Iraq/Syria Update

Note:  This is a lot to take in but if you read the articles you will be more informed than some of your leaders…I feel it is my duty to keep my readers informed and educated….chuq

I have been an analyst of the Middle East for decades….while events may fall from the headlines because of news I continue to monitor and report that which the MSM tries to suppress.  Other news is more timely but I feel as long as we have troops fighting in the Middle east then it is important to make my headlines.

The Pentagon loves lying about troop levels in its major wars, and that’s been particularly true in Iraq and Syria, where after being called out for underreporting several times they officially decided they were going to stop telling the public troop levels at all.

Maj. Gen. James Jarrard told reporters today that the US has about 4,000 ground troops in Syria, which is nearly 4,000 more troops than they’ve ever admitted to before. This figure apparently wasn’t supposed to be public, as other Pentagon officials were quickly scrambling to walk back that announcement.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon claimed to have no idea what the 4,000 figure was meant to represent, but insisted that the official figure for US troops in Syria is just 503. Whether that’s a firm count, or just the usual Pentagon hand-waving number, was unclear.

(antiwar.com)

While US is fighting whoever is handy in Syria the Russians are looking for a diplomatic venture in Syria…..

Russia is accelerating its efforts to subvert the Syrian political process by establishing a new diplomatic framework that sets conditions to expel the U.S. from Northern Syria. Russia announced its intent to host delegates from all major opposition, ethnic, and tribal factions at a “Syrian Congress on National Dialogue” in Sochi on November 18. Russia may exploit the conference to broker a wider reconciliation deal between the Bashar al Assad Regime and the Syrian Kurdish YPG under conditions that preclude long-term U.S. influence in Syria.

Source: ISW Blog: Russia Seizes Syria Diplomacy Reins

Tillerson is sounding like Iraq will become a US possession whether Iraq likes it or not……

Testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed that the US presence in Iraq is so permanent at this point that even if Iraq specifically requests the US withdraw and removes permission for them to be there, the US will remain.

Tillerson addressed the question from Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), who asked whether the US intended to stay in Iraq uninvited like they are in Syria. Tillerson insisted the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) gave the US legal authority to stay.

This appears to be an entirely new position for the US government, as the Bush Administration agreed to withdraw from Iraq after being unable to get Iraqi authorization to stay, and absolute legal immunity for US troops along with it.

(antiwar.com)

The main problem with Iraq is the US never understood the country at all…..

Days after the Kurdish Region of Iraq held a controversial independence referendum, Baghdad sent army and militia units to attack Kurdish positions in and around Kirkuk in the disputed territories. Such swift, aggressive action demonstrated Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s insistence that Iraqi Kurds will remain a part of his country, by whatever means necessary. Now, we are seeing the first repercussions: Long-time Kurdish Region President Masoud Barzani, who pushed for the referendum, resigned on October 29, sparking riots in the Kurdish capital of Erbil and other Kurdish cities, and launching new recriminations among Kurds and between Arabs and Kurds.For America, the short, sharp fighting in northern Iraq has revealed a brutal truth: Its dream of a democratic and federal, united Iraq is over. Ironically, that dream dies just as the Americans and their allies are winning major battlefield victories against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Raqqa, the capital of ISIS, fell to a U.S.-sponsored battlefield coalition of Syrian Arabs and Kurds. U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, meanwhile, captured Hawija, one of the last ISIS strongholds in the country. But as the fighting shows in Iraq and foreshadows in Syria, Washington never had a political plan to deal with the underlying ethnic and sectarian contests for power that originally gave birth to ISIS.
Source: America Never Understood Iraq – The Atlantic

At this point, the US appears to be used to being engaged in overseas wars without permission, particularly in places like Syria, and having already declared their presence in Iraq to be permanently, officials figure they’re going to just pretend it’s legal.

Those are the major stories that the MSM overlooked….I could write the people that died Iraq over the past week……okay I will……

Antiwar.com found that at least 1,649 people were killed and 647 were wounded in violent activity during October. This is considerably fewer than in September, when at least 3,129 people were killed; only 496 were wounded.

The breakdown is as follows: At least 374 civilians were killed, and 300 were wounded. Among Iraqi and Kurdish servicemembers, at least 296 were killed, and 345 were wounded. One U.S. servicemember was killed, and another was wounded. Also, two Turkish servicemembers were killed, and three were wounded. At least 20 members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) were also killed. Finally, at least 979 Islamic State militants were reported killed, but only two were wounded. Some of the dead were found in mass graves.

(antiwar.com)

Could Iraq be close to the end of 40 years of war?  Good questioon and here is a Libertarian lean to the answer…..

There is a growing mood of self-confidence in Baghdad which I have not seen here since I first visited Iraq in 1977. The country seemed then to be heading for a peaceful and prosperous future thanks to rising oil revenues. It only became clear several years later that Saddam Hussein was a monster of cruelty with a disastrous tendency to start unwinnable wars. At the time, I was able to drive safely all around Iraq, visiting cities from Mosul to Basra which became lethally dangerous over the next 40 years.

The streets of the capital are packed with people shopping and eating in restaurants far into the night. Looking out my hotel window, I can see people for the first time in many years building things which are not military fortifications. There are no sinister smudges of black smoke on the horizon marking where bombs have gone off. Most importantly, there is a popular feeling that the twin victories of the Iraqi security forces in recapturing Mosul in July and Kirkuk on 16 October have permanently shifted the balance of power back towards stability. The Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, once criticised as weak and vacillating, is today almost universally praised for being calm, determined and successful in battling Isis and confronting the Kurds.

Source: Iraq may be coming to the end of 40 years of war – The Unz Review

Anything is possible in the Middle East but I think that there is still some animosities in Iraq that need working out before we can say there is an end to war in the country.

That was a lot to read….but if you want to know what is happening around our troops then it is worth the time it took to read this post.

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