A Ban Of A Different Color

We all recall the day that Trump issued his new EO about the banning of people from 7 specific countries…Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya and one and on….7 total.  We also remember the a judge issued a stay and then it was back to the drawing board.

Shortly after Trump issued his silly ban the Iraqis retaliated……

Iraq’s lawmakers on Monday backed a “reciprocity measure” that would bar Americans from entering Iraq in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s banning of Iraqis and citizens of six other majority-Muslim countries from traveling to the United States.

After this vote became public the M-IC went batcrap crazy…..they would not be able to rape the country for contractors and munitions and other assorted American expertise.  Not to mention the billions of dollars lost in profits if the Iraqi ban was upheld.

You can bet that there was a flurry of meetings at the Pentagon trying to find the right pressure to get this situation repaired……and guess what?

The clout of the M-IC is just amazing……

President Trump’s new immigration order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary US travel ban, US officials say, citing the latest draft in circulation. Trump is expected to sign the executive order in the coming days. Four officials told the AP that the decision followed pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, which had urged the White House to reconsider Iraq’s inclusion on the list given its key role in fighting ISIS. Citizens of six other predominantly Muslim countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—will remain on the travel ban list, the officials say.

The new order includes other changes as well. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the order before it’s signed, say the 12-page document no longer singles out Syrian refugees for an indefinite ban and instead includes them as part of a general, 120-day suspension of new refugee admissions. The officials also say the order won’t include any explicit exemption for religious minorities in the countries targeted by the travel ban. Critics had accused the administration of adding such language to help Christians get into the United States while excluding Muslims. Unlike under the first order, existing visas will be honored, the officials say.

If that ban was a real concern then Iraq would still be part of it…..this moronic ban was purely arbitrary and does NOTHING to protect American national security.

This change of heart proves it.

“Money talks and bullshit walks”…..and Trump has taken a walk.

Get Comfortable………We Gonna Stay

We all know by now about the off the cuff comment Trump made about Iraqi oil….but in case you have been in a coma…..

One of the recurring themes of Donald Trump’s national security strategy is his plan to “take the oil” in Iraq and from areas controlled by Islamic State (Isis) extremists. It would drain Isis’s coffers and reimburse the US for the costs of its military commitments in the Middle East, the candidate insists.

At a forum hosted by NBC on 7 September, Trump suggested oil seizure would have been a way to pay for the Iraq war, saying: “We go in, we spend $3tn, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then … what happens is we get nothing. You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils.”

He added: “One of the benefits we would have had if we took the oil is Isis would not have been able to take oil and use that oil to fuel themselves.”

The idea predates Trump’s presidential campaign. As far back as 2011, he was telling the Wall Street Journal that this was his policy for Iraq. “You heard me, I would take the oil,” he said. “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take the oil.” And he insisted to ABC News that this did not amount to national theft

(the guardian)

Of course it is being spun that he was just thinking out loud….and then news hit the fan about something that out Joint Chiefs added to the conversation…..

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford says that the Pentagon is considering a “long-term commitment” to operations in Iraq, intending to keep troops in the country after the ISIS war, with an eye toward keeping Iraq’s military propped up.

Exactly what form this would take remains to be seen, as the US already has thousands of ground troops in Iraq, and they have already made a point to say that their existing operation has “no fixed end date.” US officials have previously indicated that the US would likely be in Iraq more or less forever, believing ISIS or something similar would crop up if the US was ever not occupying the nation.

Dunford’s comments suggest the US is considering something above and beyond this, but might portend both an increase in US military aid to Iraq and an even bigger deployment of ground troops in a nation-building capacity, though this would clearly run contrary to President Trump’s position that the US is spending too much money having troops abroad in so many different countries.

(antiwar.com)

That statement raises so many questions for us foreign policy wonks.  Will they be there to protect American businesses in the Iraqi oil industry?  If the Iraqi military will never be up to the task, then why keep pouring money down that rabbit hole?

Like I said….questions.

Report Of US Soldier’s Death

I know it is Saturday and I only post one article for the day…but there are exceptions and this is one of those times….the death of a US soldier in Iraq……

I report of these incidents because the MSM usually does not and most Americans could care less….but as a vet I care!

As word spread of the death of Brian P. Odiorne, of Ware, while stationed in Iraq with the Army, family and friends took to social media to express their grief over the life ended too soon.

Odiorne, a 2014 graduate of Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School in Palmer, was killed in Al Anbar province on Monday. The death, according to the Department of Defense, was not combat related, but details of how he died have not been disclosed.

Odiorne, 21, joined the Army in October 2015, and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, since May 2016. He was trained as a cannon crew member.

His death remains under investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, according to officials.

I wish his family and friends my condolences….may his spirit find peace and know that his sacrifice is appreciate and mourned….he did his duty and not much more could have been asked of him…..

May He Rest in Peace.

Trump And The Wars

When Obama was elected he inherited two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, there were others but those two are the longest running we have….in 2016 when Trump was elected president he inherited two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq….yep same two wars.

Maybe he could actually try and do something constructive about these two…..my guess is that he will do what the other one did….escalate and nothing…..

But let’s look at the longest war in American history…other than the War on Drugs….Afghanistan…..and possibly answer one important question….To What End?

Do you remember that war we launched in response to the September 11 attacks more than 15 years ago? You would be forgiven for assuming that the United States has long closed the chapter on Afghanistan, the longest military campaign in the country’s history. Outside of an opening question by U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), Secretary of Defense-designate James Mattis was not asked about Afghanistan during his three-hour confirmation hearing—a vivid illustration that most of Congress have moved on from the issue.

The war in Afghanistan is not only still going on; it is going strong. Former President Barack Obama increased U.S. military involvement in the war during his final year in office. The Afghan security forces—designed to be America’s ticket out of the war—are performing valiantly, but are taking so many casualties from the Taliban that Washington has had to slow down the pace of American withdrawals. Indeed, when the next administration is fully in place, it will inherit a war that the American people have all but forgotten—but that U.S. soldiers on the ground and pilots in the air are still very much involved in.

Source: Still at War in Afghanistan, but to What End? | RealClearDefense

Then there is America’s second longest war….Iraq…..

Last week, President Trump ordered his national security team to undertake a 30-day review of the nation’s strategy to combat ISIS.[i]  However, in just the 11 days since he took office, Trump has already jeopardized the hard-earned gains of the last two years against ISIS in what has been the central theater of the campaign: Iraq.

Last week, the new Commander-in-Chief doubled down on his campaign riff that America should have “taken Iraq’s oil” – this time while standing in front of a wall of fallen CIA officers, idly musing “maybe you’ll have another chance.”  Then on Friday, he banned nationals from the seven countries, including Iraq, from entering the U.S. for 90 days.  Yesterday, Iraqi’s Parliament responded in kind – voting to block U.S. citizens from entering Iraq.

Source: President Trump Needs to Reverse Course on Iraq – and Fast. | RealClearDefense

our president has made several statements about the situation in Iraq….one was that we should just take their oil and the other was to keep Iraqis from our shores…..he has made others but those two made the most stir.

Now that he is in the Big Chair maybe it would be a good idea to know something more about these countries than their names…

Kurds–Wassup?

Slowly I am returning to my primary interests that being foreign policy, international relations and conflict management…..an area I have neglecting because of the stupidity of the last election…..I will correct my failings.

Kurds have been the “good guys” in the battle for hearts and minds in Iraq and Syria….they have been a valued ally to the US and NATO…..now that ISIS is on the defensive and some even say on the run what will happen after the killing and destruction is done?

The Kurds have been pushing for a homeland in the heart of the Middle East for many many years but the calls have become louder since 2003 when the US invaded then occupied Iraq.

The problem is the Syria and Turkey may have a different opinion on the future of a “Kurdistan”…..so the question being asked is….what will the Kurds do?  There are many factions and factions within factions among the Kurds….any transition will probably be anything but calm…..

Turkey’s President Recep Yayyip Erdogan had a long conversation with Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi in the first week of January, followed by sending his Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus to Baghdad. Then Ankara’s Prime Minister Binali Yildrim visited the Iraqi capital January 7, had long talks with Abadi, and reached an agreement on the security issues concerning the two countries. Among other issues, the Turkish-Iraqi talks included a discussion about Turkey’s military presence in Bashiqa and PKK presence in Sinjar (Shingal).

The PKK is in Sinjar via two affiliated groups: The People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Shingal Protection Units (SPU). Baghdad recognized the SPU as a friendly, non-terrorist group. Turkey, on the other hand, considers the PKK, the YPG, and the SPU terrorist groups.

However, Turkey is moving fast to establish an anti-PKK coalition in Iraq. This coalition includes Baghdad, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Nineveh’s Turkish-trained National Mobilization Forces (NMF or Al Hashd Al Watani).

Source: Now, What Will the Kurds Do? | Middle East Briefing

Now with that said…..let’s theorize that the Kurds get their wishes, especially in Iraq, will it be a calming transition?  Probably not!

The campaign against the Islamic State (IS) in Mosul has diverted attention from simmering problems inside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq that will affect post-conflict stabilization. Within the last several months alone, there has been another assassination of a Kurdish journalist, an “honor” killing of a university student, death threats against a female Kurdish parliamentarian, bombing of an Iranian Kurdish party office that killed seven people and a string of foiled terrorist attacks in Sulaimaniyah province. These incidents have occurred alongside ongoing demonstrations by civil servants for unpaid salaries, a nonfunctioning Kurdish parliament, swelling numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, an expanded Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Turkish airstrikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq. They have not only reversed most gains the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has realized since 2011, but also leave the Kurdistan Region increasingly vulnerable to financial collapse and internal conflict.

Instead of “inevitable Kurdish statehood” after the defeat of IS, a more realistic scenario is weakened autonomy, political entropy and armed conflicts. The KRG launched “independent” exports in 2014, but the Kurdish economy is now in tatters. KRG debt exceeds $22 billion. The availability of electricity has decreased to 2005 levels, or about four hours a day in many areas without private generators. Tens of thousands of youths continue to migrate from the region. The once-touted Kurdish energy sector is being undermined legally and politically. Although the KRG exports about 600,000 barrels of oil per day to Ceyhan, these exports remain contentious, are dependent on Turkey and are largely sourced from Kirkuk — still a disputed territory — and not the Kurdistan Region. International oil companies have thus far abandoned 19 oil fields in the Kurdistan Region, including ExxonMobil’s withdrawal from three of its six fields.
Source: Is Iraqi Kurdistan heading toward civil war?
This scenario will NO doubt keep the US and its NATO cronies in the region for all eternity…somebody has to protect the holdings of the corporate masters in Washington.

Iraq: The More The Merrier

There has not been much in the news about the battle for Mosul in Iraq during the first days of this new year….

Last year I was concerned that the slow uptick of US troops would once again be a problem for the US….I still think that the problem is still growing…..

As Iraq continues to try to get their military offensive against the ISIS-held city of Mosul going, the Pentagon has announced that the US has doubled the number of advisers embedded with Iraqi forces in the area, saying there are “about 450” advisers now involved in the fight.

Military spokesman Col. John Dorrian further confirmed that there are an “unspecified,” but expanding number of US “advisers” embedded inside the city of Mosul itself, where heavy fighting is constantly ongoing. Iraq claims to have about 60% control over eastern Mosul, the less populace half of the city.

Despite repeated reports out of Mosul portraying the situation as non-stop fighting in the city, Dorrian was quick to reiterate that none of the US troops are technically involved in “direct combat,” and are simply deployed into combat areas in support roles.

Which is misleading at best, as was the Pentagon’s report that 4,935 US troops are currently in Iraq. The number of troops “officially” in Iraq is a carefully negotiated figure between the US and Iraqi governments, and officials have repeatedly admitted that the US has made a habit of keeping large numbers of troops in Iraq off the books by labeling their deployments as “temporary.” Though there is no accurate figure on the total number of US troops in Iraq, most estimates put it around 6,000.

(antiwar.com)

We keep adding troops …slowly…..the added troops will make the chances of Americans being killed more likely with each new report.

How many more will it take before too many is enough?

How About a Federalized Iraq?

I am slowly returning to my main focus…..conflicts and their resolution….it has been a long thoroughly hilarious 6 months…..now back to work.

We invade then occupied Iraq in 2003….after the major hostilities were over there were some that were calling for a federal republic for Iraq….among those was VP Joe Biden…..most people scoffed at the idea for various reasons…..I for one was not convinced that it would be a good idea….but as time went on I came around to the idea.

Iraqis did not have much input back in those days….was going to be up to the US and its allies to decide the course for a new government for Iraq.

My op-ed on this subject are pressed below…….

Source: Rethink Iraqi Federalism – In Saner Thought

I bring up this bit of Iraqi history for good reason….it seems that the tribes of Anbar province are thinking that federalism would be a good idea at this time…..

For much of Iraq, the ISIS war is seen as just a continuation of the sectarian warfare between Sunni Arabs and Shi’ite Arabs which has raged in the country since the US occupation. Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated government has long sought to dispel this notion by recruiting Sunni allies.

They haven’t had much success, but the Sunni Arab tribal factions they have managed to recruit are seen as key allies against ISIS. At the same time, the tribal leaders warn that Iraq needs massive reforms, not just a military victory, to end these conflicts.

The Lions of the Tigris faction are urging federalization as a solution to the ongoing tensions. They are far from the first to suggest this, but as allies in the current war, they may have the government’s ear more than some others.

(antiwar.com)

With the divides in the country…Kurds, Sunni and Shia, federalism may be the only way to bring stability in Iraq again.

But because it has worked well for the US does not mean that it will be so for Iraq…..there are so many other situations developing in the country that could prove hazardous to the federal experiment……problems like the Assyrians, Chaldeans and Yazidis…just to mention a few.