najaf and Sadr City in 2004 amounted to a misunderstanding — though American troops said they had come under attack while doing little more than running patrols.

Seemingly determined to clean the tarnished Mahdi image, Sadr officials said the militia’s members would disarm temporarily during the Baghdad security plan, even if Sunnis or Americans attacked. “Whatever the provocation, with the surge against us or anything else, we will not kidnap anyone or take revenge by ourselves,” said Mr. Daraji, the mayor, who has been negotiating with American and Iraqi officials over the role of the militia. “We will leave everything to the government.”

Sunni officials said Sadr officials had calculated that if they stayed quiet for the security plan, American troops would eventually withdraw, giving Shiites even more freedom to exercise power.

Salim Abdullah, a senior Sunni member of Parliament, added that the security plan’s impact would be blunted in Sadr City because Shiite militias had infiltrated the Iraqi security forces, and could tip off Mahdi militants before raids began.

An open question is whether all the Mahdi fighters will obey orders not to fight. Some residents, who declined to give their names, described the Mahdi Army as a loose collection of often rival and rogue groups, and said arrests — on, say, an especially volatile anti-American street — could set off firefights with the arrestees’ families and neighbors, even if senior Mahdi commanders remained uninvolved.

But like the streets themselves, the community’s relationship with the militia seemed to be changing. The Sadr organization, whose members once whipped people on the streets for selling alcohol, now works out of a centrally located office that has expanded from a squat one-story building into a small campus with fresh white paint and a covered courtyard. It has the feel of an American post office.

Residents said the building reflected the move from insurgent group to established player. After winning control of six ministries and 30 seats in Parliament, residents said, the Sadrists have become a more traditionally political, less religious force, with leaders primarily interested in safety and power.

There is still a saying in Sadr City that if you anger the Mahdi, “They’ll throw you in the trunk,” a reference to their notorious gangsterism. And the American military has clearly taken a harder line. Citing evidence that militia members killed Americans and innocent civilians, American troops have arrested or killed several Mahdi commanders in recent weeks as part of their efforts to pacify the capital.

In the latest move, on Thursday, American forces raided the Health Ministry and detained a deputy minister whom they accused of ferrying weapons and militants across Sadr City in ambulances to thwart American raids.

Some residents and officials acknowledge that their sprawling neighborhood includes men who contribute to Baghdad’s cycle of violence. One resident said few people had protested the recent increase in American raids because it was clear that some members of the Mahdi Army cared less for the neighborhood than they did for killing and cash.

But in interviews, even critics of the Mahdi Army said that security and economics mattered most, and that as long as the militia kept the neighborhood safe enough to function, it could count on tacit support.

Mr. Allawi, the man smoking at the cafe, said “the people are satisfied” with the spoils of Sadr control.

Muhammad Issa Sachit, 38, a mechanic for the city government who has lived and worked in Sadr City for more than 20 years, said families received a stable fuel supply at competitive prices from the Mahdi Army, more than what most Baghdad communities could depend on.

He also said that when a Sunni neighbor died in a bombing a few months ago, the Mahdi Army rushed in to help the family. “They paid for everything — the funeral, the burial, the food,” he said.

The man’s wife and children left soon afterward. The house was still empty last week.

Mr. Sachit denied that the family’s move had anything to do with a fear of Shiites. Sitting on a green rug in his simple home, he seemed to feel that his neighbor’s death was mainly a story of Mahdi Army generosity.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2007, 11:21:20 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #116 on: February 09, 2007, 02:53:48 PM »

Second post of the day:

This news from Iraq, via the Jawa Report, should be top story. But since Anna Nicole Smith died, it won't get the coverage it deserves:

Coalition forces in Iraq have delivered a series of stunning blows to al Qaeda in Iraq in the last 48 hours.
A key aide to Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the man who replaced Abu Musab al Zarqawi as the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, has been captured south of Baghdad. As A.J. Strata notes, the trail to the al Qaeda leader is fresh: the captured aide admitted to meeting with al Masri yesterday.

Since Taji is north of Baghdad, these two al Qaeda IED cell leaders captured by the U.S. in West Taji are not the same as those above. That's four al Qaeda leaders captured.

But four is such a lonely number. A facilitator of foreign fighters was captured by the Iarqi Army on the Syrian border. And foreign fighters tend to mean al Qaeda.

Not to be outdone by the IA, the U.S. struck two houses where foreign fighters had gathered---13 jihadis dead. An "individual" associated with foreign fighter facilitation was in the targeted area.

But wait, that's not all. Coalition Forces conducted an air strike Wednesday targeting an al-Qaida in Iraq-related vehicle-borne improvised explosives devices network near Arab Jabour. Intelligence reports indicated that this network is responsible for a large and devastating number of VBIED attacks in the Baghdad area. They are also responsible for IED and sniper attacks conducted against the Iraqi people and Iraqi and Coalition Forces. Building destroyed, everyone inside presumably dead.

And another terrorist was captured in Taji. In addition to leading a bombing cell, he is also believed to be involved in taking Iraqis hostage and murdering them. Which would mean that he is either al Qaeda or one of the related organizations under the umbrella of the "Islamic State of Iraq".

So, we have 6 al Qaeda leaders captured, and possibly dozens more killed. All in the last 48 hours.




CENTCOM has details:

Coalition Forces conducted an air strike Wednesday targeting an al-Qaida in Iraq-related vehicle-borne improvised explosives devices network near Arab Jabour. Intelligence reports indicated that this network is responsible for a large and devastating number of VBIED attacks in the Baghdad area. They are also responsible for IED and sniper attacks conducted against the Iraqi people and Iraqi and Coalition Forces. As Coalition Forces approached the targeted building they came under intense enemy fire. Ground forces assessed seven suspected terrorists were in the targeted building. Coalition Forces determined the targets too hostile for ground troops and called for air support. Two precision guided munitions were dropped destroying the targeted building and an associated structure. Coalition Forces continue to tear apart the al-Qaida leadership inside Iraq. This operation significantly reduces this VBIED terrorist network's ability to operate, and increases the safety of all Iraqi citizens, Iraqi forces, and Iraq's Multi-National partners.
And more:

Coalition Forces killed an estimated 13 terrorists during an air strike Thursday morning targeting a senior foreign fighter facilitator northeast of Amiriya.
Intelligence reports indicated an individual associated with foreign fighter facilitation was in the targeted area. During the operation, Coalition Forces detained five suspected terrorists and found a cache including armor piercing ammunition. Information gained from the target area led Coalition Forces to two suspected foreign fighter safe houses where suspected terrorists were assembled. Coalition Forces observed the structures to confirm intelligence reports and engaged with precision guided munitions and rotary wing close air support, killing an estimated 13 terrorists.

Coalition Forces continue to dismantle the foreign fighter networks. This operation significantly reduces foreign fighter facilitators’ ability to operate inside Iraq.


And from MNF-I:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--
SUSPECTED SENIOR IED CELL LEADER DETAINED, TERRORIST SAFEHOUSE DESTROYED IN WEST TAJI

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition Forces detained two suspected terrorists believed to have ties to an al-Qaida improvised explosive device cell during a raid Wednesday morning in West Taji.

Intelligence reports indicated one of the detainees has significant ties to a local IED cell and had connections to recent anti-Coalition Forces activities.

Ground forces entered the targeted building and detained the two suspected terrorists without incident. Upon searching the house, ground forces found evidence of explosives material hidden inside the building and buried around the exterior. They also found several weapons and materials commonly used to make IEDs.

In order to prevent the residence from being used for future sanctuary to terrorists, ground forces destroyed the building with strategically-placed charges. Before placing the charges, Ground forces escorted two women and nine children outside the house and to a neighbor’s home in order to ensure their safety.

ImageCoalition Forces are making progress dismantling the al-Qaida terrorist network inside Iraq. The capture of these detainees and the destruction of another terrorist sanctuary reduces the ability of the terrorist network to operate, and increases the safety of all Iraqi citizens, Iraqi forces and Iraq’s Multi-National partners
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« Reply #117 on: February 09, 2007, 08:00:34 PM »


Although an old article, it reflects how our "feel good" culture has corrupted the ability of the US military to engage in operations that would end effectively end the Iraq war. Wars are not won by making the populace feel good about the attacking army. They are won by beating the S**** out of the opposing army and making the populace realize that resistance is hopeless. Just like what was done in Japan and Germany. Total Jacksonian warfare.  Unfortunately, the US does not have the stomach for such warfare right now. I fear that it will take another successful attack on the Homeland for such attitudes of warfare to harden. Yet, even then, the do-gooders and touchy-feely types will still not get it.

 

The Military Doctrine of Altruism


by John Lewis (October 16, 2006)
 

The New York Times article recently described the military skills our soldiers will need to engage in the operations our politicians are asking them to perform ("Military Hones a New Strategy on Insurgency," October 5, 2006). The new doctrine renounces overwhelming force, focuses on reacting to insurgent attacks rather than winning offensive battles, and has a goal of protecting foreign civilians rather than defeating a hostile enemy.

Before the 2004 election, Vice-President Cheney lambasted John Kerry for wanting to fight a more "sensitive" war. But Cheney should rather have agreed, as that is exactly what we are doing. (I identified this before the election, in "President Bush's 'Sensitive' War," Capitalism Magazine, August 27, 2004.)

The Times article is right that the face of the military is changing: At military conferences, and in discussions with military officers and instructors, I repeatedly hear how we must change attitudes among a foreign population rather than use our force, and how it is preferable to let "bad guys" escape rather than to hurt civilians. The military is developing new tactics to achieve such ends.

In a visit to the military simulators at Fort Riley, Kansas, for instance, I saw a stunning array of technology. One enters a warehouse-style building, full of metal cubes with doors. Close the door, and you are in a tank: a mock-up of an M1 Abrams tank commander's display, with monitors and controls to replicate real-world conditions. Six tanks can be networked, and sent on a mission. Instructors can ambush them, engage them with fire, and monitor their actions. Afterwards, in a classroom, participants can see an overhead view of the entire operation, and evaluate every move from above. Such technology is space-age and potentially beneficial—but what of the goals to which it is being employed?

It was once the case—in a by-gone era—that our goal in war was to defeat an enemy, thereby securing our safety. This meant demonstrating to enemy leaders, fighters, and civilians that victory for them was impossible—by destroying their capacity to fight. With such a goal in mind, the regime in Iran, for instance, which is providing the Iraqi insurgency with a steady stream of personnel and of material and psychological support, would not be allowed to remain in power. Local Iraqi warlords would face overwhelming assault. Civilians would learn not to harbor our enemies and not to support a hopeless cause.
 

But the new doctrine has nothing to do with defeating a deadly enemy or protecting American lives. The new "wisdom" is that "the more force is used, the less effective it is." The army, it is said, must "clear, hold and build," since building things for a foreign population is more important than demanding their surrender. The enemy's safe-havens over the borders, its defiant leadership, and its sympathetic civilians, are not to be attacked. "Tactical success guarantees nothing"; the new aim is "to protect the Iraqis against intimidation." (One wonders how the police in New York could protect a grocer from the intimidation of organized gangsters without destroying the Mafia that funds them—but this, in essence, is how our military now operates.)

There is one big idea behind such thinking, one idea that establishes the political and intellectual context for the new doctrine: altruism. It is altruism ("otherism") that elevates the value of others over self. This is the core moral principle behind today's Just War Theory—which is the direct application of altruism to the question of military ethics and doctrine.

Offensive war is based on the idea that one's own citizens, and one's own cause, are more valuable than the enemy and his cause. Every soldier who shoots an enemy, and every president who issues an ultimatum to a hostile power, is presuming this principle. But this, according to altruism, is self-interested, and thereby morally tainted. The new aim of the war—taken as an unquestioned absolute—is to bring good things to the population of a hostile nation, while hoping, as a secondary goal, that it will respond by embracing democracy and thus ceasing to threaten us (as if unlimited majority rule in the Middle East were the key to our security).

It is altruism that subjects our military to the slow bleed of dead and maimed soldiers in order to avoid confronting an enemy leader or hurting a shopkeeper. It is altruism that tells our soldiers to build toilets for a hostile population rather than to defeat the deadly enemy. It is altruism that places the welfare of Iraqis over the security of Americans.

Since altruism provides no specific goals for war—it says only that, whatever our goals, they must be good for others and not self-interested—a lack of purpose is the inevitable result of the new military doctrine. The decline of civilian support in America for the Iraq war is a consequence of the inability to understand why one American should die for the Iraqis. And the contempt for America in the Middle East is the result of our unwillingness to assert ourselves or to destroy those spreading anti-American propaganda in the region. What American altruists see as virtuous deference to the needs of others, our enemies overseas take as weakness of will and submission.

Some commentators have praised this new military doctrine, while whitewashing its implications. Counter-insurgency war is not about victory or defeat, runs one argument; democracy for others is our purpose and will be the "final stage" of the war. We should fight on until the enemy establishes an electoral "Vote for Liberty!" campaign, blanking out the fact that "liberty" has a specific meaning, that people who do not understand it cannot be expected to defend it, and that any moral standard which requires us to sacrifice our liberty for theirs is a repudiation of liberty at its root.

The real problem, say others, is "leftists" who want to "cut and run"—evading the fact that the New Left political and economic agenda has been adopted lock, stock, and barrel by the New Conservatives. "Peace without Victors" was the call of liberal Woodrow Wilson in 1918 and is the call of conservatives today. Just War Theory itself is a leftist construct that has been embraced by conservative leaders, in many cases for its Christian overtones. Mr. Cheney may chide Mr. Kerry—but the Bush administration has taken the democrat's advice.

Military experts are warning that we do not have enough resources to continue "fighting" this way. Since the military's job is now to "counter" an endless "insurgency," we would need as many army squads as there are buildings and street corners in the Middle East. Proponents claim that such a war may take fifteen years for Iraq alone—without considering the support flowing in from surrounding areas or the increasing threats to America from other parts of the world. The doctrine is a prescription for a stream of American body-bags, with no end in sight because no victory is being pursued.

America's increasing technological superiority, combined with the deepening fog surrounding the moral purpose of such superiority, is a symptom of the gulf between science and the humanities that has characterized the past two hundred years. We combine soaring advancements in the capacity to control physical nature, with stagnation and regression in our understanding of man's moral nature. If we do not grasp the moral goodness of self-interested action—which in war means the pursuit of victory over our enemies—our military will continue to increase in technological efficacy only to continue sacrificing it to the bathroom needs of foreigners.

None of this will deter the advocates of this new doctrine, for they are driven by a moral ideal—altruism—that carries far more weight in their minds than the need to defend our own freedom.

Originally published at Principles in Practice. Cartoons
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« Reply #118 on: February 10, 2007, 07:18:48 PM »

 
 
 
 
 
13 TERRORISTS KILLED IN AIR STRIKE NEAR AMIRIYAH, 5 CAPTURED
BAGHDAD– U.S. troops killed 13 terrorists during an air strike targeting a senior foreign fighter facilitator near Amiriya. During the operation, U.S. troops captured five terrorists and found a cache including armor piercing ammunition. 

Information gained from the area led U.S. troops to two foreign fighter safe houses where terrorists were assembled. U.S. troops observed the structures to confirm intelligence reports and engaged with precision guided munitions, killing 13 terrorists.   

 
 
U.S. troops stop insurgent attacks in northern Iraq, 10 insurgents killed

TIKRIT, Iraq – U.S. troops conducting routine patrols prevented several insurgent teams from emplacing roadside bombs in 2 provinces.     
       
U.S. troops observed multiple insurgent teams planting improvised explosive devices along major roadways in the early evening hours north of Tikrit, near Bayji, in Balad and south of Baqubah. Once they were positively identified as insurgents with the intent to harm U.S. troops or other Iraqis, U.S. troops engaged the enemy.
       
Among the 10 insurgents killed that night, three were in Balad, four near Bayji and three near Baqubah. Two were injured just north of Tikrit.

 
 
Traffic accident leads Iraqi Army to massive weapons cache, 8 captured

MOSUL, Iraq – Soldiers from the 2nd Iraqi Army Division were on a routine patrol when they accidentally collided with a civilian vehicle.  The vehicle’s occupants tried to flee the scene, but were quickly apprehended by the IA soldiers.  After tactical questioning, one of the two detainees told the IA where a huge weapons cache could be found.
       
Utilizing the newfound intelligence, the IA conducted a raid on a house located behind a sheep market in the Nablis neighborhood of west Mosul.  There they caught 6 insurgents and, upon a thorough search, found a false wall in the house.     
       
It was behind this wall that a large stockpile of weapons was found, to include 8 AK-47s, 4 RPK machine guns, 6 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, one SVD, one SKS, 3 PKCs, 4,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 32 rocket-propelled grenade rounds, 10 grenades, 130 mortar rounds (primarily 60, 81 and 82 mm), and a fully functional improvised explosive device.
       
Five of the captured insurgents tested positive for plastic explosives. Additionally, the Iraqi Army conducted a second raid the following night based on intelligence gained from the first, netting three more insurgents.
 
 
8 TERRORISTS KILLED IN ARAB JABOUR   
BAGHDAD – Coalition Forces conducted an air strike Thursday after receiving heavy enemy fire during a raid targeting al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists and foreign fighter facilitators.

While receiving enemy fire from several directions, ground forces called in for air support.  8 terrorists barricaded themselves inside one of the buildings and continued to fire at the ground forces.  U.S. aircraft dropped precision bombs on the building, resulting in its destruction and the deaths of the 8 terrorists.

 

Iraqi, Coalition Forces Battle Insurgents After Investigating IED Blast, 9 Terrorists Killed

BAGHDAD – Iraqi and U.S. members fought enemy fighters in Baqubah after responding to investigate an IED attack against a U.S. convoy.

While searching for the bomber, they began to receive heavy small arms and RPG fires from enemy fighters in several buildings in the area including a mosque, later identified as an abandoned mosque from which heavy fire was directed against U.S. and Iraqi Army Soldiers.

Iraqi and U.S. members returned fires. Iraqi Army Forces entered the abandoned mosque to conduct a search for enemy fighters and weapons. Iraqi Forces confiscated 5 assault rifles, Iraqi Army uniforms and explosives and material for constructing IEDs during the search. 9 enemy fighter were killed.

 

Camera shop raid leads to mortar cache, insurgents

MOSUL, Iraq – Soldiers from the Iraqi army, in conjunction with U.S. soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division conducted a raid on a photo shop in Mosul with the intent of eliminating a source of IED manufacturing as well as locating a mortar cache that information sources said was there.
       
Dubbed “Operation Camera Shy,” the search involved the camera shop, as well as a large field near the store.  While searching the field, several marking sticks were found approximately five meters from the northeast corner of the field.  Upon digging, a cache of two mortar tubes, seven 120mm rounds, two pipe bombs, a bag of fuses, two ammunition cans, and other assorted IED-making material was found.
       
Five males were taken into custody, with four of them testing positive for explosive residue on their person.

 

Iraqi Army, Cavalry take fight to the enemy…again; 2 enemy killed, 5 captured

MOSUL, Iraq – Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 7th (2-7) Cavalry Regiment conducted a raid
on several houses in east Mosul Feb. 4, after receiving intelligence about specific high-priority targets.

Upon reaching the area, the Soldiers dismounted. As they reached the area, they began taking small-arms fire from a group of insurgents. The insurgents also began lobbing grenades at the Cavalry troops.

Regrouping back down the stairs, the “Garry Owen” troops encountered two near misses. In one instance, a grenade bounced off of two Cavalry Soldiers before exploding in the living room of the house. In a second incident, Sgt. Konyaku Kaili, an infantryman with 2-7 U.S. Cavalry, was engaged by small-arms fire and received a round into the front plate of his body armor but he was not seriously injured.

During the engagement, 1 insurgent blew himself up with an explosive vest, and another was shot and killed when reinforcement troops arrived from the Iraqi army and U.S. Cavalry, effectively sealing off the area. Simultaneously, 5 mortar rounds landed in the area and a large ammunition cache, that was stored in the house, detonated due to the fire created by the insurgent attack.

Soldiers from the Iraqi Army swept in and cleared all of the remaining houses, capturing five males in a car who were headed through the blockade, into the fight. They all had individual weapons with them as well as RPGs and launchers.

 

U.S. air support helps stop insurgent IED team

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Using close air support, coalition forces engaged and disabled a man who was attempting to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) near here.

Shortly after discovering an IED on a road they were traveling, Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment reported seeing 5 men who had been standing near a wall at the site running to a vehicle to flee the area.  The men were waiting for U.S. forces to drive by so they could detonate the device.
Aircraft in the area observed the men driving at a high rate of speed to a house, where 4 of the men left the vehicle and fled into the building. After pausing at the building, the driver of the vehicle sped off and continued traveling at a high rate of speed.
           
An aircraft engaged the vehicle.  The suspect fled the vehicle, running to a field and jumping over a fence near the Nassar factory here—while still being engaged by the aircraft. The man was hit, sustaining leg injuries during the pursuit.  The Cavalry Soldiers rushed to the scene and captured the insurgent.

 

Iraqi Army, U.S. paratroopers work in concert to capture 4 insurgents

BAGHDAD – Iraqi Army troops captured 4 insurgents near the Iraqi capital with a little help from U.S. Soldiers.
       
Soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division acted on a tip passed to them from paratroopers of the 4th Brigade  (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, and captured the 4 men in Suyyid Jihad, south of Baghdad. 
       
The Iraqi troops stopped the men in a sedan and found that each had three different identification cards.  The men also had 4 pistols and 2 AK-47s.

 

3 Operations, 4 terrorist leaders captured

BAGHDAD – Soldiers of the 7th Iraqi Army Division captured a foreign fighter facilitator during operations in the Al Qaim region, near the Syrian boarder. The insurgent was gathering information about Iraqi Forces and U.S. operations and providing it to foreign fighters. The man was also harboring foreign fighters in Iraq while they carry out insurgent activities in the area.

In a 2nd operation, Soldiers of the 4th Iraqi Army Division removed another bomber from the streets of Iraq after capturing the leader of an IED cell during operations near Taji. The bomber is believed responsible for coordinating and carrying out IED attacks against Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. convoys in the area.

The man carried out an IED attack against a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle in September which killed one U.S. Soldier. He is also implicated in a more recent IED strike that killed 3 U.S. Soldiers Jan. 27.

He was also involved in the abduction of innocent Iraqi civilians and using his residence as a place to interrogate and execute them.

In a 3rd operation, U.S. troops captured 2 terrorists with ties to an al-Qaida IED cell during a raid in West Taji. U.S. troops entered the targeted building and captured 2 terrorists without incident.  Upon searching the house, U.S. troops found evidence of explosives material hidden inside the building and buried around the exterior. They also found several weapons and materials commonly used to make IEDs.


 

Suicide attacker detonates car bomb on ambulance, kills pregnant woman on way to hospital

MOSUL, Iraq – A suicide terrorist, driving a Blue Vargas Wagon packed with explosives at approximately 11:55 a.m., attempted to detonate his vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in the center of the crowded Al Boursah Market on the west side of Mosul.

The attacker was heading toward his primary target, believed to be the Al Boursah Market, when he veered into the path of an Iraqi ambulance detonating his VBIED, according to witnesses.
There were three Iraqi civilians in the ambulance, two medical technicians and a pregnant woman on her way to the hospital.

All three were wounded in the explosion and the woman later died after succumbing to her injuries.  The bomber was killed in the blast.

“This is a heinous act by terrorists targeting a pregnant woman in an ambulance,” said Col. Gary Patton, U.S. Army.

 

Iraqi Army and Marine mission captures 77 insurgents

CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq –Iraqi Army Soldiers and U.S. Marines wrapped up a mission which resulted in 77 insurgents captured near Habbaniyah.  The mission to catch or kill members of murder and intimidation cells was a joint operation with Iraqi Forces and Marines of Regimental Combat Team 6, supported by local Iraqis focused on ridding their towns of insurgents.
       
During the mission, Soldiers of the 1st Iraqi Army Division and Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment captured individuals who were coordinating insurgent attacks against Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. troops. Several of the insurgents were immediately identified as priority targets.   
       
Local citizens informed Iraqi Security Forces of numerous individuals that had a connection to insurgent activity.  This information ignited the Iraqi Army Soldiers and Marines to plan missions to simultaneously capture members of anti-Iraq forces.   

During the mission, items found included sniper rifles, automatic weapons, RPGs & IED-making material.

 

One Terrorist Killed, 17 others and Senior Al-Qaida Leader Captured

BAGHDAD, Iraq –U.S. troops killed one terrorist and captured 17 terrorists during raids targeting al-Qaida networks.

In Karabilah, U.S. troops killed 1 terrorist and captured 2 terrorists while targeting a foreign fighter cell.  Ground forces made repeated calls for the occupants of a building to come out.  When no one responded, U.S. troops entered the building and found 3 men.  The men were instructed to surrender and two complied.  The third man ignored repeated commands to surrender and reached for a weapon.  U.S. troops shot and killed the terrorist.

U.S. troops captured 2 terrorists near Tarmiyah associated with an al-Qaida network. 3 individuals with ties to a vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices cell operating near Karmah were captured.  This cell is allegedly responsible for multiple rocket and IED attacks against U.S. forces.
 
During a raid in Ramadi, U.S. troops captured 6 individuals with ties to al-Qaida.  Additionally, 2 others were caught in Baghdad with ties to VBIED operations.  North of Tikrit, U.S. troops captured an al-Qaida in Iraq leader and one other terrorist.

 

Three Terrorists Killed, Al Qaida Cell Leader, 26 Others Captured

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops killed 3 terrorists and captured 26 terrorists including an al-Qaida in Iraq cell leader during raids Monday morning targeting foreign fighter facilitator and al-Qaida in Iraq networks.

In Al Karabilah, U.S. troops raided four buildings where a foreign fighter facilitation cell was reported to be operating.  During the raid, ground forces encountered three armed men who attempted to engage them.  U.S. troops quickly responded killing the three terrorists.  13 others with ties to the cell were captured.

U.S. troops captured the suspected leader of an al-Qaida in Iraq cell in Mosul.  The al-Qaida cell in Mosul reportedly specializes in IED attacks against U.S. troops . 3 others were captured during the raid.

In Karmah, 4 terrorists were captured with reported ties to al-Qaida in Iraq foreign fighter facilitation.

4 others were captured in Arab Jabour, with ties to vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices manufacturing. One terrorist with ties to al-Qaida was captured in Baqubah.

 

Key VBIED; 5 VBIED terrorists captured in Mosul, Baghdad; 1 terrorist killed

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops disrupted explosives cells in Mosul and Baghdad during two raids, killing a key vehicle-borne improvised explosive device cell leader and capturing 5 other VBIED terrorists. The raid in Mosul targeted a terrorist who is believed responsible for the production of explosives used in attacks against U.S. troops in Mosul.

Upon entering the targeted building, U.S. troops encountered 2 terrorists. One of the terrorists ignored U.S. troops instructions and suddenly reached into his jacket.  U.S. troops fired upon and killed the terrorist. The other terrorist is responsible for other attacks. Two other terrorists with ties to the Mosul VBIED network were also caught during the raid.

U.S. troops also captured 2 terrorists during a raid in Baghdad.  Acting on intelligence reports, U.S. troops searched the residence of a terrorist believed to be actively planning, financing and executing of VBIED operations. During the raid, U.S. troops found more than 250 cellular phones and various types of IEDs.

 

 OPERATIONS RESULT IN 4 AL-QAIDA TERRORISTS KILLED; 29 TERRORISTS CAUGHT

BAGHDAD, Iraq –U.S. troops killed 4 terrorists and captured 29 terrorists during raids targeting al-Qaida in Iraq.

During a raid in Fallujah, U.S. troops targeted a terrorist with known ties to a foreign fighter network.  As U.S. troops approached the targeted building, 3 armed terrorists attempted to fire on them.  U.S. troops killed the 3 armed terrorists and captured 10 other terrorists.

West of Tarmiyah, U.S. troops targeted terrorists with ties to the al-Qaida in Iraq network.  Upon approaching the objective, one suspected terrorist began advancing towards Coalition Forces. 

U.S. troops told the man to get on the ground.  The man complied at first and then got back up and charged toward U.S. troops with what appeared to be a grenade.  U.S. troops killed the terrorist. 
U.S. troops detained eight suspected terrorists during this raid.

During an operation in Tarmiyah, 5 terrorists were captured. U.S. troops also uncovered a weapons cache consisting of numerous AK-47s, several pistols, wire spools, 60mm mortar rounds and a pressure plate.

4 terrorists operating a foreign fighter safe house were captured in Ramadi.

In Kalar, 2 terrorists were captured by U.S. troops.


THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS - Terrorists/insurgents taken out of action this week: 240

                53     terrorists killed
              187     terrorists captured
------------------------------------------
  total     240       terrorists killed & captured   
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« Reply #119 on: February 12, 2007, 09:16:44 AM »

The Cost of Defeat in Iraq and the Cost of Victory in Iraq - 18 Points
Testimony to Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Gingrich Communications  January 23 2007
Newt Gingrich
Click on the documents to the left to view the other materials provided for the Congressional Record.

Chairman Biden, Ranking Member Lugar, and members of the committee:

Thank you for allowing me to testify.

This is an extraordinarily important series of hearings on a topic of enormous national importance.

The United States finds itself in a global struggle with the forces of Islamic fascism and their dictatorial allies.

From a fanatic American near Chicago who attempted to buy hand grenades to launch a personal Jihad in a Christmas mall, to 18 Canadians arrested for terrorist plots, to the Scotland Yard disruption of a plot in Britain to destroy ten civilian airliners in one day that if successful would have shattered worldwide confidence in commercial aviation and potentially thrown  the world into a deep economic contraction.

We are confronted again and again with a worldwide effort to undermine and defeat the system of law and order which has created more prosperity and more freedom for more people than any previous system.

The threats seem to come in four different forms:
   
First, from individuals who are often self recruited and randomly inspired through the internet, television and charismatic social and religious friendships.

Second, from organized non state systems of terror of which Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas are the most famous. Additional groups have sprung up and provide continuity, training, and support for terrorism. 

Third, from dictatorships in the Middle East most notably Iran and Syria who have been consistently singled out by the State Department (including in 2006) as the largest funders of state supported terrorism in the world.  These dictatorships are investing in more advanced conventional weapons and in chemical and nuclear weapons.

Fourth, from a strange assortment of anti-American dictatorships including North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba.

This coalition of the enemies of freedom has growing power around the world.  Its leaders are increasingly bold in their explicit hostility to the United States.

To take just two recent examples: Ahmadinejad of Iran has said “[t]o those who doubt, to those who ask is it possible, or those who do not believe, I say accomplishment of a world without America and Israel is both possible and feasible.”  He has also said that Israel should be “wiped off the map.”  Chavez of Venezuela, just last week in a joint appearance with the Iranian leader in Latin America, announced a multi billion dollar fund to help countries willing to fight to end “American imperialism.”

Both of these statements were on television and are not subject to misinterpretation.

Similarly there are many web pages and other public statements in which various terrorists have described in great detail their commitment to killing millions of Americans.  I described these publicly delivered threats in a speech on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 which I gave at the American Enterprise Institute.  The text of this speech is attached as an appendix to this testimony.

These threats might be ignored if it were not for the consistent efforts to acquire nuclear and biological weapons by these enemies of freedom

I first wrote about the extraordinary increase in the threat to our civilization from nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists in Window of Opportunity in 1984. Attached to this testimony is a copy of the relevant pages from this book.

It is not accurate to suggest today that people were not aware of terrorism or were not warning about the threat to America’s very survival prior to 9/11.

Many sophisticated observers and professional military and intelligence officers have been issuing these warnings for two decades.

What has been amazing to watch has been the absolute inability of our system of government to analyze the problem and react effectively.

It is this collapse of capacity for effectiveness which is at the heart of our current dilemma.

The United States is now in a decaying mess in Afghanistan and an obviously unacceptable mess in Iraq.

While this language may seem harsh to defenders of the current policy, it is sadly an accurate statement of where we are.

Efforts to think through and solve the problems of Afghanistan and Iraq have to be undertaken in a context of looking at a wider range of challenges to American leadership around the world and potentially to our very survival as a country.  These larger challenges are described in my attached presentation entitled “The Real World and The Real War”.

With these caveats I want to focus on the challenge of Iraq.

Two Very Hard Paths Forward in Iraq

America is faced with two very hard paths forward in Iraq.

We can accept defeat and try to rebuild our position in the region while accommodating the painful possibility that these enemies of freedom in Iraq -- evil men, vicious murderers, and sadistic inflictors of atrocities will have defeated both the millions of Iraqis who voted for legal self government and the American people and their government.

Alternatively we can insist on defeating the enemies of America and the enemies of the Iraqi people and can develop the strategies and the implementation mechanisms necessary to force victory despite the incompetence of the Iraqi government, the unreliability of Iraqi leaders, and the interference of Syria and Iran on behalf of our enemies.

Both these paths are hard. Both involve great risk.  Both have unknowable difficulties and will produce surprise events.

Both will be complicated.

Yet either is preferable to continuing to accept an ineffective American implementation system while relying on the hope that the Iraqi system can be made to work in the next six months.

The Inherent Confusion in the Current Strategy

There are three fundamental weaknesses in the current strategy.

First, the strategy relies on the Iraqis somehow magically improving their performance in a very short time period.  Yet the argument for staying in Iraq is that it is a vital AMERICAN interest.  If we are seeking victory in Iraq because it is vital to America then we need a strategy which will win even if our Iraqi allies are inadequate. We did not rely on the Free French to defeat Nazi Germany.  We did not rely on the South Koreans to stop North Korea and China during the Korean War.  When it mattered to American vital interests we accepted all the help we could get but we made sure we had enough strength to win on our own if need be.

President Bush has asserted that Iraq is a vital American interest. In January 2007 alone he has said the following things:

But if we do not succeed in Iraq, we will leave behind a Middle East which will endanger America in the future.

[F]ailure in one part of the world could lead to disaster here at home. It's important for our citizens to understand that as tempting as it might be, to understand the consequences of leaving before the job is done, radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength. They would be emboldened. It would make it easier to recruit for their cause. They would be in a position to do that which they have said they want to do, which is to topple moderate governments, to spread their radical vision across an important region of the world.

If we were to leave before the job is done, if we were to fail in Iraq, Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have safe havens from which to launch attacks. People would look back at this moment in history and say, what happened to them in America? How come they couldn't see the threats to a future generation?

The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.

Iraq is a central component of defeating the extremists who want to establish safe haven in the Middle East, extremists who would use their safe haven from which to attack the United States, extremists and radicals who have stated that they want to topple moderate governments in order to be able to achieve assets necessary to effect their dream of spreading their totalitarian ideology as far and wide as possible.

This is really the calling of our time, that is, to defeat these extremists and radicals, and Iraq is a component part, an important part of laying the foundation for peace.

The inherent contradiction in the administration strategy is simple. If Iraq matters as much as the President says it does (and here I agree with the President on the supreme importance of victory) then the United States must not design and rely on a strategy which relies on the Iraqis to win.

On the other hand if the war is so unimportant that the fate of Iraq can be allowed to rest with the efforts of a new, weak, untested and inexperienced government then why are we risking American lives.

Both propositions cannot be true.

I accept the President’s analysis of the importance of winning in Iraq and therefore I am compelled to propose that his recently announced strategy is inadequate.

The second weakness is that the current strategy debate once again focuses too much on the military and too little on everything that has not been working.  The one instrument that has been reasonably competent is the combat element of American military power. That is a very narrow definition and should not be expanded to include the non combat elements of the Department of Defense which also have a lot of difficulties in performing adequately.

The great failures in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns have been in non-combat power. Intelligence, diplomacy, economic aid, information operations, support from the civilian elements of national power.  These have been the great centers of failure in America’s recent conflicts.  They are a major reason we have done so badly in Iraq.
The gap between the President’s recent proposals and the required rethinking and transforming of our non-combat instruments of power is simply breathtaking.

No military leader I have talked with believes military force is adequate to win in Iraq. Every one of them insists that the civilian instruments of power are more important than the combat elements. They all assert that they can hold the line for a while with force but that holding the line will ultimately fail if we are not using that time to achieve progress in non-military areas.

This failure of the non-combat bureaucracies cannot be solved in Iraq.  The heart of the problem is in Washington and that brings us to the third weakness in the current strategy.

The third weakness in the current strategy is its inability to impose war time decision making and accountability in Washington.

The interagency process is hopelessly broken.

This is not a new phenomenon. I first wrote about it in 1984 in Window of Opportunity when I asserted:

[W]e must decide what sort of executive-branch planning and implementation system are desirable.

At a minimum, we will need closer relationships between the intelligence agencies, the diplomatic agencies, the economic agencies, the military agencies, the news media and the political structure.  There has to be a synergism in which our assessment of what is happening relates to our policies as they are developed and implemented.  Both analyses and implementation must be related to the new media and political system because all basic policies must have public support if they are to succeed.

Finally, once the professionals have mastered their professions and have begun to work in systems that are effective and coordinated, those professionals must teach both the news media and the elected politicians.  No free society can for long accept the level of ignorance about war, history, and the nature of power which has become the norm for our news media and our elected politicians.  An ignorant society is on its way to becoming an extinct society.

In 1991 my concern for replacing the broken interagency system with an integrated system of effective coordination was heightened when General Max Thurmond who had planned and led the liberation of Panama told me unequivocally that the interagency process was broken.

In 1995 that process was reinforced when General Hartzog described the failures of the interagency in trying to deal with Haiti.

As early as 2002 it was clear that the interagency had broken down in Afghanistan and I gave a very strong speech in May 2003 at the American Enterprise Institute criticizing the process.

By the summer of 2003 it was clear the interagency was failing in Iraq and by September and October 2003 we were getting consistent reports from the field of the gap between the capability of the combat forces and the failure of the civilian systems.     

No senior officer in the Defense Department doubts that the current interagency cannot work at the speed of modern war. They will not engage in a fight with the National Security Council or the State Department or the various civilian agencies which fail to do their job. But in private they will assert over and over again that the interagency system is hopelessly broken.

It was very disappointing to have the President focus so much on 21, 500 more military personnel and so little on the reforms needed in all the other elements of the executive branch.

The proposals for winning in Iraq outlined below follow from this analysis.
 
Key Steps to Victory in Iraq

1. Place General Petraeus in charge of the Iraq campaign and establish that the Ambassador is operating in support of the military commander.

2. Since General Petraeus will now have responsibility for victory in Iraq all elements of achieving victory are within his purview and he should report daily to the White House on anything significant which is not working or is needed

3. Create a deputy chief of staff to the President and appoint a retired four star general or admiral to manage Iraq implementation for the Commander in Chief on a daily basis.

4. Establish that the second briefing (after the daily intelligence brief) the President will get every day is from his deputy chief of staff for Iraq implementation.

5. Establish a War Cabinet which will meet once a week to review metrics of implementation and resolve failures and enforce decisions. The President should chair the War Cabinet personally and his deputy chief of staff for Iraq implementation should prepare the agenda for the weekly review and meeting.

6. Establish three plans: one for achieving victory with the help of the Iraqi government, one for achieving victory with the passive acquiescence of the Iraqi government, one for achieving victory even if the current Iraqi government is unhappy.  The third plan may involve very significant shifts in troops and resources away from Baghdad and a process of allowing the Iraqi central government to fend for itself if it refuses to cooperate.

7. Communicate clearly to Syria and Iran that the United States is determined to win in Iraq and that any further interference (such as the recent reports of sophisticated Iranian explosives being sent to Iraq to target Americans) will lead to direct and aggressive countermeasures.

8. Pour as many intelligence assets into the fight as needed to develop an overwhelming advantage in intelligence preparation of the battlefield.

9. Develop a commander’s capacity to spend money on local activities sufficient to enable every local American commander to have substantial leverage in dealing with local communities.

10. Establish a jobs corps or civil conservation corps of sufficient scale to bring unemployment for males under 30 below 10% (see the attached op-ed by Mayor Giuliani and myself on this topic).

11. Expand dramatically the integration of American purchasing power in buying from Iraqi firms pioneered by Assistant Secretary Paul Brinkley to maximize the rate of recovery of the Iraqi economy.

12. Expand the American Army and Marine Corps as much as needed to sustain the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan while also being prepared for other contingencies and maintaining a sustainable rhythm for the families and the force.

13. Demand a war budget for recapitalization of the military to continue modernization while defeating our enemies. The current national security budget is lower as a percentage of the economy than at any time from Pearl Harbor through the end of the Cold War.  It is less than half the level Truman sustained before the Korean War.

14. The State Department is too small, too undercapitalized and too untrained for the demands of the 21st century. There should be a 50% increase in the State Department budget and a profound rethinking of the culture and systems of the State Department so it can be an operationally effective system.

15. The Agency for International Development is hopelessly unsuited to the new requirements of economic assistance and development and should be rethought from the ground up. The Marshall Plan and Point Four were as important as NATO in containing the Soviet Empire. We do not have that capability today.

16. The President should issue executive orders where possible to reform the implementation system so it works with the speed and effectiveness required by the 21st century.

17. Where legislation is needed the President should collaborate with Congress in honestly reviewing the systems that are failing and developing new metrics, new structures and new strategies.

18. Under our Constitution it is impossible to have this scale of rethinking and reform without deep support from the legislative branch. Without Republican Senator Arthur Vandenburg, Democratic President Harry Truman could never have developed the containment policies that saved freedom and ultimately defeated the Soviet Empire.  The President should ask the bipartisan leaders of Congress to cooperate in establishing a joint Legislative-Executive working group on winning the war and should openly brief the legislative branch on the problems which are weakening the American system abroad. Only by educating and informing the Congress can we achieve the level of mutual understanding and mutual commitment that this long hard task will require.

Thank you for this opportunity to share these proposals.
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« Reply #120 on: February 12, 2007, 10:14:55 AM »

Iran Sends Iraq Bomb Parts, U.S. Officer Says
By STEVEN R. HURST    AP
 
BAGHDAD - U.S. military officials on Sunday accused the highest levels of the Iranian leadership of arming Shiite militants in Iraq with sophisticated armor-piercing roadside bombs that have killed more than 170 American forces.
The military command in Baghdad denied, however, that any newly smuggled Iranian weapons were behind the five U.S. military helicopter crashes since Jan. 20 - four that were shot out of the sky by insurgent gunfire.

A fifth crash has tentatively been blamed on mechanical failure. In the same period, two private security company helicopters also have crashed but the cause was unclear.

The deadly and highly sophisticated weapons the U.S. military said it traced to Iran  are known as "explosively formed penetrators," or EFPs.

The presentation was the result of weeks of preparation and revisions as U.S. officials put together a package of material to support the Bush administration's claims of Iranian intercession on behalf of militant Iraqis fighting American forces.

Senior U.S. military officials in Baghdad said the display was prompted by the military's concern for "force protection," which, they said, was guaranteed under the United Nations resolution that authorizes American soldiers to be in Iraq.

Three senior military officials who explained the display said the "machining process" used in the construction of the deadly bombs had been traced to Iran.

The experts, who spoke to a large gathering of reporters on condition that they not be further identified, said the supply trail began with Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, which also is accused of arming the Hezbollah  guerrilla army in Lebanon. The officials said the EFP weapon was first tested there.

The officials said the Revolutionary Guard and its Quds force report directly to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The briefing on Iran was revised heavily after officials decided it was not ready for release as planned last month.

Senior U.S. officials in Washington _ cautious after the drubbing the administration took for the faulty intelligence leading to the 2003 Iraq invasion - had held back because they were unhappy with the original presentation.

The display appeared to be part of the White House drive that has empowered U.S. forces in Iraq to use all means to curb Iranian influence in the country, including killing Iranian agents.

It included a power-point slide program and a handful of mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades which the military officials said were made in Iran.

The centerpiece of the display, however, was a gray metal pipe about 10 inches long and 6 inches in diameter, the exterior casing of what the military said was an EFP, the roadside bomb that shoots out fist-sized wads of nearly molten copper that can penetrate the armor on an Abrams tank.

The EFPs, as well as Iranian-made mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades, have been supplied to what the military officials termed "rogue elements" of the Mahdi Army militia of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He is a key backer of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The U.S. officials glossed over armaments having reached the other major Shiite militia organization, the Badr Brigade. It is the military wing of Iraq's most powerful Shiite political organization, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, whose leaders also have close ties to the U.S.
Many key government figures and members of the Shiite political establishment have deep ties to Iran, having spent decades there in exile during Saddam Hussein 's rule. The Badr Brigade was formed and trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

The U.S. officials said there was no evidence of Iranian-made EFPs having fallen into the hands of Sunni insurgents who operate mainly in Anbar province in the west of Iraq, Baghdad and regions surrounding the capital.

"We know more than we can show," said one of the senior officials, when pressed for tangible evidence that the EFPs were made in Iran.

An intelligence analyst in the group said Iran was working through "multiple surrogates" - mainly in the Mahdi Army - to smuggle the EFPs into Iraq. He said most of the components are entering the country at crossing points near Amarah, the Iranian border city of Meran and the Basra area of southern Iraq.

The analyst said Iraq's Shiite-led government had been briefed on Iran's involvement and Iraqi officials had asked the Iranians to stop. Al-Maliki has said he told both the U.S. and Iran that he does not want his country turned into a proxy battlefield.

Last week, U.S. officials said they were investigating allegations that Shiite lawmaker Jamal Jaafar Mohammed was a main conduit for Iranian weapons entering the country. Mohammed has believed to have fled to Iran.

U.S. officials have alleged for years that weapons were entering the country from Iran but had until Sunday stopped short of alleging involvement by top Iranian leaders.

During the briefing, a senior defense official said that one of the six Iranians detained in January in the northern city of Irbil was the operational commander of the Quds Force.

He was identified as Mohsin Chizari, who was apprehended after slipping back into Iraq after a 10-month absence, the officer said.

The Iranians were caught trying to flush documents down the toilet, he said. They had also tried to change their appearance by shaving their heads. Bags of their hair were found during the raid, he said.

The dates of manufacture on weapons found so far indicate they were made after fall of Saddam Hussein - mostly in 2006, the officials said.

In a separate briefing, Maj. Gen. Jim Simmons, deputy commander of Multinational Corps-Iraq, said that since December 2004, U.S. helicopter pilots have been shot at on average about 100 times a month and been hit on an average of 17 times in the same period.

He disclosed a previously unknown shootdown, a Blackhawk helicopter hit by small arms fire near the western city of Hit. The craft crash-landed but there were no casualties. Simmons was on board.

The major general said Iraqi militants are known to have SA-7, SA-14 and SA-16 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles but none of the most recent five military crashes were caused by those weapons. He said some previous crashes had been a result of such missiles but would not elaborate.

As road travel has become unacceptably dangerous in Iraq, U.S. forces increasingly have turned to helicopters for transportation of troops and supplies. Simmons said U.S. helicopters were in the air for 240,000 hours in 2005 and he estimated the total figure this year would reach 400,000 hours.

North of Baghdad, a suicide truck bomber crashed into a police station, killing at least 30 policemen. A total of 73 people were killed or found dead across Iraq. The U.S. military said Sunday a soldier was shot and killed the day before in volatile Diyala province northeast of the capital.
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(I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.)
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« Reply #121 on: February 13, 2007, 12:12:53 AM »

Iraqi insurgents using Austrian rifles from Iran
By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:58am GMT 13/02/2007
Telegraph.co.uk



Austrian sniper rifles that were exported to Iran have been discovered in the hands of Iraqi terrorists, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

More than 100 of the.50 calibre weapons, capable of penetrating body armour, have been discovered by American troops during raids.


The Steyr HS50 is a long range, high precision rifle
The guns were part of a shipment of 800 rifles that the Austrian company, Steyr-Mannlicher, exported legally to Iran last year.

The sale was condemned in Washington and London because officials were worried that the weapons would be used by insurgents against British and American troops.

Within 45 days of the first HS50 Steyr Mannlicher rifles arriving in Iran, an American officer in an armoured vehicle was shot dead by an Iraqi insurgent using the weapon.

Over the last six months American forces have found small caches of the £10,000 rifles but in the last 24 hours a raid in Baghdad brought the total to more than 100, US defence sources reported.

advertisementThe find is the latest in a series of discoveries that indicate that Teheran is providing support to Iraq's Shia insurgents.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, yesterday denied that Iran had supplied weapons to Iraqi insurgents. But on Sunday US officials in Baghdad displayed a range of weapons they claimed had originated in Iran.

They said 170 American and British soldiers had been killed by such weapons.

The discovery of the sniper rifles will further encourage those in Washington who want to see Iran's uranium-enriching facilities destroyed before a nuclear weapon is produced.

The Foreign Office expressed "serious concerns" over the sale of the rifles last year and Britain protested to the Austrian government.

A Foreign Office spokesman said last night: "Although we did make our worries known the sale unfortunately went ahead and now the potential that these weapons could fall into the wrong hands appears to have happened."

The rifle can pierce all body armour from up to a mile and penetrate armoured Humvee troop carriers.

It is highly accurate and fires a round called an armour piercing incendiary, a bullet that the Iranians manufacture.

The National Iranian Police Organisation bought the rifles allegedly to use them against drug smugglers in an £8 million order placed with Steyr in 2005.

The company was given permission to export them by the Austrian government, which is not a Nato member.

================
U.S./IRAQ: The withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq at the present time would only lead to more bloodshed, Organization of the Islamic Conference Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told Reuters. Ihsanoglu added that a full-blown civil war in Iraq would "open the doors of hell" and threaten international stability. He said cooperation between the international community and all groups in Iraq and neighboring countries is the way to find a solution to the problems in Iraq.

stratfor.com
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« Reply #122 on: February 13, 2007, 09:03:33 AM »

From today's NY Slimes:

Skeptics Doubt U.S. Evidence on Iran Action in Iraq
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By HELENE COOPER and MARK MAZZETTI
Published: February 13, 2007
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 — Three weeks after promising it would show proof of Iranian meddling in Iraq, the Bush administration has laid out its evidence — and received in return a healthy dose of skepticism.

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Suspected Iranian Activity
 Back Story With The Times’s Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper (mp3)
Related
Iran’s Leader Disputes U.S. Charges on Militias (February 13, 2007)
European Officials Agree to Widen Economic Sanctions Against Iran Over Nuclear Program (February 13, 2007)
U.S. Says Arms Link Iranians to Iraqi Shiites (February 12, 2007)
Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says (February 10, 2007) The response from Congressional and other critics speaks volumes about the current state of American credibility, four years after the intelligence controversy leading up to the Iraq war. To pre-empt accusations that the charges against Iran were politically motivated, the administration rejected the idea of a high-level presentation, relying instead on military and intelligence officers to make its case in a background briefing in Baghdad.

Even so, critics have been quick to voice doubts. Representative Silvestre Reyes of Texas, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, suggested that the White House was more interested in sending a message to Tehran than in backing up serious allegations with proof. And David Kay, who once led the hunt for illicit weapons in Iraq, said the grave situation in Iraq should have taught the Bush administration to put more of a premium on transparency when it comes to intelligence.

“If you want to avoid the perception that you’ve cooked the books, you come out and make the charges publicly,” Mr. Kay said.

Administration officials say their approach was carefully calibrated to focus on concerns that Iran is providing potent weapons used against American troops in Iraq, not to ignite a wider war. “We’re trying to strike the right tone here,” a senior administration official said Monday. “It would have raised the rhetoric to major decibel levels if we had had a briefing in Washington.”

At the State Department, the Pentagon and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, officials had anticipated resistance to their claims. They settled on an approach that sidelined senior officials including Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to Iraq, and John D. Negroponte, who until last week was the director of national intelligence. By doing so, they avoided the inevitable comparisons to the since-discredited presentation that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made to the United Nations Security Council in 2003 asserting that Iraq had illicit weapons.

The White House and the State Department both made clear on Monday that they endorsed the findings presented in Baghdad. Asked for direct evidence linking Iran’s leadership to the weapons, Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, said: “Let me put it this way. There’s not a whole lot of freelancing in the Iranian government, especially when its comes to something like that.”

Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said: “While they presented a circumstantial case, I would put to you that it was a very strong circumstantial case. The Iranians are up to their eyeballs in this activity, I think, very clearly based on the information that was provided over the weekend in Baghdad.”

In Australia, however, Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that he “would not say” that Iran’s leadership was aware of or condoned the attacks. “It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it’s clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit,” according to an account posted on the Voice of America Web site.

An Iranian government spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, has sought in denying the charges to exploit the lingering doubts about American credibility. “The United States has a long history of fabricating evidence,” Mr. Hosseini, a Foreign Ministry official, told reporters in Tehran.

The administration’s scramble over how to present its evidence started in January, after President Bush accused Iran of meddling in Iraq. Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qumi, demanded that the United States present its evidence, and Mr. Khalilzad, the American ambassador in Baghdad, responded that America would “oblige him by having something done in the coming days.”

That set Bush administration officials racing to produce a briefing that would hold up to scrutiny. Military officials in Baghdad developed the first briefing, a wide-ranging dossier that contained dozens of slides about Iranian activities inside Iraq, which was then sent to Washington for review, administration officials said.

But after a careful vetting by intelligence officials, senior administration officials, including National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, concluded that there were aspects of the briefing that could not be supported by solid intelligence. They sent the briefing back to Baghdad to be shored up, a senior official said.

The evidence that military officials presented Sunday was a stripped-down version of the original presentation, focusing almost entirely on the weapons, known as explosively formed penetrators, and the evidence that Iran is supplying the weapons to Shiite groups.

Both Democratic and Republican officials on Capitol Hill said that while they do not doubt that the weapons are being used to attack American troops, and that some of those weapons are being shipped into Iraq from Iran, they are still uncertain whether the weapons were being shipped into Iraq on the orders of Iran’s leaders.

Several experts agreed. “I’m not doubting the provenance of the weapons, but rather, the issue of what it says about Iranian policy and whether Iran’s leaders are aware of it,” said George Perkovich, a nonproliferation specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

Philip D. Zelikow, who until December was the top aide to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said American politics and the increased unpopularity of the war in Iraq is obscuring the larger issue of the Iran evidence, which he described as “abundant and so multifaceted.”

“People have lost their moorings,” Mr. Zelikow said. He said the administration was trying to overcome public distrust by asking, in essence, “Don’t you trust our soldiers?”

Nazila Fathi contributed reporting from Tehran.
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« Reply #123 on: February 15, 2007, 02:48:31 AM »

stratfor.com

Iraq: Ominous Signs of a Looming Sniper Threat
Summary

In a series of raids across Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi forces seized more than 100 Austrian-manufactured sniper rifles in a 24-hour period Feb. 12-13. The .50-caliber weapons, which were legally exported to Iran in 2006, represent a grave danger to coalition troops.

Analysis

Over the course of the last six months, handfuls of heavy .50-caliber sniper rifles manufactured by the Austrian company Steyr-Mannlicher have been turning up in Iraq. But a series of joint U.S.-Iraqi raids Feb. 12-13 in Baghdad uncovered more than 100 Steyr "HS.50" rifles -- an unprecedented development that bodes ill for U.S. troops surging into the Iraqi capital.

In 2005, the National Iranian Police Organization placed an order for 800 Steyr HS.50s worth more than $15.5 million (nearly $20,000 per rifle). Ostensibly, the rifles were intended for use in interdicting drug smugglers. The U.S. and U.K. governments both protested the shipment in 2006, fearing the rifles would fall into the hands of Iraqi militias. A month and a half after the initial shipment, the first U.S. soldier was killed with one of these Steyr rifles.

A standard practice among Western weapons manufactures is to mark a rifle with its serial number in several locations -- not only the frame but also the bolt and barrel -- and this is the practice at Steyr-Mannlicher. Such marking is especially important for sniper rifles, which are machined to precise tolerances -- a professional would want to keep the bolt and the barrel with the original rifle. Grinding the serial numbers off would negatively affect the accuracy of the rifle.

The Steyr HS.50s found in Baghdad have been traced through Iran back to the 2005 Austrian deal with the National Iranian Police Organization, presumably by using discernable serial numbers on the weapons.

The .50-caliber round is powerful enough to punch through not only the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts (E-SAPI) -- the armored plates worn by U.S. troops -- but also much of the light armor of U.S. vehicles. Iran also appears to have supplied armor-piercing incendiary rounds, which are even more destructive once they get inside the cramped compartments of vehicles. The armor-piercing incendiary rounds would also wreak havoc with a low-flying helicopter if it could actually be struck in-flight.

The Steyr HS.50 and other rifles of its kind are designed to engage targets at thousands of yards. Of course, a rifle is only as good as the marksmanship training of the person holding it. World-class snipers are the product of intensive training, something Iraqi insurgents noticeably lack (there are running jokes within U.S. military units about how terrible Iraqi marksmanship is). That said, a weapon like the Steyr HS.50 used to engage targets at 100 to 300 yards in a dense urban environment has a much larger margin of error and is devastating at such close ranges. Moreover, it is a single-shot, bolt-action rifle more accurate than the semi-automatic M82A3 Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle used by U.S. forces. In the right hands, the HS.50 is capable of a minute of angle beyond 1,600 yards (a measurement amounting to phenomenal accuracy).

Insurgent snipers have been increasingly dangerous in the last two years. In 2003 and 2004, Iraqi sniper fire was inaccurate and sporadic. Since then, however, casualties from sniper fire have been creeping up, and turret gunners are now being taken down with head shots.

That more than 100 Steyr HS.50s were confiscated in a single 24-hour period in Baghdad suggests two things: First, that such a concentration was put in place in preparation for the building U.S. surge into the Iraqi capital and that the cache could represent the bulk of the rifles supplied to Iraqi Shia by supporters inside Iran. But if substantially larger portions of the original 800 rifles have slipped into the capital, it will be costly for both U.S. and Iraqi forces. The only question is: How many did Iran keep for itself?
The second point to consider is this: U.S. troops almost certainly acted on excellent intelligence, suggesting that if there are more large caches, they very well could be found.

Such a powerful weapon in the hands of a single, well-trained professional is trouble enough. But hundreds of these rifles supplied to a large swath of Shiite militias could exact a considerable toll on coalition forces moving into Shiite neighborhoods -- a toll the current level of force protection cannot prevent.
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« Reply #124 on: February 15, 2007, 07:29:00 AM »

Second post of the morning:

stratfor.com

Geopolitical Diary: Al-Sadr Lies Low

Nasser al-Rubaie, the head of Iraq's Sadrite parliamentary bloc, and other supporters of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr said on Wednesday that statements by U.S. military officials in Iraq alleging that al-Sadr has fled the country for Iran are untrue. An adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki later said al-Sadr is on a brief routine visit to Iran and would be back shortly. There also are reports that first- and second-tier commanders of the Mehdi Army in Baghdad are in Iran as well in order to evade a security crackdown.

While al-Sadr has visited Iran in the past, and doing so again at this juncture would be reasonable, the leader likely remains based in Iraq -- where he is growing ever more distrustful of his fellow Shia and trying hard to maintain a low profile.

Al-Sadr has lain low, likely somewhere in the holy city of An Najaf, since remarking in January that he feared for his personal safety in the wake of U.S.-Iraqi plans to secure Baghdad and crack down on militias. Since then, he has seen the arrest and kidnappings of Iranian diplomatic officials in Iraq, which surely made him even less willing to risk travel or public appearances.

The Sadrite bloc controls the largest number of parliamentary seats in the ruling Shiite coalition -- the United Iraqi Alliance -- and has several ministers in the Cabinet. Al-Sadr is not about to abandon his movement and flee, especially as his Mehdi Army prepares to face a major government offensive. And if he did, he certainly would not go to Iran.

Contrary to popular perception, Iraq's Sadrite bloc is the Shiite group that is least friendly toward Iran. Al-Sadr cannot completely trust the Iranians, who have strong ties to his main rival, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim -- the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Iraq's most pro-Iranian Shiite party. Iran could use al-Sadr and his militia as leverage in its negotiations with the United States over Iraq; when the need arises, Iran might pull the plug on the Shiite leader as a gesture of good will toward the United States.

While al-Sadr has long been wary of the threat from SCIRI, he also does not trust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Hizb al-Dawah party. Until now, al-Sadr has maintained a decent working relationship with al-Maliki; however, the prime minister recently abandoned his opposition to a U.S. crackdown on Sadrite militia activities. Al-Sadr knows the Shiite-dominated government is working closely with the U.S. military, and does not want to risk further support for more U.S. operations against him. Even so, al-Sadr reportedly is on the U.S. military's "no-touch list," meaning U.S. forces will not detain him out of fear that his arrest could inflame his supporters and cause them to escalate the overall level of violence in the country.

U.S. statements regarding the Shiite leader's alleged flight to Iran likely are part of psyops designed to weaken him by convincing those within his political movement and its armed wing that he has abandoned them ahead of the impending U.S.-Iraqi crackdown. There already are some indications that al-Sadr does not have complete control over his militia. By playing up the idea that al-Sadr has fled to Tehran, the United States can sow doubts among members of the Mehdi Army before U.S. and Iraqi forces pounce. And confusion about al-Sadr's whereabouts will prove especially damaging to the Sadrite bloc, given its heavy focus on its leader and his family.

Stratfor mentioned in its annual forecast that the coming U.S. surge will focus on containing al-Sadr. For now, Iraq's political and military situation has rendered the Shiite leader quite vulnerable. Whether al-Sadr makes an appearance in order to counter U.S. attempts to paint him as a cowardly captain abandoning his ship remains to be seen.

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« Reply #125 on: February 16, 2007, 11:13:25 AM »

Iran's Smoking Guns
Now Austrian sniper rifles show up in Iraq.

Friday, February 16, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Following the weekend intelligence disclosures about Iranian-supplied weapons killing GIs in Iraq, we predicted Tuesday. that "a large part of Washington will pretend the evidence doesn't exist, or suggest the intelligence isn't proven, or claim that it's all the Bush Administration's fault for 'bullying' Iran." Sure enough, President Bush faced a barrage of questions Wednesday wondering whether senior Iranian leaders were really aware of the weapons transfers, whether he was using "faulty intelligence," and whether the disclosures were part of a strategy designed to "provoke Iran."

So here is the state of our public discourse: American military officials present prima facie evidence of Iranian weapons implicated in killing 170 U.S. soldiers and wounding 600 more, and Washington's main concern is not for the GIs but in refighting the last intelligence war.

Well, here's an item that doesn't seem to have been manufactured by Dick Cheney. According to a report in Britain's Daily Telegraph, U.S. forces in Baghdad have recently discovered 100 high-powered sniper rifles made by Austrian gun-maker Steyr-Mannlicher. The .50-caliber Steyr can accurately fire an armor-piercing round at a range of 1,500 meters. The weapon is good against Humvees, helicopters and body armor.


 

In 2004, Iran purchased some 800 Steyrs, allegedly for use against drug traffickers. At the time, both U.S. and British officials urged the Austrian government to bar the $15 million sale, fearing the weapons would fall into enemy hands. Former Austrian Chancellor Wolfang Schüssel thought otherwise, and let the deal go forward. To better grease the skids, then-Steyr-Mannlicher CEO Wolfgang Fürlinger made the case that the weapons were basically harmless and that Tehran had signed "end-user certificates" guaranteeing they would not be re-sold, according to the German newsweekly Der Spiegel.
Today, the Austrian government pleads that the sale had been "checked very thoroughly," and that "what happened to the weapons . .  . is the responsibility of the Iranians"--which prompts the question of why the Austrians would have bothered with the end-user certificates. The Bush Administration took a less cavalier view and in 2005 banned Steyr-Mannlicher from bidding for U.S. government contracts.

It remains to be confirmed whether the serial numbers on the Steyrs found in Iraq match those from the 2004 sale--if they do, it ought to prompt a top-to-bottom review of all Austrian military contracts. Meantime, is it too much to expect American journalists and Members of Congress to devote as much skepticism to Iran's motives and behavior as they do to Mr. Bush's?

WSJ
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« Reply #126 on: February 18, 2007, 12:26:17 PM »

Why the Iraq war is turning into America's defeat
(http://www.suntimes.com/news/steyn/260810,CST-EDT-steyn18.article)
 
February 18, 2007
 
BY MARK STEYN Sun-Times Columnist
 
The week's news from Iraq: According to the state television network, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was wounded in a clash with security forces just north of Baghdad. A senior deputy was killed. (Turns out this report was apparently in error.)
 
Meanwhile, the punk cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has decided that discretion is the better part of mullahs and has temporarily relocated to Iran. That's right: The biggest troublemaker in Iraq is no longer in Iraq. It may be that his Persian vacation is only to marry a cousin or two and consult with the A-list ayatollahs, but the Mookster has always had highly sensitive antennae when it comes to his own physical security -- he likes being the guy who urges martyrdom on others rather than being just another schmuck who takes one for the team. So the fact that urgent business requires him to be out of town for the Big Surge is revealing at the very least of how American objectives in Iraq are not at the mercy of forces beyond their control; U.S. military and political muscle can shape conditions on the ground -- if they can demonstrate they're serious about doing so.
 
Which these days is a pretty big "if." Reporting the sudden relocation, the New York Times decided -- in nothing flat -- that it was yet another disastrous setback. In Iraq, no news is good news, and Sadr news is badder news:
 
''With the new American offensive in Baghdad still in its early days, American commanders have focused operations in the eastern part of the city, a predominantly Shiite area that has long been the Mahdi Army's power base.
 
''If Mr. Sadr had indeed fled, his absence would create a vacuum that could allow even more radical elements of the Shiite group to take power.''
 
As my National Review colleague Rich Lowry marveled: ''So now we need to keep Sadr in Iraq because he's such a stabilizing influence!'' Of course! As Hillaire Belloc wrote, ''Always keep a hold of Nurse/For fear of finding something worse'' -- and, even when Nurse Sadr is blowing up the kids in the nursery every day, it's best to cling to her blood-drenched apron strings because the next nurse will be an even bigger psycho. America is a big helpless baby who's blundered into a war zone he can never hope to understand.
 
According to a report by the New York Sun's Eli Lake last month, Iran is supporting Shia insurgents in Iraq and Sunni insurgents in Iraq. In other words, it's on both sides in the so-called civil war. How can this be? After all, as the other wise old foreign-policy "realists" of the Iraq Study Group assured us only in December, Iran has "an interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq.''
 
Au contraire, the ayatollahs have concluded they have a very clear interest in fomenting chaos in Iraq. They're in favor of Sunni killing Shia, and Shia killing Sunni, and if some vacationing Basque terrorists wanted to blow up the Spanish Cultural Center in Mosul, they'd be in favor of that, too. The Iranians don't care who kills whom as long as every night when Americans turn on the evening news there's smoke over Baghdad. As I say in my book, if you happen to live in Ramadi or Basra, Iraq is about Iraq; if you live in Tehran, or Cairo, or Bei-jing, Moscow, Pyongyang or Brussels, Iraq is about America. American will. American purpose. American credibility.
 
There was a TV station somewhere -- was it Thunder Bay, Ontario? -- that used to show a continuous loop of a roaring fireplace all night, and thousands of viewers would supposedly sit in front of it for hours because it was such a reassuringly comforting scene. The networks could save themselves a lot of money by adopting the same approach: Run a continuous loop of a smoking building in Baghdad all night while thousands of congressmen and pundits and think-tankers and retired generals run around Washington shrieking that all is lost. America is way out of its league! A dimwitted tourist in a fearful land of strange people who don't watch "American Idol." Iraq is so culturally alien that not a single Sunni, Shia or Kurd has come forward claiming to be the father of Anna Nicole's baby!
 
Get a grip, chaps! In Iraq, everyone's a tourist. This al-Qaida honcho, al-Masri, is an Egyptian. His predecessor, Zarqawi, was a Jordanian. Al-Sadr is a Persian stooge. For four decades, the country was a British client. Before that, it was a Turkish province. The Middle East is a crazy place and a tough nut to crack, but the myth of the unbeatable Islamist insurgent is merely a lazy and more neurotic update of the myth of the unbeatable communist guerrilla, which delusion led to so much pre-emptive surrender in the '70s. Nevertheless, in the capital city of the most powerful nation on the planet, the political class spent last week trying to craft a bipartisan defeat strategy, and they might yet pull it off. Consider this extraordinary report from the Washington Post:
 
"Democratic leaders have rallied around a strategy that would fully fund the president's $100 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but would limit his ability to use the money. . . . The plan is aimed at tamping down calls from the Democrats' liberal wing for Congress to simply end funding for the war.
 
"The Murtha plan, based on existing military guidelines, includes a stipulation that Army troops who have already served in Iraq must be granted two years at home before an additional deployment. . . . The idea is to slowly choke off the war by stopping the deployment of troops from units that have been badly degraded by four years of combat."
 
So "the Murtha plan" is to deny the president the possibility of victory while making sure Democrats don't have to share the blame for the defeat. But of course he's a great American! He's a patriot! He supports the troops! He doesn't support them in the mission, but he'd like them to continue failing at it for a couple more years. As John Kerry wondered during Vietnam, how do you ask a soldier to be the last man to die for a mistake? By nominally "fully funding" a war you don't believe in but "limiting his ability to use the money." Or as the endearingly honest anti-war group MoveCongress.org put it, in an e-mail preview of an exclusive interview with the wise old Murtha:
 
"Chairman Murtha will describe his strategy for not only limiting the deployment of troops to Iraq but undermining other aspects of the president's foreign and national security policy."
 
"Undermining"? Why not? To the Slow-Bleed Democrats, it's the Republicans' war. To an increasing number of what my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls the White-Flag Republicans, it's Bush's war. To everyone else on the planet, it's America's war. And it will be America's defeat.
 
©Mark Steyn, 2007
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« Reply #127 on: February 21, 2007, 11:23:29 AM »

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Geopolitical Diary: Chemical Strikes -- the Beginning of a Trend?

A chlorine-filled truck exploded outside a restaurant at a rest stop near Taji, north of Baghdad, on Tuesday. This is the second incident involving chlorine gas in only a few weeks. In Ar Ramadi, Iraq, a tank of chlorine in a garbage truck exploded Jan. 30; however, the chemical aspect of the attack went largely unnoticed because no casualties were attributed to the chlorine.

Details of Tuesday's explosion remain unclear. Iraqi authorities are speculating that the vehicle was a tanker truck rigged with explosives. They also are questioning whether it was in fact chlorine gas or combustible fuel that was used in an attempt to boost a conventional explosive. It was initially thought that it was a tanker truck filled with liquefied natural gas. The bombers could have made the same mistake.

Regardless of what was actually used, the deaths from the attack are surprisingly low. Bulk chlorine is a target of militants worldwide. It seems this attack was poorly executed, since the device probably exploded prematurely. Though it is easy to attach an explosive charge to a tanker truck, it is not easy to rupture the tank in order to maximize dispersal without burning up the chemical agent that needs to be dispersed.

That said, chlorine gas is not a weapon of mass destruction capable of taking out an entire city. Even with the most modern chemical weapon delivery systems, chlorine gas is incapable of inflicting massive casualties. These incidents are not in any way indicative of a new technical capability, merely of a new tactic. The only technical capability these attacks have demonstrated is that of placing chlorine tanks and explosives in close proximity -- and this has not been done with skill. There are several reasons the most recent attack could have failed; there perhaps were too many explosives, an insufficient concentration or quantity of chlorine and it might have occurred in a sparsely populated area.

However, a trend is starting to emerge that will only be reinforced by a psychological and human toll that insurgent operational planners will not overlook -- some 150 injuries associated with chlorine gas exposure, including respiratory irritation and vomiting, and five fatalities. And improvements in the techniques of employing even these improvised devices could nevertheless send casualty tolls much higher.

However, though chemical weapons will certainly undermine an already crumbling domestic U.S. support base, U.S. forces were not the primary target in either Tuesday's or the Jan. 30 incident.

Hardened U.S. troops are ill at ease even about chemical strikes they are trained to deal with. But such strikes are even more terrifying to Iraqi civilians with no training or equipment. If the fear of being blown up at the market turns into a fear of being subjected to a chemical attack, a new degree of hostility toward the Sunni insurgency could develop.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops could be increasingly spotted with gas masks on their left hips. With the sanitation situation as poor as it is in Iraq, chlorine will continue to be necessary, although some precautions could be taken to better protect large shipments. Ultimately, this has not yet become a meaningful opposition to the U.S. surge and it has certainly not indicated a new technical skills set. Nevertheless, the psychological impact of chemical weapons use in Iraq should not be underestimated.
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« Reply #128 on: February 25, 2007, 08:06:24 AM »

NY Times (so read with care)
Iraq Rebel Cleric Reins In Militia; Motives at Issue


By DAMIEN CAVE
Published: February 25, 2007
BAGHDAD, Feb. 24 — Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric and founder of the Mahdi Army militia, discovered recently that two of his commanders had created DVDs of their men killing Sunnis in Baghdad. Documents suggested that they had received money from Iran.


So he suspended them and stripped them of power, said two Mahdi leaders in Sadr City, the heart of Mr. Sadr’s support here in the capital.

But did he do so as part of his cooperation with the new security plan for Baghdad, which aims to quell the sectarian violence tormenting the city? Because his men had been disloyal, taking orders from Iran, whose support he values but whose control he fights? Or was it just for show — the act of an image-conscious leader who grasped the risk of graphic videos and wanted to stave off direct American action against him?

Mr. Sadr has been the great destabilizer in Iraq since 2003, wielding power on the streets and in the ruling Shiite bloc, thwarting the Americans and playing out at least a temporary alliance with Iran.

With the new security plan for Iraq under way, every question about Mr. Sadr’s motives touches on a different facet of Iraq’s complicated struggle.

He now finds himself under pressure from several sources. One is his popular Shiite base, which demands protection from devastating Sunni attacks. Another is Iran, with which he has had long but difficult ties. Then there are renegade factions of his own militia that resent his move into the political mainstream.

Finally, the Americans, who have accused Iran of supplying Shiite militias, including Mr. Sadr’s, with an especially deadly roadside bomb known as an explosively formed projectile, or E.F.P, which has killed an increasing number of American soldiers.

It is not clear whether the Americans will move directly against him. The United States has demanded that the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki act forcefully against the Mahdi Army; Mr. Maliki, however, owes much of his political strength in the ruling Shiite coalition to Mr. Sadr’s backing.

For now, American and Iraqi officials say Mr. Sadr seems to be cooperating with the effort to pacify Baghdad, ordering his men not to fight even as American armored vehicles roll into Mahdi strongholds in eastern Baghdad. He seems to be cleaning house of fighters who could taint him by association with Iran or with death squad killings. His aides say he has called for a sectarian truce. “Moktada al-Sadr said to protect your clerics, protect your shrines and cooperate with the government,” said Hazim al-Araji, head of the Sadr office in western Baghdad. “So no actions have been taken.”

In perhaps his boldest move yet, Mr. Sadr has assisted the joint Iraqi-American campaign against parts of his militia, signaling whom to arrest and telling others to flee, said two Mahdi commanders and a Shiite politician in Baghdad. On his own, they said, Mr. Sadr has “frozen” more than 40 commanders, including about 20 with links to Iran.

The moves are part of an organizational overhaul, the Sadr aides said. Though Mr. Sadr’s whereabouts are unknown — the Americans say he is in Iran, which his aides and Iran dispute — a new Mahdi general for all of Baghdad has been appointed for the first time, they said. Mr. Sadr has also selected new commanders for east and west Baghdad.

Some of the Sadr aides and commanders who described Mr. Sadr’s recent moves during separate interviews in Najaf and Baghdad refused to give their names, saying they had not been authorized to speak and feared reprisals from current or former members of the militia.

They said the cleric allowed the arrests of members of his own militia, or suspended them himself, because evidence showed that they had not obeyed his orders and because he wanted to show Iran, American officials and his militia that he was a strong leader who must be respected and feared.

“He wants to prove to the people that he has full control of his militia,” said a 47-year-old Mahdi commander from Sadr City who referred to himself as Jabar Abdul al-Hahdi. “He wants to show he’s in charge.”

Mr. Sadr’s conflicted relationship with Iran mirrors Iraq’s. Each country’s majority Shiites revere the other’s clerics and visit the other’s religious shrines. But they speak different languages, are dominated by different ethnic groups, and fought each other in a long war in the 1980s.

Mr. Sadr’s father, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, became one of Iraq’s most popular Shiite clerics largely because he set himself up as the rebel alternative to Iran’s religious leadership, focusing on poor, oppressed Iraqis, not just theological debate. His mix of social and religious resistance led Saddam Hussein to order his assassination in 1999.

Moktada al-Sadr rose to prominence after the American invasion in 2003 with anti-American speeches and echoes of his father’s populism. But he was young, not yet 30, and less educated than his clerical rivals. So even as he railed against Iranian meddling, he sought money and support from Iran’s top clerics, meeting with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme religious leader, in June 2003. It was a dramatic reversal from family tradition.

Less than a year later, he led a revolt against American troops in Najaf, and again Iran played the role of patron. On the 11th day of the revolt, with Mr. Sadr under siege, an Iranian delegation arrived in Iraq to mediate. The Iranians were joined by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, who called for Shiite unity and calm.

Mr. Sadr eventually agreed to stop fighting and join the political process. The Americans let him.

His popularity rose with the speed of a pop star’s, and the Mahdi Army grew like a fan club, from a few hundred young men to thousands — including some who proved hard to control.

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

Page 2 of 2)



Since then, according to some Shiite officials, Iran has funneled support to his organization. What it receives, how much and how consistently, remain a mystery, but some Shiite leaders say Mr. Sadr collects less from Iran than does a rival Shiite party: the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which was founded in Iran by Iraqi exiles in 1984.


Iran generally supports many groups simultaneously, including some Sunni ones, so that it can benefit from any eventuality, said Sami al-Askari, a Shiite member of Parliament who works closely with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

“Iran intervenes in many ways, with many methods,” Mr. Askari said.

In the case of the Mahdi Army, he said, Iran has recognized its diffuse nature, sprinkling support at high and low levels. Some support comes through ties to Hezbollah, the Shiite militia in Lebanon that also receives Iranian support. Beirut now has a Sadr office, and Mahdi commanders say they have been sending fighters to Hezbollah at least since last summer, when Hezbollah battled Israel.

Iran also provides institutional assistance to Iraq, mainly to the Health Ministry, which is run by Mr. Sadr’s political bloc. Three days after bombs killed more than 140 people in Sadr City last fall, for example, 50 Iraqi ambulances carried some of the wounded to the Iranian border. They were transferred to Iranian ambulances and taken to Iranian hospitals, with much of the cost covered by organizations in Iran.

Qasim Allawi, a spokesman for the Health Ministry who described the process, said another 25 wounded men and women from the recent Sadriya market bombing in Baghdad were to head to Iran any day.

Iran’s more potent forms of aid are direct — and some goes not to Mr. Sadr, but to underlings.

“Sometimes the aid comes for the leadership, and they get to decide where it goes,” Mr. Askari said. “Sometimes it goes to the local leadership, and this encourages them to rebel.”

“Iran puts Moktada al-Sadr between two pressing sides,” he said. “On one hand, they are helping him and they have the ability to take that away. At the same time, they’re undermining him by helping people below him.”

According to Sadr aides and Mahdi commanders, Mr. Sadr’s recent purges aim to put Iran on notice that he is in charge and independent. They said he also wanted to remind members of his militia that he would use every available tool, including Iraqi and American troops, to maintain control of the militia, the source of any political power he wields.

The goal is a top-down, tightly managed operation.

“We’re going to end the decentralized system that we had before,” said one of the aides in Najaf.

If Mr. Sadr consolidates power over his unruly militia, he could be held more responsible for the actions of its members. Until now, American and Iraqi efforts against the Mahdi Army have focused on so-called rogue elements.

The 30 members of Parliament associated with the Sadr bloc have not been arrested, keeping Mr. Sadr’s legitimate influence intact. At the same time, American, Iraqi and British officials are engaged in classified negotiations with his envoys over how to address the Mahdi Army and its Sadr City stronghold, the neighborhood named for Mr. Sadr’s father.

When asked about the talks, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the top military spokesman in Iraq, said the meetings represented a reasonable and appropriate attempt to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

“Anytime you can find a political solution instead of a military solution,” he said, “it’s always better.”

But can Mr. Sadr deliver what the Americans want? Are his efforts adequate? Some American military officers remain skeptical.

“You know what their intent is,” said Maj. Kevin Hosier, an intelligence officer with the Third Stryker Brigade Combat Team, as his unit prepared for sweeps through predominantly Shiite areas near Sadr City this month. “They want Baghdad. They want to make Baghdad a Shia city.”

Peter Harling, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, a research organization, who wrote a thorough profile of Mr. Sadr last summer, said the impact of the Mahdi purges and command restructuring would likely be short-lived.

“He has been excommunicating some of his key commanders, that’s a fact, but he has just put them in the corner,” Mr. Harling said, relying on interviews with several Mahdi commanders cited in his July profile. “Many of them, after Sadr really accused them in the harshest terms, actually came back in the movement and carried on with their careers. All this is kind of temporary.”

According to Mr. Harling, Mr. Sadr has little choice but to trim at the edges of his organization. His hold on power remains tenuous, dependent on a loose association of clients all over the country who he knows could turn on him at any moment.

“He remains in a strong position as a leader only as long as he is useful to all these smaller leaders,” Mr. Harling said. “He rules by consensus.”

Vali Nasr, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and author of “The Shia Revival,” says Mr. Sadr should be viewed as a politician who was trying to preserve his power. Poor Shiites have made him an Iraqi celebrity, a national symbol whose bearded visage graces everything from wristwatches to alarm clocks and large posters. Above all else, he will be loyal to them, Mr. Nasr said.

“Since the Samarra bombing last year, Moktada has received a lot of pressure to be tougher on the Sunnis,” he said, referring to the explosion in the northern city of Samarra last February that destroyed one of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines. “He’s found that the tougher he’s been, the more his popularity has gone up.”

In the long run, Mr. Nasr said, “he’s not very concerned with what the Americans think of him. What matters to him is what the Shiites think.”

Reporting was contributed by Hosham Hussein, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Ali Adeeb, Khalid al-Ansary and Wisam A. Habeeb, in Baghdad, and an Iraqi employee of The New York Times in Najaf.
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« Reply #129 on: February 26, 2007, 08:56:02 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: Emerging Strains in U.S. Partnerships

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani took ill on Sunday and was flown aboard a U.S. military C-130 aircraft from Suleimaniyah, in northern Iraq, to Amman, Jordan, for treatment. According to Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, Talabani -- who is also chief of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) -- suffered from a drop in blood pressure, but his son, Qubad Talabani, maintains that he was hospitalized for exhaustion.

Talabani's health is worth keeping an eye on. This is not only because of his position in the Iraq government, but because he is among the most prominent of the Kurds -- the one ethnic faction in Iraq that so far has given the United States the least amount of trouble.

It is quite likely that the 74-year-old Talabani, whose health problems are not limited to poor blood pressure, will be gone from the political scene before Iraq sees any move toward a negotiated settlement. Should this happen, the presidency would be up for grabs -- and it does not simplify matters that the senior-most Kurdish leader in line behind Talabani is Masoud Barzani, head of the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). With political ambitions in play, it is unlikely that the current power-sharing agreement between the PUK and KDP will hold. In short, Talabani's departure or physical incapacitation probably would ignite an intra-Kurdish struggle -- further exacerbating the myriad sectarian and communal tensions in Iraq.

Just as the story about Talabani's illness was making headlines, Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad was downplaying reports that the Kurds had agreed to support a draft oil law. The draft law concerns whether there would be one authority in Baghdad to oversee all Iraqi oil contracts -- a position supported by the Sunnis and Shia -- or whether the Kurds should have an autonomous oil authority of their own. Barzani had claimed during a press conference with Talabani on Saturday that "a final agreement" had been reached and the Kurds had accepted the draft, but the spokesman for the Shiite-controlled Oil Ministry said on Sunday the negotiations were still under way. Confusion over how to share oil revenues -- the issue at the heart of the ethno-sectarian conflict in Iraq -- will only deepen if Talabani no longer is able to serve as chief of his party and president of the country.

Problems involving the Shia also cropped up on Sunday, as Muqtada al-Sadr denounced the U.S.-Iraq security plan for Baghdad. One of al-Sadr's aides read out a statement to a gathering of supporters in Baghdad's Sadr City district, in which the Shiite leader called for Iraqi security forces to come up with their own plan and to refrain from working with U.S. forces on security issues. Al-Sadr can see the rift that is emerging between the United States and his main Shiite rival, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim -- leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- which became apparent when U.S. forces detained al-Hakim's son on Feb. 23. Clearly, al-Sadr is moving to take advantage of the situation and revive his own political fortunes.

Whether he can do so successfully and avert a crackdown against his militia, the Mehdi Army, remains to be seen. The Iranians -- who support al-Sadr to some extent, and support his rival al-Hakim even more -- are likely very pleased with the emerging tensions between Washington and mainstream Iraqi Shiite forces, as the rift will only push the Iraqi Shia further into Iran's orbit.

The tensions were made even more apparent on Sunday in a statement from Iraq's national security adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, who said, in perhaps deliberately ambiguous phrasing, "Recently the Iranians have changed their positions, and we have some evidence that they have stopped supplying arms or creating any of these shaped mines in the streets of Baghdad." It was not clear whether al-Rubaie -- a leading independent within the ruling Shiite coalition in Baghdad -- was referring to the government in Tehran. He went on to say he had no doubt that over the past few weeks the Iranians had "changed their position and stopped a lot of their tactics and interference in Iraq's internal affairs."

It is important to note that the Iraqi Shia, whom Washington identified as its chief partner in Iraq even prior to the March 2003 invasion, actually are closer to Tehran than they are to the Bush administration. Therefore, the tensions with the Shia -- combined with the potential for internal problems among the Kurds -- should be watched closely, as these are the United States' two principal means for dealing with Sunni unrest in Iraq.

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« Reply #130 on: February 27, 2007, 08:39:02 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: Iraqi Oil Law Legislation Approved
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The Iraqi Cabinet approved draft legislation on Monday for a new oil law, giving the United States a new claim to success in its nation-building efforts for Iraq. The division of oil revenues between Iraq's Kurdish and Shiite factions is critical to the formation of a comprehensive political resolution in the country. Though the legislation is certainly a step in the right direction, a closer look at the details reveals it is more of a time bomb than a functional agreement.

The legislation was approved nearly two months after a self-imposed deadline by the Iraqi government to enact an oil law. With Iraq's oil wealth concentrated in the Kurdish-dominated north and Shiite-dominated south, the Sunni population in western and central Iraq is left with little more than improvised explosive devices to negotiate for its share. Meanwhile, the Kurds, who already have a well-established regional government to manage oil contracts in Iraq's relatively stable north, have resisted efforts to give the central government in Baghdad more control over the oil revenues that fall under their domain. It comes as little surprise that the United States played a large part in rushing the negotiations over the oil legislation in an attempt to force a compromise among Iraq's rival factions; it is hoping the legislation will help improve security in the country.

The negotiations evidently got pretty tense over the weekend, when U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad met with Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, and Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. The day after the meeting, Talabani was rushed to a hospital in Amman, Jordan, where his doctors said he was recovering from dehydration and extreme fatigue because of a heavy workload. The negotiations apparently took their toll on the aging Kurdish president, but it looks like the Kurds might have ended up with a favorable compromise for the time being.

In a nutshell, the new oil law would empower the central government to allocate oil revenues to Iraq's 18 provinces on the basis of population (a concession for the Sunnis) while leaving the responsibility for negotiating existing and future oil deals with the regional governments (a concession for the Kurds). This is an incremental step in the effort to adopt an oil law, but it is hardly the end of the story.

Under the existing draft the regional governments are pledged to pay their oil revenues into a central depository, and an independent panel of experts will review any contracts negotiated by the KRG. However, the central government has not yet pledged to pay them out in any organized way.

So far there is no mechanism to decide on which oil fields will be managed by the national, regional or private oil firms. This allocation of specific territories and oil fields is referred to as the annexes -- a rather thorny issue that was left out of the existing oil draft in the rush of the negotiations.

The draft leaves open the issue of the disputed oil-rich territory of Kirkuk until a referendum is held on whether Kirkuk should join the Kurdistan Regional Confederacy (the united administration of Arbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah provinces).

The draft is contingent upon all three factions supporting it when the Iraqi parliament meets (likely in March or April). Before that happens, the factions will have to agree on the remaining annexes and revenue-sharing law.

In other words, there is an oil law, but the issues of who controls the oil and the money remain unclear. Put another way, the agreement is a done deal -- so long as the stickiest issues that have held up Iraqi development for the past four years get resolved in the following two months. The survival of this oil deal will heavily revolve around what the Kurds get in return for allowing the legislation to move forward.

It is likely no coincidence that the same day the Cabinet approved the oil legislation, both Talabani and Barzani decided to make nice with Turkey. During a broadcast interview, Barzani said he is ready to discuss operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the most active Kurdish militant group in Turkey, with his Turkish counterparts. Talabani also said Monday during a press conference that Iraq's leading Kurdish parties have never supported the PKK, and stressed that Iraqi Kurds want good relations with Turkey.

Iraq's Kurdish leadership does not see eye to eye on a number of issues with the PKK, but realizes the leverage it gains against Turkey by providing limited support to PKK fighters in the mountainous regions of northern Iraq. Though the PKK is of major concern to Ankara's security interests, the bigger issue for Turkey involves Kirkuk. The oil-rich city is home to roughly 600,000 people -- approximately half of them Kurdish, a third Turkmen and the rest Arab. Under Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, a referendum is to be held by December this year to decide whether Kirkuk should become part of the Kurdistan Regional Confederacy. With a flood of Kurds moving back to the city to reverse Saddam Hussein's Arabization demographic project, the Kurds have every reason to demand the referendum take place on schedule.

Turkey, on the other hand, does not want to see Iraq's Kurdistan region annex Kirkuk, and has signaled to Washington and Baghdad the military consequences of holding the referendum by threatening cross-border military incursions to ostensibly root-out PKK strongholds in Iraq. The Kurdish annexation of Kirkuk would greatly empower Iraq's Kurdish faction and enhance Ankara's fears of a future independent Kurdistan, which Turkey sees as a threat to its own territorial integrity. This is why Turkey has very vocally resisted any U.S. redeployment plans to station a large number of U.S. troops in northern Iraq that would block any Turkish military operations in the region. Iraq's Sunni and Shiite factions also will resist any decision for Kirkuk to fall under Kurdish control in order to deprive the Kurds of an incentive to further distance themselves from the central government.

Barzani and Talabani's cooperative statements toward Turkey came just two days after Barzani said he would not allow any country to attack PKK fighters stationed in northern Iraq. The about-face by Iraq's Kurdish leadership could very well have stemmed from a guarantee the two leaders received from Washington to have the Kirkuk referendum take place as planned. But there is no telling how long this guarantee would hold.

The Kurds have more or less stayed out of the fray as Iraq's Shiite and Sunni factions have engaged in all-out war. But as the oil negotiations proceed, the Kirkuk referendum issue heats up and more of Iraq's Kurdish forces are sent to Baghdad as part of the new security plan, Iraqi Kurds will soon find themselves playing a bigger part in Iraq's bloody power struggle. The new oil draft legislation looks good on paper, but it is only delaying the inevitable battle.
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« Reply #131 on: March 03, 2007, 01:28:18 AM »

Iraq: A Delicate and Inevitable Move into Sadr City
Summary

The inevitable push by the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces into Sadr City -- the product of negotiations between Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- is about to begin. The operation certainly will not bring peace and order to Baghdad, but it can help stabilize the capital in preparation for a more solid resolution mediated by Washington and Tehran.

Analysis

U.S. and Iraqi security forces will push into Baghdad's Sadr City area in the next few days. Troops will set up checkpoints, conduct large-scale door-to-door searches and establish a permanent presence -- the first in this Shiite and Mehdi Army stronghold since the U.S. invasion in 2003. A delicate political move, the operation is the product of extensive negotiations between Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The operation has been in the planning stages for some time; there just never have been enough coalition boots on the ground to make it a feasible option. Now, with the U.S. surge strategy and a new Baghdad security plan in place, the operation has become an inevitable step toward stemming sectarian violence in the Iraqi capital. With U.S. military and Iraqi army and police numbers in Baghdad approaching 100,000, a defiant al-Sadr faces devastating losses to his militia, if not defeat.




Al-Maliki's government needs to secure Sadr City now. If the Baghdad security plan cannot restore a semblance of order to the Iraqi capital, his government will continue to crumble. Al-Maliki is under pressure to show that his government has writ in all parts of the capital -- especially areas controlled by fellow Shia in the al-Sadrite Bloc. But he cannot overtly and directly challenge the Mehdi Army; he depends on the al-Sadrites, who hold a majority of the ruling Shiite coalition's seats in parliament, for the continuing existence of his government, and al-Sadr cannot be wiped out militarily without an unacceptable number of casualties.

The al-Sadrites worry that the new security plan is actually an invasion of their turf by rival Shiite factions. The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its Badr Organization have infiltrated the Iraqi security apparatus much more effectively than al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, which has been branded a rogue militia group. So far, the al-Sadrite bloc of the Iraqi parliament has been able to wield its substantial influence over al-Maliki's fragile government and prevent U.S. and Iraqi forces from operating in Sadr City in any meaningful way. While there have certainly been targeted raids, no permanent coalition presence has been established in the area.

Now the al-Sadrites face a choice: a destructive clash with a determined and reinforced U.S. military, or accommodation.

Despite al-Sadr's continued absence from the country, Sheikh Raheem al-Darruji, the mayor of Sadr City's 2 million impoverished Shia, has said he will give the security operation a chance to succeed, although he warned that if effective protection is not provided, his people will defend themselves. The delay in the U.S. push into Sadr City -- it has been weeks since the Baghdad security plan was initiated -- has given al-Sadr more than enough time to secure his assets, in terms both of manpower and materiel. This delay is an important demonstration of cooperation between al-Sadr and the al-Maliki government.

Al-Sadr also has been assured that his organization's interests will be secure so long as it allows Iraqi forces to demonstrate that they have control over Sadr City. That al-Sadr and his commanders are out of sight underscores this understanding. Because al-Sadr's only alternative is destruction, al-Maliki also is operating from a position of power. Al-Sadr and al-Maliki have agreed to allow each other to exist because they need one another.

There will, of course, be clashes; practice is much messier than theory, and in no place is this more true than in Baghdad. Eventually, though, the Sadr City operation will end and the al-Sadrites will have to work out an arrangement with Iraqi security forces. But indications are that al-Sadr has -- for now -- chosen accommodation over destruction. There certainly will be clashes, but by challenging the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces, members of al-Sadr's militia will identify themselves as rogue elements. And if they do not heed his commands and are engaged and destroyed by coalition forces, all the better for al-Sadr as he strives to control his organization.

But the Sadr City operation will not bring true security to Baghdad. Only successful negotiations between the United States and Iran can do that. Iranian assistance is absolutely essential for a lasting solution. What al-Maliki can accomplish with the success of the Baghdad security plan is a consolidated Iraqi capital. The rest hinges on Washington and Tehran.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #132 on: March 03, 2007, 02:24:04 AM »

Second post of the day.  This does not sound good for the Kurds , , ,

stratfor.com

Iran: A Strong Stance Against Separatists Spells Trouble for Kurds
Summary

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is prepared to pursue its enemies across Iran's borders, IRGC commander-in-chief Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi said Feb. 28. The general's statement that his forces will chase separatist groups into neighboring countries comes at a time of increased internal instability in Iran, in line with the U.S. campaign to destabilize the clerical regime. Kurdish ambitions in Iraq are likely to be affected as Iran and Turkey work together to quell the common threat they face from Kurdish rebel groups.

Analysis

Commander-in-chief of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, said Feb. 28 that the United States and Israel are directly funding armed anti-Iranian groups in the Islamic republic, and that the IRGC "is prepared to chase and disband the enemies even beyond Iran's borders in a bid to defend the country."

Safavi's warnings come after several weeks of growing security threats from Iran's ethnic minority groups, which make up nearly half of its population of 80 million. The IRGC is in the midst of a crackdown to contain these groups; in the latest offensive, announced Feb. 28, the IRGC said it killed 17 rebels in the heavily Kurdish-populated West Azerbaijan province. This offensive was prompted by a Feb. 24 Iranian military helicopter crash near the Turkish border, which killed 14 Iranian soldiers. The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), a group linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey, claimed it shot down the helicopter with an SA-7, a portable surface-to-air missile that has found its way into the hands of several Iraqi insurgent groups.

While the Kurdish groups are keeping the IRGC busy in the northwest, Baloch rebel groups in the southwest province of Sistan-Balochistan, along the Iranian, Pakistani and Afghan border, have staged a number of attacks in recent weeks against Iranian security forces. Iran also faces a threat in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan, on the Iranian-Iraqi border, where Arab rebel groups have carried out several bombings over the past two years.

Iran says these uprisings are all part of a U.S.-British-Israeli campaign to undermine its clerical regime. Safavi said that Washington is projecting its problems into Iran "now that their policies have ended in failure in Afghanistan and Iraq." To further its claim that a foreign hand is involved in the recent attacks, Tehran recently released a number of photographs of ammunition boxes with large "USA" labels circled. The photographs quite obviously were doctored as part of an Iranian propaganda campaign constructed as a lever to use against the United States and the West in negotiations over Iraq. That said, it is not hard to believe Western intelligence agencies might be supporting these armed rebellions in Iran.

The United States has much to gain by sparking internal frictions in Iran. While Washington is not interested in a direct military confrontation with Tehran, it would very much like to show the Iranian government that it can dish out what it is receiving in Iraq. The larger aim of this covert campaign would be to use Iran's oppressed minorities to destabilize the Islamic republic along its restive borders in order to make it too costly for Iran to remain the primary obstruction to a U.S. exit strategy for Iraq.

In reference to the attacks in Sistan-Balochistan province, in a sermon March 2, Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Ahmad Khatami accused Pakistan of "losing its neighborly manners" by working with the United States to instigate the Baloch uprisings. Pakistan, which faces its own Baloch rebel threat, is unlikely to be providing direct support to the Baloch minority in Iran. But, given its complex relationship with the United States in combating al Qaeda and Taliban forces in the region, Islamabad likely has worked out a deal in which it receives some slack in exchange for turning a blind eye to U.S. operations against Iran along the border.

Iran has expressed its alarm over the recent rebel activity and has reportedly spent the past month building a 10-foot-high fence along the Iranian-Pakistani border to prevent illegal border crossings. The IRGC has even issued a direct threat to pursue members of PJAK into neighboring Iraq, using the "practical measures that had been taken during Saddam's reign" to contain the Kurdish uprisings.

The U.S. interest in destabilizing Iran gives the PJAK a useful tool to further its resistance campaign against Iran: a relatively unobstructed base of operations in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, made it clear in a September 2006 interview with National Public Radio that Iraq can "make trouble" for both Iran and Turkey should either country attempt to interfere in the affairs of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). (His comments followed a Kurdish rebel attack in Maku, Iran, that destroyed nearly 75 yards of an Iranian-Turkish gas pipeline.)

Though the Iraqi Kurds can see the usefulness of highlighting their links to Kurdish separatists in Turkey and Iran to help achieve their goal of annexing the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a significant uptick in Kurdish rebel attacks in Iraq's neighboring countries could complicate things. Iran and Turkey have cooperated before to counter Kurdish operations through cross-border military operations. The last thing the KRG wants is a direct military confrontation with either Iran or Turkey while the Kirkuk referendum issue is heating up.

During a March 1 phone conversation, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad vowed to work together to maintain Iraq's territorial integrity. It does not take much of an imagination to guess what else Ankara and Tehran might be planning in light of these recent attacks.
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #133 on: March 08, 2007, 03:13:38 PM »

The Four Unspeakable Truths
What politicians won't admit about Iraq.
By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2007, at 3:33 PM ET

When it comes to Iraq, there are two kinds of presidential candidates. The disciplined ones, like Hillary Clinton, carefully avoid acknowledging reality. The more candid, like John McCain and Barack Obama, sometimes blurt out the truth, but quickly apologize.
For many presidential aspirants, the first unspeakable truth is simply that the war was a mistake. This issue came to a head recently with Hillary Clinton's obstinate refusal to acknowledge that voting to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq was the wrong thing to do. Though fellow Democrats John Edwards and Christopher Dodd have managed to say they erred in voting for the 2002 war resolution, Clinton is joined by Joe Biden and a full roster of Republicans in her inability to disgorge the M-word. Perhaps most absurdly, Chuck Hagel has called Bush's 21,500-troop "surge" the biggest blunder since Vietnam without ever saying that the war itself was the big blunder and that he favored it.

Reasons for refusing to admit that the war itself was a mistake are surprisingly similar across party lines. It is seldom easy to admit you were wrong—so let me repeat what I first acknowledged in Slate in January 2004, that I am sorry to have given even qualified support to the war. But what is awkward for columnists is nearly impossible for self-justifying politicians, who resist acknowledging error at a glandular level. Specific political calculations help to explain their individual decisions. Hillary, for instance, worries that confessing her failure will make it easier for hawks to savage her if she gets the nomination. But at bottom, the impulse is always the same. Politicians are stubborn, afraid of looking weak, and fearful that any admission of error will be cast as flip-flopping and inconsistency.

A second truth universally unacknowledged is that American soldiers being killed, grotesquely maimed, and then treated like whining freeloaders at Walter Reed Hospital are victims as much as "heroes." John Kerry was the first to violate this taboo when he was still a potential candidate last year. Kerry appeared to tell a group of California college students that it sucks to go and fight in Iraq. A variety of conservative goons instantly denounced Kerry for disrespecting the troops. An advanced sufferer of Senatorial Infallibility Syndrome, Kerry resisted retracting his comment for a while, but eventually regretted what he called a "botched joke" about President Bush.

Lost in the debate about whether Kerry meant what came out of his mouth was the fact that what he said was largely true. Americans who attend college and have good employment options after graduation are unlikely to sign up for free tours of the Sunni Triangle. People join the military for a variety of reasons, of course, but since the Iraq war turned ugly, the all-volunteer Army has been lowering educational standards, raising enlistment bonuses, and looking past criminal records. The lack of better choices is a larger and larger factor in the choice of military service. Our troops in Iraq may not see themselves as cannon fodder or victims of presidential misjudgments, but that doesn't mean they're not.

Reality No. 3, closely related to No. 2 and following directly from No. 1, is that the American lives lost in Iraq have been lives wasted. Barack Obama crossed this boundary on his first trip to Iowa as an announced candidate when he declared at a rally, "We ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged and to which we have now spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted." With lightning speed, Obama said he had misspoken and apologized to military families.

John McCain used the same proscribed term when he announced his candidacy on Late Night With David Letterman last week. "We've wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives." This was a strange admission, given McCain's advocacy of a surge bigger than Bush's. In any case, McCain followed Obama by promptly regretting his choice of words. (The patriotically correct term for losing parts of your body in a pointless war in Mesopotamia is, of course, "sacrifice.") These episodes all followed Kinsley's law of gaffes. The mistake Kerry, Obama, and McCain made was telling the truth before retreating to the approved banality and euphemism

A fourth and final near-certainty, which is in some ways the hardest for politicians to admit, is that America is losing or has already lost the Iraq war. The United States is the strongest nation in the history of the world and does not think of itself as coming in second in two-way contests. When it does so, it is slow to accept that it has been beaten. American political and military leaders were reluctant to acknowledge or utter that they had miscalculated and wasted tens of thousands of lives in Vietnam, many of them after failure and withdrawal were assured. Even today, American politicians tend not to describe Vietnam as a straightforward defeat. Something similar is happening in Iraq, where the most that leaders typically say is that we "risk" losing and must not do so.

Democrats avoid the truth about the tragedy in Iraq for fear of being labeled unpatriotic or unsupportive of the troops. Republicans avoid it for fear of being blamed for the disaster or losing defense and patriotism as cards to play against Democrats. Politicians on both sides believe that acknowledging the unpleasant truth will weaken them and undermine those still attempting to persevere on our behalf. But nations and individuals do not grow weaker by confronting the truth. They grow weaker by avoiding it and coming to believe their own evasions.

Jacob Weisberg is editor of Slate and co-author, with Robert E. Rubin, of In an Uncertain World.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #134 on: March 09, 2007, 08:28:41 AM »

stratfor.com

1212 GMT -- IRAQ -- U.S. forces in Iraq captured 16 suspected al Qaeda militants who allegedly were responsible for numerous suicide bombings, kidnappings and beheadings, the U.S. military said March 9. Six insurgents, including an al Qaeda leader known as "the Butcher" because of his involvement in beheadings, were captured and one was killed in an early morning raid in the northern city of Mosul. Two more were captured in Al Fallujah and eight were apprehended near Karmah.
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« Reply #135 on: March 09, 2007, 10:55:50 AM »

Joint operations nab 50 terrorists

TIKRIT, Iraq – Soldiers from Task Force 1-319 and the 4th Iraqi Army Division captured more than 50 insurgents during 3 days of operations focused on terrorist cells near Tikrit in Salah ad Din.

Paratroopers from 2nd Bn, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, captured more than 40 terrorists in the Abu Ajeel area with assistance from the Iraqi army.  The operation disrupted an Improvised Explosive Device Cell that has been operating in the area as well as delivering an insurgent cell leader who has been spearheading attacks against security forces in recent months.

U.S. soldiers also captured more than 10 insurgents involved with financing and executing attacks on forces in Owja. During the raids, members of Battery B engaged numerous insurgents killing three who were poised to conduct a deadly roadside ambush on coalition forces during the operation.


 

Iraqi Police Captures 3 Members of Insurgent Network During Raid

Baghdad – Fallujah, Iraqi Police captured 3 members of an Al Qaeda in Iraq linked insurgent network during operations in Fallujah. One is involved and participated in a recent attack on the Saqlawiyah Police station. The others are implicated in recording insurgent attacks against U.S. Forces on video and selling them to an Iraqi television station.

 

AIR STRIKES TARGET AL QAEDA TERRORISTS WEST OF TAJI

BAGHDAD – U.S. troops targeted members of an al-Qaeda network Friday during an air strike operation west of Taji. This network is responsible for threats to U.S. aircraft. U.S. troops believe key terrorists were killed during the air strike.  Results are still being assessed at this time.

Several members of the cell, as well as vehicles with anti-aircraft artillery weapons and rounds, were gathered at an area known for terrorist activities.  The coordinated air strike at the targeted location resulted in the destruction of the vehicles as well as the anti-aircraft artillery.

During the operation, U.S. troops also targeted another vehicle mounted with anti-aircraft artillery.  The strike resulted in the destruction of the vehicle as well as the structure it was parked beside.

 

AIR STRIKE TARGETS VBIED CELL NEAR ARAB JABOUR

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops targeted an al-Qaeda in Iraq related vehicle-borne improvised explosives devices cell Saturday during an air strike operation near Arab Jabour. This cell is responsible for a large and devastating number of VBIED attacks in the Baghdad area.

During an operation in the area, U.S. troops began receiving small arms fire from several armed men across the Tigris River. U.S. troops called for an air strike to eliminate the threat.

U.S. troops used two precision guided bombs in the strike destroying a small structure and killing 7 terrorists hiding inside. A large secondary explosion was noted after the initial bombs were dropped on the target, indicating the presence of explosive material within the structure.


 

Dozens of Iraqi Militants and Foreign Terrorists Killed

BAGHDAD, 2 March 2007 — Iraqi security forces killed dozens of Al-Qaeda militants who attacked a village in Anbar province on Wednesday, during fierce clashes that lasted much of the day, police officials said. Sunni tribal leaders are involved in an escalating power struggle with Sunni Al-Qaeda for control of Anbar, a vast desert province that is the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency in Iraq.

A spokesman said foreign Arabs and Afghanis were among some 80 militants killed and 50 captured in the clashes in al-Fallujah, a village where local tribes had opposed Al-Qaeda. Police in the area put the number of militants killed at 70, with three policemen killed.

In other operations, Iraqi and U.S.army troops killed 10 insurgents, captured 5 others and seized four weapons caches during an operation on Monday in the town of Muqdadiya, 50 miles northeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. U.S. troops also said they killed 2 insurgents and captured 6 near Ramadi in western Iraq.

In the recent Baghdad security operations, In the first two weeks of the security effort, Iraqi authorities said, 70 militants were killed, and 450 known militants were arrested along with 370 supporters. The effort also has resulted in the rescue and release of 17 kidnapping victims, they said.

U.S. and Iraqi forces found a weapons cache near Mosul, that including 194 mortar rounds, 14 mortar tubes, 18 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 160 rockets, a suicide vest and other gear for making bombs, the U.S. military said.

Also, U.S. forces killed 8 insurgents and captured 11 others during operations targeting foreign fighters and al-Qaeda in Iraq near Taji, 9 miles north of Baghdad.

 

8 TERRORISTS KILLED DURING SALMAN PAK RAID

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops killed 8 terrorists during a raid Thursday targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq operating in the Salman Pak region. Intelligence reports indicate a significant number of individuals involved with the AQIZ terrorist network currently operating in the area. During the raid, in which U.S. troops were repeatedly confronted by small arms and mortar fires, U.S. troops identified three armed terrorists maneuvering toward them with hostile intent.  Ground forces engaged the enemy, killing the three terrorists.

Twenty minutes later, U.S. troops were again confronted by terrorists who began firing upon them.  U.S. troops returned fire, killing 8 terrorists.  Another four fled the area & escaped

U.S. troops also witnessed armed terrorists in a vehicle who were accessing a weapons cache and removing small arms.  U.S. troops engaged, killing 1 terrorist.  Two terrorists were wounded and fled. U.S. troops recovered several sniper rifles, AK-47s and rocket-propelled launchers from one of the engagement sites


 

2 men captured while emplacing IED

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Two men were captured while attempting to emplace an improvised explosive device on a major Iraqi highway near Camp Striker, Iraq.

Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) were patrolling Route Tampa, the main highway from Baghdad when they spotted two men crawling in a canal. The troops stopped the men and searched them, discovering that they had a U.S.-made night-vision tool. A further search of the area revealed an IED ready to be emplaced.

The IED consisted of six 57mm rounds in a white bag about 200 meters from the road, as well as a video camera, a washing-machine timer, a pressure plate and a blasting cap.

 

SENIOR AL-QAEDA LEADER, 5 MORE CAPTURED IN MOSUL, 3 TERRORISTS KILLED

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops killed 2 terrorists and captured a senior al-Qaida leader during a raid in Mosul. While approaching the first building, U.S. troops began receiving enemy fire from an adjacent building.  U.S. troops fired back, killing one terrorist. 

Upon entering the adjacent building, U.S. troops were confronted by an armed terrorist.  U.S. troops killed the armed terrorist. During the raid, U.S. troops captured 6 terrorists, including the targeted individual, a senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leader operating a terrorist cell in Mosul.

 

12 Al Qaeda terrorists captured

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops captured 12 terrorists during raids Saturday morning targeting foreign fighter facilitators and the al-Qaeda in Iraq network. In Fallujah, U.S. troops captured three terrorists with ties to a cell.  Intelligence reports indicated the terrorists were associated with senior-level foreign fighters in the local area.

U.S. troops captured the  leader of an al-Qaeda in Iraq cell in Mosul.  The al-Qaeda cell in Mosul finances transactions in Iraq and neighboring countries. 4 others were caught during the raid.

Another raid in Mosul netted a terrorist with financial ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq.  During the raid U.S. troops discovered a large amount of Egyptian and Syrian money and false passports and identification cards.

North of Amiriyah, 3 terrorists were captured including the alleged leader of a local vehicle-borne improvised explosive device cell.


 

3 TERRORISTS KILLED, 16 OTHERS DETAINED IN OPERATIONS

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops killed three terrorists and captured 16 terrorists during operations Thursday morning targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq.

During an operation west of Ramadi, U.S. troops killed two terrorists and captured 6 terrorists with  ties to foreign fighter facilitation.

South of Baghdad, U.S. troops killed one armed terrorist who charged at them as they entered a targeted building.

Six terrorists associated with al-Qaeda in Iraq were captured in operations in Bayji, and four others with ties to foreign fighter facilitation were also captured in Ramadi.


 

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« Reply #136 on: March 09, 2007, 10:56:46 AM »

Iraqi Police Detains 6 during Raid against AQI in Karma

Baghdad – Fallujah Iraqi Police captured 6 insurgents during operations in Karma targeting al Qaeda in Iraq facilitators.

Iraqi Police were targeting several insurgents responsible for providing funds, weapons and transportation to al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists and insurgents conducting attacks

 

Iraqi Police captures 4 during operations against IED cell near Samarra

BAGHDAD – Samarra Iraqi Police and U.S. troops captured an insurgent bomber during operations near Samarra.

The man was captured during operations targeting an insurgent improvised explosive device cell conducting attacks against U.S. troops and Iraqi Security Forces. The cell is responsible for emplacing IEDs targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi Security Forces. 3 other insurgents were also captured by Iraqi Police.

 

Iraqi Army Capture 5 During Operations Against IED Builder

BAGHDAD – Special Iraqi Army forces captured 5 insurgents during operations in Baghdad, targeting an improvised explosive device builder.

During operations, as U.S. troops over-watch element observed a man armed with an assault rifle moving from roof top to roof top appearing to track Iraqi Forces and U.S. troops on the ground. The man positioned himself in a vantage point where he had a clear sight of the ground forces. The suspect was then observed raising his weapon and aiming it in the direction of Iraqi Forces and U.S. troops members, posing an immediate threat to them. The U.S. troops shot the man neutralizing the threat.

U.S. troops and Iraqi Army medics rendered immediate aid to the gunman to help stabilize him for movement to a hospital. The man died before he was able to be transported.


 

Hostages freed by paratroopers, weapons cache secured

KALSU, Iraq – Paratroopers located an insurgent safe house uncovering a weapons cache and freeing two hostages south of Baghdad Feb. 26. Paratroopers from 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade (Airborne), located the safe house, where they found the two hostages and a weapons cache near Mahmudiyah.

The cache contained three AK-47s, 14 30-round magazines, one 100-round magazine drum & two fragmentary grenades.


 

EIGHT TERRORISTS KILLED, SIX DETAINED IN RAIDS

BAGHDAD –U.S. troops killed 8 terrorists and captured 6 during operations Wednesday morning targeting foreign fighter facilitators and the al-Qaeda in Iraq network. Intelligence reports indicated terrorists associated with small arms and rocket attacks against U.S. troops were operating northeast of Taji.
As U.S. troops approached the targeted area, they noticed several armed men maneuvering toward them in a nearby palm grove.  U.S. troops called in close air support to eliminate the threat.  Rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft used precision fires killing eight armed terrorists.  Two terrorists were detained.
U.S. troops also captured 2 terrorists in Amiriyah and 2 more in Baghdad with alleged ties to the al-Qaeda in Iraq network.


 

Iraqi Army troops catch 5 insurgents with paratroopers in support

An Iraqi battalion conducted a raid with U.S. troops supporting to curb sectarian violence south of Baghdad, capturing 5 insurgents.

Soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division with support from paratroopers of 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, raided buildings in Hawr Rajab, capturing the 5 insurgents. 

The raid was part of Operation Lion’s Roar which was an effort to curb sectarian violence south of Baghdad. This was the second successful raid in Hawr Rejab in the last two weeks.


 

Iraqi swat team captures 11 Mahdawiyah insurgent group members

BAGHDAD – Al Hillah Iraqi Special Weapons and Tactics personnel captured 11 members of the Mahdawiyah insurgent group during operations in Al Hillah.  The men were involved in attacks against Iraqi Security Forces and civilians in the area.
       They were part of the insurgent group that fought against U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces in Najaf. They were also threatening the lives of persons within the leadership of Iraqi Security Forces in Babil Province.

 

Iraqi Army capturs 16 insurgents during operations

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Special Iraqi Army Forces captured 16 militiamen during operations in Sadr City targeting the leadership of several rogue Jaysh Al-Mahdi cells operating against Iraqi civilians.

Iraqi forces targeted several individuals who allegedly control multiple rogue JAM cells and illegally direct and perpetrate sectarian murder, torture and kidnapping.   The wanted individuals are reported to operate out of Sadr City and are linked to attacks on Coalition Forces

 

AL-QAEDA EMIR, ELEVEN OTHERS DETAINED IN RAIDS THROUGHOUT IRAQ 

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops captured 12 suspected terrorists including an Al-Qaeda in Iraq emir during raids Tuesday morning targeting foreign fighter facilitators and the al-Qaeda in Iraq network.

During an operation in Baghdad, U.S. troops captured a suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq emir and three of his associates.  Based on intelligence reports, these suspects are allegedly involved in the production of improvised explosive devices.

Also in Baghdad, U.S. troops captured 2 terrorists who have alleged ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq and anti-Coalition Forces activities.  Two suspected terrorists were detained during a raid in Mosul.  Intelligence reports indicate the suspected terrorists have ties with an al-Qaeda terrorist who has coordinated attacks against Iraqi security and U.S. military personnel.Another suspected terrorist was detained in Fallujah during a raid targeting foreign fighter facilitators. U.S. troops captured 2 terrorists in Tikrit who are believed to have links with terrorists involved in explosives shipments from other countries and facilitating the production of vehicle-borne IEDs.

In Ramadi, U.S. troops netted a terrorist who is allegedly involved in courier activities for al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq.

 

Three-day Operation Leads to 15 Terrorists Killed, IED Factory Destroyed

During a recent three-day operation in Salman Pak targeting al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists, U.S. troops killed 15 terrorists involved in an improvised explosives device cell, destroyed an IED factory and thwarted two explosives emplacements.

On Feb. 14, U.S. troops began receiving enemy contact on the ground from a fortified building in the area.  Determining the targets too hostile for ground troops, U.S. troops called for close air support.  Fixed wing aircraft used precision fires to destroy the building killing 5 terrorists and wounding 4 terrorists.

Also during this raid, U.S. troops disrupted two separate groups of terrorists who were in the process of emplacing IEDs alongside a road.  Due to the high level of danger, fixed wing aircraft were used to destroy the IEDs.  10 terrorists were killed as a result.

U.S. troops continued their raid the following day and found a male Iraqi citizen shackled in one of the rooms of a targeted building.  Ground forces captured four males who were hiding near the building.  During a search, U.S. troops found the hostage’s cell phone on one of the detainees.

According to the hostage, he was tied up with a hood over his head for three days.  He said he prayed and fasted during his captivity because he believed his captors were going to execute him.  He was transported to a nearby military medical facility for an examination.

On the third and final day of the operation, U.S. troops performed a controlled detonation destroying an IED factory.  During a search of the targeted building, ground forces found a large amount of IED-making material including 1,000 pounds of various types of explosives, including nitric acid.

An explosives ordnance disposal team determined the material was too unstable to move.  Ground forces cordoned off the area and ensured local citizens were moved to a safe distance during the controlled detonation.  The IED-making materials and building were destroyed to prevent future use by terrorists.

A total of 13 terrorists were detained during the three-day operation.


 

Iraqi national police hold off attack at checkpoint, 2 terrorists killed 

Camp Striker, Iraq — Iraqi national police killed at least two terrorists during a coordinated attack on a national police checkpoint along an Iraqi highway two miles south of the Baghdad International Airport.  8 national policemen were killed in the defense of the checkpoint.
       
Witnesses described the attack as two vehicles driving towards the checkpoint at a high rate of speed.  8 - 10 gunmen exited the lead vehicle, firing assault rifles and throwing hand grenades at the policemen. A firefight ensued.  The second vehicle was forced into a ditch.  It was cordoned off as a possible vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
       
Elements of  the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) responded to the sound of the attack, attempting to intervene.  Upon receiving gunfire from the attackers, the Soldiers called in aviation support.
       
After securing the area, 1-89 rendered medical aid to the two wounded national policemen and evacuated them to a nearby combat support hospital.  The MiTT members identified two dead attackers.


 

Four terrorists convicted in Turki Village case

BALAD RUZ, Iraq – Last week, a three-judge panel with the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, convicted four terrorists detained during November’s operations in Turki Village, Iraq, of possession of illegal weapons. The panel sentenced them to 30 years imprisonment.

“This is a just verdict. It is significant because it is an Iraqi panel dispensing justice to Iraqi defendants,” said Maj. Paul T. Brooks, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division’s effects coordinator.

The defendants were detained Nov. 15, 2006, after a small-arms engagement with a group of Coalition Forces. This engagement resulted in one U.S. Soldier’s death. During the engagement, Coalition Forces killed the triggerman responsible for the death.

When Coalition Forces detained the individuals, they discovered several small-arms munitions and hand grenades.

“My Soldiers now have clarity concerning the Iraqi justice system. Equally important, these criminals are no longer able to spread their hatred amongst the Iraqi people,” said Col. David W. Sutherland, 3-1 Cav. commander and the senior U.S. Army officer in Diyala province. During November’s operation, Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces unearthed more than five weapons caches,
killed more than 60 anti-Iraqi forces and detained more than 10 suspected terrorists.

 

CCCI convicts 10 insurgents
One sentenced to 30 years, three sentenced to 15 years imprisonment

BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Central Criminal Court of Iraq convicted 10 security detainees from Feb. 18 - 22, for various crimes including possession of illegal weapons, possessing fake identification, use of explosives, passport violations and illegal border crossing.

The trial court found an Iraqi man guilty of illegal possession of special category weapons in violation of Order 3/2003 Section 6, Paragraph 2B.  On Jan. 19, 2005, MNF conducted a raid on several houses in Taji searching for the defendant and several other individuals.  The defendant’s brother led MNF to the defendant’s house.  Inside they found a locked door that the defendant said was empty and the temperature change had swelled the door shut.  MNF broke down the door and inside they found: one RPK machine gun, one AK-47, a pistol, one G3 assault rifle, Iraqi and CIA intelligence manuals and documents as well as many fake identification documents and photographs.  The defendant admitted to MNF that he was once an Iraqi intelligence officer.  MNF then searched outside the house using metal detectors and found more buried weapons and ammunition.  Some of the ammunition was found in American ammunition boxes with serial numbers that matched the serial numbers of ammunition boxes taken from Humvees which had recently been destroyed by IEDs’ in which two American Soldiers died.  On Feb. 18 the trial panel found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to 30 years imprisonment.

The trial court found an Iraqi man guilty of illegal possession of special category weapons in violation of Order 3/2003 Section 6, Paragraph 2B.  On Dec. 25, 2006, MNF conducted a targeted raid to capture the defendant.  The defendant is a weapons dealer and has sold weapons to various groups on many occasions.  At the point of capture, MNF found an AK-47, a sniper rifle, a PKC machine gun, an RPG, two pistols, a rifle and assorted ammunition.  At the time of capture the defendant also had fake identification with him.  On Feb. 19 the trial panel found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment.

The trial court found two Iraqi men guilty of illegal possession of special category weapons in violation of Order 3/2003 Section 6, Paragraph 2B.  On Nov. 11, 2006, MNF were conducting census operations near Fallujah.   MNF entered one defendant’s home and noticed both defendants acting nervous.  Because of their behavior, MNF began a search of their home.  MNF first discovered one loaded AK-47 magazine under a mattress on the second floor of the home.  MNF continued their search and discovered  the following weapons:  two AK-47’s, seven AK-47 loaded magazines, four fan switches, two 9mm pistols, one blasting cap, one RPG trigger assembly, anti-MNF propaganda and numerous types of ammunition.  At the hearing MNF presented two eye witnesses, photographs and a sketch.  On Feb. 20 the trial panel found the defendants guilty and sentenced them each to 15 years imprisonment.

Those convicted of immigration violations, taking advantage of someone else’s legal documents, use of explosives and illegal possession of special category weapons were sentenced from one to 30 years imprisonment.  Those convicted totaled nine Iraqis and one Palestinian.

Since its reorganization, under an amendment to CPA order 13, in April 2004, the Central Criminal Court has held 1,902 trials for Coalition-apprehended insurgents.  The proceedings have resulted in the conviction of 1,640 individuals with sentences ranging up to death.




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« Reply #137 on: March 10, 2007, 09:06:25 AM »

I'm not exactly sure how the surrender resolution debate in Washington relates to Iraq, but I'll post this here anyway:

“There was the Biden resolution, then there was the Levin Resolution, then there was the Reid-Pelosi Resolution, the Murtha Plan, the Biden-Levin Resolution, the funding cut, the waiver plan, the Feingold Plan, an Obama Resolution, a Clinton Resolution, a Dodd Resolution, a Kennedy Resolution, a Feinstein Resolution, a Byrd Resolution, a Kerry Resolution, and today would make number 17."

  - Sen. Mitch McConnell in objection

Maybe the pathetic posturing of the fractured Democratic "leadership" in congress will help illustrate why the framers in their wisdom named only one person at a time to be Commander in Chief.
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« Reply #138 on: March 12, 2007, 12:40:44 PM »


Monday, 12 March 2007
Iraqi Army captures four suspects during operations against
rogue elements of JAM
Multi-National Corps – Iraq PAO
Baghdad – Soldiers of the 4th Iraqi Army Division captured four suspects during
operations with Coalition advisors March 11 in Balad, targeting rogue elements of Jaysh
Al-Mahdi. The suspects are allegedly involved in carrying out sectarian attacks against
Iraqi civilians in the area.
The suspects are implicated in supplying weapons used by rogue elements to
commit violence and other criminal activities.
Iraqi Forces detained five additional suspects for questioning.
Minimal damage was done to the objective. There were no Iraqi civilians, Iraqi
Forces or Coalition Forces casualties.
March 12, 2007
 


COALITION FORCES CAPTURE 22 SUSPECTED TERRORISTS IN IRAQ

BAGHDAD, Iraq –Coalition Forces captured 22 suspected terrorists during operations Monday morning targeting al-Qaeda and foreign fighter facilitators.

During operations in Mosul, Coalition Forces captured four suspected terrorists allegedly involved in the planning of improvised explosive devices attacks on friendly forces.

A senior foreign fighter facilitator was captured north of Habbaniyah, and two suspects who are reportedly involved in weapons facilitation were detained in Baghdad.

Northeast of Tarmiyah, Coalition Forces captured thirteen suspected terrorists with alleged involved in weapons movement and foreign fighter facilitation.

South of Amiriyah, two suspected terrorists with alleged ties to foreign fighter facilitation and weapons movement were also detained.

“Coalition Forces will continue deliberate and methodical operations in order to pursue, capture or kill terrorists trying to prevent a peaceful and stable Iraq," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson.
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« Reply #139 on: March 13, 2007, 11:44:40 AM »

"The only constituency House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignored in her plan for amending President Bush's supplemental war funding bill are the people of the country that U.S. troops are fighting to stabilize. The Democratic proposal doesn't attempt to answer the question of why August 2008 is the right moment for the Iraqi government to lose all support from U.S. combat units... But aggressive oversight is quite different from mandating military steps according to an inflexible timetable conforming to the need to capture votes in Congress or at the 2008 polls. Ms. Pelosi's strategy leads not toward a responsible withdrawal from Iraq but to a constitutional power struggle with Mr. Bush, who has already said he will veto the legislation. Such a struggle would serve the interests of neither the Democrats nor the country" -- Washington Post editorial.
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« Reply #140 on: March 13, 2007, 12:00:01 PM »



Anatomy of Iraq
How did we get to this baffling scenario?

By Victor Davis Hanson
It’s make it or break it in Iraq in 2007. Or so we are told, as America nears four years of costly efforts in Iraq. But how did we get to this situation, to this fury over a war once supported by 70 percent of the public and a majority of Congress, but now orphaned by both?

How did a serious country, one that endured Antietam, sent a million doughboys to Europe in a mere year, survived Pearl Harbor, Monte Cassino, Anzio, the Bulge, Tarawa, Iwo and Okinawa, the Yalu, Choisun, Hue and Tet, come to the conclusion — between the news alerts about Britney Spears’ shaved head and fights over Anna Nicole Smith’s remains — that Iraq, in the words of historically minded Democratic senators, was the “worst” and the “greatest” “blunder,” “disaster,” and “catastrophe” in our “entire” history?

Even with all the tragic suffering, our losses, by the standard of past American wars, have not been unprecedented, especially given the magnitude of the undertaking — namely, traveling 7,000 miles to remove a dictator and foster democracy in the heart of the ancient caliphate. This was not a 1953 overthrow of an Iranian parliamentarian. Nor was it a calculated 1991 decision to let the Shiite and Kurdish revolts be crushed by Saddam. And it was most certainly not a cynical ploy to pit Baathist Iraq against theocratic Iran. Instead, it was an effort to allow an electorate to replace a madman.

There were always potential landmines that could go off, here and abroad, if the news from the battlefield proved to be dispiriting.

First, George Bush ran for president as a realist, who turned Wilsonian only after 9/11, in the belief that removing Saddam and leaving democracy in his wake could break up the nexus between Middle Eastern terrorism and autocracy.

But his conservative base was always skeptical of anything even approaching internationalist activism. And his Democratic opponents were not about to concede his idealism. So when times got tough, the president’s chief reservoir of diehard supporters proved to be principled Lieberman Democrats and McCain Republicans — neither group a natural majority nor, after 2000, with any natural affinity for the president.

Second, after the relatively easy victories in Grenada, Panama, the Gulf War, Serbia, and Afghanistan, the American public became accustomed to removing thugs in weeks and mostly by air and light ground-support. All during the 1990s, the more we made use of the military the more we cut it, until things came to a head in Iraq in a postwar effort that has been both long and confined largely to the ground.

Since the most recent conflicts had been a far cry from the mess of Vietnam, Democrats saw that the upside of regaining lost stature on national security outweighed the dangers of being charged with war-mongering from hard-core leftists. And so they outdid themselves and the president in loudly voting for Iraq — but apparently only as long as casualties were to be minimal and public and media support steadfast and overwhelming.

There were numerous reasons to remove Saddam — 23, according to the Congress that authorized the war — but the administration privileged just one, the sensible fear of weapons of mass destruction. That was legitimate and understandable, and would prove effective so long as either a postwar weapons-trove turned up or the war and its aftermath finished without a hitch.

Unfortunately neither proved to be the case. So with that prime rationale discredited, the partisan Congress suddenly reinvented itself in protesting that it had really voted for war on only one cause, not 23. And when the news and evidence both went bad, that lone reason was now pronounced null and void and hardly a basis for war.

Third, Afghanistan also loomed large. Right after 9/11, Afghanistan, rather than secular and once-defeated Iraq, was seen as the tougher nut to crack, that warlords’ mountainous graveyard of British and Russian imperial troops. But when the Taliban fell in eight weeks, and a consensual government was in place within a year, then by that optimistic arithmetic, the three weeks it took to remove Saddam might mean less than six months before new elections could be held there. Suddenly the old prewar warnings of thousands of Americans dead were forgotten, as the public apparently assumed the peace in Iraq would ensue in half the time it took in Afghanistan. This analogy has proven inapt.

Fourth, this war was debated through one election and fought through two. Given the prewar furor over Iraq, the miraculous three-week victory over Saddam lent itself to a natural tendency afterwards to be conservative, hoarding hard-won — but easily lost — political capital.

So, with each new challenge — the looting, the first pullback from Fallujah, the reprieve given Sadr — the administration hesitated. Understandably it was afraid to lose broad public support for the conflict, or to restart a war already won, since that would only incite an inherently hostile media that had been temporarily muzzled, but not defanged, by an astounding victory.

Apparently, after the announcement of “Mission Accomplished,” and leading up to the 2004 elections, no one wanted CNN broadcasting live footage from a new siege of Hue in Fallujah. In the process, public support for the war was insidiously and slowly lost, by an Abu Ghraib or a grotesque televised beheading unanswered by a tough American retaliation against the militias. The terrorists learned from our own domestic calculus that each month of televised IEDs was worth one or two U.S. senators suddenly dropping their support for the war.

Fifth, the Sunni border-nations wanted Saddam defanged, but never removed entirely. Muslim lamentations for Saddam’s slaughter of his own were always trumped by his usefulness in keeping down the Shiite fanatics, both in Iran and at home. But the enemy of my enemy in the Middle East is not always my friend, so the Shiites did not instinctively thank the Americans who removed Saddam, or who gave them the franchise.

The result was Orwellian: We allowed the downtrodden Shiite majority one person / one vote, and in exchange Sadr and his epigones were freed to kill us; we championed Sunni minority-rights and got in exchange Sunni tolerance for Baathist and al Qaeda killers.

Through it all, competent and professional American diplomats and soldiers who sought peace for both were libeled by both. Islamists, taking their talking points from the American and European Left, complained about conspiracies and expropriations on the part of those who had in fact ensured that Iraqi petroleum would, for the first time, be subject to public transparency and autonomy.

Sixth, Europeans who profited from Saddam probably wanted Saddam gone, but wanted the U.S. to do it. In the same manner they profit from Iran, yet want Iran quieted and the U.S. to do it. In the same manner they want terrorists rounded up, jailed, and renditioned, but the U.S. to do it.

All the while a Chirac abroad was whipping up the Arab Street, or a Schroeder was awarding financial credits to Germans doing business with the Iranian theocracy, or a Spain or an Italy or a Germany was indicting the very American military and intelligence officers who protected them.

The European philosophy on the Iraq war was to play the anti-American card to envious European crowds all the way up to that delicate point of irrevocably offending the United States. Then, but only then, pull back abruptly with whimpers about NATO, the Atlantic relationship, and Western solidarity, just before a riled America gets wise and itself pulls away from these ingrates for good.

Somehow a war to remove a mass-murdering psychopath — a psychopath with his hands on a trillion-dollars worth of petroleum reserves, with a long record of attacking four of his neighbors and of harboring and subsidizing terrorists — who, once removed, would be replaced with the first truly consensual government in the history of the Arab Middle East, ended up being perceived, for all the reasons cited above, as something it was not.

But if we have an orphaned war that is dubbed lost, it nevertheless can still be won. None of our mistakes has been fatal; none is of a magnitude unprecedented in past wars; all have been cataloged; and few are now being repeated. We now understand the politics of our Iraqi odyssey, with all its triangulations, and the ruthlessness of our enemies.

Not arguments, rhetoric, pleading, or money right now can save the democracy in Iraq. The U.S. military alone, in the very little remaining time of this spring and summer, can give Iraqis the necessary window of security and confidence to govern and protect themselves, and thereby to allow the donors, peacekeepers, compromises, and conferences to follow.

If General Petraeus can bring a quiet to Baghdad, then all the contradictions, mistakes, cheap rhetoric, and politicking of the bleak past will mean nothing in a brighter future.

 
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MjdkOTA2NmUxYzkwY2U4NzcyYTYwN2VhZDdmMTkxOWQ=

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« Reply #141 on: March 13, 2007, 12:01:19 PM »

Organization Makes Progress Defeating IEDs
Mar 06, 2007
BY Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 6, 2007) - Improvised explosive devices are to the war in Iraq what artillery and mortars were to World War II, Korea and Vietnam - the main troop killers, a retired general working to defeat the deadly devices said here yesterday.

Retired Army Gen. Montgomery Meigs, head of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, briefed media on progress in countering IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"IEDs are hybrid, idiosyncratic things that go off in surprising ways," Meigs said. "But all they are, are the enemy's fire system. The question is, 'How do we deal with this fire system?' And we spend a lot of time on that."

In previous wars, the enemy delivered artillery shells through guns. In Iraq, the enemy delivers the ordnance "through the labyrinth of structures in that society," Meigs said.

But the coalition is making progress against the improvised weapons. "We have gotten better at it, (and we) know more what our enemies are doing," Meigs said.

He added that his organization also has done a better job of finding appropriate technologies to counter these weapons.

Car bombs and IEDs are responsible for about 65 percent of the coalition casualties in Iraq, he said. More than 2,500 Americans have died as a result of hostile fire in Iraq, according to DoD officials.

But advances in defending against these weapons are working. The ratio of wounded to killed in Iraq is 9 to 1, Meigs said. In Vietnam, that ratio was 2 to 1, and in Korea it was 2.5 to 1.

Progress is also shown in the number of IEDs found and disarmed and the number of IEDs that go off but have no effect. The number of Americans being killed and wounded by the weapons has remained about the same, even though the enemy is planting far more of them, Meigs said. "The enemy is putting out four to five times the number of IEDs to cause one casualty that they did three and a half years ago," he said.

The number of attacks is going up because the opportunity is there. "It's very easy for a young, unemployed, angry male to collect $300 for setting out an IED and (video)taping it," Meigs said. "There's a lot of money on the street, so market factors also play a part."

Terrorists have built Internet sites that give step-by-step instructions in how to build and plant IEDs. Saddam Hussein bought millions of tons of ammunition and stashed it all over the country. All this makes it easy for enemies to "weaponize leftover ammunition," Meigs said.

The general said the best strategy is to attack the IED network. His organization helps fund that effort. Thirteen percent of the organization's $3.5 billion fiscal 2006 budget was dedicated to offensive operations. That number jumped to 31 percent of the budget in fiscal 2007, he said.

Meigs would not get specific about offensive actions his organization is funding. "It's the most sensitive part of what we do, and saying that would give (the enemy) an idea into our thinking, and they could counter it," he said.

Improving defensive capacity is also important. The Joint IED Defeat Organization is working on improvements to armor, hardening targets, and so on. The budget for defensive operations went from 78 percent in 2006 to 62 percent of the Joint IED Defeat Organization's budget in 2007.

Intelligence is at the heart of defeating the IED threat, and the Iraqi people are coming forward and giving intelligence on bomb makers in their neighborhoods. "My gut says more people are tired of the craziness and want to stop it," Meigs said.

The trend line in tips is very important, and it has constantly moved up. In September 2006, there were 4,250 tips. In October, that number rose to 7,467. In January 2007, 10,070 tips came in. "If that was a stock, you'd want to be in it," Meigs said.

The general said his organization is working to get ahead of the enemy's tactics. He said his analysts are able to look at intelligence on the bombs and see what is new and different and quickly get that information back to the war zone. His organization can recommend changes to tactics, techniques and procedures, but the ultimate decision on those has to come from the services' training centers. "But we are wired into that," he said.

The organization will continue to work on defeating roadside bombs and will continue to refine intelligence collection and information distribution, Meigs said.

"If you want to stop artillery, you don't try to stop the artillery coming out of the sky, you go after the fires system," he said. "In conventional warfare during the Cold War, one of the advantages you wanted to take away from the enemy was the overbearing artillery advantage they had.

"The same is alive and well in this kind of warfare," he continued. "You have to go after the networks that make (and fund) this stuff."

(Jim Garamone writes for the American Forces Press Service.)


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« Reply #142 on: March 14, 2007, 07:33:29 PM »

Iraqi Energy: What Might Work
Summary

A newly announced Royal Dutch/Shell consortium is likely to launch Iraq's first post-Hussein energy project.

Analysis

Energy supermajor Royal Dutch/Shell announced March 14 that it has formed a consortium with a number of Turkish energy firms to bid on natural gas projects in Iraq, with the intent of building a natural gas line from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. With Iraq's new oil law edging toward realization, this Shell consortium will likely be the first to launch a successful major energy project in post-Hussein Iraq.

Of the many obstacles to an Iraqi energy renaissance, the most significant are:




The ongoing insurgency that attacks petroleum infrastructure. In the north those attacks cluster around the Sunni Arab city of Baiji, through which all energy output for the Kurdish regions flows.

Turkish opposition to anything that grants the Kurds additional power. Turkey fears that an economically viable, politically coherent Iraqi Kurdistan could spark separatist tendencies among its own -- and far larger -- Kurdish population.

The unwillingness of the world's supermajors to jump into an insurgent-wracked, politically shattered Iraq, where investment would exist in a legal vacuum.



Because it avoids two of these problems, the new consortium will most likely prove to be the first big success project.

First, the project does not aim to tap existing infrastructure but instead export natural gas -- not oil -- north to Turkey. Though the new pipeline will parallel the often-bombed Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, it will only do so for the length that runs on Turkish territory. Shell and its partners will construct the line to avoid Baiji and take a more direct route to the Turkish border that runs exclusively through insurgent-free, and relatively well-patrolled, Iraqi Kurdistan. Incidentally, Saddam Hussein built the oil pipeline through Baiji specifically to frustrate any Kurdish efforts to attain autonomy.




Second, the Turks are involved from the get-go and at a state level. Turkey's energy minister himself has hinted that he has taken part in the negotiations and the most likely partners for Shell are two state companies: oil company Turkiye Petrolleri and pipeline firm Botas. This deal explicitly has involved Ankara directly in the decision making. Additionally, the natural gas will be flowing to Turkey directly, so not only will Turkey be economically benefiting from the deal, it will have legal, economic, political and geographic control over its success. Turkey might still consider grinding the Kurds into dust to be the best option, but barring that, full control over the Kurds' economic fortunes is a close second. Ironically, the deal paves the way for an awkward codependence between the Turks (who will use the natural gas) and the Kurds (who will sell it).

That just leaves the issue of supermajor tentativeness. With the first two issues addressed, Shell seems far more willing to take the plunge, and it certainly sports the technology, experience and capital to make the deal successful. Now the only obstacle remaining is for the Kurds and the rest of the Iraqis to hammer out a final oil law. Though that task is both gargantuan and complex and is not to be belittled, it does not diminish the likelihood that the Shell-led consortium will be Iraq's best bet for a successful and substantial energy project.

stratfor.com
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« Reply #143 on: March 15, 2007, 12:49:50 PM »

2 terrorists killed as charge explodes in Diala

Baaquba-  2 Iraqi terrorists blew themselves up as they were planting an explosive charge on one of the main highways in Muqdadiya, a police source said.

"Two men blew themselves up as they were planting an explosive device on one of the main highways in Muqdadiya district", the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency.
 
 
Troops score small victories
A battalion hits the streets, befriends Iraqis who help nab suspects
 
Combat Outpost War Eagle, Iraq — The high-value target was shacked up with a prostitute.

That, at least, was the story provided by an Iraqi man who approached this combat outpost dug into the muddy east bank of the Tigris River in Baghdad. The target was Usama Kokez, a Sunni accused of leading a kidnapping ring that had executed several Shiite civilians.

The tip sent airborne soldiers through the dark streets of Baghdad, their night-vision goggles on and their headlights off. For a battalion of 82nd Airborne paratroopers that is part of the "surge" of 21,500 troops being dispatched to stabilize Baghdad and Al Anbar province, the Kokez tip was one small return on an investment.


Kokez was a prized quarry. According to battalion officers, he had joined Al Qaeda against his father's wishes. Either he or his brother Amar, also an alleged Al Qaeda member, killed the father in order to join, the officers said.

A phalanx of Humvees carrying 58 soldiers sped through the streets, deserted because of the city's overnight curfew. In the back of one Humvee sat the Iraqi informant, his face masked. Next to him was a masked interpreter nicknamed Bob.

The assault team, in full combat armor with automatic rifles and shotguns, burst from their vehicles. The assault team crashed through the front gate and door. In the half-lighted living room were three frightened women and two squalling infants. Questioned by Spc. Andrea Pierce, 21, an intelligence soldier, the women at first said they had never heard of Usama Kokez.

"Stop lying to me!" Pierce yelled, her face flushed beneath her helmet.

Ultimately, the women admitted that Kokez lived there. In fact, they were hardly prostitutes. They were Kokez's wife, sister and mother.

Pierce hauled Kokez's wife, Rhagad, 22, into a side room and strip-searched her. The woman was wearing two bras. Tucked inside were two 9-millimeter pistol ammunition magazines and a cellphone. Inside her panties was a second cellphone, Pierce said.

In the alley behind the house, barely visible in the shadows, Sgt. Billy Davidson's Humvee formed part of the security cordon. A barefoot man in a dark tracksuit tumbled over a wall and landed next to the vehicle.

Davidson and two other soldiers piled out and pointed their M-4 automatic rifles at him. The man said something in Arabic. Davidson told him in English to shut up and get on his belly.
"He was crying like a baby," Davidson said later.

In the man's pocket was an ID card. It was Usama Kokez.

Kokez, 29, lean and curly-haired, was cuffed and blindfolded. The cellphones and ammo clips were later put inside plastic bags and strung around his neck to be photographed as evidence.

 
 
 
1 insurgent killed, 53 captured in operations
 
TAJI - U.S. forces killed one insurgent and arrested 18 in Taji, north of Baghdad. Also, Iraqi Army forces captured 31 insurgents in Baghdad on Friday. Iraqi Police captured 4 al Qaeda militants in Ramadi.
 
Iraqi soldiers captured 6 "rogue" militiamen involved in "death squad" activities in Baghdad's Sadr City. And a senior figure of an al Qaeda-led militant group was also arrested on Friday .
 
FOREIGN TERRORISTS CAPTURED IN IRAQ RAIDS

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops captured 15 terrorists during operations Sunday targeting al-Qaida in Iraq.

Early morning operations conducted by U.S. troops led to the capture of a foreign terrorist leader and one of his associates.

4 terrorists were captured near Karmah and 3 terrorists were captured in Fallujah, all with ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq. 3 al-Qaeda terrorists were captured in Al Asad with 7 more terrorists captured in Taji.

 


Iraqi Army, attack helicopters capture 32 Insurgents


OPERATIONS BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Iraqi soldiers from the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 4th Division completed operations today in Duluiyah where they captured 8 terrorists. U.S. Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Bn, 8th Cavalry, and attack helicopters assisted the Iraqi-led operations.     
       
In Bayji more than 400 Iraqi army soldiers from the 2nd Brigade captured more than 24 terrorists during operations.  Paratroopers from the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, provided quick reaction assets. 
   
“The Iraqis are taking great strides in leading and planning operations,” said Bryan Owens, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
 
 
 
Iraqi Forces target insurgent training network, capture 9

Baghdad – Special Iraqi Army Forces captured 9 insurgents during operations March 11 in Abaychi.

The operation targeted an insurgent network. The network reportedly trains insurgents and terrorists from Ansar al Sunna, Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups. The network reportedly provides training on using and employing the SA-7 antiaircraft missile.

Iraqi Forces captured 9 additional insurgent supporters for further questioning. Iraqi Forces captured the suspects during multiple, simultaneous raids.

During entry into one objective, ground forces came under small arms fire from
the roof-top of a nearby building. Iraqi Forces identified one hostile fighter firing at
ground forces and engaged the threat with well-aimed fire, killing the gunman. Another hostile fighter firing at ground forces was wounded by Iraqi Forces.

During movement to another objective, a group of terrorists established a possible ambush position. The group remained in position, displaying clear hostile intent against ground forces. The group, an immediate threat to ground forces, was engaged by a U.S. fighter, resulting in 6 killed.

 
Iraqi Police capture 7 insurgents during operations near Fallujah

Baghdad – Iraqi Police Forces captured 7 insurgents during operations
March 11 near Fallujah.

The suspects are allegedly responsible for conducting kidnappings and murders
of Iraqi civilians they believe are working with Coalition force members. The insurgents are also implicated in hijacking and robbing Iraqi civilians in order to help finance their violent and criminal activities.

 

One terrorist killed, another wounded while emplacing explosives

TIKRIT, Iraq – One terrorist was killed and another seriously wounded near Balad, Iraq, when an IED they were attempting to emplace detonated on them Saturday.
   


 

U.S. troops capture man, weapons after taking fire

RADWANIYAH, Iraq — U.S. Soldiers arrested a man and confiscated a weapons cache in a house near here March 10.

Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) received fire from a house. They searched the house and found a cache.

Among the weapons found were a Mauser rifle, 38 rounds for the Mauser, four
AK-47 fully loaded magazines, 300 loose AK-47 rounds, and copper wire (typically used to trigger improvised explosive devices). The Soldiers detained the resident of the house.

 

27 TERRORISTS CAPTURED THROUGHOUT IRAQ
BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops killed one terrorist and captured 27 terrorists during operations targeting foreign fighters and al-Qaeda in Iraq networks.

Operations in the vicinity of Taji on Saturday led to one terrorist killed and 18 terrorists captured including an alleged member of the al-Qaeda associated Islamic State of Iraq.  The terrorist was killed after he began firing on ground forces.

During a raid Friday night in Mosul, U.S. troops captured 3 terrorists involved in foreign fighter facilitation and possible involvement in the recent Badush prison break.

U.S. troops also conducted several raids Saturday morning in Mosul.  3 terrorists were captured in this raid.  Another raid led to the detention of 2 more terrorists. U.S. troops also conducted a raid in Ramadi Saturday morning, capturing 1 terrorist.


 

Iraqi Army stops car bomb from entering Sadr City

BAGHDAD – Iraqi army soldiers successfully aided in stopping a vehicle-borne
explosive device from entering Sadr City, March 10.

A vehicle attempting to maneuver through an Iraqi army checkpoint just south of
the Sadr City security district was halted by soldiers manning a checkpoint from 1st
Battalion, 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division.

After stopping, the explosives in the vehicle were detonated by the suicide bomber. Iraqi army soldiers manning the checkpoint reported 6 Iraqi Army soldiers were killed.

 

Iraqi Army captures 10 and secures weapons, ammunition


KALSU, Iraq – Iraqi Army Soldiers with the support of U.S. paratroopers conducted an operation that resulted in 10 terrorists captured and the discovery of a weapons cache in Baghdad.

Soldiers of the 6th Iraqi Army Division with support from 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division captured 10 insurgents near Arab Jabour.

The cache consisted of six AK-47s, 13 AK-47 ammunition magazines, one rifle, U.S. $600, three motorcycles, and 13 cellular phones. This was the third raid in one month lead by these Iraqi Army personnel as the main effort and coalition forces in support.

 

Iraqi Security Forces Captures 3 Members of IED Cell During Raid


Baghdad – Special Iraqi Security Forces captured 3 members of an
improvised explosive device cell during air assault operations north of Baghdad. The suspects are allegedly responsible for IED and car bombing attacks in the area.

The cell members are implicated in detonating a car bomb near a water factory in Tarmiyah, and for targeting an Iraqi police station two weeks ago. They were also involved in emplacing IEDs against convoys in the area.

 

Insurgent cell leader captured

KIRKUK, Iraq – U.S. troops captured a financier of insurgent activities in
the Kirkuk province during an operation March 7.

Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division conducted the morning mission and captured an indvidual responsible for collecting and distributing funds to support insurgent attacks against security forces and U.S. troops.

 

Suspected AQ Media Emir, alleged "Butcher", 15 others captured in raids

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops killed one terrorist and captured 16 terrorists including an alleged al-Qaeda media emir during raids Friday morning throughout Iraq.

In Mosul, U.S. troops captured an al-Qaeda related suspect known as “The Butcher” who is allegedly responsible for numerous kidnappings, beheadings, and suicide operations in the Ramadi and Mosul areas.  U.S. troops captured five other terrorists and killed one terrorist during the raid.

During operations in Fallujah, U.S. troops captured two terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda.

Northeast of Karmah, an al-Qaeda media emir was captured along with seven others.  They are believed to be part of an al-Qaeda courier network.


 

U.S. Soldiers Foil Roadside Bomb Emplacement

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – U.S. Soldiers foiled an attempt by insurgents to emplace an improvised explosive device March 7 near Taji market.

Several insurgents were spotted and engaged by Camp Taji tower guards as the terrorists low-crawled to an area on a major highway where they could emplace the roadside bomb.
Once fired upon, the insurgents fled before they had time to fully emplace the explosive device.

Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment quickly arrived at the site and secured the area, found and recovered two 130 millimeter rounds, which were later disposed of by explosives experts.

 

Apaches engage, kill 2 dozen terrorists

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq – A combined operation between ground forces and Apache attack helicopters engaged and killed a platoon-sized element of enemy fighters west of the Baghdad Airport on Iraqi Highway 1.

A patrol from the 10th Mountain Division reported enemy tracer fire in the area. As they moved toward the firing, they detected armed insurgents in an ambush position along both sides of a canal road. A truck was parked nearby.

After clearing the area of friendly forces, the patrol called for close air support from nearby AH-64 Apache attack aircraft. The helicopter engaged the enemy fighters, killing 32 and destroying the truck, which had an anti-aircraft heavy machine gun mounted in the bed.

 

Seven terrorists killed during raid on suspected VBIED cell

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops killed 7 terrorists during an operation Wednesday and captured 6 others today while targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq.

U.S. troops  approaching the targeted area by helicopter received enemy fire from several vehicles.  U.S. troops returned fire from the helicopter, killing 5 terrorists.

U.S. troops  continued their mission and searched the targeted buildings and found a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, RPG rounds, and assault weapon magazines.  They destroyed the weapons cache on the site to prevent further use by terrorists.

After clearing the targeted buildings, ground forces began receiving sniper and machine gun fire from another building.  Ground forces returned fire killing 2 terrorists.

Today, 4 terrorists with alleged ties to IED attacks were captured in an operation northeast of Karmah. 2 more were captured near Al Qa’im in an operation targeting an al-Qaeda in Iraq associated weapons dealer.


 

24 terrorists captured throughout Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. troops captured 24 terrorists during raids Wednesday morning targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq networks.

Ground forces caught 8 terrorists during a raid in Baghdad when they targeted a group involved in emplacement of vehicle-borne IEDs .

During a raid in Rutbah, U.S. troops caught 5 terrorists while targeting a weapons dealer who is known for providing IED–making material.
U.S. troops also captured 2 suspected terrorists in Samarra.  Northeast of Karmah, U.S. troops captured 9 terrorists with ties to senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leadership.

 

Operation White Rockets nets two caches, two insurgents near Baghdad


KALSU, Iraq – Iraqi Army troops and U.S. paratroopers worked together to successfully complete “Operation White Rockets” March 6, finding two ammunition caches and capturing 2 insurgents.

Soldiers of the 6th Iraqi Army Division and U.S. paratroopers dismounted to clear out areas south of Baghdad.

The caches consisted of various amounts of homemade explosives, one 50-pound sack filled with a fine gray powder, one 15-foot length of pipe, two mortar sights, three bags of detonation cord and 100 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition.

While clearing buildings, two insurgents were captured.

 

Strykers capture 22, secure ammunition and explosives

KALSU, Iraq – U.S. Soldiers captured 22 insurgent suspects and secured weapon and ammunition caches south of Baghdad. Soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division conducted raids to capture known terrorists near Jabella, Iraq.

Besides the 22 men taken into custody, several caches were found. The caches consisted of one 60mm mortar round, two sticks of dynamite, nine feet of detonation cord, one set of desert camouflage uniform, three AK-47 ammunition magazines, three passports, one box of primers, two AK-47s, one 8mm round, two 8mm mortar fuses, and one rocket-propelled grenade.


 

One terrorist killed, two wounded south of Tikrit

TIKRIT, Iraq – One terrorist was killed and two were wounded by helicopters, just south of Tikrit when they were found removing munitions from a cache site.

Paratroopers were immediately dispatched to search the area. More than 600 mortar rounds and anti-tank mines with fuses were discovered. An explosive ordnance detachment conducted a controlled detonation of the munitions at the site.


 

Iraqi Army captures roadside bombers

KALSU, Iraq – Iraqi Army troops captured 3 men found with bomb-making
materials south of Baghdad Sunday.

Soldiers of the 6th Iraqi Army Division who work as partners with 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Divisioncaptured the 3 insurgents during a security patrol.

 

U.S. scout platoon defeats IED cell


SADR AL-YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — U.S. Soldiers killed 4 terrorists planting improvised explosive devices at a village near the banks of the Euphrates River.

The Scout Platoon of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), discovered 5 terrorists emplacing IEDs and engaged them with small arms fire, killing
four of them. Two AK-47 assault rifles were recovered following the fire fight. The fifth member of the terrorist team fled.







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(I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.)
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« Reply #144 on: March 19, 2007, 01:49:17 AM »

GENERAL SEEKS ANOTHER BRIGADE IN IRAQ: The top US commander in Iraq has requested another Army brigade, in addition to five already on the way, as part of the controversial "surge" of American troops designed to clamp down on sectarian violence and insurgent groups, senior Pentagon officials said yesterday.

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« Reply #145 on: March 23, 2007, 11:37:01 PM »

stratfor.com

Iraq: Al Qaeda's Desperate Moves
In a new video posted March 22 on the Internet, al Qaeda leader Abu Yahia al-Libi called for an end to the schisms between Iraqi Sunni Islamist insurgents and jihadists in Iraq, and for Iraq's Sunnis to reject any Saudi involvement in the conflict. The release is a clear effort by the jihadist network to mend fences with the Sunni insurgents. Significantly, it also demonstrates an al Qaeda attempt to raise al-Libi's public profile in preparation for him to assume a greater role among the network's next generation of leaders.

This release, by al Qaeda's As-Sahab media branch, marks the ninth time al-Libi has appeared in an al Qaeda video statement since February 2006. Only al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri has appeared in more new videos, with a total of 12 over the same time period. The charismatic al-Libi, who has strong jihadist credentials, would indeed be a good choice to take on a more prominent role in al Qaeda. As an accomplished preacher, he has eulogized fallen jihadist leaders and called on jihadists to attack such prominent targets as the White House. In addition, he is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and was one of four prominent al Qaeda fighters who escaped U.S. custody while imprisoned at Bagram Air Base in July 2005.

In his latest statement, al-Libi specifically called on militant groups Ansar al-Sunnah Army, the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Army of the Mujahideen to put aside their differences with the other Sunni insurgent groups in the country. This call for unity comes amid open conflict between Sunni tribes and al Qaeda in Iraq, as demonstrated by the March 23 attack against the Sunni deputy prime minister in Baghdad and the attacks against civilians involving chlorine gas in predominantly Sunni Anbar province.

Al Qaeda, which is facing a significant threat from Iraq's Sunni nationalist and Islamist militant groups, is trying to achieve three goals: First, to maintain its parallel power structure in the Sunni areas; second, to emerge as the vanguard of the Sunni resistance to the United States and the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government at a time when Sunni political leaders are cutting deals; and finally, to embarrass the Iraqi Islamist militant groups by arguing that they are not following true Islamic teachings.

The latest attack against a moderate Sunni -- likely carried out by the jihadists -- clearly suggests these transnational elements are attempting to discourage Sunni leaders from following a moderate path and cooperating with the Iraqi government, or from accepting help from Saudi Arabia. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie was wounded in the suicide bombing attack, which occurred during Friday prayers at a hall near Baghdad's Foreign Ministry. A week earlier, suspected jihadist insurgents detonated three vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices packed with chlorine west of Baghdad in Anbar province, including one near a prayer hall used by a Sunni cleric who had spoken out against al Qaeda.

These attacks and al-Libi's appeal are signs of desperation on the part of the jihadists in Iraq. Al Qaeda realizes its influence in the country is waning and is appealing to Iraqi and foreign jihadists to concentrate their efforts on the common enemy, rather than on one another. That al-Libi made an appeal that normally would have come from al-Zawahiri or Osama bin Laden suggests he is being groomed to take on a more important role in al Qaeda.
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« Reply #146 on: March 23, 2007, 11:58:18 PM »

Second post of the evening:

Iran, Iraq: Tehran's Power Play on the Water
Summary

Iranian forces reportedly operating in Iraqi waters captured 15 sailors and members of the British marines on March 23 in the Persian Gulf. This incident comes as the U.N. Security Council is preparing to vote on a new resolution imposing additional sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its controversial nuclear activities -- meaning it likely represents an Iranian attempt to underscore its resolve in the face of mounting international pressure. It also could complicate U.S.-Iranian negotiations on Iraq.

Analysis

Iranian forces reportedly operating in Iraqi waters captured 15 sailors and British marines on March 23. The British personnel reportedly had completed a successful inspection of a merchant ship around 10:30 a.m. local time when they and their two boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian vessels into Iranian territorial waters.

The capture comes as the U.N. Security Council prepares to vote on a new resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its controversial nuclear activities -- meaning it probably represents an Iranian attempt to underscore its resolve in the face of mounting international pressure. The incident also could complicate U.S.-Iranian negotiations on Iraq.

By capturing the British personnel, the Iranians are likely signaling that they are not about to be intimidated by the impending resolution the U.N. Security Council regarding Tehran's nuclear activities. The international body will vote March 24 on the resolution, which would slap additional sanctions on Iran, and is expected to pass.

The precise location of the incident remains unclear, though some reports indicate it may have taken place on the Shatt al Arab, a narrow waterway that empties into the Persian Gulf. The HMS Cornwall, the British navy frigate from which the British marines operated, would most likely have been too far away to intervene if the inspection actually took place in the waterway.






The Shatt al Arab lies between Iraq and Iran; its boundaries are often disputed by both countries. During the operation, the Cornwall would have been keeping tabs on every vessel in the vicinity. At the first sign of trouble, it would have sought to aid the boarding party. The Cornwall would have not been able to intervene in the narrow, shallow waters of the Shatt al Arab, however. Similarly, its Sea King helicopter would not have been able to do much more than observe as the Iranians escorted the British boats to Iranian territory.

This incident is similar to one in June 2004, when the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Shatt al Arab seized eight British personnel and three British patrol boats being delivered to Iraqi forces. Iran claimed the boats were operating on its side of the waterway. The British personnel were released after four days, but Iran confiscated the patrol boats.

The capture of the British soldiers comes within days of the latest Iranian naval exercises in the Persian Gulf. It also comes as concerns mount in Tehran regarding U.S. moves to separate the nuclear and Iraq issues, leaving Tehran's unable to use the nuclear controversy as a bargaining chip in talks on Iraq. This, combined with concerns over developments in Iraq affecting Tehran's Iraqi Shiite allies likely pressed the clerical regime to escalate matters. Iran is also concerned that the United States is supplying Saudi Arabia with state-of-the-art naval military equipment. Meanwhile, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf said March 20 that they are planning to build two oil pipelines bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, thus depriving Iran of a chokehold on global oil shipments.

The Iranians have tried to demonstrate their ability to interdict traffic in the Persian Gulf. Just March 23, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country would use all its power to strike back at states threatening Iran. His remarks referred not just to physical attacks on Iran, but to efforts to isolate Iran politically and economically, too.

Most tellingly, former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's Friday sermon said that while the West can slap on additional sanctions, Iran will stand its ground. Rafsanjani, the No. 2 man in the Iranian government, generally has advised Tehran to exercise caution on both the nuclear and the Iraqi fronts. He also warned Washington that "In case the Americans enter a new scene, they will create a basic problem for themselves, for our country and for the entire region and I am confident that after some time following a tyrannical act, they will start analyzing and thinking as to where they have made a mistake."

Rafsanjani's hardened posture suggests Tehran wants to maintain its ability to exploit the nuclear card and block the U.S. move to separate the Iraqi and nuclear issues. While there has been first contact in terms of official and public dialogue between Washington and Tehran, it will be a long time before the two sides move toward some sort of accommodation on the issue, something which also explains Rafsanjani's tougher tone.

While Iran has much to gain in Iraq, it is also concerned by the splintering away of the Basra-based Fadhila party from the ruling Shiite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA). The fracturing of the Shiite alliance hampers Tehran's ability to do business in Iraq, and Iran suspects the British, who are based in Basra, may be behind Fadhila's parting with the UIA. Going after British forces represents a low-cost operation in that the Iranians are unlikely to face any serious reprisal. And while the Iranians eventually will release the 15 British personnel, they will only do so after ensuring Tehran's message has been relayed.

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« Reply #147 on: March 28, 2007, 03:56:29 PM »


SAUDI KING SLAMS 'ILLEGITIMATE OCCUPATION' OF IRAQ: Saudi King Abdullah, whose country is a close US ally, on Wednesday slammed the "illegitimate foreign occupation" of Iraq in an opening speech to the annual Arab summit in Riyadh. "In beloved Iraq, blood is being shed among brothers in the shadow of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and ugly sectarianism threatens civil war," Abdullah said.
 
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« Reply #148 on: April 10, 2007, 04:32:54 PM »

I asked about leaving Iraq, and here are two articles that I found today along with a synopsis. Haven't had a chance to read them yet, but I figured I'd post them.

SYNOPSIS

Two Ways Out
Iraq plans Bush won't consider, but his successor should.
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Monday, April 9, 2007, at 6:22 PM ET

Two new essays on how to disengage from Iraq are making the rounds, and though they hail from very different quarters (one, by Steven Simon, is published by the Council on Foreign Relations; the other, by Juan Cole, appears in the Nation), their conclusions are strikingly similar.

They both reject the Bush administration's stay-the-course surge and the congressional Democrats' insistence on a fixed timetable for withdrawal.

And they're also both utterly unlikely to receive the slightest attention from President George W. Bush.

In short, it seems, we're all stuck in a holding pattern, doomed to mere "muddling through," until somebody else sets up shop in the White House on Jan. 20, 2009—an unbelievable 651 days of mayhem to go.

The showdown over the emergency-spending bill—to which the House and Senate have attached requirements for troop withdrawals—isn't likely to settle matters. Bush's recent recess appointments of nominees that the Senate had been on the verge of rejecting—most notably Sam Fox, who heavily funded the Swift Boat Veterans in the 2004 presidential elections, as the new ambassador to Belgium—is a blatant signal that he has no interest in compromising with what he and Vice President Dick Cheney see as interlopers of executive authority. And over the weekend, key Democrats conceded that if Bush vetoed the bill, they'd drop their withdrawal clause rather than let the money for troops run out. (The concession merely acknowledged reality, but conceding so quickly surrenders whatever bargaining power they might have possessed.)

So, the $93 billion in emergency spending for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will likely go forth with no strings attached.

The vast majority of Congress doesn't really want to impose a strict deadline for withdrawing most of the troops; the Democratic leadership went that route because it conformed to the one power that Congress has in these matters, the power of the purse. Most Democrats were trying to pressure the president into recognizing that his strategy isn't working and to link America's military commitment to some set of political benchmarks or conditions on the part of the Iraqis.

But George W. Bush has said over and over—and it's past time people realize that he generally does believe what he says—that he's not interested in attaching any conditions to his military commitment. (In the minds of Bush and Cheney, when it comes to war powers, the president is America.) He knows that he's right on Iraq, that History is on his side—end of discussion.

So, let's turn to the two withdrawal proposals with the longer-term aim of encouraging Bush's aspiring successors to look them over and think about adopting them as policy immediately upon entering the Oval Office.

Simon, a Middle East specialist and former National Security Council official, and Cole, professor of Middle East studies at the University of Michigan, have three common premises. First, the surge and the new counterinsurgency strategy almost certainly won't work, in part because the war is not just an insurgency war but also a civil war involving three sects (and divisions within those sects) against one another. Second, the U.S. occupation strengthens the insurgents and broadens their support at least as much as it weakens or isolates them.

However, third, they also emphasize that real hell would break out if U.S. forces suddenly or arbitrarily withdrew. Cole, while fiercely critical of Bush's policies on Iraq and much else, has long been adamant on this point—that there are degrees of civil war and Iraq hasn't begun to approach the full boil that an unconditional pullout might ignite.

Simon and Cole agree that the United States' main goals, at this point, should be to limit the effects of the civil war (which is already well in progress) and to keep the conflagration from spreading across the region.

It may seem paradoxical at first glance, but the best way to accomplish both goals may be to declare that we are leaving—that we're doing so on a timetable to be negotiated with the Iraqi government and in tandem with a separate, broader negotiation to end the civil war, but we are getting out.

The impending departure of U.S. troops may impel mainstream Sunni insurgents to turn against the jihadists. It may also compel the Sunni Arabs to take part in the negotiations on some national accord, knowing that American troops will not be there to protect them against Shiite or Kurdish reprisals. Cole further recommends holding new provincial elections so that the elected Sunni Arab representatives could stand in for guerrilla groups in the national talks, as Sinn Fein did in Northern Ireland.

However, both Simon and Cole emphasize, this step must be linked to active engagement with all of Iraq's neighbors. Cole lays out a scenario in which the United States and Britain work with the United Nations or the Organization of the Islamic Conference on this task, citing as a model the Bonn conference of December 2001 that helped install a unity government in Afghanistan. He envisions the Iraqi government arranging formal security commitments with the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. He also suggests inviting Saudi Arabia to reprise the role it played in brokering an end to the Lebanese civil war in 1989, noting the credibility that King Abdullah has with the Sunni Arabs—though he notes, in that case, the Iranians will have to play a similar role in helping to shut down the Shiite militias, especially Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi army.

Under this scheme, the United States would negotiate a phased withdrawal in tandem with these political settlements. Simon notes that some U.S. troops should stay—to secure Baghdad International Airport, the Green Zone, and access routes in between. He also urges a stepped-up U.S. military presence elsewhere in the Persian Gulf. Cole is not in favor of a total U.S. pullout, either. (Nor, it should be noted, are the House or Senate Democrats, who, in their bills, provide continued funding for troops involved in counterterrorism, training Iraqi security forces, and protecting U.S. personnel.)

Short of a transformation akin to that of Paul on the road to Damascus, it's hard to imagine George W. Bush even beginning to take these ideas seriously. That would entail admitting that victory isn't possible, legitimizing certain factions of the insurgency, and—most revolting of all—negotiating with Iran and Syria. Add them together, and it's just too many hurdles to leap.

If the next president puts something like these plans in motion, will they amount to anything? Neither Simon nor Cole is naive on this score. Both admit their proposals are gambles. For my own part, I doubt that the Iranians have a deep interest in a stable Iraq and wonder, with trepidation, what price they'd demand in exchange for helping to build one.

Still, as Cole puts it, "A withdrawal is risky, but on the evidence so far, for the U.S. military to remain in Iraq is a sure recipe for disaster."

Fred Kaplan writes the "War Stories" column for Slate

JUAN COLE ARTICLE

How to Get Out of Iraq

by JUAN COLE

[from the April 23, 2007 issue]

Both houses of Congress have now backed a timeline for withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq in 2008, which George W. Bush has vowed to veto. He gives two major rationales for rejecting withdrawal. At times he has warned that Iraq could become an Al Qaeda stronghold, at others that "a contagion of violence could spill out across the country--and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict." These are bogeymen with which Bush has attempted to frighten the public. Regarding the first, Turkey, Jordan and Iran are not going to put up with an Al Qaeda stronghold on their borders; nor would Shiite and Kurdish Iraqis. Most Sunni Iraqis are relatively secular, and there are only an estimated 1,000 foreign jihadis in Iraq, who would be forced to return home if the Americans left.

Bush's ineptitude has made a regional proxy war a real possibility, so the question is how to avoid it. One Saudi official admitted that if the United States withdrew and Iraq's Sunnis seemed in danger, Riyadh would likely intervene. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has threatened to invade if Iraq's Kurds declare independence. And Iran would surely try to rescue Iraqi Shiites if they seemed on the verge of being massacred.

But Bush is profoundly in error to think that continued US military occupation can forestall further warfare. Sunni Arabs perceive the Americans to have tortured them, destroyed several of their cities and to be keeping them under siege at the behest of the joint Shiite-Kurdish government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. American missteps have steadily driven more and more Sunnis to violence and the support of violence. The Pentagon's own polling shows that between 2003 and 2006 the percentage of Sunni Arabs who thought attacking US troops was legitimate grew from 14 to more than 70.

The US repression of Sunnis has allowed Shiites and Kurds to avoid compromise. The Sunnis in Parliament have demanded that the excesses of de-Baathification be reversed (thousands of Sunnis have been fired from jobs just because they belonged to the Baath Party). They have been rebuffed. Sunnis rejected the formation of a Shiite super-province in the south. Shiites nevertheless pushed it through Parliament. The Kurdish leadership has also dismissed Sunni objections to their plans to annex the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, which has a significant Arab population.

The key to preventing an intensified civil war is US withdrawal from the equation so as to force the parties to an accommodation. Therefore, the United States should announce its intention to withdraw its military forces from Iraq, which will bring Sunnis to the negotiating table and put pressure on Kurds and Shiites to seek a compromise with them. But a simple US departure would not be enough; the civil war must be negotiated to a settlement, on the model of the conflicts in Northern Ireland and Lebanon.

Talks require a negotiating partner. The first step in Iraq must therefore be holding provincial elections. In the first and only such elections, held in January 2005, the Sunni Arab parties declined to participate. Provincial governments in Sunni-majority provinces are thus uniformly unrepresentative, and sometimes in the hands of fundamentalist Shiites, as in Diyala. A newly elected provincial Sunni Arab political class could stand in for the guerrilla groups in talks, just as Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, did in Northern Ireland.

The United States took a step in the right direction by attending the March Baghdad summit of Iraq's neighbors and speaking directly to Iran and Syria about Iraqi security. Now the United States and Britain should work with the United Nations or the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to call a six-plus-two meeting on the model of the generally successful December 2001 Bonn conference on Afghanistan. The Iraqi government, including the president and both vice presidents, would meet directly with the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to discuss the ways regional actors could help end the war as the United States and Britain prepare to depart. Unlike the Baghdad summit, this conference would have to issue a formal set of plans and commitments. Recent Saudi consultations with Iranian leaders should be extended.

The Saudi government should then be invited to reprise the role it played in brokering an end to the Lebanese civil war at Taif in 1989, at which communal leaders hammered out a new national compact, which involved political power-sharing and demobilization of most militias. At Taif II, the elected provincial governors of Iraq and leaders of the major parliamentary blocs should be brought together. Along with the US and British ambassadors to Baghdad and representatives of the UN and the OIC, observers from Iraq's six neighbors should also be there.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has credibility with Iraq's Sunnis, especially now that he has denounced the US occupation as illegitimate. They could trust his representations, which would include Saudi development aid in places like Anbar province. Since the Sunnis are the main drivers of violence in Iraq, it is they who must be mollified, bribed, cajoled and threatened into a settlement. The Shiites will have to demobilize the Mahdi Army and Badr Organization as well, and Iran will have to commit to working with the Maliki government to make that happen. A UN peacekeeping force, perhaps with the OIC (where Malaysia recently proffered troops), would be part of the solution.

On the basis of a settlement at Taif II, the US military should then negotiate with provincial authorities a phased withdrawal from the Sunni Arab provinces. The Sunnis will have to understand that this departure is a double-edged sword, since if they continued their guerrilla war, the United States could not protect them from Kurdish or Shiite reprisals. Any UN or OIC presence would be for peacekeeping and could not be depended on for active peace-enforcing. The rewards from neighbors promised at Taif II should be granted in a phased fashion and made dependent on good-faith follow-through by Iraqi leaders.

From all this the Sunni Arabs would get an end to the US occupation--among their main demands--as well as an end to de-Baathification and political marginalization. They would have an important place in the new order and be guaranteed their fair share of the national wealth. Shiites and Kurds would get an end to a debilitating civil war, even if they have to give up some of their maximal demands. The neighbors would avoid a reprise of the destructive Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, which killed perhaps a million people and deeply damaged regional economies. And by ending its occupation, the United States would go a long way toward repairing its relations with the Arab and Muslim world and thus eliminate one of Al Qaeda's chief recruiting tools. A withdrawal is risky, but on the evidence so far, for the US military to remain in Iraq is a sure recipe for disaster.

LINK TO STEVEN SIMON ARTICLE (47 pages)

http://www.cfr.org/content/publications/attachments/IraqCSR23.pdf
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #149 on: April 10, 2007, 05:38:05 PM »

SB:

Ya shoulda read them first cheesy  Although not devoid of lucid points, there a plenty of places where these pieces come up short e.g.  the complete absence of any consideration of Iran and its nuke program.
=========
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Geopolitical Diary: A Snub and a Warning from Iran

Iran denied passage through its airspace to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki while he was en route to Japan, members of al-Maliki's entourage disclosed on Sunday. Al-Maliki's aircraft had to be diverted to Dubai, where he waited at the airport for three hours for refueling and a new flight plan. On the same day, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned Iraq that failure to secure the release of five of Iranian consular officials arrested in January in the northern Iraqi town of Arbil would adversely impact relations between the two neighbors.

While the Iranians appear to be directing their ire against Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, the intended recipient of these diplomatic signals is the U.S. government. Tehran knows that Washington, and not Baghdad, is really calling the shots in Iraq and is employing a two-pronged strategy. The United States is pressing ahead on the military front, not just with its surge policy but also with operations in Iraq's Shiite south. On the diplomatic front, Washington wants a second public meeting involving U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mottaki to take place early next month. In fact, Rice last week openly said that she would want to engage in bilateral talks with her Iranian counterpart.

Given Washington's bi-level strategy, Tehran has to operate in a more or less reciprocal fashion. This would explain the move against al-Maliki, which was designed to send a message to Washington that Tehran is not intimidated by the U.S. success in getting al-Maliki to crack down against Shiite militias. In fact, the Iranians are likely signaling that the United States should not view al-Maliki's decision to assist with the U.S. plan as much of a victory. By forcing the diversion of the prime minister's aircraft, Tehran sends the message that Washington is betting on a weak horse.

The Iranians can afford to use al-Maliki in such a way. Pro-Iranian Iraqi Shia constitute the largest group within the Iraqi government. It is not as if al-Maliki and his faction, Hizb al-Dawah, have the freedom to assume an anti-Iranian posture. Al-Maliki is indeed a weak prime minister and is not really the head of his party -- which in any case does not enjoy the kind of influence within the Iraqi Shiite community as either Iran's main ally, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or the al-Sadrite Bloc. The party's rival faction -- Hizb al-Dawah Tandheem al-Iraq, which controls the national security, trade, and education ministries as opposed to the single Cabinet position held by al-Maliki's faction -- is also much closer to Tehran.

More importantly, the decision to snub al-Maliki allows the Iranians to underscore their own unpredictability and willingness to do the unexpected, in order to throw a monkey-wrench into the American plan for Iraq.

It is therefore not a coincidence that radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr -- currently residing in Iran -- issued a call for his Mehdi Army to target U.S. forces instead of fighting Iraqi security forces. He also urged the security forces to disassociate themselves from U.S. troops. The Iranians, having released the British naval personnel they captured in March, now want to see the return of their own five consular officials detained by U.S. forces in January. This is all the more important because Tehran also wants to see next month's meeting with Rice take place -- which becomes difficult to do without securing the release of the five detained officials.

Tehran is reminding the United States that it has the ability to badly mess up the Iraqi chessboard. In saying this, Iran hopes not only to get Washington to release its officials, but also to get the Bush administration to back off from trying to weaken Iran's position in Iraq. The question now is what the American response will be.
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