Tag Archives: Iraq

AND THEN THERE WAS ONE

The last Australian troops have left Iraq, the last British troops are leaving Iraq and the result is an American presence alongside Iraqi forces. George Bush I went to great efforts to organize a coalition of many nations in preparation for the invasion of Iraq during the Gulf War, but his son was so intent on having a war, that organization and coalition building were thrown aside. Sorry, he did persuade a few hundred Estonian or Hungarian or Italian troops to hitch their wagons to the American team, but as realization grew in other nations that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld had lied about the infamous WMD, they soon wanted their soldiers back home.

History is always filled with “if” suggesting other course of action could have been pursued in Iraq. The debacle of terrorism being strengthened due to Bush actions might never have occurred if caution and honest coalition building had been the focus of American foreign policy in Iraq. There are signs President Obama is concerned about the importance of getting other nations involved in securing solutions to problems.

WE WON IN IRAQ, WE’RE COMING HOME!

In the midst of the Vietnam War, an American senator proposed his country simply declare it had won the war and was now sending its troops back home. Colonel Timothy R. Reese, a top military adviser urged his superiors in a secret memo to “declare victory and go home” months ahead of the current deadline. Reese argued “the massive partnering efforts of U.S. combat forces with ISF(Iraqi security forces) isn’t yielding benefits commensurate with the effort and is now generating its own opposition.” He supports the end of all American effort by August, 2010.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and President Obama are concerned American military success may not be able to be retained by Iraq military forces since what has been achieved is fragile and could readily be undone. A recent report from the RAND corporation warns Iraqi forces will not maintain efforts at peaceful solutions to problems and will revert to use of force, thus ensuring renewal of violence.

The Reese memo begins with recitation of an old proverb: “guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.. we are guests in iraq, and after six years in Iraq, we now smell bad for the Iraqi host.” Goodbye Baghdad, hello Broadway!

Is USA Negotiating With Sunni Iraq Resistance Groups?

The Iraq government is furious because of reports concerning American negotiation with dissident Iraq Sunni groups. The Maliki government regards such talks as a violation of Iraq sovereignty and a display of tolerance for terrorists. The State Department admits there has been discussions with Sunni groups, but argues the Iraq government was informed they were occurring. Americans have previously negotiated with Sunni leaders in discussions that eventually led to creation of the Awakening Councils that played a key role in reducing violence in Iraq. The reality is the Mailiki government still hesitates to enter into power sharing arrangements with Sunni leaders, a refusal that may be playing a role in the current escalation of violence in Iraq.

Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, said it “was shocking” and “amazing” that US and Turkish officials met “the supporters of the former regime, groups that adopt violence and terrorism as a way to change the situation, and the networks that believe in killing, bombing and targeting innocents.” On the other hand, Turkey has repeatedly attempted to play a mediating role in dealing with Iraq violence. Unfortunately, the violence will not cease until Sunni leaders are given power and recognition in Iraq.

Iraq Pullout Or A Moment Of Freedom Before Return?

American troops have withdrawn from the streets of Iraq cities, but the beat of violence goes on and on. The pullout was celebrated by al-Qaeda and other militants with a twenty four gun salute of bombs that left 33 dead in Kirkuk and 92 wounded. Iraq had a holiday to hail the event, but for some reason militants believed that meant they had permission to bomb at will. Prime Minister Maliki said it was “an offence to the Iraqis” to believe that once foreign troops left the cities, there would even more violence. President Obama warned “make no mistake, there will be difficult days ahead. We know that violence in Iraq will continue.” Words of warning or a statement about the future?

The violence has everything and nothing to do with the presence of American troops in cities. Prime Minister Maliki has failed to integrate Sunnis into either his government or the armed forces. The success of the Awakening Councils has ended because Maliki has refused to work with its leaders in a new coalition of concerned Iraqis. There will be violence until Maliki gets serious about uniting the nation.

General Odierno Blames Iran For Iraq Violence

On the last day of American occupation of Iraq cities four American soldiers were killed in Iraq. General Ray Odierno places blame for much of violence in Iraq on the head of Iran. “Iran is still supporting, funding and training surrogates, who operate inside Iraq.” He complained they have refused to stop and he saw no prospect of their halting these attacks. There is no question that Iran plays a hand in Iraq violence, but to only look in that direction for an explanation of ongoing killing misses the point that, when all is said and done, Iraqis do not need Iran to kill one another. Prime Minister Maliki has done a terrible job of integrating Sunni Awakening Councils into the military and in so doing strengthens the ability of al-Qaeda to secure new recruits.

Ironically, the Iraq government has welcomed aid from Iran, most probably on the assumption they can control what happens in their country. Given the current instability within Iran we can expect more violence in Iraq as the struggle within the Iranian government plays out.

A Celebration Too Soon Or Too Late?

People are crowding the streets of Iraqi cities waving flags and shooting fireworks into the sky to celebrate what Prime Minister Maliki terms “National Sovereignty Day.” Waleed al-Bahadili, a typical Iraqi citizen, told a reporter: “All of us are happy– Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds on this day. The Americans harmed and insulted us too much.” Iraqi forces assumed control of all major cities as Americans left to return to their bases. The question in the mind of the people of Iraq is can its government reduce violence and deal with al-Qaeda? The withdrawal is teh first step on the road home for American troops. The real question is will they board planes and ships to return home or will they board them to head north to Afghansitan?

Lingering in the background is the other issue-what happens if violence escalates in the coming months? Will the Maliki government ask Americans to return to the cities? What happens if Shiite-Sunni conflict escalates? And, what happens if Kurds take over major cities in their quest to control oil production?

There are fireworks in the sky. Will there be other fireworks in the sky in the days ahead?

Dozens More Die In Iraq

Another market explosion in Iraq. Estimates are that about 56 people are dead and over a hundred are wounded. We are now days before American troops leave Iraq cities and transfer power to the Iraqi army in terms of law and order. The explosions are mainly directed at Shiite areas in large cities and undoubtedly are being conducted by Sunni or al-Qaeda groups which intend to destabilize the Iraq government. The question which must arise is whether th goal is to compel the return of US forces or is the goal to demonstrate the current Iraq government is unable to maintain law and order? The other unknown is what would be the response of President Obama if he was requested to return American forces to Iraq cities.

A major issue is the failure of the Maliki government to integrate Sunni forces which were working with American troops in order to reduce the power of al-Qaeda. The Awakening Councils were successful, but instead of cooperating with them, the Maliki government has not recruited Sunnis into the armed forces and does not cooperate with Awakening Council leaders. Perhaps, if the Iraq government cooperated to create a united Iraq these bombings would be reduced.

US Forces In Iraq– 2020 Or Beyond??

Once upon a time, long ago, about in November, 2008, the Democratic candidate for president of the United States made clear his intention to withdraw all troops from Iraq by 2011. At a recent press conference held by Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey, he indicated that while plans were still based on withdrawing troops by 2011, there was also what he termed a “reality scenario” which could alter any plans due to global shifts and currents. According to him, the reality scenario most likely would mean, “we’re going to have 10 Army and Marine units deployed for a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The Army’s expectation called for the situation to get worse before it got better.

The good news from the general is that deployments will be reduced from 15 months to 12 months for the troops. If this is the best good news, American forces will most probably have a lot more bad news than good. Of course, his reality scenario is predicated on the assumption the American populace will accept a decade of fighting in the Middle East. Who knows what lurks in the hearts of Americans over the coming years?

Torture Is Never A Pretty Picture

During World War II in which hundreds of thousands of American soldiers were killed, President Roosevelt insisted, unlike George Bush, that pictures of dead members of the military should be shown to the public. During World War II, pictures of Japanese soldiers beheading Americans were shown to the public. Today, both Bush and Obama apparently lack trust in the truth because the president has now gone back on his agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union to have pictures depicting torture in Iraq and Afghanistan released to the public. President Obama now insists to allow those pictures to be seen would endanger the lives of American soldiers. An official commented: “The president strongly believes that the release of these photos, particularly at this time, would only serve the purpose of inflaming the theaters of war, jeopardizing US forces and making our job more difficult in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.”

We big to differ with this view. In the coming days, President Obama will be making a speech directed to the Muslim people. If during that speech, Obama apologized to the people of Iran for the CIA action in overthrowing the Mossadegh government and then he admitted Americans had abused prisoners and promised to release those pictures, millions of Muslims would react with praise, not anger. They would know an American leader is being honest and acknowledging wrong doing.

Is The Iraq Exit Date Clear?

General Raymond Odierno, top military leader in Iraq, refused to offer a certain date which would mark the end of an American presence in the city of Mosul. Odierno said US forces were in the midst of a neighborhood-by-neighborhood sweep of Mosul in order to have the city safe to hand over on June 30th to Iraqi troops. “We expect that to end here within about 30-45 days, and then there will be a decision to be made.” He hopes the operations to end terrorism in the city will be completed before the deadline.

The problem is suicide bombings continue and it becomes increasingly clear the optimistic Bush statements concerning “success of the surge” were hyperbole and not close to reality. The Iraq army is far from being an effective fighting force.