Iraq In The Rear View Mirror

Out man in Washington has decided to bring US troops home from Iraq….that is a promise that has been wanting to be fulfilled….and now some will leave the country…..

CENTCOM officials say that the process has been considered for months, and confirmed Wednesday what the administration has said recently, that there will be a US drawdown in Iraq before the election. 2,200 troops will leave Iraq by the end of this month.

At times the Pentagon has resisted major troop cuts by the administration, but seems resigned to it this time, emphasizing that the US has made a “great sacrifice” in decades of Iraqi war, and vowing that the US would continue supporting the Iraqi government.

That is not a small point for them to emphasize, either. When the Iraqi parliament asked the US to withdraw, there was talk of the US cutting ties with Iraq entirely to punish them. That no longer seems to be contemplated


With a pro-US premier now, Iraq isn’t pushing for an immediate pullout, and the US may want to lower troop levels this month, but probably won’t be out of Iraq entirely by the election either, leaving open whether the US is on their way out of Iraq until 2021.

(antiwar.com)

A friend asked me who would fill the void created by the departure of US troops……the answer to that question is….France.

French President Emmanuel Macron has declared a raft of aid and support packages to assist the beleaguered Iraqi government, as reports indicate that the United States is planning further troop reductions in the embattled country.

President Macron arrived in Iraq last Wednesday as the first foreign head of state to visit the war-ravaged country since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took office in May. 

Speaking from Baghdad, Macron said that Iraq had to assert its “sovereignty” despite being caught up in US-Iran tensions. “Iraq has been going through a challenging time for several years, with war and terrorism,” Macron said.

He noted that the country was still struggling to revive its economy, improve its education system and bring “military elements and militias” under state control. 

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2020/9/9/the-iraq-report-france-asserts-itself-as-us-withdraws

France has been asserted itself into the region again…..Macron is trying to fill the hole that US is creating by its departure.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

 

One Third Out!

The news coming from the Trump White House is that after his removal of troops from Afghanistan the same will be done with the troop deployment in Iraq…..

The first official figures from the Trump Administration on the Iraq drawdown came Friday, with officials now saying that the 5,200 US troops there currently will be cut to about 3,500 in the next two to three months.

That’s about a third of the US troops in Iraq, and realistically more than that, as there are almost certainly over 5,200 US troops in Iraq now. The US has not kept public figures on troop levels for months, and 5,200, the highest allowed by the US-Iraq troop agreement, and when more troops were sent, the official figure always remained 5,200.

As with other planned US drawdowns, the Pentagon has yet to comment on it at all. In Afghanistan, the drawdown was ongoing for months before the Pentagon even admitted there was an order to cut troop levels, and Iraq may be heading for a similar type of ambiguity.

President Trump announced the intention for a drawdown earlier this month during a visit by Iraq’s premier. The expectation was for troop cuts to come before the election. Though officials did not confirm that this is the total of the cut, the timeframe suggests this is what is being planned for now.

(antiwar.com)

Is this a promise kept by Trump?  Or is it just a move during an election to try a sway voters?

Is this going to be an end to our endless wars?

The Wall Street Journal scoop on the details of the Trump administration’s troop withdrawal from Iraq is welcome news. Reportedly, President Donald Trump is cutting U.S. troop levels by one- third, to about 3,500 troops from 5,200. This move would bring force levels back to where they were in 2015, at the height of the war against ISIL, which in and of itself demonstrates how unnecessary the troop level increases have been mindful of the decimation of the Islamic State.

Yet, the Journal — and the media narrative around this in general — frames this solely as a decision born out of political pressures in Iraq and the United States. The Iraqi public wants the United States to leave — as demonstrated by the Iraqi parliament voting to expel U.S. troops earlier this year – and Trump seeking to deliver on his campaign promise to end the endless wars.

“But both governments have faced political pressures at home from critics who have complained that the U.S. may be engaged in an open-ended mission,” the Journal reports.

What Trump’s troop withdrawal from Iraq means for ending America’s endless wars

Whatcha think?  Is this truly an end to our endless wars?  The beginning of the end?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

The Guns Of August–Part Two

A little history for this Sunday…..

The original Guns of August referred to the beginning of the Great Wat, World War One…..but this is a bit different……

30 years ago today Saddam turned his forces loose on Kuwait…and thus began the first Gulf War…..

The consequences are still reverberating three decades on, obviously in Iraq and the Middle East but also further afield, after Saddam Hussein became the first Arab leader to invade another Arab nation. On Thursday, August 2, 1990, at about 2am, 100,000 Iraqi troops and 700 tanks smashed through Kuwaiti border posts. Saddam then announced that the emir of Kuwait had been deposed and the emirate was now Iraq’s nineteenth province.

This was his second invasion of a neighbor. In September 1980 he invaded Iran believing that the rule of the ayatollahs, and their Shia branch of Islam, posed a clear and present danger to Iraq’s Sunni-dominated government.

Much of the Iranian army and air force was dependent on US spare parts and these had dried up after the fall of the Shah in 1979. Saddam believed it would be a piece of cake as much of Iran’s heavy weaponry and air power would be unusable. Initially his forces were successful, driving deep into Iran. But the Iranians fought back, launched human wave attacks against Iraqi artillery and trench warfare, reminiscent of WWI, ensued. Stalemate. The war finally ended in 1988 under a United Nations-brokered ceasefire with neither victorious, both exhausted. Kuwait had initially lent the Iraqi leader US$14 billion to help finance the conflict. Saddam believed that this debt should be written off. Kuwait refused and demanded prompt payment.

The Gulf War, 30 Years and Counting

For those that are not capable of learning with our visuals…..

Just because I can…..a look at this war from Iraq’s perspective…..it is about 20 minutes if your attention span will allow it……

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Troops And Iraq

Trump is determined to bring our troops home from our longest war and now he is working on reducing our military footprint in Iraq as well.

Yes this is one of those promises Trump made back in 2016…..and now he may be holding to it…..

Many months after the Iraqi parliament voted unanimously to expel US forces, the question of future troop levels is finally up for discussion at this weeks talks.

Iraq is driven by trying to avoid hosting a US-Iran proxy war, and sees not hosting US troops as the path of least resistance. US officials took permanent basing in Iraq as a given and are willing to do anything to Iraq to protect that.

This was why Trump threatened sanctions worse than Iran for the very suggestion the US should pullout. Even then, there was no consideration of leaving.

This is also why these talks cover the full US-Iraq relationship and not just troop levels. This allows the US to threaten cuts everywhere else if they don’t get what they want.

Pentagon officials say they expect Iraq will at least let them stay through the “final final victory” over ISIS. But again, there is no suggestion the US might actually leave after that.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2020/06/11/a_moment_of_truth_for_us-iraq_relations_115369.html

Contrary to popular belief….I give credit when it is due…..and Trump gets credit if he is entering into these negotiations honestly and not just trying to gain a few points for the election.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Trump Extends EO 13303

This is a Bush era Executive Order that Trump has extended…..what is 13303?

Originally it was to help oil companies in Iraq in 2003….the lie is that the Extension order claims Iraq’s instability an ‘unusual and extraordinary threat’ ……

President Trump has issued a statement extending the May 22, 2003 National Emergency created by President Bush on the situation in Iraq. Trump’s statement cited the “unusual and extraordinary threat” posed by Iraqi instability.

The Bush emergency, Executive Order 13303, was meant to facilitate Iraqi reconstruction in theory. In practice, it gave US oil companies blanket immunity from lawsuits related to selling Iraqi oil.

This was criticized as Bush’s attempt to facilitate the US taking Iraqi oil after the invasion and occupation. That’s very on-brand for Trump too, so 17 years later he is just going to kick the state of emergency down the road.

Iraqi instability certainly means a very different thing in 2020 than it did in 2003, and trying to encourage Iraqi oil investment makes a lot less sense now than it did then. With the US pushing Iraq and other nations to cut oil production to shore up prices, its highly unlikely any company wants to invest heavily in Iraq, even if they get legal immunity.

(antiwar.com)

Back in 2007 I wrote about how the Iraqi people were being screwed by the oil companies and the Bush admin…..https://lobotero.com/2007/03/11/who-gets-iraqs-oil/

Now as then it is always about the Iraqi oil and the total screwing the people are getting….

Let Iraq handle their oil for themselves…..the money should go into the treasury and not the pockets of Big Oil….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Iraq Gets A New Leader

After many months of confusion and chaos in the Iraqi government….they have a new PM, Mustafa al-Kadhimi……who is he?

Iraq’s new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took office after the country’s parliament approved a new government on Wednesday following nearly six months of political wrangling.

The parliament approved 15 ministers out of a prospective 22-seat cabinet in a vote of confidence. Five candidates were rejected while voting on two ministers was postponed, leaving seven ministries still empty, including the key oil and foreign affairs positions.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/mustafa-al-kadhimi-iraq-prime-minister-200507062954351.html

The PM comes to power while the nation and the world are fighting this pandemic…..the Iraqi economy is in freefall for several reasons…..

Former head of intelligence Mustafa al-Kadhimi has taken office as Iraq’s new prime minister.

He comes to power six months after mass protests against appalling social conditions, government corruption and the entire political setup forced the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. This was the first time since the 2003 US-led war that a government had been forced to resign due to popular pressure.

Al-Khadimi is Iraq’s third prime minister-designate assigned by President Barham Salih since Mahdi’s resignation. His two predecessors, Muhammad Tawfiq Allawi and Adnan al-Surf, both failed to win parliamentary support for their cabinets. Mahdi quit his post as caretaker prime minister at the beginning of March, the day after Allawi admitted defeat, leaving Iraq without a functioning interim government.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/08/iraq-j01.html

Of course the oil situation will prove more problematic that the virus…….

The problem for Iraq is simple but insoluble: it is running out of money as its oil revenues fall off a cliff, following the collapse in the oil price brought about by the cataclysmic economic impact of coronavirus. It derives 90 per cent of government revenues from the export of crude oil, but in April it earnt just $1.4bn when it needed $5bn to cover salaries, pensions and other state expenditure.

It cannot pay the 4.5 million people on the government payroll and another four million receiving a pension. This may not seem like exciting news compared to an uptick in Isis killings or the potential ravages of Covid-19, but it may prove more profoundly destabilising than either.

https://outline.com/aJwPNT

Without cash to pay the workers then labor unrest will make the government unstable again…..and then Iraq is caught between the US and Iran……

“This government came as a response to the social, economic and political crises our country is facing,” al-Kadhimi told lawmakers Thursday. “It is a government that will provide solutions, not add to the crises.”

Iraq is facing a coronavirus-fueled financial crisis, crumbling infrastructure battered by years of war and scant investment, ongoing political instability and the threat of a resurgent ISIS testing its beleaguered security forces.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/new-iraqi-leader-caught-between-iran-and-the-us/ar-BB13K7P5

Iraq is still just as messed up as it was before…..the longer the virus hangs on the more revenue will be lost from oil……the more loss will fuel civil unrest…..which will eventually bring down the government.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Iraq–17 Years Of Chaos

My writings on foreign policy have suffered while I try to help my readers come to grips with this virus thing……but I still read my international news daily……

Our second longest war started with chaos and has done little to change that diagnosis.

We went to Iraq to help the people achieve democracy……that is the government’s story and they are sticking to it.

Actually that is one of the biggest lies….but Hell what’s new?

It all started with a take down of Saddam….then it fell into chaos that lead to the creation and the fight with ISIS….then they were all but defeated and the people started protesting the treatment of the government……and 17 years later Americans are still dying.

Let’s look at those 17 long years…..

Last week saw the seventeenth anniversary of the ill-fated US-led invasion of Iraq that led to the reported deaths of millions of Iraqis, the destruction of much of the country’s infrastructure, and the establishment of an unstable democratic system.

Iraq’s political system has been fraught with instability and has incubated almost two decades of corruption leading to several protest movements and the rise of violent Islamist militant groups, including many Shia militias who operate as part of the state security apparatus.

The Islamic State group was also born out of the sectarianism and violence that has been emblematic of the Iraqi political process since 2003, which has seen a succession of weak governments and a legislature divided along sectarian quotas.

Today’s protest movement – ongoing since October of last year – has aimed to disrupt the cycle of corrupt political appointments, nepotism, and political actors who are beholden to both Iran and the United States.

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2020/3/23/iraq-still-in-chaos-17-years-after-us-invasion

But what has been learned from this adventure?

One man’s look that originally supported the war…..

“Man’s real treasure is the treasure of his mistakes, piled up stone by stone through thousands of years,” according to Jose Ortega y Gasset, the great Spanish philosopher of the early twentieth century. For to remember the past in all its searing complexity is what separates us from the apes, Ortega goes on. By that logic, the Iraq War, which started seventeen years ago this month, should constitute among the crown jewels of knowledge and insight in American foreign policy circles.

What lessons do I take away from my support of the Iraq War?

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/9-lessons-iraq-war-134567

But did the government learn from these things? 

My thought is NO!

We learned nothing from Vietnam and I feel we have learned nothing from our Iraq misadventure.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

News From Iraq

Sadly we have people still fighting and dying in Iraq and the MSM has little time to cover the situation which is getting worse by the month.

First thought is that there is a NEW group of “bad guys”…..

New Iraqi Group Claims Responsibility For Camp Taji Attack

A new Iraqi military group has claimed responsibility for the March 11 Camp Taji attack, which claimed the lives of three U.S.-led coalition service members.

In an official statement released on March 15, the group, dubbed Ausbat al-Thaayirin (AT), confirmed its responsibility for the recent rocket attacks on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops.

“In response to the request of our Mujahedeen brothers … we declare that the blessed operations [the shelling of occupation bases] are our operations, and we fear no one by announcing this,” the statement reads.

A few days ago, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) released a statement calling on the perpetrators of the recent attacks to reveal themselves, promising to support them. KH was held responsible for these attacks by the U.S.

AT appears to be a pro-Iranian Shiite group. The group vowed to respond to the assassination of Popular Mobilization Unties (PMU) Deputy-Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Maj. Gen. Qassam Soleimani, Commander of Iran’s Quds Force.

“The assassination of our martyr leaders is heat in our chests, a motive for our conscious that will not trail off until the withdrawal of the occupying forces in a humiliating and degrading manner,” the group said.

The U.S. carried out a series of strikes on Iraq on March 13 in response to Camp Taji attack. The strikes hit positions of the PMU, the Iraqi military and police.

AT’s statement is yet to be verified. More information about the mysterious group will likely appear in the coming months.

(South Front)

More Allied airstrikes…..and more confusion…..

Iraqi President Barham Salih issued a statement Friday angrily condemning a flurry of US airstrikes, saying they amounted to repeated violations of Iraqi sovereignty and threatened to provoke dangerous consequences.

Salih added that the US attacks amount to a “dangerous and deliberate weakening of its abilities especially at a time when Iraq faces unprecedented challenges.” Indeed, that the president is the one making responses at all shows the position Iraq is in. Normally this would be the purview of the PM, but Iraq simply doesn’t have one. The PM-designate has resigned, and the acting PM also resigned in recent weeks.

The US attacks targeted Iraqi PMF militia Kataib Hezbollah, and US officials insist they were “terrorist bases” that were legitimate to hit. The PMF is part of the Iraqi government, despite the US sense that they can attack them with impunity.

Salih’s big warning though was that in this current situation, Iraq could simply unravel under US pressure, ending up a failed state, and potentially fueling an ISIS resurgence.

These consequences seem lost on US officials, likely reflecting US rhetoric presenting the PMF as “Iranian-backed” groups, instead of what they are, militias under the Iraqi government that are heavily active in anti-ISIS operations.

(antiwar.com)

The attack was done by the new group and yet we attacked those supposedly not involved….good policy that should make us more friends.

These airstrikes not only attacked someone not necessarily involved in the attack but we killed our allies as well……Iraq’s military said US airstrikes in the south of the country killed three Iraqi soldiers, two police officers, and one civilian. On Friday, US officials said they launched airstrikes in Southern Iraq against targets where weapons are stored by Kataib Hezbollah, a Shi’ite militia group. 

Iraqi officials also said five members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) were injured in the most recent US airstrikes. The PMF is an umbrella organization of Iraqi militias that have fought together against ISIS since 2014. Kataib Hezbollah is a member of the PMF.

Then there is the war of words……

According to State Department officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Sunday, demanding that the Iraqi government defend US troops who are stationed on the ground in Iraq.

Pompeo told Abdul Mahdi that the government needs to hold militias responsible for attacking US forces accountable, and threatened further US military action “in self-defense” in more attacks happened. On Sunday, more rockets hit a US base, wounding three troops.

This is generally the US position, evinced by US attacks on militia bases last week after the US decided to blame that militia for a previous rocket attack. The US has blamed those militias and labeled them “Iran-backed, though in practice they are Shi’ite groups who are part of the Iraqi government.

Even less clear is what the point of Pompeo telling that to Abdul Mahdi was, as he’s resigned twice in the last few months, both times amid mounting US tensions. First he resigned after parliament voted to expel the US and the US threatened to bankrupt the country with sanctions. Abdul Mahdi agreed to serve as acting-PM until a replacement was decided on, then earlier this month he resigned from that as well.

Iraq’s president has been making comments recently, since he’s the only top figure still in power, but Pompeo seems to hope that Abdul Mahdi has enough political influence to at least pass the message along.

(antiwar.com)

So our policy is to threaten then attack our ally, right?

But the animosities between Iran and the US has Iraq in the middle of the conflict……and that could lead to more instability in the nation and a rapid rise of more terrorism….

https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_escalation_nation_iraq_and_the_us_iran_rivalry

If they are not an ally then what the Hell are we still doing in country?

The situation in the Middle East is still the most confusing situation on the planet.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scriblo”

Recent US Deaths Update

I reported the other day about 2 more Americans being killed in Iraq as well as a soldier of them UK……https://lobotero.com/2020/03/11/iraqi-deaths-update/

Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon. A British service member was killed in the Taji rocket attack. She served as a reservist with the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry, having joined in 2015 as a Combat Medical Technician.

May she rest in peace and her family find some peace…..

The two American deaths ……

The Americans that were also killed in this attack……

The military on Friday identified the two U.S. troops killed in a rocket attack on Camp Taji in Iraq as Army Spc. Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias, 27, of Hanford, California and Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts, 28, of Owasso, Oklahoma.

Mendez Covarrubias was assigned to 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Roberts was assigned to 219th Engineering Installation Squadron of the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing.

“The international military coalition is capable and credible because of warriors like Juan, Brodie, and Marshal,” said Lt. Gen. Pat White, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition to defeat the Islamic State. “They volunteered to serve the United States and United Kingdom to improve their lives and help keep the world free from ISIS terrorism. Our fallen comrades have a legacy that will never be forgotten.”

4 deaths of US soldiers in 3 days time…..not something that looks good for our time in Iraq.

May they find peace….and may their families find the closure that we all search for….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

More American Deaths In Iraq

Just two days ago I wrote about the two Marine Raiders that were killed in Iraq and now more sad news for two more Americans have been killed in Iraq….as well as a British soldier as well…….

Two American soldiers and one British soldier were killed Wednesday evening when 15 small Katyusha rockets hit Iraq’s Camp Taji. The Pentagon reported 10 other people of various nationalities were wounded.

Details are still emerging, with the US quickly dismissing the idea that this was an ISIS attack by doubting they had the capability, even though Katyusha rockets are virtually ubiquitous among Middle Eastern armed factions.

Instead, officials say they suspect Shi’ite militias in general, and Kataib Hezbollah in particular. The militia is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) of Iraq, whose leader was killed in a January US airstrike in Baghdad.

I will post more as the facts become known..

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I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”