Iraq: The Rest of The Story

What have you heard aboiut Iraq these days?  All is quiet on the Iraqi front.  Since 2017, late into the year, it appears that some are thinking that the Iraqi War came to an end……The American Conservative takes a look at the close of Iraqi hostilities…….

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The year 2017 saw America’s serial wars in Iraq ending with a whimper, not a bang. And in the oddest of ironies, it may be that Donald Trump, the fifth president to preside over U.S. military operations in Iraq, has more or less ended it, whether he had much to do with or not.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/this-year-the-iraq-wars-truly-came-to-an-end-iran-kurds-isis-is/

Iraq haws won its war with ISIS and now that it is over what is there in the future for the country….

You know the joke? You describe something obviously heading for disaster—a friend crossing Death Valley with next-to-no gas in his car—and then add, “What could possibly go wrong?”

Such is the Middle East today. The U.S. is again at war there, bombing freely across Iraq and Syria, advising here, droning there, coalition-building in the region to loop in a little more firepower from a collection of recalcitrant allies, and searching desperately for some non-American boots to put on the ground.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/seven-worst-case-scenarios-for-iraq/

Iraq has a long road back to normalcy…..is Iran good for their future?  Or will the US try to insert itself in the reconstruction?  The US is the last place Iraq should look to for help.

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Closing Thought–26Dec17

The deaths just keep mounting up….the latest is in Iraq….

A 20-year-old soldier from Turlock died in Iraq on Wednesday in a noncombat-related incident, according to a Department of Defense news release.

The release identified the soldier as Spc. Avadon A. Chaves. The incident is under investigation, and his family declined to comment upon the circumstances of his death. Chaves was a specialist in the infantry.  Chaves died at Al Asad, Al Anbar Province, Iraq, according to the news release. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Bliss, Texas.

IST wishes the family well and may their loved one rest in peace.

Closing Thought–01Dec17

One For The Road!

When I was a young man I worked in Iraq 1979-1980 and while liquor was available it was frowned upon by the more devout Muslims.  But it was allowed under the regime of Saddam.

I am sure that most people will know just what a mess Iraq has been since we invaded in 2003….but now that ISIS is on the run it would seem that liquor is once again available in Iraq….

This from a newspaper that I read from Iraq……

These days as you head into Karmah, one of the smaller cities in the central Anbar province, you may notice a small store on the way into town. It’s not a big shop but its doors are wide open and it is selling alcohol. It is an unusual sight in this province, where conservative traditions and religious customs prevent the open sale and consumption of alcohol. But things have changed since the extremist group known as the Islamic State was in charge here.

“While we were displaced we lived in both Baghdad and in northern Iraq,” says Ahmad Abu Ali, a 44-year-old local; Karmah was part of the territory controlled by the extremist Islamic State, or IS, group and Abu Ali and his family fled their hometown. “And we used to see a lot of these shops there, close to where we lived. To us, it was an indication that these cities were safe and secure.”

“Although the drinking of alcohol is against our religion, the shop is a good sign. It is proof that the militants who once had such a big role in this city, and those who supported the militants, no longer play a part here,” Abu Ali explains. “Each person can practice their own religion. And when we saw this [the alcohol store] it gave us hope.”

http://www.niqash.org/en/articles/society/5782

Does this count as a return to normalcy?

That is it fore my friends….see you guys tomorrow with lots more stuff….chuq

Iraq Update

Hey there.  Does anyone remember Iraq?  That is our other war that we do not talk about anymore.  You would think that after a 13 year conflict that it would be more important.

ISIS (remember them?) seems to have been all but totally defeated in Iraq….word is there are isolated pocket of ISIS resistance left in the country…..mostly in the western desert.

Now the question is what’s next for Iraq?

With the recent fall of Raqqa, Dair ez-Zor and now al-Qaim, the military defeat of Islamic State (IS) is at hand. For strategists, it is thus timely to question whether the three years of war against this adversary have yielded strategic victory—and the answer is vague indeed.

The significant attrition experienced by IS in Mosul may have overwhelmed the idea of the caliphate. Rapid capitulation in Tal Afar and Hawijah suggests either a loss of morale or a change in strategy towards posturing for an insurgency. Evidence of the latter has been seen in Europe, where attacks by IS increased in frequency despite its losses of terrain and senior leadership in the Middle East and North Africa. The IS leadership may be purposefully choosing to transition to a global insurgency paradigm—akin to a Maoist latent/incipient phase of guerrilla warfare—leveraging an IS-affiliated diaspora across the globe. Alternatively, IS may be rejecting a territorially based identity that would understand defeat via this Westphalian norm. It must therefore be expected that the group will continue to inspire terrorist activities to create instability, progress global insurgency, and grow the virtual caliphate.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/11/08/the_war_in_iraq_tactical_success_strategic_ambiguity_112603.html

There is no way of knowing what will be next for Iraq….but now that the fighting is mostly done….Iran is moving to consolidate its power base in Iraq…..

Iran is consolidating military control in Kirkuk. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi appointed an Iranian-friendly commander, Lieutenant General Ali Fadhil Imran, to lead the newly created “Kirkuk Operations Command” on October 28, 2017. Imran is the former head of the Iranian-influenced 5th Iraqi Army (IA) Division, based in Diyala. Photos in Iraqi and Jordanian media and a Facebook page linked with Imran show him closely coordinating with Iranian proxy Badr Organization leader Hadi al Ameri in 2015. The 5th IA Division is a component of the Dijla Operations Command (DOC), which is responsible for security in Iraq’s Diyala Province along the Iraq-Iran border. Iran’s influence over the DOC’s leadership is a template for how the security structure in Kirkuk will likely evolve. Iran’s proxies have disproportionate influence over the DOC. A video published by Vice News in February 2015 shows the former head of the DOC Abdul Amir al Zaydi taking direct orders from Ameri. Imran will likely provide a durable conduit for Iran’s proxies to dominate Kirkuk’s security structure similar to their role in Diyala.

http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2017/11/iran-solidifies-influence-in-kirkuk.html

Will this become a problem?

The US is already beating the war drum towards Iraq and yet the prudent decision would be to appoint a special envoy to go to the Kurds and act as a diplomatic buffer…..you would think right?

The United States has said there was no need to appoint a special envoy to resolve the crisis between Iraq and Kurdistan Region, saying that such a dispute could be resolved “internally”.

“We certainly heard about that idea to appoint a special envoy. We believe at this point that this is an issue that can be worked out internally, that it can be worked out between Baghdad and Erbil and don’t feel that it’s necessary to appoint some sort of United States envoy in some sort of new position to handle this,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in a press briefing late Tuesday.

https://www.iraqinews.com/baghdad-politics/u-s-no-need-special-envoy-iraq-kurdistan-crisis/

Not to worry…..the American military will be standing by to re-invade if necessary.

A special envoy would be the perfect answer to a tense situation.  But Fearless Leader has no time for diplomatic solutions to complex events…..too busy with all the “slap and tickle” stuff he can Tweet about.

While he is busy on Twitter Iran is slowly consolidating a power base in Iraq….maybe Fearless Leader should look up from his phone every now and then and see what is happening while he Twaddles away…..

Saddam Was Right

Saddam…..remember him?  He was the leader of Iraq that we hunted down and eventually hanged after a trial (if one could call it that…..he was always gonna die no matter what)….well it seems that he predicted the long and bloody stay for American troops……

His thoughts are documented here in an article in The American Conservative……with a little history thrown in for good measure……(did not want my readers to go with that shot of History)…….

In early 1917, during World War I, British general Sir Frederick Stanley Maude led an army of sixty thousand British and Indian soldiers from Basra up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to Baghdad. His enemy was a Turkish army, some twenty-five-thousand strong, defending a province of what was then a part of the decrepit Ottoman Empire. Maude was hardly a creative campaigner (his troops called him “systematic Joe”), but then his conquest of Mesopotamia wasn’t much of a fight. “The Turkish Army that was recently before us,” he reported to his superiors, “has ceased to exist as a fighting force owing to its casualties, prisoners, demoralization and the loss of a large proportion of its artillery and stores.” Maude led his army into Baghdad on a prancing horse on March 11 and then, in the finest British tradition, issued a proclamation: “We come as liberators, not occupiers,” it said. The Iraqis thought otherwise.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-saddam-hussein-predicted-americas-failure-in-iraq/

Many people predicted the problems the US would have in Iraq…..a shame it all fell on deaf ears.

Kurds–What’s New?

ISIS is fighting for its very existence in Iraq…..and while all that was happening the Kurds decided to push the buttons of Baghdad and vote for independence.

After the vote Iraqi government went batcrap crazy!  The Kurds overplayed the hand just a bit….

The Iraqi Kurds have just announced that they’re freezing the results of their independence referendum, which is bureaucratese for saying that they don’t intend to act on it. Which, in turn, is another way of offering a ceasefire to the government troops that have displaced them from Kirkuk and environs. The Kurds gambled and lost. It seems they’d hoped that their western allies would come to their aid, but none did. This, despite loud protestations by sympathetic commentators in the West that the Kurds’ loss was a victory for Iranian hegemony over Iraq—in particular, a victory for Iran’s IRGC commander in the region, Qasim Suleimani. And even though the State Department denied any Iranian participation, it’s unlikely that without Tehran’s concrete intervention the Iraqis had the capability to overcome the Peshmerga so swiftly. As an example, this report entitled “How Iran helped Baghdad seize back Kirkuk” that ran in the Middle Eastern news website Al-Monitor portrays Tehran as the main driver of Baghdad’s success, along with other factors such as Kurds’ disunity and their shortages of ammunition. Others suggested that the Iraqi army (illegally) used their US-supplied Abrams tanks in the demarche which, if true, would have compelled the US to punish Baghdad in some way, perhaps even to defend the Kurds actively. Washington chose to look the other way.

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/melik-kaylan/overplaying-their-hand-kurds%E2%80%99-referendum-debacle

The Kurds are now playing with a level head…..sort of…..

America’s Ambassador to Iraq is attempting to restart negotiations between Iraq’s Kurds and the Iraqi Government. The U.S. is hoping the resignation of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani on November 1, 2017 will incentivize the Iraqi Government to accept a compromise with Iraq’s Kurds. Masoud Barzani was the driving force behind the Kurdish independence referendum on September 25th, which provoked the ongoing retaliation by the Iraqi Government and Iran. The US state department is attempting to unite Iraq’s Kurds behind the region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his deputy Qubad Talabani in order to resolve the dispute with Baghdad ahead of the 2018 elections. U.S ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman met with them in Arbil on November 2nd. He relayed the US position that the long term stability of Iraqi Kurdistan depends on a unified and federal Iraq, and that the two sides must find a “peaceful resolution of disputes under the Iraqi constitution.”

http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2017/11/further-military-escalation-likely-in.html

In the 1990’s the US sold out the Kurds and looks like we are doing it again……

I stood at a border crossing as thousands of Yazidis and other refugees fled ISIS attacks on Mosul and nearby cities. Tens of thousands of refugees flooded into the Kurdish Region of Iraq as Kurdish relief workers greeted them with water and food.

It was August 2014, and I was there on assignment as a freelance correspondent. The Obama administration had started bombing northern Iraq just a few days earlier. The explanation given at the time, now long forgotten, was the US would bomb for a limited time to protect the Kurdish capital of Erbil and stop the attacks on Yazidis.

http://original.antiwar.com/Reese_Erlich/2017/11/06/us-sells-kurds/

Kurds will conform to the law of the land and not secede….for now……

Iraq’s Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum in September, defying the central government in Baghdad – which had ruled the ballot illegal – as well as neighbouring Turkey and Iran which have their own Kurdish minorities.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Tuesday it would respect the November 6 ruling by the Supreme Federal Court, which declared that no Iraqi province could secede.

“We believe that this decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between (Kurdish authorities in) Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes,” the KRG said in a statement.

http://www.france24.com/en/20171114-iraq-kurdistan-respect-court-decision-banning-secession-baghdad

Kurds will play ball for now….but how long will this nicety last?

They will live with a unified Iraq….really?

Apparently putting an end to the independence push which began with September’s referendum, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has issued a statement today promising to respect a Supreme Court ruling that precludes independence, and emphasizes the “united Iraq.”

The Iraqi courts insisted that there is no constitutional method through which any part of Iraq could ever secede. Iraqi Kurdistan was in the process of such a secession before October offensives by the Iraqi military quickly got them to back off the plan.

This new statement appears to be an attempt to placate Iraq’s central government, which has been talking further punishment for the Kurdish regions, and has suggested the military operation could be restarted at any time.

Independence has been a long-standing goal for Kurds in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, but so far none had come as close as the KRG to effecting a formal declaration. At this point, it looks less likely than ever they’ll manage to achieve independence, or even retain previous autonomy.

(antiwar.com)

Then what the Hell was the independence referendum vote all about if they had NO inclination of session?  What game are the Kurds playing?

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.