Iraqi Elections

May of 2018 will see the electoral process put to work in Iraq…..

Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi is presenting himself as a viable Shi’a reformist alternative to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the upcoming Iraqi legislative elections slated for May 12, 2018. Allawi is setting internal conditions to recreate his strong 2011 bid to secure the premiership. Allawi, a secular Shi’a politician, seeks to reunite the Sunni political leadership under a secular platform akin to the Iraqiyya coalition that won 92 seats in the Iraqi Council of Representatives under his leadership in 2010. Allawi will likely leverage his opposition to the expansion of Iranian influence in Iraq, reformist stance, and support for the Kurdistan Regional Government to draw Shi’a Sadrist and some Kurdish support in the post-election premier selection phase. Allawi can then maximize on his strong ties with Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, to augment his premiership bid.

Allawi maintains friendly ties to the U.S and rejected Iranian influence in Iraqi affairs. Allawi also maintains strong ties to the KRG; he stressed the resolution of the Arbil-Baghdad disagreements must be constitutional and within the framework of a united Iraq. Allawi also maintains strong ties with U.S regional partners in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ayad-allawi-sets-conditions-recreate-2011-premiership-bid

Elections are not necessarily going to be a good thing for Iraqis……so much has happened to Iraq I am not convinced that elections are the answer to the ever mounting problems.

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What Is Turkey’s Aspirations?

Now that ISIS has been handed their butts Turkey has expanded their use of force in Syria and Iraq….most of the violence is aimed squarely at the Kurds in the region.

Understandable since Turkey has had a hard on for the Kurds in the region for several decades…..but beneath the obvious I have seen some opinions that Turkey is trying to bring back their glory days of the Ottoman Empire and their attacks on the Kurds is to remove any opposition that might interfere with their plans.

A European think tank, Geopolitical Futures has issued a paper on Turkey’s Middle East aspirations…..

The central question in Turkey’s invasion of Afrin has been whether it is a limited operation that will stop in northwestern Syria, or the first stage of what will become deeper Turkish involvement in the Middle East. Given that Turkey is intent on clearing the threat from its border, and that Kurdish forces extend far beyond the northwestern enclave of Afrin, there’s little reason to think that Turkey will stop after subduing Afrin.

There is, however, another threat that is forcing Turkey to take foreign military action: Iran. One of Turkey’s greatest historical adversaries, Iran has emerged from the Syria conflict in a relatively powerful position. One aspect of its qualified success has been the ability of the Bashar Assad regime, with Iran’s backing, to hold onto power and reconquer much of the territory it had lost in the civil war. Turkey sees a pro-Iran, Assad-led Syria on its border as a direct threat, which is why it looked the other way earlier in the war when Islamic State recruits crossed the border from Turkey to fight Assad.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/turkeys-middle-east-aspirations-beyond-afrin/

Keep in mind that Turkey is also attacking the Kurds in Iraq…..now this is a NATO country, Turkey, and their violence against another country is a violation that could force the rest of NATO into a conflict they may not want.

All this brings into being a new term….Neo-Ottomanism

Neo-Ottomanism has been used to describe Turkish foreign policy under the Justice and Development Party which took power in 2002 under Erdoğan, who subsequently became Prime Minister. Neo-Ottomanism is a dramatic shift from the traditional Turkish foreign policy of the Kemalist ideology, which emphasized looking westward towards Europe with the goal of avoiding the instability and sectarianism of the Middle East. The shift away from this concept in Turkish foreign policy under Turgut Özal‘s government has been described as the first step towards neo-Ottomanism

The Ottoman Empire was an influential global power which, at its peak, controlled the Balkans, most of the modern-day Middle East, most of coastal North Africa (at least nominally), and the Caucasus. Neo-Ottomanist foreign policy encourages increased engagement in these regions as part of Turkey’s growing regional influence.

(wikipedia)

With some analysis one can see the possibility that Turkey is trying to relive the glory days of the Ottomans……slowly but steady……this will not benefit the world.

Closing Thought–20Mar18

15 years ago we went to war with Saddam in Iraq and after winning the war we fucked up the peace and allowed the insurgency turn into ISIS and as they say the rest is history.

I have been a critic of our policies about the Middle East….but I will put my opinions aside and let some other opinions come to the forefront…..

The Cipher Brief asked its experts in the intelligence, diplomatic and military to assess the war’s impact. Their conversations are adapted for print below.

Rob Richer, former chief of CIA’s clandestine operations in the Middle East and South Asia, during the Iraq war

In the most basic of assessments, we accomplished our tactical goal of removing Saddam from power. In retrospect, and based on the comments of senior Iraqi officials from Saddam’s regime, the United Nations sanctions were being felt and, in their words, capitulation to full UN inspections and other International demands was not far away.

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/15-years-invading-iraq-winning-war-still-fighting-peace

Then there is “Curveball” the intel asset that was used to start and justify the invasion of Iraq……

As US secretary of state, Colin Powell gathered his notes in front of the United Nations security council, the man watching — Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known to the west’s intelligence services as “Curveball” — had more than an inkling of what was to come. He was, after all, Powell’s main source, a man his German handlers had feted as a new “Deep throat” — an agent so pivotal that he could bring down a government.

As Curveball watched Powell make the US case to invade Iraq, he was hiding an admission that he has not made until now: that nearly every word he had told his interrogators from Germany’s secret service, the BND, was a lie.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/feb/15/curveball-iraqi-fantasist-cia-saddam

15 years and NO end in sight…..

We were always caught in the middle. We still are. As a young man, a new lieutenant, and a true believer, I once led a US Army scout platoon just south of Baghdad. It was autumn 2006, and my platoon patrolled – mainly aimlessly – through the streets and surrounding fields of Salman Pak. To our north lay the vast Shia heartland of East Baghdad, to our south and east, the disgruntled and recently disempowered Sunnis of the rural hinterlands. Both sides executed teenagers caught on the wrong side of town, leaving the bodies for us to find. Each side sought to win American favor; both ation of Iraqried to kill us.

https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2018/03/19/unmitigated-failure-operation-iraqi-freedom-15-years-later/

Most Americans know now that they were lied to to gain support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq….after all that in what shape is the country?

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/legacy-iraq-violence-sectarianism-elections-180318143521793.html

How many young Americans need to die or be maimed before we call the situation and bring our troops home?

Time For Another Marshall Plan?

At the end of World War 2 there was a plan, the Marshall Plan, to help rebuild the countries devastated by war in Europe….

The Marshall Plan was a massive program of aid from the United States to sixteen western and southern European countries, aimed at helping economic renewal and strengthening democracy after the devastation of World War II. It was started in 1948 and was officially known as the European Recovery Program, or ERP, but is more commonly known as the Marshall Plan, after the man who announced it, US Secretary of State George Marshall.

WW2 severely damaged the economies of Europe, leaving many in a parlous state: cities and factories had been bombed, transport links had been severed and agricultural production disrupted. Populations had been moved, or destroyed, and a tremendous amount of capital had been spent on weapons and related products. It’s not an exaggeration to say the continent was a wreck. 1946 Britain, a former world power, was close to bankruptcy and had to pull out of international agreements while in France and Italy there was inflation and unrest and the fear of starvation.

I bring up this bit of history because of the Middle East wars…..and something I read.

Throughout the most recent US war in Iraq, the massive damage done in the course of heavily bombing major cities and destroying bridges was seen as just another bill the US would be stuck with afterwards. The Trump Administration doesn’t see it that way, however.

So while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be in attendance at next week’s reconstruction conference, officials say he is not expected to offer up any American contribution to the estimated $100 billion in reconstruction Iraqi officials say they need.

Rather, US officials say they expect Iraq’s neighbors to “pour in money” as a way to improve relations over the long term, and to try to limit Iran’s substantial influence inside Iraq.

Yet Iraq doesn’t have that many non-Iran neighbors, and while Saudi Arabia is likely to contribute to fix damage in the Sunni part of Iraq, it’s probably not going to approach $100 billion. With Iraq’s own budget stretched thin, repairing the parts of Iraq the US destroyed over the past two years is likely to be a very slow effort indeed.

(antiwar.com)

Sorry but since we decided to invade then occupy then totally destroy the country of Iraq it should be on our heads to assist in the reconstruction of the country’s economy.  And yes I know we need that cash here in this country…..but if we broke it we need to fix it.

AS part of any contract to fight a war these industries should be made to contribute to the reconstruction also.  A new Marshall Plan would be the best idea.

Kurds Screwed Again!

The US has aa long history of screwing the Kurds of Iraq…..in the 1990’s after the first Gulf War the US turned their backs on the Kurds after promising them they would not be alone and Saddam gassed them and the US turned their backs….

In 2003 when the US decided to invade Iraq yet again we went to the Kurds for support in their fight and the Kurds stepped up and then when ISIS was a viable enemy the Kurds stood up and fought them in their long war.

And now with Iraq more or less calming down…Saddam gone, ISIS all but destroyed nd the Kurds are asking for some autonomy and what did the US have as an answer?

With a growing split between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) since a failed secession attempt, the Pentagon has announced that they are not including any funding in their budget to pay for Kurdish peshmerga salaries anymore.

The US long funded the peshmerga, a force of paramilitary fighters armed by the US but loyal to the KRG. That funding came to an end in September, about the same time as the Iraq-KRG split, which came with an assurance that Iraq’s central government would start paying the salaries.

Indications are that Iraq never actually paid the peshmerga, but either way the Pentagon seems to no longer be interested in picking up the slack. They are, however, still planning to continue training and arming them.

Iraq’s determination to preclude the KRG from ever again trying to secede likely means they want to leave the peshmerga as weak as they can, and with Iraq overtly cutting revenue sharing into Kurdish territory they likely can justify continued cuts.

Kurds can be proud of their ally that has stood by them for decades (that is sarcasm)….this is what the US does we use up our allies until they become enemies and then we complain about their lack of respect.

You would think people would learn how untrustworthy the US really is……..

Iraqi News And Views

Not much is being reported these days about Iraq in the MSM……they have more important things like a parade or who slapped who….in other words fluffy and speculation…the two foundations of FOX News and most other major outlets.

There seems to be some that agree with me and the US needs to withdraw from Iraq ASAP……

Reports emerged on Monday that US troops have begun a drawdown from Iraq, with officials citing the defeat of ISIS. This is being welcomed by Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, though they are urging a full withdrawal.

Multiple statements were issued by multiple, very influential militias to this effect, enough that Prime Minister Hayder Abadi defended keeping some US troops to “finish the job” of destroying ISIS.

The Badr Brigade, however, issued a statement saying any remaining troops would be a cause of instability, noting that they view US forces as “a magnet for terrorists.” Badr Brigade has multiple Iraqi MPs, and the Interior Ministry.

The Pentagon has made clear they intend to keep US troops in Iraq more or less permanently, to preclude any other future ISIS arising. This is raising concern among militias that the US presence amounts to an occupation, a point the US will struggle to contest.

(antiwar.com)

After 15 years time for the US remove itself from the Middle East and let them to choose their future without interference.

The upcoming elections in Iraq could be a make or break moment….

The U.S. should reassess military and political plans that rest on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s continued premiership after Iraq’s May 12, 2018 elections. A series of splits from Abadi’s electoral list will increase opportunities for alternative candidates to gain the premiership. Abadi’s failed political alliance with Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces and inability to maintain the confidence of Ammar al-Hakim’s political allies signals that Abadi is unable to manage varying political interests and will struggle to hold together a post-election coalition. Abadi must prevent additional fractures in his electoral list, ensure friendly candidates have funding, and block alternate political blocs such as Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition from achieving competitive electoral success. Abadi will likely make major political concessions post-election to retain the premiership if unable to meet these requirements, compromising his will and ability to pursue policies compatible with U.S. national security interests.

http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2018/02/iraq-prime-ministers-electoral.html

There are Terror Lists in abundance…..US has one….Interpol has theirs  and now the Iraqis have published their version…..

Iraqi security authorities have revealed a “most wanted” list of people involved in terrorism in the country over the the past 14 years.
The list seen by Arab News on Sunday includes about 60 names, mostly of senior aides of the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, his family members and top Daesh and Al-Qaeda leaders.
Among the most prominent names are Saddam’s daughter, Raghad Saddam Hussien, and his nephews, Omar and Ayman Saba’awi, and Ahmed Wattban Ibrahim Al-Hassan. Saddam’s cousin, Rafei’a Abdulatief Telfah, is also included.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1239456/middle-east

The rest of Saddam’s family seems to be in the cross hairs…..is that truly necessary?

Ba’athists…..the US made ISIS by outlawing the Ba’ath Party of Iraq…..that was the worse idea the morons had at the time of the invasion.

Could one of Iraq’s most notorious political parties make a comeback after thirteen years in exile? This may increasingly become a central question for Middle East analysts, as Ba’athists are claiming their sociopolitical platform of supporting pan-Arab causes defused sectarianism and united Iraqis around nationalistic themes. They also assert that their brand of secularism distanced mainstream Shiites from radical Iranian political currents and helped integrate Iraq’s many minorities into the private and public sectors.

History acutely belies this narrative, most visibly when Saddam Hussein rushed to reorient his regime from its prior secularism to Islamism in the aftermath of the Gulf War. In the Iraq of the early 1990s, Saddam urged his deputies to incorporate religiously-charged language into their speeches and ordered TV channels to broadcast clips of him praying, visiting Mecca, and holding the Quran. The regime’s war with the Shiite Iran had made it eager to distinguish itself from the enemy, with Iraq’s Shiite majority suffering as a result. In this sense, Ba’athist policies of merging religion with politics have served as one of the origins of the sectarian politics that have flourished in post-2003 Iraq

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/fikraforum/view/the-future-of-the-iraqi-baath-party

You want to keep Iraq in the win column then I suggest a dialog with the Ba’athists…..learn what to look for in Iraq or live with an uninformed analysis…….

The Baath party, which ruled Iraq until the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, has forged an unlikely alliance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The party was secular, but in the 1990s late President Saddam Hussein embarked on the Return to Faith Campaign, which resulted in a more religious school curriculum in schools, to garner more support from conservatives.

After the toppling of Saddam in 2003 and the dismantling of the Baath party, it seemingly fizzled into thin air, with its leftover members targeted by the United State

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/analysis/2015/08/21/Where-is-Iraq-s-Baath-party-today-.html

Unless the US steps in and makes peace there will be no peace for generations.

Time To Pick a Side

2003 the US invaded then occupied Iraq and this lead us down the long road to the formation of ISIS and the prolonged war to eradicate the vermin…..in all that time we could depend on the Kurds to have our back in this fight.

Now that ISIS is all but defeated they are no longer the military presence they one were Turkey, a NATO ally, has taken it upon themselves to eliminate a bane of theirs, the Kurds.

They began in Northern Syria and have moved into Northern Iraq…..

Turkey’s invasion of Syria is focused on Afrin, for now, but officials have promised to extend it to Manbij, and ultimately across the entire Syrian border. Apparently that’s not enough, as Turkey is also attacking Iraq again.

Turkish media is reporting that warplanes carried out at least eight different airstrikes across northern Iraq on Tuesday, destroying several shelters across the far north of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Officials have yet to confirm why these targets were attacked, or who they think they killed, but generally speaking strikes made by Turkey are aimed at the Kurds, and in northernmost Iraq, that generally means the PKK.

(antiwar.com)

And what is the US doing about this attack on a reliable ally?  So far not much….but it is time to pick a side and stick with it.  We turned our backs on the Kurds in the past will we do it again?

The Syrian Kurds have called the US to task……

The US has struggled to figure out exactly what their position on the Turkish invasion of Syrian Kurdistan is. Kurdish officials know what they expected the US to do, defend them as an ally, and the fact that they aren’t is causing a lot of disquiet.

Key Kurdish politician Aldar Khalil said the US needs to meet its “obligations” toward the Kurdish forces who fought along side them against ISIS, and do something to repel the Turkish invasion.

(antiwar.com)

Turkey, of course, insists that as a fellow NATO member, the US owes them support, and should withdraw from all Kurdish territory. So far the US isn’t doing either, but playing this middle ground isn’t satisfying anyone, and has both the Kurds and Turks believing the US is siding against them, at least somewhat.

Time to buck up and pick a side or go home and let the events control the outcome.