View Full Version : Iraq catch-all: after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended

12-14-2011, 12:34 AM
I'm not in a position to say how accurate it is, but its existence is a matter of concern:


Iraq's leader becoming a new 'dictator,' deputy warns

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is amassing dictatorial power as U.S. troops leave the country, risking a new civil war and the breakup of the nation, his deputy warned Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq told CNN that he was "shocked" to hear U.S. President Barack Obama greet al-Maliki at the White House on Monday as "the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq." He said Washington is leaving Iraq "with a dictator" who has ignored a power-sharing agreement, kept control of the country's security forces and rounded up hundreds of people in recent weeks.

"America left Iraq with almost no infrastructure. The political process is going in a very wrong direction, going toward a dictatorship," he said. "People are not going to accept that, and most likely they are going to ask for the division of the country. And this is going to be a disaster. Dividing the country isn't going to be smooth, because dividing the country is going to be a war before that and a war after that."...

12-14-2011, 12:53 AM
The Sunnis that I talk to actually think Maliki is rather weak and will fall quite quickly once we're gone.

I imagine that there will be a contest to fill the political and security vacuum. I just hope that it is peaceful.

Bill Moore
12-14-2011, 03:00 AM
We achieved our two primary objectives which were dismantling Iraq's non-existent WMD program and removing Saddam. A few idealists late the game added on establishing a democracy and transforming their society in order to transform the Middle East. We transformed the ME, but not in the way it was envisioned by Paul Wolfawitz. What will unfold will unfold, and our staying won't change it, it will only delay it. I have my doubts on whether the Iraqis will truly determine their future, at least not alone, there will be considerable influence from Iran, Saudi, the U.S. and others.

I agree that dividing the country will be disaster, because all competing parties will want to control the oil profits, without it they won't have a viable economy anytime soon.

12-14-2011, 03:12 AM
ISW, 11 Dec 11: Maliki Arrests Potential Opposition (http://www.understandingwar.org/files/Backgrounder_MalikiArrestsPotentialOpposition.pdf)

...The Maliki government’s campaign to intimidate, dismiss, and arrest former members of Iraq’s Ba’ath party has been an ongoing and concerted effort. However, the removal of the U.S. military from Iraq compounds the dangers and repercussions to stability due to this anti-Ba’athist campaign. Given the timing and intensity of the anti- Ba’athist campaign, the withdrawal of U.S. troops coupled with Iraq’s entrance into its first post-occupation electoral season with provincial elections scheduled for early 2013, is the likely pretext motivating Maliki to capitalize on further consolidating power and promoting party loyalty as the principal features in Iraq’s security apparatus.

With questionable legal justifications, dubious explanations, and politicization and opportunism underlying the arrests, Maliki’s behavior is conforming to the practices defined by the authoritarian political culture that has long characterized Iraq. “Frankly, I am very scared and expect to be arrested at any moment,” said Haji Abu Ahmed, a former Ba’ath member in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. “The current practices are the same as the practices of Saddam,’ Ahmed said. “There seems to be no difference between the two systems. Saddam was chasing Da’awa, and now Da’awa is chasing Ba’athists.” In the final analysis, Maliki’s campaign has been counterproductive to both Iraqi democracy and stability....
CRS, 10 Nov 11: Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS21968.pdf)

...In recent months, with a complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq approaching at the end of 2011, the relations among major factions have frayed. Sunni Arabs, facing a wave of arrests by government forces in October 2011, fear that Maliki and his Shiite allies will monopolize power. The Kurds are wary that Maliki will not honor pledges to resolve Kurd-Arab territorial and financial disputes. Sunni Arabs and the Kurds dispute territory and governance in parts of northern Iraq, particularly Nineveh Province. Some Iraqi communities, including Christians in northern Iraq, are not at odds with the government but have territorial and political disputes with and fear violence from both Sunni Arabs and Kurds. These splits have created conditions under which the insurgency that hampered U.S. policy during 2004-2008 continues to conduct occasional high casualty attacks, and in which Shiite militias have conducted attacks on U.S. forces still in Iraq...

Steve the Planner
12-14-2011, 02:33 PM

There are just so many central ironies to Iraq:

Some believe we entered Iraq on some form of "Crusade," reminiscent of retaking Jerusalem from Islam. Yet our staunch ally in that alleged Crusade was, in fact, Salahaddin's Kurdish descendants.

Some believe that defeat of the Baathist Party---the eerie secularist, pan arab movement long-ago commandeered by brutal dictatorships---was a core objective. Yet Maliki,while crushing Baathists in Iraq, staunchly supports the adjacent Syrian Baathist dictator allegedly at the urging of its Iranian sponsors.

As Maliki allegedly moves to dominate and punish the Sunni (and former Baathist) areas of Iraq, the resident Sunni Iraqis pursue refuge in the same Autonomous Region status enshrined in the Iraqi constitution under the belief that it was primarily to protect and reward the Kurds. The indigenous Sunni autonomy movements are heavily opposed by the Sunni and Baathist diaspora, ensconced in surrounding Sunni and Baathist supportive US ally nations, because it undermines their hopes for a future dominant role in a strongly centralized Iraq.

As Shia political control, allegedly under Iranian influence, grows in the South, the looming threat of adjacent Sunni governments (all our powerful principal allies) necessitates diplomatic missions by Iran and Maliki to, for example, Saudi Arabia, assure them that they pose no threats.

In the midst of all this confusion, it is, perhaps, worthwhile to keep in mind not just "that which divides," but also "that which unites"---the reason that these folks don;t all just walk away and declare independence.

Kurdistan, as an autonomous region, is a light and beacon for the larger Kurdish peoples who are routinely subject to pressure and pograms in the adjacent countries, all of whom have well-articulated concerns over a more independent Kurdish nation, and ongoing issues with their indigenous Kurdish populations. Example: Kurds have a close relationship with the Asad government which, if overturned, poses serious repercussions for Kurds, and a Sunni Syria opens completely new Pandora's boxes for both Kurds, Shias, Iranians, etc...

In addition to the eternally complex political, ethnic, religious balancing acts between and within these countries are the basic geographic, resource and infrastructure dependencies:

Water does not reach Baghdad and the south until after it passes through the North---much the same with oil and oil infrastructure.

If Kurds have oil, but without links to Basra, pipelines are the only option, and are always vulnerable.

Without water, the center and south is a dustbowl of a port, with little hospitable future for its residents, and serious power issues.

The prospective Sunni autonomous areas (Ninewa, Salah ad Din, Anbar, Diyala) represent a powerful set of geography, resource, and infrastructure assets, but their value is, to a great extent, limited absent their connection to the adjacent areas.

All told, Iraq is a very complicated puzzle with many profound reasons to understand it as a common and interdependent area (nation, whatever), but with many internal (and eternal) rifts and divisions. Prosperity for the greatest number of people comes from working together, the opposite where they do not.

How they hammer out, and continue to re-hammer out, conflicts and resolutions, will dictate successes and failures, but most of the posturing, leverage, balancing and re-balancing is something that they---post-conflict parties with substantial unresolved grievances---is what those parties have to resolve in the next few years.

My guess is that the autonomous region authority is a much more substantial option for a viable future Iraq than many consider (depending on the intergovernmental resolutions needed to implement it) but that it is not a "boogeyman" of breaking up Iraq any more than in many pother nations where certain power is centralized (nationally significant resources, waterways, transportation, defense) while much is broadly distributed to autonomous and semi-autonomous regions.

Assuming a future Iraq with substantially greater oil flows and revenues as its sole basis, a system of autonomous regions, each demanding its own portion of the revenue pie under its own local control, is not, over time, a bad business model, and assures continued pressure for greater revenue flows to the regions than to a heavily armed central government.

"Dividing Iraq"---as the inflammatory slogans suggest---is not an all or nothing issue, but an ongoing and essential process of balancing and re-balancing, within a national envelope that is as much defined internally as by its neighbors.

The Speaker's latest comments (although inflamed by Wolf Blitzer and Company) are really mild stuff under the circumstances where Maliki is, with some urgency, trying to stave off the increasing pressure for Sunni autonomy which was inflamed by his overreaching actions against them through the central government which he currently controls.

Hold your breath for the Iraqi people, who many of us identify with, but not for the post-conflict politicians who are still playing the old games instead of getting on with viable new ones.

01-02-2012, 04:48 AM
In Dec. 2011 I conducted this interview with Ret. Col. Ted. Spain that some might be interested in. Here's the intro and a link.

How The U.S. Struggled To Establish Law And Order In Post-Invasion Iraq, An Interview With Retired Colonel Ted Spain

Retired Colonel Ted Spain is the former commander of the 18th Military Police Brigade. In early 2003, he was deployed to Kuwait from Germany for the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq, and spent a year in the country. I first became aware of him through Tom Ricks’ book Fiasco. I’m currently re-reading it for the first time since it came out in 2006, and that prompted me to get in contact with Colonel Spain. During his time in Iraq, he went through not only the invasion, but the post-war chaos as well. Spain was deployed in Baghdad, which became the center of the looting, insurgency, and general lawlessness that beset the country. While Spain attempted to create a sense of law and order for Iraqis, he ran into a civilian and military leadership that suffered from constant personnel changes, lacked a unified plan, and was caught up in thinking about Iraq in terms of a war, which led them to neglect his work to rebuild the Iraqi police. Below is an interview with Colonel Spain about his experiences in Iraq from 2003-2004, and his general impression of how the U.S. did during that crucial first year.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2011/12/how-us-struggled-to-establish-law-and.html)

01-02-2012, 10:38 AM
I posted on Front Page. See here


01-04-2012, 01:35 AM
Run down and analysis of December's bombings in Baghdad.

On December 22, 2011, a series of bombs went off across Baghdad early in the morning as people were going to work. The blasts lasted for two hours, and hit different parts of the city. Only one was near a government building, with the rest concentrated in civilian areas. Al Qaeda’s front group the Islamic State of Iraq took responsibility for the attacks that left nearly 275 casualties. That was the deadliest day in the capital since the very beginning of the year.

continued here (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/december-22-2011-deadliest-day-in.html)

Moderator at work

I have closed all the threads in the Operation Iraqi Freedom arena and have moved a small number of threads that are current to the Middle East arena: End of Mission-Iraq, An interesting opinion (on the current Iraqi state), Iraq - A Strategic Blunder?, Dealing with Haditha and The British In Iraq (merged thread).

A small number of new threads by JWing have been merged into this thread.

01-04-2012, 03:44 PM
2011 just came to a close, and the end of the year statistics for deaths and attacks in Iraq showed a slight improvement from the previous year. The number of casualties, attacks, and averages all went down from 2010 to 2011. Baghdad and the surrounding provinces remained the center of violence in the country, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were the weapons of choice for militants. All of this showed the changed security situation in Iraq. No longer is the country in the middle of a civil war. In fact, it’s barely an insurgency anymore, but more of a major terrorist threat. The situation may improve even more this coming year, as some groups appear willing to give up their arms now that the United States has withdrawn its forces.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/security-slightly-improved-in-iraq-in.html)

01-05-2012, 03:32 PM
A major worry of some American analysts and soldiers is the situation in Kirkuk. Located in northern Iraq, it is the hub of Iraq’s disputed territories. For decades the city and surrounding area were contested, with Saddam Hussein trying to Arabize it by moving in people from southern and central Iraq, and forcing out Kurds and Turkmen. The Kurds responded with military offensives using their peshmerga to try to capture the city. Since 2003, those tensions have remained with all the major groups in the province claiming it. Many in the United States are afraid that this situation will deteriorate now that the U.S. military is not there. There are definitely on-going political disputes, and the future of the province remains unclear, but to think that the situation will unravel seems overblown.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/will-kirkuk-unravel-now-that-american.html)

01-06-2012, 03:34 PM
Just two weeks after a number of bombs wracked Baghdad, another series of mass casualty attacks occurred in Iraq targeting Shiites. This time explosives went off in two neighborhoods of Baghdad, and a small town in Dhi Qar province where pilgrims were walking towards Karbala for a religious ceremony leaving over 200 casualties. The press tied the attacks to the current political crisis within Iraq’s government, but they were probably planned out far before the current breakdown between political parties. There was also talk of Iraq descending back into civil war. While no one took responsibility yet, the bombings were likely the work of al Qaeda in Iraq. A look back at their operations showed that they carried out the exact same types of attacks in January 2011, and there was no retaliation by Shiites that could lead to a new civil conflict. The new violence then, was just a continuation of the current status quo, not a change in Iraq’s security situation.

continued here (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/deadly-bombings-on-january-5-2012.html)

01-07-2012, 07:17 PM
Part of an interview with the head of the League of the Righteous Special Group Qais Khazali where he apologizes for killing four British bodyguards who were kidnapped in 2007 along with a British IT Peter Moore.

video is here (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/telegraph-video-iraqi-militia-say-sorry.html)

01-11-2012, 03:48 PM
In November 2011, the Zogby Research Services released a new public opinion poll that in part, focused upon Iraqis’ views of their country before and after the U.S. withdrawal at the end of 2011. It found that people held very mixed feelings about what would happen after the American troops left. Most already believed that their country was not going in the right direction, and were worried about how the pulling out of American forces would affect that situation. At the same time, they expressed some optimism about their future.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/iraqis-have-mixed-views-of-their.html)

01-12-2012, 03:44 PM
The Arab Spring has swept across large swaths of the Middle East, and is still playing out today. Starting in Tunisia in December 2010 with protests and riots by youth, the surge for change against the old autocratic and dictatorial governments of the Arab world was launched. Some politicians and pundits in the United States eventually claimed that the revolutions occurring in the region were due to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. They argued that the democracy that the U.S. established there was an inspiration to Arabs around the region. A recent public opinion poll released by Zogby Research Services however, found that respondents in a number of Arab countries and Iran did not think that Iraq benefited from the American presence, undermining a cause and affect relationship between the transformation in Baghdad and other Arab capitals.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/did-iraq-lead-to-arab-spring-public.html)

01-13-2012, 09:48 PM
Moderator at work

I have closed all the threads in the Operation Iraqi Freedom arena and have moved a small number of threads that are current to the Middle East arena:

End of Mission-Iraq, An interesting opinion (on the current Iraqi state), Iraq - A Strategic Blunder?, Dealing with Haditha and The British In Iraq (merged thread).

A small number of new threads by JWing have been merged into this thread.

01-13-2012, 10:15 PM
A curious travelogue and politics article in FP by Emma Sky:
a visiting professor at the War Studies Department at King's College London and a former political advisor to the U.S. military in Iraq who has returned to post-US withdrawal Iraq and has an odd ending:
One showed me his hand, which he said had been crushed by U.S. soldiers who thought he was Jaish al-Mahdi. He had never been outside Iraq. I asked him which country in the world he would most like to visit. He responded: America.

Now I don't suppose she'd write in US publication anywhere else.


01-16-2012, 05:20 PM
Insurgents in Iraq have carried out a series of both high and low profile attacks in January 2012. Most of these were aimed at Shiite pilgrims heading to Karbala or another prominent mosque in Basra. There was also an attack upon a police headquarters in Anbar province. The press has called this a dramatic escalation of violence, but it largely followers the pattern of insurgent operations from previous years.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/insurgents-pick-up-attacks-in-january.html)

01-23-2012, 03:37 PM
At the end of December, 2011, the Iraqi Special Group know as Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the League of the Righteous, said that it was willing to join the country’s political process. This was due to the withdrawal of American forces that month. As a sign of good faith, it returned the body of a British bodyguard it had kidnapped and murdered back in 2007 to the British Embassy in Baghdad in January 2012. In America, this turn of events was greeted with caution as the organization is supported by Iran. Within Iraq, Baghdad welcomed the group’s decision, saying that it was an important step in the reconciliation process. The Sadrist movement was none too pleased with the League’s decision, seeing their former peers as future rivals. Every one of these concerns is likely to come true in the coming months. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will probably try to use the League against the Sadrists, so that he doesn’t have to rely upon the former as his main supporters, and these divisions within the Shiite parties will give Iran more influence as the moderator between the different factions.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-role-will-league-of-righteous-play.html)

01-25-2012, 03:54 PM
Diyala province in northeastern Iraq is facing its latest crackdown at the hands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In December 2011, the provincial council there voted to turn the governorate into an autonomous region. The decision led to an immediate backlash by Shiites within the province and by the central government. Protests against the move broke out, militias were reportedly blocking roads, and Baghdad asserted control over the local security forces. This was just the latest example of how Maliki has used his power against those in Diyala that oppose his agenda.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/iraqs-prime-minister-maliki-flexes-his.html)

02-06-2012, 03:44 PM
January 2012 has just come to an end, and the early numbers for deaths and attacks in Iraq have been released. Despite all the press about a new sectarian war, the statistics show that there was an increase in casualties last month, but they were close to figures seen in 2011. Insurgents were obviously trying to send a message after the departure of U.S. forces in December, but the Shiite pilgrimage of Arbayeen also provided a plethora of targets. In previous years, militants have only been able to keep up this level of activity for a month or two, and then they have had to re-group and re-arm. That points to January being a continuation of past trends in security, rather than a sign that Iraq will have a renewed civil conflict.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/02/january-2012-security-statistics.html)

02-06-2012, 05:52 PM
Civil wars require two sides. I doubt that the Sunni 'side' is far too divided and weak to stand up to any sort of Maliki/ISCI/Sadr alliance, beyond the odd assassination and terror bombing, which the latter mostly use to continue the trend towards greater clampdown on the Sunni community.

What we are seeing, I think, is the creation of a ramshackle, corrupt police state carved up into fiefdoms run by the Shia religious parties, with a Kurdish condominium in the north. Any genuine civil war will be between these parties, but I'm optimistic that the Kurds and the Shia parties will come to a reasonable accomodation, if only because the prizes are great enough to share. The internal political struggle in Iraq will look much more like one of Saddam's purges from the 1970s, which were plenty bloody, but not a full-blown civil war.

02-07-2012, 01:18 AM
There's not really a State of Law-SIIC-Sadr alliance.

After the 2009 provincial elections, the Supreme Council lost almost all of its local power, and that was followed by a large defeat in the 2010 parliament vote. When the government was being put together Maliki successfully split the SIIC from its former militia the Badr Brigade.

The Sadrists were the reason why Maliki won a second term, and have been the closest party aligned with Maliki. Maliki is trying to undermine them as well, by embracing the League of the Righteous special group that just decided to join the political process. It's leader Qais Khazali was a follower of Sadr's father, and Maliki is hoping to use that to weaken his dependence upon Moqtada.

These kinds of splits are seen within all the major lists. Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National Movement almost split during its recent boycott with some factions wanting to work with the premier and others wanting confrontation. The Kurdish KDP and PUK now face the Change List and two smaller Islamic parties. All of these divisions is what allows Maliki to stay in power because there's no real unified opposition to him, although many parties dislike him.

02-07-2012, 03:35 PM
In the West, Afghanistan has garnered far more press than Iraq in recent years. The deployment of additional troops under President Obama, and the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq were the two main causes. The media made it appear that Afghanistan was a far deadlier conflict than Iraq, which no longer has a full blown insurgency, and suffers more from a very serious terrorist threat. Statistics just released by the United Nations however, show that far more people died in Iraq in 2011 than in Afghanistan.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/02/iraq-still-deadlier-place-than.html)

02-07-2012, 05:42 PM
There's not really a State of Law-SIIC-Sadr alliance.

After the 2009 provincial elections, the Supreme Council lost almost all of its local power, and that was followed by a large defeat in the 2010 parliament vote. When the government was being put together Maliki successfully split the SIIC from its former militia the Badr Brigade.

The Sadrists were the reason why Maliki won a second term, and have been the closest party aligned with Maliki. Maliki is trying to undermine them as well, by embracing the League of the Righteous special group that just decided to join the political process. It's leader Qais Khazali was a follower of Sadr's father, and Maliki is hoping to use that to weaken his dependence upon Moqtada.

These kinds of splits are seen within all the major lists. Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National Movement almost split during its recent boycott with some factions wanting to work with the premier and others wanting confrontation. The Kurdish KDP and PUK now face the Change List and two smaller Islamic parties. All of these divisions is what allows Maliki to stay in power because there's no real unified opposition to him, although many parties dislike him.

So would it be safe to consider the Sadr movement as being in a state of full fracture, or is there still a dominant faction centered on Muqtada?

02-08-2012, 02:39 AM
Historically, the Sadr Trend has gone through dozens of splits because it was not a real organization, but more a loose confederation of groups that took general direction from Sadr. They haven't split recently however, and are riding high after the 2010 election. They got the most positions in the new government in return for ensuring Maliki a 2nd term. The premier is now trying to break off some of their followers using the League of the Righteous, but it's yet to be seen whether that's going to work or not. Sadr seems to be taking the threat seriously as he issues an attack upon the League at least once a week.

02-09-2012, 03:55 PM
I've never been to Iraq, not a US citizen, but this story about the US Embassy in Iraq is too important to ignore.

BAGHDAD — Less than two months after American troops left, the State Department is preparing to slash by as much as half the enormous diplomatic presence it had planned for Iraq, a sharp sign of declining American influence in the country.

Officials in Baghdad and Washington said that Ambassador James F. Jeffrey and other senior State Department officials were reconsidering the size and scope of the embassy, where the staff has swelled to nearly 16,000 people, mostly contractors.

The expansive diplomatic operation and the $750 million embassy building, the largest of its kind in the world, were billed as necessary to nurture a postwar Iraq on its shaky path to democracy and establish normal relations between two countries linked by blood and mutual suspicion. But the Americans have been frustrated by what they see as Iraqi obstructionism and are now largely confined to the embassy because of security concerns, unable to interact enough with ordinary Iraqis to justify the $6 billion annual price tag.


A few questions: Why does the US need 16,000 people in Baghdad? (That's an entire division). How does the US expect ordinary Iraqis to feel when US drones still buzz over their heads and a Vatican-sized embassy looms over the horizon?

This, however takes the cake:

Within days, the salad bar at the embassy dining hall ran low. Sometimes there was no sugar or Splenda for coffee. On chicken-wing night, wings were rationed at six per person. Over the holidays, housing units were stocked with Meals Ready to Eat, the prepared food for soldiers in the field.


Are you telling me that the US embassy cannot source sugar from Iraq? Six chicken wings per employee for 16,000 employees comes to about 48,000 chickens per Chicken night?

This suggests that we could easily be moving through 96,000 chickens per Chicken night if there is no rationing.

This thing is beyond parody :D, and it points to a trend I've observed in Nigeria - Fortress America. Diplomacy is a contact sport and if it is too dangerous to contact people, then there is no point being there.

(P.S: Do American embassies around the world all import their chicken wings?).

02-10-2012, 12:06 PM
I've no idea about the US diplomatic non-diet, but the huge embassy illustrates a possible American DoS principle: start large, get smaller.

Sadly it is a reflection of how assumptions create requirements that lead to construction plus and oh dear, we're wrong.

Time for the USA to dramatically reduce the staff and contractors in the embassy, plus the super-consulates elsewhere. At least it will not be the Imperial British exit from Kabul in 1842 or Saigon.

02-21-2012, 03:29 PM
Here's another interview I did. This one is with David Palkki of the National Defense University about a book he co-edited called The Saddam Tapes. It's based upon hundreds of captured audio files from the Saddam times and goes through his foreign and domestic policy like the wars he fought, sectarianism, dealing with the rise of Islamism, WMD, etc. There's also a video that goes along with it of all the editors. This is the first of the two-part interview. Enjoy.

David Palkki is the deputy director of the Conflict Records Research Center (CCRC) at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. The CCRC was created by the Secretary of Defense to provide scholars with access to captured documents from Iraq and Al Qaeda. This includes hundreds of papers and audio files from Saddam Hussein’s regime, some of which became the basis for the newly released Saddam Tapes co-edited by Kevin Woods, Mark Stout, and David Palkki. The book provides invaluable insight into everything from Saddam’s foreign policy, to his dealings with Iraq’s ethnosectarian groups, weapons of mass destruction, and United Nations’ sanctions and inspections. Below is the first of a two-part interview with David Palkki, which covers Saddam’s dealings with the United States, Israel, Iran, the Arab world, and the three wars he fought from 1980-2003. What emerges is a man that was obsessed with conspiracies against his country, while trying to place Iraq as the leader of the Middle East. Saddam often spent long hours with his inner circle discussing these matters, but he consistently miscalculated how other countries would react to his policies, leading to one foreign policy crisis after another for three straight decades.

Interview (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/02/saddam-tapes-inside-look-at-saddam.html)

Video (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/02/association-for-study-of-middle-east.html)

02-22-2012, 03:29 PM
Part 2 of my interview with David Palkki is now up. The second half focuses upon Saddam's domestic politics, sectarianism, WMD, weapons inspections, and the defection of his son-in-law in 1998.

David Palkki is the deputy director of the Conflict Records Research Center (CCRC) at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. He was the co-editor, along with Kevin Woods and Mark Stout of the recently released The Saddam Tapes. The book was based upon hundreds of captured tapes of Saddam and his inner circle discussing foreign and domestic issues from the 1970s to the 2000s. The first part of the interview covered Saddam’s foreign policy. The second half delves into how Saddam treated Shiites and Kurds, Islamism, weapons of mass destruction, the United Nations inspections, and the defection of his son-in-law Hussein Kamal in 1998. Overall, what The Saddam Tapes revealed was a dictator who spoke his mind both privately and publicly. Rather than a mad man, Saddam held wide-ranging discussions with his top advisors. The problem was he often miscalculated foreign affairs, but was much better at controlling his own people within Iraq.

2nd half of interview (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/02/saddam-tapes-inside-look-at-saddam_22.html)

03-01-2012, 03:33 PM
Kenneth Pollack of the Brooking Institution’s Saban Center has been a longtime American commentator on Iraq. At the beginning of February he published an article entitled “Iraq’s Endless Political Crisis,” which appeared in both The Atlantic and The National Interest. While he got some points right, he repeated some of the most common fallacies of Western analysts. One is the belief that the Iraqi National Movement (INM) is a unified entity, with a shared view that stood up to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The other is seeing Iraqi politics through a sectarian lens, namely that there is one Sunni party, the INM, which must have a seat at the government table for Iraqi politics to be fair and democratic. Neither of these points stands up to close scrutiny.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/03/kenneth-pollack-and-whats-wrong-with.html)

03-05-2012, 03:28 PM
Starting in March 2011, Syria faced a series of public outbursts against President Bashar al-Assad that turned increasingly violent. Syria’s neighbor Iraq immediately became concerned over those turn of events. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and many Shiite parties in Iraq were afraid that Sunni militants would take power if the Syrian government fell, so they started providing diplomatic support as well as sending fighters to Damascus’ aid. At the same time, Al Qaeda in Iraq saw an opportunity to take advantage of the growing chaos next door, smugglers thought that they could make a quick buck selling weapons to the Syrian opposition, and some tribes that straddled the border felt that they had to help out their compatriots. This is a dramatic turn of events as Syria use to be the source for foreign fighters and other militants infiltrating into Iraq to sow chaos, but now the tables are turned, and various Iraqi groups are going into Syria to assist both sides in the growing conflict there.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/03/more-iraqis-becoming-involved-in.html)

03-06-2012, 03:37 PM
After a series of articles warning that violence in Iraq was increasing, and that the country might be on the verge of a new civil war, the number of deaths was cut nearly in half in February 2012. Rather than marking a new trend in security, January’s high casualties were simply a result of the large number of targets available during the Shiite pilgrimage of Arbayeen to Karbala, and insurgents trying to make a statement after the U.S. troop withdrawal in December 2011. With only one mass casualty bombing, and an especially bloody day when militants were able to carry out attacks in seven provinces, February returned to the norm of monthly casualties.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/03/deaths-see-large-drop-in-iraq-from.html)

03-07-2012, 03:43 PM
As more news stories emerge of various groups within Iraq aiding one side or another in the emerging Syrian conflict, some recent reports highlight that not everyone is interested in their neighbor’s affairs. A few Iraqi insurgent groups and tribal sheikhs in Anbar have both announced that they would not be getting involved in Syria.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/03/not-all-in-iraq-want-to-get-involved.html)

03-08-2012, 03:27 PM
This is a video released by the Iranian-backed League of the Righteous. It shows an RPG-29 being fired at a M1A2 Abrams tank in Baghdad. The RPG-29 is supposed to be one of the few handheld anti-tank weapons capable of penetrating the armor of most Western main battle tanks. An RPG-29 was supposedly able to penetrate the armor of a British Challenger 2 tank in August 2006 in the city of Amarah, which is the provincial capital of Maysan province. Maysan was a strong hold of Shiite militias and Iranian-backed Special Groups at that time. The American military believed that Iran began sending a few of the weapons into Iraq in 2006. Some reports claimed that Lebanon’s Hezbollah was smuggling the rockets into Iraq via Syria.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/03/video-rpg-29-vs-m1a2-abrams-tank.html)

03-17-2012, 07:44 PM
A very odd BBC report, which clearly awaits the prisoner's release, so remains unconfirmed.

Opens with:
An Iraqi militant group says it has released a former US soldier it had been holding since last year.

Ends with:
The BBC's Rami Ruhayem in Baghdad says the announcement appears to have taken everyone by surprise, including the US.


Bob's World
03-21-2012, 02:17 PM

Currently a major focus on the part of the Army is capturing and applying "lessons learned from the past 10 years." Above article offers some insights that should be woven into that process.

03-24-2012, 02:47 PM
Two lengthy scholarly articles, by British academics which appear to reach similar conclusions on where Iraq is today and notably the role of 'security'.

Tody Dodge ends with:
Iraq today has a set of over-developed coercive institutions increasingly placed at the service of one man, its Prime Minister. The clear and present danger this poses to Iraq’s nascent democracy, its civil society and its population is obvious.


Charles Tripp starts with:
Violence in Iraq is not a throw-back to some more ‘primitive’ past, driven by dark passions dredged up from history. On the contrary, it has a logic and a constitutive power of its own fully in line with the contemporary experiences that Iraqis have undergone both before and after 2003. Moreover, it seems to be regarded by those in power as a good deal less troubling than public accountability.


04-05-2012, 07:20 AM
Headlines said that March 2012’s death count in Iraq was the lowest since the 2003 invasion. That was only based upon the Iraqi government’s official figures, which have been highly questionable. They have consistently been the lowest of the three organizations that maintain numbers on Iraqi deaths. Two of those three did show declines in casualties from February to March, but they were not their low points. Last month, did mark a low point for attacks, and continued the downward spiral of violence in Iraq seen in the last few years.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/04/violence-in-iraq-continues-downward.html)

04-09-2012, 04:43 PM
The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in December 2011, the upswing in violence in January 2012, and the on-going political crisis in Baghdad had many in the West declaring that not only was security deteriorating in the country, but that it might be heading towards a new civil war. Several commentators have recently taken up this argument, including Michael Knights of the Institute for Near East Policy, James Dubik and Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War, and Becca Wasser of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. These predictions seem to be premature, because while attacks and deaths went up as the United States withdrew its forces at the end of 2011, they have since dropped back down to their previous level. Most trends in violence continue a downward spiral.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/04/which-direction-is-violence-heading-in.html)

04-12-2012, 10:36 PM
In February 2012, the Iraqi government released its official figures for casualties from April 2004 to the end of 2011. It had over 69,000 deaths for that time period. That count was 40,000 less than other organizations that keep track of violence in Iraq. During the height of the civil war, the country’s ministries’ numbers were comparable to other groups, but since 2011 they have consistently been the lowest. While some Iraqi politicians have claimed that the official counts miss many deaths, it could also be argued that the statistics are being politicized by the prime minister who controls all of the security ministries.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/04/whats-wrong-with-iraqi-governments.html)

04-17-2012, 02:45 PM
In 2006, Francis Fukuyama published America at the Crossroads, Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. In it, he covered three important facets of American foreign policy with regards to Iraq. First, he went over neoconservative ideology, something often talked about with regards to the invasion of Iraq, but little understood. Second, he debunked the idea that it was solely neoconservatives within the Bush administration who were responsible for the war. Finally, he discussed how neoconservatives betrayed their own ideas by how they dealt with the invasion and reconstruction of the country. Altogether, the neoconservatives did contribute to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein that would in the end, help discredit them.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-role-did-neoconservatives-play-in.html)

04-17-2012, 02:45 PM
This video shows M1A1 Abrams tanks destroyed and disabled in Iraq. The first half is a mix of insurgent videos and photographs from the U.S. military, individuals, and the media showing tanks being blown up, mostly by roadside bombs, but later perhaps by Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) or newer versions of the RPG. Footage from militant groups like Ansar al-Sunnah and the Jihad and Liberation Front can be seen. Half way through the images switch to tanks that have simply been disabled by getting stuck in mud, falling off bridges and elevated roads, etc.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/04/m1a1-abrams-tanks-in-iraq.html)

04-20-2012, 06:55 PM
An IISS Strategic Comment:http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-comments/past-issues/volume-18-2012/april/iraq-maliki-power-grab-risks-fresh-civil-war/

It ends with:
The longer-term risk, therefore, is that Maliki's ambitions may yet drive the country back into civil war.

05-02-2012, 02:29 PM
April 2012 saw a slight increase in attacks in Iraq, but the number of deaths was largely unchanged from the previous month. That’s because just like in March, there was only one day of mass casualty violence in the country. Iraq is still in the in the winter months, and historically this has been when militants are less active.

The three organizations that record Iraqi deaths showed differing trends in April. Iraq Body Count’s initial figures showed 290 deaths last month. That was down from 320 in March, but just around February’s 293. The United Nations’ Inter Agency Information and Analysis Unit had 293 casualties, which was only one more than March’s 294. Both figures were higher than the 254 deaths in February. Finally, Iraq’s Ministry’s said that there were 126 deaths in April, slightly up from 112 in March. Bagdad’s official numbers have consistently been the lowest of the three since the beginning of 2011. That’s likely because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who currently holds all the security ministries, is purposely keeping them low to maintain a positive image of the country. All together, the three figures averaged out to 236 deaths for April, which was just below March’s 242, and around February’s 232. January was the deadliest month of the year so far when militants not only used the American military withdrawal from the country to make a point that they were still a force to be reckoned with, but also targeted Shiites who were on a pilgrimage in the New Year. An average of 371 Iraqis were killed in the first month of the year. The daily averages have barely changed since then as well. In February, there was an average of 8.0 deaths per day, followed by 7.8 per day for both March and April. Those are comparable to November and December 2011 when an average of 8.0 and 9.0 people died per day respectively. Since the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s militants have been most active in the hot summer months. During the winter, they are usually quieter, planning and rearming. In the beginning of 2011 for example, there were an average of 9.7 deaths per day in January, 8.1 in February, 8.8 in March, 8.6 in April, before starting to pick up to 9.3 in May, 12.0 in June, 10.1 in July, 11.7 in August, 10.9 in September, 11.0 in October, before dropping down to single figures again when the temperatures dropped.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/violence-slightly-up-in-iraq-in-april.html)

SWJ Blog
05-09-2012, 12:50 AM
A Discussion with Emma Sky (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/a-discussion-with-emma-sky)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/a-discussion-with-emma-sky) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

05-12-2012, 10:18 PM
Although the Iraqi economy is dominated by the government, which runs the oil industry, small businesses have always existed, and are currently thriving in Iraq. The problem is that they are a very tiny proportion of the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Their growth cannot currently address the country's employment and development problems, yet there appear to be more of them, which helps local economies. Below are pictures of various vendors and firms seen throughout Baghdad in February, March, and April 2012.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/vendors-and-small-businesses-in-baghdad.html)

05-12-2012, 10:19 PM
Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Kurdistan Region’s President Massoud Barzani are currently caught in a war of words about the future of the government. As part of that dispute, the two recently traded barbs about the Iraqi security forces. While visiting the United States, President Barzani told American officials that they should delay the delivery of F-16 fighters to the Iraqi Air Force, because they might be used against the Kurds. Barzani also claimed that Kurdish officers in the armed forces were being sidelined. The central government retaliated by demanding that the Kurdish peshmerga turn over their heavy weapons. These charges will likely continue, and even escalate as the current political crisis remains deadlocked.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/iraqs-premier-and-kurdistans-president.html)

05-12-2012, 10:20 PM





05-14-2012, 02:30 PM
Toby Dodge, Michael Knights, and others discuss political, economic, security situation in Iraq


05-14-2012, 02:33 PM
In May 2012, it was announced that an Iraqi court ordered Lebanese Hezbollah commander Ali Mussa Daqduq to be released from prison. The reason was a lack of evidence against him. This could have been predicted long ago, as his case was based upon an investigation by the American military, not Iraqi judges. In the United States, the decision will be condemned, and people will attempt to lay blame upon the Obama administration, but those comments are really about American domestic politics, rather than a real concern or understanding of the case.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/hezbollah-commander-about-to-be.html)

05-15-2012, 02:37 PM
Iraq’s Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi left Iraq more than a month and a half ago, because of an arrest warrant and impending court date against him. He and his bodyguards have been accused of carrying out over one hundred attacks upon officials and members of the security forces. His stated reason for his departure was a tour of the region to consult with foreign dignitaries and leaders. Currently, he is in Turkey for medical treatment. The way it’s looking however, the vice president may be starting a self-imposed exile as he has quietly remarked that he may not return home until there is a political deal to resolve his case.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/iraqs-vice-president-could-be-heading.html)

05-16-2012, 02:30 PM

05-16-2012, 02:32 PM
At the beginning of May 2012, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made a provocative trip to Kirkuk in Tamim province. There he held a meeting of his cabinet, and declared the city an Iraqi one. This was a bold move aimed at not only his main rivals, the Iraqi National Movement (INM), which won half the votes in the province in the 2010 elections, but also the Kurdish Coalition, that wants to annex Kirkuk. The event was meant to bring back Maliki’s nationalist image, which he had dropped for sectarianism in the last vote, as well as drive a wedge between the National Movement and Kurds who had increasingly been working together to oppose the prime minister.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/malikis-visit-to-kirkuk-meant-to-divide.html)

05-17-2012, 02:21 PM

05-17-2012, 02:23 PM

05-17-2012, 02:27 PM
For several months now the Iraqi parliament has been requesting that Minister of Higher Education Ali al-Adeeb appear before it over charges that he abused the law, and followed a sectarian policy while in office. The Minister has repeatedly refused, and his list, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law has claimed that his summons is unconstitutional. On top of that, the party got the courts to rule that the legislature can only question high officials under special circumstances. This is just one sign of the parliament’s inability to do its job of overseeing the country's affairs.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/failure-of-iraqs-parliament-to-oversee.html)

05-17-2012, 03:40 PM

I wonder if Iran feels a need to secure overland routes into Syria and so supply the regime there. A pity the linked briefing did not have a good map.

IIRC Iran has overflown that area for many years to supply its allies in The Lebanon and Syria.

Given the concerns of the Turks on Syria, let alone Kurdistan, is this reported deployment likely to contribute to tension? Let alone the KRG's reaction!

05-18-2012, 02:19 PM

05-18-2012, 02:20 PM

05-18-2012, 02:22 PM

05-18-2012, 02:24 PM

05-18-2012, 02:26 PM

05-18-2012, 02:27 PM

05-18-2012, 02:28 PM

05-18-2012, 02:31 PM
On May 7, 2012, Hillah in Babil province, just south of Baghdad, held a spring cultural festival. They used to be common events under Saddam Hussein, and a member of the provincial council has tried to bring them back. The councilman complained however that local clerics and religious parties pushed not to include the traditional dancing and music that the event was known for. The Associated Press reported that this exclusion led to a lackluster response by the citizenry.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/spring-festival-in-babil-iraq.html)

05-19-2012, 01:37 AM

Turkey is pretty much concerned about any action Iran takes these days in Iraq. That being said, Iran has been shipping weapons and supplies to Syria for decades. They don't need a base in Kurdistan now to facilitate that. What was in the Stratfor video appears to be just what Turkey has been doing, which is to place some troops along the border area to counter the PKK/PJAK.

05-21-2012, 02:36 PM
In a surprising move, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reconciled with his Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq. The former called Maliki a dictator in December, which set off another crisis between the two politicians and their respective parties. Maliki had Mutlaq banned from the cabinet, and called for a no confidence vote. Mutlaq returned the favor calling for the prime minister to be removed. In the last several months however, the two have been holding quiet talks behind closed doors that eventually led to the deputy premier returning to work. This is another sign that Maliki continues to outplay his opponents, especially Mutlaq’s Iraqi National Movement (INM) that is beset by internal divisions.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/iraqs-premier-maliki-and-his-deputy.html)

05-22-2012, 02:23 PM
Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been following its own independent oil policy. Part of that has included attracting foreign companies to invest in the disputed territories that stretch across Ninewa, Salahaddin, Tamim, and Diyala provinces. This is part of the Kurds’ larger plans to annex these areas. Several companies entered into such deals, but most of them were small to medium sized. At the end of 2011, Kurdistan pulled off a coup when it got Exxon Mobile to agree to terms for six blocks, three of which were in the disputed areas. What’s more, it’s not clear that all the corporations knew that they were going to work in those places, and the KRG has officially denied that it has signed any contracts for them. By inking deals there, the Kurds hope to create facts on the ground to help their claims to the land, and solidify their control over them.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/kurdistans-oil-policy-and-iraqs.html)

05-23-2012, 02:33 PM
Even though Iraq is supposed to be a democracy, it lacks many prerequisites of that political system. One is that it does not have due process, and torture and abuse of prisoners is common. That has been documented again in again by human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch. That group’s most recent report, “Iraq: Mass Arrests, Incommunicado Detentions” went over two major arrest campaigns carried out by the government at the end of 2011 against alleged Baathists, and another in March 2012 before the Arab League Summit in Baghdad. In both cases, the security forces rounded up hundreds of people with no warrants, and held them incommunicado, often in secret facilities. This all goes to show that while Iraq has the trappings of a democratic system, it is not quite there yet, because it still does not respect its citizens’ rights.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/05/human-rights-watch-reports-on-two-mass.html)

05-25-2012, 07:06 AM
Didn't see another thread where this fit... moderators, feel free to move it if there is one.

Foreign Affairs on the maneuvering to succeed Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and the rise of the Iranian Candidate...

The Struggle to Succeed Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani
A Letter From Najaf

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is rarely seen. The most revered spiritual leader for the world's 170 million Shiite Muslims, he hardly ever speaks in public. Some 90 miles south of Baghdad, in Najaf, the seat of Shiite religious power, people say that in the last few years the 82-year-old Sistani has grown frail and relies increasingly on one of his sons to carry out his duties. "He's a weak old man; soon he might have to go to London for more treatment," a local student of religious politics says. (Like most who were interviewed for this report, the student wished to remain anonymous.)

As Sistani ages, a struggle to succeed him has begun, putting the spiritual leadership of one of the world's foremost faiths in play. But with neighboring Iran moving to install its preferred candidate in the position, the secular political foundations of Iraq's fledgling democracy are at risk. Consequently, what amounts to a spiritual showdown could pose a challenge to Washington's hope for postwar Iraq to serve as a Western-allied, moderate, secular state in the heart of the Middle East.

Shia doctrine requires that an incumbent die before jockeying can begin in a succession process that is as opaque as it is informal. But Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the 64-year-old cleric who is widely seen as Tehran's preferred choice, has jumped the gun by sending an advance party to open an office in Najaf....


06-14-2012, 02:28 PM
The pace of operations by Iraq’s militants is largely determined by the weather. During the colder winter months, they carry out far fewer attacks. When the weather gets hotter, the number of incidents goes way up. In 2012, the insurgency started their summer offensive in June with a series of attacks upon Shiite pilgrims and the Shiite Endowment. That was followed by a wave of attacks on June 13 up and down the entire length of the country with all of Iraq’s major groups hit. In the coming days and weeks there were will be more such events, resulting in an increase in casualties. This is not a turn for the worse in Iraq’s security situation, but rather the normal pattern of attacks that has been followed for the last nine years.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/06/iraq-insurgents-launch-summer-offensive.html)

06-18-2012, 03:18 PM
What Moqtada al-Sadr wants out of Iraqi politics has been a major question on the minds of many since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein. After the 2010 parliamentary elections, the Sadr bloc in parliament at first opposed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s return to power, but then became the main supporters of his second term. Since February 2012 however, Sadr has become one of the premier’s leading critics calling him a dictator, and seemingly leading the push for a no confidence vote against him. A closer look at the bloc’s announcements however, show that it continually makes contradictory statements, convoluting its message, and making it hard to determine its true goals. It appears that Sadr does not want to depose the prime minister at this time, but is rather setting the ground work to challenge his State of Law list in the next round of elections.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-does-iraqs-sadr-want.html)

07-05-2012, 06:07 AM
Every summer since 2003, Iraq’s insurgents have launched an offensive. The hotter months bring out the militants, and they launch a number of prominent, mass casualty attacks across the country, along with their routine operations. These are aimed at undermining the government, fomenting sectarian tensions, as well as garnering publicity, which the insurgents use in their fund raising. That means for the next several months there will be increased press reports about violence, and the monthly death counts will go up, but this is just a temporary spike.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/07/insurgents-summer-offensive-begins-in.html)

07-10-2012, 06:27 PM
Mark Kukis worked as a journalist for Time magazine in Iraq from 2006-2009. That covered the peak of the civil war. During those years it was hard to get around the country, and even harder to talk to any Iraqis out of fear that they might be killed for being seen with an American. In January 2009, when the sectarian conflict had faded, Kukis got the idea to put together an oral history of Iraq, inspired by The Good War by Studs Terkel. Unlike the vast majority of books on the subject, this would not be a story told by the Americans, but rather one by the Iraqis themselves, something that has largely been missing from most of the reporting on the country. Using the Iraqi staff at Time, he was able to interview dozens and dozens of Iraqis from all parts of Iraq except for Kurdistan, because it largely escaped the civil war. These were put together in his 2011 book Voices From Iraq, A People’s History, 2003-2009. Below is an interview with Kukis about his motivation, and some of the amazing stories he heard. This adds an important chapter to the Iraq War, because it includes the Iraqi perspective of the struggles that they went through during the U.S. invasion, the insurgency, and the subsequent civil conflict.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/07/iraqi-perspective-on-iraq-war-interview.html)

07-19-2012, 03:39 PM
The summer 2012 edition of International Security had an article entitled “Testing the Surge, Why Did Violence Decline in Iraq in 2007?” by Stephen Biddle, Jeffrey Friedman, and Jacob Shapiro. The article asked which events caused the end of Iraq’s civil war. It critiqued the ideas that it was the cleansing of Baghdad, the Anbar Awakening or the Surge alone. Instead, it argued that it was a combination of the Surge troops and new counterinsurgency tactics along with the Anbar Awakening and the Sons of Iraq program. The piece had several problems. First, the authors misconstrued the nature of the fighting in Baghdad as an unrelenting battle for territory when it was more about local groups trying to impose their will on each other. Second, it claimed that security did not improve until mid-2007. That ignored the fact that while attacks increased when the Surge started Iraqi deaths had already peaked in December 2006, and declined after that showing that there was another dynamic going on besides just the troop increase. Finally, it failed to consider the impact of Sunni militants feeling that the Shiite militias had beaten them as a turning point in the war. Overall, the main point of “Testing the Surge” has been made before, and there were simply too many holes in the argument for it to stand up.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/07/critique-of-testing-surge-article.html)

Bill Moore
07-23-2012, 07:36 AM
Pretty much as anticipated by most followers of the region. ISI is far from destroyed, and much like the end of the USSR war in Afghanistan, I suspect we'll see ISI blow back in the coming years with attacks on our homeland and in Europe.


Al-Baghdadi said to the United States: “You will see the mujahideen (holy warriors) at the heart of your country, since our war with you has only started now.”

“At the top of your priorities regarding targets is to chase and liquidate the judges, the investigators and the guards,” he said.

We can watch the news and see if they actually have the means to carry this strategy out.

Al-Baghdadi devoted almost half of the 33-minute speech to Syria’s uprising against the regime of President Bashar Assad, member of a Shiite offshoot sect. The uprising is largely Sunni and fighters from al Qaeda, including Iraqis, are believed to have taken an increasingly active role in recent months.

No surprises here either.

07-31-2012, 04:58 PM
Dr. Michael Knights is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is also the Vice President of Olive Group, an international security company that works in Iraq. Knights has been researching, writing, and working in Iraq for the last three decades. He is one of the premier analysts on the security situation within the country. From 2005-2008 Iraq fell into a sectarian civil war that almost destroyed the nation. It has only been in the last few years that it has been able to claw itself out of this situation. Many are unaware of what security is like currently in Iraq, because the news is dominated by stories about bombings and killings. Today, violence has become very local with only select areas affected, which has allowed the majority of Iraqis to return to their normal lives. That doesn’t mean that Iraq is anything like a normal country, but things are changing. Unfortunately, the country’s political crisis is a major factor dividing the country, and creating a fertile environment for militants to continue to operate in. Below is an interview with Knights about what security is like in different parts of the country, what role politics plays in the situation, and the future of the insurgency.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/07/what-is-security-like-today-in-iraq.html)

07-31-2012, 06:21 PM

Excellent interview thank you. Good to get a sense of what is happening, even if the Iraqi security forces have reverted to their historical practices.

08-01-2012, 04:33 PM
In 2004 and 2006, the British medical journal The Lancet published two reports by an American-Iraqi survey team that estimated the number of deaths that occurred after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Together, they popularly became known as the Lancet Reports. They immediately gained notoriety, because their numbers were far above any others. The first one estimated 98,000 excess deaths from March 2003 to September 2004. The second had a figure of 654,965 killed from March 2003 to July 2006. The two studies had major flaws with them that undermined their findings. Four of them were the timing of their release, the conduct of the survey teams that interviewed Iraqis, the fact that their methodology and protocol were not always followed, and the writers’ refusal to share their data. While the two reports were received well by the public, this ignored the major flaws in their work.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-major-flaws-with-lancet-reports-on.html)

08-02-2012, 05:43 PM
The British medical journal The Lancet published two reports on the estimated deaths caused by the Iraq war in 2004 and 2006. They were generally well received by the public and media, but behind the scenes they started a long debate amongst academics and researchers about their results. The reason why this happened was because the Lancet papers had casualty figures far above almost every single report or survey done before or after. Much of this controversy centered around statistical anomalies, but also included how they presented other work on fatalities after the 2003 invasion. What this highlighted were major flaws in the two Lancet reports that largely debunked their findings.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/08/major-flaws-with-lancet-reports-on.html)

08-06-2012, 04:52 PM
Iraq’s Kurds have been making waves both domestically and internationally recently. Kurdish Regional President Massoud Barzani has been in an extended political dispute with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki over the distribution of power within the state. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has attracted major energy companies to invest in its oil industry, and has talked about building its own pipelines to neighboring Turkey. Those events have raised the question of Kurdish independence. Dr. Denise Natali holds the Minerva Chair at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. She is the author of The Kurdish Quasi-state: Development and Dependency in Post-Gulf War Iraq and The Kurds and the State: Evolving National Identity in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran, and has researched, lived, and worked in the Kurdistan region since 1992. What follows is an interview with Dr. Natali about the Kurds’ political and economic strategy, as well as the internal situation within the KRG. She believes that talk of Kurdish independence is unrealistic, because the Kurdistan Region is economically dependent upon Baghdad, has no clearly accepted territorial boundaries of a Kurdish state, and has no regional support for its political ambitions, including from Turkey.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-state-of-kurdish-regional.html)

08-07-2012, 04:23 PM
Iraq’s insurgents are in the midst of their summer offensive. June 2012 saw a string of deadly attacks as a result. Despite all the press that generated, two out of three groups that recorded casualties in Iraq last month noted a decrease showing that there is not always a correlation between security incidents and fatalities. More importantly, recent events highlight the current deadlock in the country’s security situation. On the one hand, Al Qaeda in Iraq is trying to re-assert itself. On the other, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have returned to being a reactive, and often times repressive force. Neither side has the ability to win this struggle meaning that Iraq will continue to witness this level of violence.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/08/on-going-summer-offensive-by-insurgents.html)

08-10-2012, 03:20 PM
Starting in 2005, the United States began accusing Iran of supplying weapons to Iraqi militants. This included assault rifles, machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, explosives, mortars, and rockets. The deadliest device was the Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) that were capable of destroying Coalition armored vehicles. The Americans would routinely hold press conferences on the topic, and take journalists to see arms caches allegedly full of weapons from Iran. Some were skeptical of these accusations since Washington failed so badly on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and believed that the claims against Tehran were just an attempt to expand the conflict to another country. Below is an interview with Galen Wright who runs the blog The Arkenstone that specializes in Iranian military affairs, which goes through some of the major claims made about Tehran’s arms shipments to Iraq.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-history-of-iranian-weapons-shipments.html)

08-14-2012, 04:20 PM
Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lived in exile for over twenty years, while Saddam Hussein was in power. As a member of the outlawed Islamic Dawa Party, he felt like his life was in danger, and ended up fleeing to Syria and Iran. During his years living abroad, he was in a world of intrigue facing internal divisions within Dawa, having to deal with government and intelligence officials from Tehran and Damascus, and the other exile opposition parties. Back in Iraq, Dawa was conducting an armed struggle against the regime, leading to constant round-ups and executions, meaning that Maliki was always under threat from Baghdad’s agents. Those long years away from home, shaped Maliki, and how he saw politics. After the U.S. invasion in 2003, Maliki returned to Iraq mistrustful of others, and with a conspiratorial mind, which has played a large role in how he has governed as premier.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-conspiratorial-mind-of-iraqs-prime.html)

08-21-2012, 03:34 PM
Moderator's Note: See Post 87 for the video, it was removed by you Tube

ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ VIDEO: Islamic State of Iraq Gunmen In Disguise Attacking Several Checkpoints

ISI fighters dressed as SWAT teams with vehicles and uniforms attack checkpoints throughout Anbar, executing guards


08-21-2012, 07:02 PM

Turkey is pretty much concerned about any action Iran takes these days in Iraq. That being said, Iran has been shipping weapons and supplies to Syria for decades. They don't need a base in Kurdistan now to facilitate that. What was in the Stratfor video appears to be just what Turkey has been doing, which is to place some troops along the border area to counter the PKK/PJAK.

Any negotiation with Iran at this point would be about as useful as was any deals made with Hitler in the 1930`s. How would I know this? Many would agree that it is the "hand writing on the wall." I really feel bad to be such a cynical person. RAB

08-29-2012, 01:18 AM
In December 1998, the United States and England launched the largest attack upon Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War. Dubbed Operation Desert Fox, the campaign turned out to be a short one of just four days of bombing and missile strikes. The cause was Saddam Hussein’s continued refusal to cooperate with the United Nations’ weapons inspectors, who withdrew from the country shortly before the operation started, and would not return again until the end of 2002. At the time, Desert Fox was highly controversial within the United States, because it came on the heels of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Many politicians and analysts derided the attack as being a diversion from American domestic politics, and ineffective due to its short duration, and because Iraq was left to operate with no inspectors in the country. Supporters said it almost caused a coup. After the fall of the regime, investigators found that the program ended Iraq’s hopes of rebuilding its chemical and biological weapons operations. In the end, Operation Desert Fox proved to have far more effects upon Iraq than initially thought.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-operation-desert-fox-finished-off.html)

08-29-2012, 02:26 PM
The Islamic State of Iraq/Al Qaeda in Iraq video of attacks upon checkpoints in Anbar is back up. ISI fighters dressed as SWAT teams with vehicles and uniforms attack checkpoints throughout Anbar, executing guards


08-29-2012, 02:30 PM
In November 2005, an American military unit found a secret prison in an Iraqi Interior Ministry building in Baghdad. It contained over 170 prisoners, many of which showed signs of torture. U.S. and Iraqi officials knew that abuses were taking place within the country for quite some time, but had said little about it beforehand. Human rights groups had also noted mistreatment, but gotten little coverage. The detention center however, received worldwide attention, and let the world know that Iraq had not progressed much when it came to human rights despite the fall of Saddam Hussein.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-world-found-out-that-iraq-still.html)

09-05-2012, 02:36 PM
Since the United States withdrew its military in December 2011, Iraq’s insurgents have grown bolder and deadlier. Press reports of large scale attacks in 2012 would seem to point to this turn of events, but the number of deaths and security incidents are largely unchanged from 2011 to 2012. It’s only upon closer examination of the number of casualties per attack and the fact that Shiite Special Groups have largely ceased their operations that the turn in security can be deciphered. This largely undermines hopes that the insurgency would be fading now that foreign forces are out of Iraq.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/09/iraqs-insurgents-have-grown-deadlier.html)

09-06-2012, 02:31 PM
When talking about the relationship between Iraq and Syria, the conventional wisdom seems to be that Baghdad is backing Damascus at the behest of Iran. Syria has been one of Tehran’s closest allies in the region. It is therefore threatened by the possible fall of President Bashar al-Assad. Many also see Iraq as being under the influence of Iran now that the United States military is out of the country. This assumes that Iraq cannot act independently, and is basically a proxy of Tehran in the Middle East. This theory overlooks the security concerns of the Iraqi government, which is the driving force being its Syrian policy.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/09/understanding-iraqs-syrian-policy.html)

09-17-2012, 02:37 PM
In an interview with Musings On Iraq, Dr. Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy pointed out that violence in Iraq has become increasingly localized. Between provinces and cities within the country there are great variations in the level of attacks and deaths. For instance, in places like Baghdad and Mosul there are on average a 100 a more attacks per month. That compares to places like Kut in Wasit province where an incident may only happen every few months. Even within cities there are differences. Mosul per capita, is the most violent urban area in Iraq, but even there 100 attacks spread out across a 10 mile area with around 1.8 million people means most only hear or read about an explosion or gunfire rather than actually witness it. This all points to the complicated nature of security in Iraq at present. Press reports of mass casualty bombings, especially now with the insurgents carrying out a summer offensive, give the impression that the whole nation must be on fire. A study of casualties across 30 cities shows that militants are in fact greatly limited in where they can carry out their deadly work.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-localized-nature-of-violence-in-iraq.html)

10-16-2012, 02:50 PM
Immediately after the 2003 invasion, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) did not think a new Iraqi army was necessary. Many American officials in Iraq believed that a strong military would bring back memories of Saddam Hussein amongst the Kurdish and Shiite populations. Even when the CPA finally began to see the errors of their ways they still wanted a small and light force. As security quickly deteriorated in the country, the U.S. was forced to recognize that a new military was needed to take on the insurgents and militias. Still, the effort was done in a haphazard way. The ultimate goal was to stand up a Iraqi forces so that the American troops could withdraw. Again and again this plan was shelved as violence grew in the country. It wasn’t until the middle of 2004 that the U.S. finally put in place the organizations that would eventually create a new Iraqi security force. It would still take years for this to be anything close to an effective institution, and the effort suffered from many setbacks.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/10/rebuilding-iraqs-army-in-warzone.html)

10-27-2012, 03:19 AM
At the beginning of October 2012, Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki went on a diplomatic mission to Russia and the Czech Republic. After meeting with each country’s leaders, the premier signed two large arms deals for jets, helicopters, and ground-to-air missiles. These will be used for both internal and external defense, with the latter being a high priority as the nation lacks any real air defense at this time. As with most major decisions made by Baghdad, these contracts got caught up in domestic politics as the Kurdish Coalition criticized them. Iraq has traditionally bought weapons from Eastern Europe, and has done so in recent years, and will likely to continue to do so in the future, regardless of what the Kurds have to say about it.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/10/iraq-arms-purchases-from-eastern-europe.html)

11-05-2012, 03:34 PM
Iraq saw a bloody summer this year as insurgent groups launched their annual offensive. In three out of the four months during the season, there were double-digit deaths per day. That now appears to have ended with a large reduction in casualties in October 2012.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/11/iraq-insurgents-summer-offensive.html)

11-19-2012, 06:07 PM
Keith Mines is not your typical Foreign Service Officer. He is a former soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division and 7th Special Forces Group with service in Central America. He then joined the State Department, and served around the world, often in conflict and post-conflict nations. Some of the places he has been posted include Israel, El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan, Somalia, and Hungary. Recently he worked on counternarcotics in Mexico, and is now serving his second term in Afghanistan. From August 2003 to February 2004, he was the top Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) officer in Anbar province. There he saw all of the early hopes and problems with the United States’ administration of Iraq. Below is an interview with Keith Mines about his work in Anbar and for the CPA.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-anbar-province-showed-promise-and.html)

12-07-2012, 03:33 PM
Today, the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish peshmerga are facing off across the disputed areas of northern Iraq, while politicians in Baghdad and Irbil are in a heated war of words. The point of contention is the new Tigris Operations Command created by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The recent events are almost an exact replay of 2008 when the central government confronted the Kurdish parties in Diyala province. Both appeared aimed at shoring up the premier’s standing with the electorate before provincial elections. Regional President Massoud Barzani also benefited as he rallied the Kurdish parties behind him. On the outside these confrontations looked like they could escalate into open warfare, but they were more political theater than anything else.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/12/current-baghdad-kurdistan-dispute.html)

12-12-2012, 03:47 PM
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the West was both shocked and amused by the announcements made by Iraq’s Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, better known as “Baghdad Bob.” He repeatedly claimed that the Americans and British were being thrashed, and that Iraq was winning the war. These comments were incomprehensible in the West as their news was reporting a quick and deadly thrust by the U.S. led Coalition, which reached Baghdad in only a matter of weeks. In fact, Minister Sahaf’s pronouncements reflected what Saddam Hussein’s government was actually hearing from its military and officials. This was due to the environment the Iraqi dictator created based upon Iraq’s history, and his conspiratorial mind.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/12/understanding-saddams-information.html)

12-13-2012, 03:43 PM
Iraq’s military confrontations with the United States largely shaped the Saddam Hussein’s view of America. Each time Iraq did something provocative in the 1990s the White House would usually respond with a few cruise missiles, which did not have much affect. The Iraqi dictator believed that the U.S. was therefore wed to air power rather than the use of its ground forces. America’s defeat in the Vietnam War, and its experience in Somalia and Serbia seemed to solidify Saddam’s opinion. For all of those reasons, Baghdad did not believe that the Bush administration was serious about going to war in 2003.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/12/why-saddam-hussein-did-not-see-united.html)

12-19-2012, 03:46 PM
Today, the reign of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria is teetering in the face of a popular uprising. His Baath Party, which used to administer the state, has collapsed giving way to a quasi-Assad family-military rule. The security forces and intelligence agencies are faltering in their attempt to suppress the rebels as well. A look at how the Syrian regime has been run shows close similarities to the rule of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Both ran their governments not through institutions, but with family. The two Baathist dictators were also afraid of coups, and therefore undermined their own militaries and intelligence agencies to protect themselves. The shortcomings of such strategies are now all to apparent as Assad is expected to eventually fall from power.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/12/lessons-from-iraq-how-saddam-and-assad.html)

12-20-2012, 03:42 PM
There was never any question that Iraq was going to be defeated by the U.S.-led Coalition in 2003. Saddam Hussein’s meddling in military planning before the war however, helped account for why the Iraqi armed forces fared so poorly. The United States was expecting a real fight with the Republican Guard, and to take the capital, but that never materialized. That was partly because three months before the invasion the Iraqi dictator completely changed his country’s defense plans with no provisions for how it was to be implemented.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-saddam-doomed-defense-of-iraq-in.html)

12-30-2012, 04:48 PM
A depressing, detailed article from Foreign Affairs: 'The Iraq We Left Behind:
Welcome to the World’s Next Failed State' by Ned Parker, published early in 2012, but provided by a "lurker" today:http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137103/ned-parker/the-iraq-we-left-behind?page=show

The FA summary:
Weeks after the last U.S. soldier finally left the country, Iraq is on the road to becoming a failed state, with a deadlocked political system, an authoritarian leader, and a looming threat of disintegration. Baghdad can still pull itself together, but only if Washington starts applying the right kind of democratic pressure -- and fast.

It must have "set alarms off" in Washington DC, as a month later there was a riposte:
Iraq is hardly the failed state that Ned Parker portrayed in these pages, argues Antony Blinken, the U.S. vice president’s national security adviser. Norman Ricklefs sees Iraq’s politics becoming more moderate and less sectarian. Parker replies that despite these improvements, Baghdad still violates human rights and ignores the rule of law.

Link behind a free, registration wall:http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137700/antony-j-blinken-norman-ricklefs-ned-parker/is-iraq-on-track

Like many here I expect we rarely look at what is happening now in Iraq, although thanks to JWing we can read his updates. From my little reading if anything Ned Parker's arguments are stronger today than when written.

If Iraq becomes a 'failed state' or more likely a brutal dictatorship, if the public in the UK and the USA notice further interventions abroad may be greeted with incredulity. Even more so if Afghanistan "goes down the tubes" and is seen as a waste of lives, money and power.

12-31-2012, 08:21 PM
I don't think Iraq will become a dictatorship. That would require the ending of elections and the political parties won't allow that to happen. It could become more of an autocracy however, because the opposition to PM Maliki is so weak and hungry for power itself that it's unable to stop his concentration of power. What will likely happen is a generation of dysfunctional government as Iraq tries to claw its way out of decades of dictatorship, sanctions, and wars, and transitions into a new society. Maybe something like a mix of Mexico when the PRI won every election and Nigeria with its oil wealth, corruption, and low level violence.

12-31-2012, 08:22 PM
Saddam Hussein was completely misunderstood by the United States before the 2003 invasion. Iraqi statements were mostly discounted by Washington such as its willingness to accept renewed United Nations inspections at the end of 2002 or its fanciful claims that it was winning the war in 2003. That was because the Bush administration didn’t understand Baghdad’s worldview. Nine years after the Baathist regime was toppled there still a lack of understanding of the Iraqi perspective. There are extensive records now available that can help explain what Saddam’s government was thinking. These are being made available through the Iraqi Perspectives Project, and other sources. What they show was that two main factors shaped how Baghdad reacted to the Bush administration. First, Iraq’s long history of coups and uprisings led Saddam to rule through fear to prevent another one from toppling him. Second, his analysis of American foreign policy led him to believe that the Bush administration would be exactly like his father and the Clinton White House posing no real threat missing the fact that the new U.S. president was serious about removing the dictator from power. Looking at quotes from Iraqis during this period can help explain how the regime approached its confrontation with America.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/12/path-to-war-iraqi-view-of-2003-invasion.html)

01-01-2013, 09:03 PM
In the middle of December 2012, security forces arrested ten guards of Finance Minister Rafi Issawi of the Iraqi National Movement (INM). That same day spontaneous protests started in Anbar, Salahaddin, and Baghdad provinces. They demanded the release of the Minister’s guards, and an end to what they saw as government discrimination against Sunnis in government and through arbitrary detentions. Since then there have been demonstrations in Ninewa as well. Like previous protests in 2010 and 2011, the government is listening to their demands, while warning them about the limits of its patience. If those previous years are any indicator, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will only allow public outbursts like these to last so long before he breaks them up.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/protests-return-to-iraq-in-december-2012.html)

01-03-2013, 10:07 PM
2012 was a year of contrasts for the security situation in Iraq. The country’s insurgency grew in strength after the U.S. withdrawal, allowing them to launch more deadly attacks as a result. The Iraqi military also ceased conducting counterinsurgency operations. Those were two of the main reasons why Iraq Body Count recorded an increase in deaths for the year compared to 2011. At the same time, casualties decreased in the second half of the year after the militants’ summer offensive ended. Security incidents were also concentrated in specific provinces and specific cities within them. The number of casualties they caused was a small portion of their populations meaning that most people could go about their regular lives. Overall, security has remained largely the same since 2009, and is unlikely to change in the near term.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/analyzing-violence-in-iraq-in-2012.html)

01-07-2013, 03:53 PM
Sam Wyer is an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War specializing in Iraq. In December 2012, he authored a paper on Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, the League of the Righteous. It provided one of the most detailed breakdowns of the history and organization of the League, and how it has tried to change itself from an Iranian-supported Special Group militia to a social and political party. Below is an interview with Wyer about Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/analysis-of-history-and-growth-of-asaib.html)

01-09-2013, 03:51 PM
In 2005, American civilian and military officials decided that rebuilding Iraq’s government would be a top priority. The U.S. needed a government to run services and provide an alternative to militants. This was part of a new comprehensive counterinsurgency policy that Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was trying to implement. The new strategy ran into three problems. First, the U.S. created local and district councils after the 2003 invasion with no laws or regulations, which made it difficult to integrate them into the Iraqi government once sovereignty was returned in 2005. Second after the two elections in 2005, Iraq’s new political parties took over the ministries. They set about concentrating power in their hands, ignoring the provincial and local councils, and delivered services on a partisan and sectarian basis. Third, the civil war was just starting, and violence made it difficult for the government to operate, because public workers were being killed and intimidated, while ministers were using their offices to carry out political and sectarian attacks. These all undermined the Americans’ plans, and some of these problems persist to the present day.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/how-united-states-ran-into-party.html)

01-12-2013, 03:18 AM
In recent years, several supporters of the war in Iraq have changed their tune. One is neoconservative John Agresto. In 2003, he put his words into action when he went to work for the Pentagon as the senior adviser to Iraq’s Higher Education Ministry. He would then go on to help found the American University of Iraq in Kurdistan. In 2007, he wrote Mugged By Reality: The Liberation of Iraq and the Failure of Good Intentions where he aired some of his misgivings about how the United States handled Iraq. Then in December 2012, he authored an article for Commentary magazine, “Was Promoting Democracy a Mistake?” It dealt with democratization as a philosophical matter, not the nuts and bolts of what the Bush administration did right or wrong in Iraq. Agresto came to the conclusion that Muslim culture is a major impediment to the creation of free and democratic societies not only in Iraq, but the Middle East in general. This is an argument that has been made before, and overlooks the changes that have happened in democratic theory over the last several decades. That means while Iraq may look grim today, it still has many possibilities for its future.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-neoconservative-laments-trying-to.html)

01-12-2013, 03:19 AM
In October 2012, the United Nations released its semi-annual human rights report on Iraq. It was authored by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and covered the first six months of last year. They had two major findings. First, violence and terrorism were still a daily occurrence in Iraq, although security overall was relatively stable. Second, Iraq’s justice system has major flaws. That includes the lack of due process, torture and abuse in prisons, the holding of detainees for long periods incommunicado, extended delays before trials, and the failure to release people after their charges had been dismissed, they were found guilty, or they served their terms. The U.N. noted that the Iraqi government was aware of these issues, and was working on improving some of them, but that it would take a very long time before any meaningful progress would be made. The report highlighted the fact that Iraq faces many institutional and cultural problems on top of the daily violence.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/united-nations-human-rights-report.html)

01-14-2013, 03:52 PM
John Drake is the head of Global Intake at the British risk mitigation firm AKE. It publishes weekly reports on violence in Iraq, which are used by companies, NGOs, and media outlets that operate in the country. Below is an interview with Drake reviewing the security situation in Iraq last year.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/overview-of-security-in-iraq-2012.html)

01-16-2013, 03:50 PM
In recent years there have been several studies attempting to discern what Iraq’s foreign policy is after its emergence from the U.S. invasion and civil war. They have largely concluded that the country lacks a unified foreign stance. That’s because Iraq’s elite and government are deeply divided. The result is that each leader follows his own foreign agenda. Until the differences between the ruling parties are worked out, Iraq will continue to have this fractured stance.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/iraq-lacks-unified-foreign-policy.html)

01-17-2013, 03:50 PM
From November to December 2012 the press was reporting that Iraq’s central and Kurdish regional governments were on the verge of war. The security forces of the two sides were facing off in northern Iraq. The cause was the creation of the Tigris Operations Command by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which the Kurdish parties took as being aimed at their aspirations for control of the disputed areas. There was a shootout between the two sides, and an increasingly vicious war of words between them. Since then there have been a series of meetings between Baghdad and Irbil with no resolution so far. If this were a serious confrontation this would still be a pressing matter, instead of the after thought that it is becoming. The reason was that this was always a political scheme by both Premier Maliki and Kurdish President Massoud Barzani to rally support behind them.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/still-no-agreement-upon-security-forces.html)

01-23-2013, 03:44 PM
Stuart Bowen started out working on Iraq as the Special Inspector General for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in 2004. When that organization ceased operating in the middle of that year, he became the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). SIGIR releases quarterly reports to Congress along with audits and assessments on the rebuilding of the country. One issue SIGIR has focused upon from the beginning is corruption. Based upon his conversations with high-ranking Iraqi officials Mr. Bowen believes that the state of graft and bribery are worse than ever. Below is an interview with the Inspector General on this very important topic.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/corruption-in-iraq-interview-with.html)

01-24-2013, 03:43 PM
The United States continuously under estimated the magnitude of what it would take to rebuild Iraq. Originally, America had no plan for any kind of reconstruction believing that there would only be a humanitarian situation in the country after the 2003 invasion such as refugees, and food shortages. When the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) took over it then began a massive, multi-billion dollar rebuilding plan, but emphasized large infrastructure projects that had little immediate impact upon Iraqis. By 2005, the U.S. began switching to local reconstruction efforts that were supposed to be linked to a comprehensive counterinsurgency program, but that took two years to fully come to fruition. During the entire time what was neglected was the ability of the Iraqi government to manage and maintain the infrastructure that was being built and refurbished for it. Billions of dollars in power plants, water facilities, schools, etc. were being turned over to Iraqi authorities who either didn’t want or couldn’t run them. The Americans eventually tried to address this issue, but it came too little too late, resulting in massive waste.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/how-us-spent-billions-on-infrastructure.html)

01-28-2013, 04:01 PM
In late-January 2012 there was a deadly showdown between protesters and the Iraqi army in the city of Fallujah in Anbar province. Demonstrators were stopped from joining a large rally in the city, which led to a confrontation, shots being fired, and dozens of casualties. This points to the increasing tensions between the protest movement, which is in its second month, and the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Baghdad is giving lip service to meeting their demands, but if the premier’s reactions to the demonstrations in 2011 and 2012 are any indicator, his main priority is putting an end to them.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/deadly-clash-between-iraqi-security.html)

01-29-2013, 03:49 PM
The U.K.-based Iraq Body Count (IBC) is the premier organization for tracking deaths and violence in Iraq. Since its founding in 2002, it has kept a running count of the casualties caused by the Iraq War, which is constantly updated. Its work has also been included in various studies, and is a constant reminder of the costs of the conflict there. This is an interview with two members of IBC, Hamit Dardagan and Josh Dougherty.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/an-interview-with-iraq-body-count.html)

01-31-2013, 03:48 PM
Of all the acts of violence left in the wake of the Sadr movement, one that seems to have been forgotten is its attack upon the town of Qawliya in Qadisiyah province. In March 2004, Mahdi Army fighters came to the village and leveled it. Qawliya was inhabited by gypsies, which the Sadr Trend had been criticizing since the time of Moqtada al-Sadr’s father Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr. It was quite common for Iraqis to vilify the community, and associate it with crime and prostitution. After the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein, the Sadrists attacked several gypsy villages, with Qawliya being its most notorious act.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-forgotten-destruction-of-qawliya.html)

02-05-2013, 03:49 PM
For the last three years the number of deaths in Iraq has increased in January. Usually this coincided with Shiite pilgrimages, but this year it was an increase in attacks upon the general population and the security forces.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/02/third-straight-year-casualties-increase.html)

02-06-2013, 03:45 PM
Human Rights Watch in its annual world report found that Iraq has become more authoritarian in the last year. In 2012, the government clamped down upon the opposition, demonstrators, and reporters. The security forces continued to carry out arbitrary arrests, mass detentions, and tortured people on little to no evidence. The result was the limiting of political freedom, along with the continued lack of due process.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/02/human-rights-watch-iraq-becoming-more.html)

02-11-2013, 03:56 PM
Iraq Body Count is a unique source, because it keeps record of individual attacks in Iraq. Using its archives, one can discern the trends in violence that have taken place since 2003. In the months after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the country fell into an anarchic state full of murders, revenge killings, and a few terrorist attacks. The next year, the insurgency took off, followed by the civil war in 2005. That was shown in the increasing number of people killed by gunfire. By 2006, things went into overdrive after the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra, Salahaddin with the highest death toll during the entire conflict. In 2007, the U.S. Surge started just as the security situation was beginning to change as the Shiite forces were overwhelming the Sunni militants. From 2009 to the present, violence is characterized by terrorism as shown by the increasing use of bombs. Last year, militants were carrying out more attacks, but were less efficient. That trend appears to be continuing into 2013. Iraq remains a violent country, but the insurgents are still largely marginalized, and are unable to change the current status quo.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-history-of-violence-in-iraq-through.html)

02-12-2013, 03:43 PM
The United States project to rebuild Iraq had been beset by problems the day it started in 2003. When the civil war started in 2005 it complicated matters more as security steadily declined. Things got worse after the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra in February 2006. In the next four days approximately 1,300 people were killed. 25,000 were eventually displaced. The sectarian cleansing of Baghdad began as the Shiite militias went on the offensive. The Iraqi government and the United States were overwhelmed by the situation. Reconstruction of the country was thrown into disarray as a result just as American officials were trying to change directions.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-us-reconstruction-effort-came-apart.html)

02-19-2013, 03:52 PM
Before 2003, many members of the Bush White House held a rosy image of what the Iraq war would be like. Kenneth Adelman of the Defense Policy Board for example wrote an op ed for the Washington Post entitled “Cakewalk in Iraq.” Vice President Dick Cheney told NBC’s Meet The Press that Iraqis would see the Americans as liberators. These scenarios were based upon several factors including advice officials received from Middle East scholars and Iraqi exiles. Most importantly, President Bush and others were driven by their conviction that what they were doing was right, and therefore would have a positive affect in the end. The reality of what the invasion wrought in Iraq would quickly change Washington’s view of things.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/02/we-will-be-greeted-as-liberators-why.html)

02-21-2013, 03:46 PM
Many have tried to compare Iraq and Afghanistan, but the nature of their conflicts are quite different. Afghanistan has a healthy insurgency, and is a mostly rural nation. Iraq on the other hand suffers from high levels of urban terrorism. For five of the last six years casualties in Afghanistan have increased, while Iraq’s have dropped dramatically for three years, and then increased slightly over the last two. Most would think that Afghanistan would suffer from far higher levels of violence, but in fact, Iraq’s militants have been able to take a far deadlier toll. That’s because Iraq’s large cities provide far more targets of opportunity than are available in Afghanistan.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/02/iraq-still-far-deadlier-place-than.html)

03-01-2013, 03:03 AM
The United States suffered from poor planning when it came to preparing for post-war Iraq. There were always a number of different groups tasked with the job, but they were not coordinated. One of the few things that was agreed upon was the creation of an interim Iraqi government shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein. President Bush signed off on this idea just before the 2003 invasion. Iraqi exiles were consulted, and several meetings held, but then suddenly Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), scrapped the plan. Bremer reversed course from the U.S. wanting to quickly leave Iraq to launching a long-term occupation of the country.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-united-states-abandoned-idea-of.html)

03-04-2013, 04:01 PM
In January 2004, President Bush gave his State of the Union speech. Part of the address was about the war on Iraq. Afterward, many pointed out that Ahmad Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) was seated in the gallery right behind First Lady Laura Bush. Commentators took that as an endorsement by the White House. In fact, despite many in the administration being fans of the INC, the President felt the exact opposite. Bush did not believe that Chalabi should be the next ruler of Iraq.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/03/ahmad-chalabi-was-not-president-bushs.html)

03-06-2013, 03:44 PM
The conventional wisdom is that the U.S. made too many mistakes in Iraq to be successful. It didn’t garner enough international support before the invasion, went in with not enough troops, and then started polices like deBaathification afterward that made the situation worse. Some claim that with better decision-making, things could have turned out differently. Professor Daniel Byman of Georgetown University in an article for the journal Security Studies entitled “An Autopsy of the Iraq Debacle: Policy Failure or Bridge Too Far?” argued that Iraq would have turned out badly no matter what the Bush administration did. That was because there were too many structural barriers the United States faced, which limited the choices and outcomes available to it. What follows is an interview with Prof. Byman about his thoughts on Iraq on the ten-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/03/could-us-have-done-better-in-iraq-no.html)

03-07-2013, 03:48 PM
A long article in The Guardian (UK), the full title being 'From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington's man behind brutal police squads' and subtitled:
In 2004, with the war in Iraq going from bad to worse, the US drafted in a veteran of Central America's dirty wars to help set up a new force to fight the insurgency. The result: secret detention centres, torture and a spiral into sectarian carnage


The article is based on a fifty minute documentary made for The Guardian and BBC Arabic; link to five minute trailer:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVDna80BNXA

03-07-2013, 03:53 PM
There were conflicting numbers for casualties in February 2013. That has been an on going trend between Iraq Body Count and the Iraqi government for the last few years. Still, the two have followed roughly the same pattern since 2011.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/03/iraq-casualty-figures-for-february-2013.html)

03-11-2013, 03:02 PM
In February 2013, Foreign Affairs published an article, “Back in Black The Return of Muqtada al-Sadr” by Eli Sugarman and Omar al-Nidawi. It covered Moqtada al-Sadr’s attempt to transform himself from a militia leader to a politician. Sadr’s list did well in the 2010 elections, and he has been meeting with other political leaders, and challenged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki since then. Below is an interview with Omar al-Nidawi about his thoughts on Sadr’s attempt to remake himself.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-changing-face-of-moqtada-al-sadr.html)

03-14-2013, 02:55 PM
In March 2013, the Gallup organization released its latest poll from Iraq. It covered security, foreign influence, political stability, corruption, and jobs, and found that in four of those five categories things had either improved or stayed the same since the United States withdrew its military forces in December 2011. Although Gallup tied the survey to the exit of the Americans, it actually showed that many issues were outside of their influence, and the results were roughly in line with previous polls.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/03/iraqis-feel-country-largely-unchanged.html)

03-18-2013, 03:04 PM
Babak Rahimi is a professor of communication, culture, and religions at the University of California, San Diego. He has written extensively upon Shia Islam, Iran, and Iraq. In April 2013, Iraq is due for the next round of provincial elections. The country’s Shiite religious parties have had contentions relations, coming together during some periods, only to turn on each other at another. This year’s balloting will again test the ties that bind and repel these lists. Below is an interview with Professor Rahimi about the fortunes of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and the Sadr Trend, as they will be major players behind Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law list in this year’s vote.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-will-sadrists-and-islamic-supreme.html)

03-19-2013, 03:08 PM
Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has increasingly used arrest warrants to intimidate and get rid of his political enemies. The latest example occurred in March 2013 when a court ordered former Finance Minister Rafi Issawi to be detained on terrorism charges. Issawi is from the Iraqi National Movement, which is one of the main rivals to the prime minister’s State of Law, and he has often criticized the prime minister’s rule. In December 2012, some of his bodyguards were arrested, and allegedly confessed to carrying out attacks. That led to the current protests in western, eastern, and northern Iraq along with Issawi eventually resigning. Now the ante has been upped as Maliki is going after the former minister himself. Rather than actually trying to arrest Issawi it appears the warrant was a scare tactic.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/03/once-again-iraqs-premier-maliki-goes.html)

03-23-2013, 08:34 PM
A short review by RAND's Brian Jenkins. It ends with:
In sum, the costly removal of a brutal tyrant who threatened his own citizens and neighboring countries won no applause, earned no gratitude, established no reliable ally, and produced no lasting strategic benefit.


03-28-2013, 03:36 PM
In January 2007, President George Bush announced the Surge. He called for two marine battalions and five army brigades to head towards Iraq along with an increased number of reconstruction workers to conduct a unified counterinsurgency campaign. The argument was that the increased troops would help bring down violence, and allow for reconciliation. On the civilian side, more Americans were to be sent out into the provinces to work with Iraqis to find out their needs, and help empower them to run their own country. While the extra forces helped bring down violence in Iraq the civilian surge was far less successful due to a slow start, internal disputes, and bureaucratic delays.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-civilian-surge-in-iraq-didnt-quite.html)

04-03-2013, 02:45 PM
These photos from a militant website and reprinted by the Associated Press purport to show Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) fighters in Anbar who are involved in fighting in Syria. It has been widely reported that Islamists like AQI have been flocking to take part in the Syrian conflict. Al Nusra Front for example, is said to be a front group for Al Qaeda. There has recently been blowback in Iraq as well when a group of over 40 Syrian soldiers who had sought refuge in Iraq were ambushed and massacred in Anbar in March 2013. Shiite militias and the Kurdistan Regional Government have either sent forces to Syria or supported fighters there as well. Like the Iraq War involved regional powers and Islamist groups, the same thing is now happening in Syria as these pictures reveal.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/04/al-qaeda-in-iraq-fighters-involved-in.html)

04-03-2013, 02:49 PM
Ginger Cruz is currently the CEO of Mantid International, and most recently completed several evaluation reports for the United Nations in Iraq. From 2004-2012 she was the deputy Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. That gave her great insight into the rebuilding of Iraq. The Special Inspector General’s office (SIGIR) just issued its final report, which makes it an apt time to review how the largest reconstruction effort in U.S. history went.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/04/review-of-american-reconstruction-of.html)

04-16-2013, 02:50 PM
For at least the last four months, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has been carrying out its latest offensive. This has been marked by increased casualty figures, headline grabbing attacks, and a series of bombings in southern Iraq. The last is always a sign that the Islamist group is doing more than its normal set of operations, because it is veering outside of its normal bases, which requires extra planning, and time to develop. Overall, the militant group is trying to make a comeback after the U.S. military withdrawal.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/04/al-qaeda-in-iraq-on-offensive.html)

04-23-2013, 02:51 PM
Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), The League of the Righteous, is an Iranian-backed militant group in Iraq that has tried to change its image in recent years. After the U.S. withdrawal in 2011, the League claimed that it was going to join the political process, but would not participate in the April 2013 provincial elections, which just took place. However, a former high-level member of the group created his own party National al-Amal Party, the National Hope Party, which ran candidates as part of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law in this year’s balloting. This could have been a way for AAH to test the political waters before fully committing to the fray.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/04/did-league-of-righteous-take-part-in.html)

04-25-2013, 12:34 AM
Iraqis have been demonstrating in several cities since December 2012 to protest what they see as marginalization by the central government. On April 23, 2013, security forces raided a protest site in Hawija in Tamim province looking for militants that attacked an army checkpoint a few days beforehand. The operation quickly turned violent with several people killed and wounded, and dozens arrested. Immediately, there were retaliatory attacks in surrounding areas, and some leaders of the demonstrators started talking about taking on the security forces, which they claimed were under the influence of Iran. This could quickly escalate into an armed confrontation, which the activists cannot win.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/04/raid-on-protest-site-in-hawija-iraq.html)

05-02-2013, 03:00 PM
Iraq has been beset by a new wave of violence following the raid upon protesters in Hawija in Tamim province. On April 23, 2013, security forces entered the protest camp in the town looking for the assailants who attacked a checkpoint four days beforehand that left one soldier dead and three wounded. That resulted in 30 people being killed, and dozens more wounded. Immediately afterward there were retaliatory attacks across northern and western Iraq. The Baathist Naqshibandi group took responsibility for many of these operations. That insurgent movement and others have been trying to take advantage of the demonstrations for months, and might have found their way in with the Hawija incident. The protesters themselves appear split between those calling for restraint, and the far more prevalent voices that want armed action against the government. Hawija therefore has brought up the divisions not only within the demonstrators, but the insurgency as well over how they will challenge Baghdad.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/05/iraqs-protest-movement-and-insurgency.html)

05-06-2013, 03:05 PM
April 2013 saw a dramatic increase in the number of deaths in Iraq. This was due to an on-going offensive by Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and a series of retaliatory attacks by insurgents for a government raid upon protesters in the town of Hawija. The former has been going on since December 2012, and is likely to end within a month or two. The latter however, could lead to increased support for the insurgency. What lays ahead for Iraq is likely a rise in attacks and casualties for at least the short-term depending upon whether militants can sway the demonstrators to their side or not.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/05/will-iraqs-insurgency-find-new-life.html)

05-07-2013, 02:58 PM
The recent government crackdown upon demonstrators in the town of Hawija, and the ensuing violence has highlighted Iraq’s protest movement. People began taking to the streets in Anbar province after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government issued an arrest warrant for former Finance Minister Rafi Issawi’s bodyguards for terrorism. Activism quickly spread to northern Iraq. Rather than being a monolithic group with a central leadership however, these protests have involved a variety of tribes, political parties, and insurgent groups across many different cities and towns. They have also been explicitly Sunni and sectarian compared to previous demonstrations in Iraq from 2011 and 2012, which were national in character. To breakdown these various movements and their agendas is Kirk H. Sowell, a Washington DC-based political risk analyst who is the editor of the biweekly newsletter, Inside Iraqi Politics.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/05/understanding-iraqs-protest-movements.html)

05-15-2013, 02:58 PM
Sheikh Ali Hatem Sulaiman is one of the leaders of the Dulaim tribe, one of the largest in western Iraq that stretches into neighboring Jordan. Sulaiman has attached himself to the protest movement in Anbar, and has become known for his inflammatory speeches. It wasn’t that long ago however, that the sheikh was an ally of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. His path that led him from a supporter to an opponent of the government is due to Sulaiman’s opportunism, and desire to become a prominent sheikh throughout Iraq like his grandfather once was.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/05/why-anbars-sheikh-ali-hatem-sulaiman.html)

05-15-2013, 04:02 PM
What think you of Patrick Cockburn's conclusions in "The Coming Iraqi Civil War (http://scotthorton.org/?powerpress_pinw=6683-podcast)" (about 30 min. audio) ?



05-20-2013, 03:00 PM
Everytime violence spikes in Iraq someone starts talking about civil war. The current crisis is the worse since the civil war period, but the number of attacks and deaths are still far below that level. What Iraq looks to be heading towards is increasing instability both politically and on the security front with the two directly related. Still violence is confined to specific cities and regions and even in a city like Baghdad that has the most deaths it doesn't affect the majority of the population, plus the south and Kurdistan are mostly untouched.

05-20-2013, 03:02 PM
Iraq’s Anbar province is seeing increasing tension. Since December there have been two large protests going on in Ramadi and Fallujah. After the government raid upon the Hawija demonstration site in Tamim governorate in April 2013 there has been an uptick in attacks as well. In May, things picked up with raids upon the residences of two leaders of the protests, as well as the kidnapping of several dozen soldiers and police, and the collapse of an offer to talk with Baghdad. With the way things are going this could be leading up to a security crackdown in the governorate aimed at not only clearing out militants, but shutting down the demonstrations as well.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/05/rising-tensions-in-iraqs-anbar-province.html)

05-21-2013, 05:43 PM
Whether "something" constitutes a "civil war", or even a NIAC (Non-International Armed Conflict), rests to a large extent in the eyes of the beholder.

That being said, the Iraqis have been doing well in whacking each other over the past week - albeit from only media sources and thus the low hanging fruit of the lethality:

20 May - Monday Mayhem: 133 Killed, 283 Wounded in Iraq (http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2013/05/20/monday-mayhem-116-killed-240-wounded-in-iraq/)
19 May - Iraqi Police Targeted As Attacks Claim 44 Lives (http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2013/05/19/iraqi-police-targeted-as-attacks-claim-44-lives/)
18 May - Forty Killed Across Iraq; 13 Kidnapped in Anbar Province (http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2013/05/18/forty-killed-across-iraq-13-kidnapped-in-anbar-province/)
17 May - Retaliation Against Sunnis Leave 90 Dead, 201 Wounded Across Iraq (http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2013/05/17/retaliation-against-sunnis-leave-90-dead-201-wounded-across-iraq/)
16 May - Bombings Continue in Baghdad, Kirkuk; 40 Killed (http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2013/05/16/bombs-continue-in-baghdad-kirkuk-40-killed/)
15 May - Iraq Horror: 42 Killed, 141 Wounded (http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2013/05/15/iraq-horror-42-killed-141-wounded/)

Just south of 400 KIA (~4,000 in relative population terms here in the States).

What period do you consider to be the "civil war period" ?:

The current crisis is the worse since the civil war period, but the number of attacks and deaths are still far below that level.

so that I can follow your logic.



05-30-2013, 02:58 PM
2005-2008 was the civil war period. You had retaliation between Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias. Plus the government forces were actively involved as well on the side of the militias usually. There was sectarian cleansing of provinces as well, and fighting between Shiite militias in the south. Deaths were 1,500-2,000 per month. Plus there was fighting and violence throughout both northern, southern, and western Iraq.

Today's instability is more like 2003-2005 period. Govt no longer carries out counterinsurgency, but is more reactive and carries out mass arrests, raids, etc. Basically the security forces are acting like the U.S. did during that pre-civil war period with the same results, i.e. growing resentment amongst Sunnis, which leads to at least turning a blind eye to militants. Today violence is concentrated in just central, northern and western Iraq. Even then it is not as widespread as the civil war period. Within provinces like Anbar some cities like Fallujah are violent while others like Haditha have hardly any during the entire year. Today Shiites get upset after a bombing, but then go back to their daily lives. There's not the fear of going about their daily routines yet.

06-03-2013, 03:01 PM
Iraq’s security situation has literally exploded. Al Qaeda in Iraq was already at the tail end of its latest offensive when security forces used excessive force against protesters in the town of Hawija in Tamim province in April 2013. That allowed militant groups to exploit the growing anger amongst the Sunni population, and launch a new wave of retaliatory attacks. That has led to a growing number of bombings and mass casualty attacks that have resulted in the highest death counts seen in years.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/06/iraqs-insurgency-goes-on-offensive.html)

06-05-2013, 03:01 PM
Iraq is facing a worsening security situation, but the country is not yet in a civil war. What could change that is if Shiites decide they can no longer rely upon the government to protect them, and begin taking matters into their own hands as they did during the civil war period from 2005-2008. Rumors play a large role in Iraq, and currently what is spreading amongst Sunnis are stories of fake checkpoints manned by militiamen who kidnap and murder people. Political parties and the protest movement are magnifying these rumors, and have now incorporated them into their weekly discourse. What’s more is that it is still not clear whether Shiite armed groups are operating again or not. If they are remobilizing it could be a sign that Iraqi society is breaking down once more.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/06/rumors-spread-of-militias-at-work-in_5.html)

06-06-2013, 02:48 PM
The dramatic increase in violence in Iraq is now affecting not only the lives of the public, but the economy as well. Some companies have said their sales are down, they are cutting their hours, and transferring some of their business to safer areas, while Anbar announced that it was losing investors. These are all troubling signs, because for the last several years the insurgency has been at such a low level that it did not affect the larger society. Now that is changing, and the disruption of the economy is just the latest sign that Iraq is heading towards an unsettling future.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/06/violence-disrupting-iraqs-economy.html)

06-20-2013, 04:26 AM
In response to the deteriorating security situation, the Iraqi military has launched a series of clearing missions in Anbar, Ninewa, Tamim, and other provinces recently. These operations have received a growing number of complaints from politicians and average citizens who claim that the police and army are violating people’s rights, carrying out arbitrary arrests, hindering travel, and destroying property. This is in direct contrast to government statements, which emphasize the cooperation of the public. This turn of events points to two major shortcomings with the Iraqi forces. The first is that these are all clear and leave missions, which have no hope of lessoning the insurgency. Second, their punitive measures are antagonizing the population, which can only help the militants. Together that means that there is no military solution coming for Iraq’s growing violence.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/06/growing-complaints-about-security.html)

06-24-2013, 06:11 PM
My new article for Tom Ricks' Best Defense

Iraq recently passed a milestone when the United Nations reported over 1,000 people killed in May 2013. That was the highest number of casualties since 2008. People are beginning to fear going out, and businesses are shifting to safer areas and closing earlier. There are also ongoing protests in Sunni provinces such as Anbar, Salahaddin, and Ninewa against the government, which are increasing sectarian tensions in the country. Together this has raised fears that the country is heading back towards civil war. While the situation is obviously getting worse, a more apt analogy would be Iraq in 2003 when the United States was facing a growing insurgency, and had no strategy to confront it.

continued (http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/06/24/iraq_in_2013_is_a_lot_like_iraq_in_2003_with_many_ of_the_same_mistakes_being_made)

06-24-2013, 06:12 PM
As the conflict in Syria has escalated, so has the involvement of foreign countries. Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and now the United States and England are all supporting one group or another in the war. Neighboring Iraq has also joined in the conflict. Every month there are reports about young Iraqis going to fight in Syria, usually organized by not only Shiite militant groups like the League of the Righteous or the Hezbollah Brigades, but also the country’s major political parties like the Sadrists and the Badr Organization. These organizations are now publicly acknowledging their losses in funerals and on the Internet. Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah are also recruiting, arming, and funding Iraqis. To help explain this growing flow of men and material to Syria from Iraq is Phillip Smyth. Smyth works for the University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies’ Lab for Computational Cultural Dynamics. He also writes the Hizballah Cavalcade which focuses on militant Shia organizations operating in Syria, their members, ideologies, arms, funerals, and other related topics for the Jihadology website.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-increasing-flow-of-iraqi-fighters.html)

06-27-2013, 05:59 PM
For the last several weeks the Iraqi security forces (ISF) have carried out a number of operations in Anbar, especially in the western desert and along the Euphrates River. This hasn’t seemed to stop the violence however. In fact, as a sign of defiance Al Qaeda in Iraq recently announced an offensive of its own in the province. The situation has gotten so bad that local officials have told the press that the military and police have lost control of the border area, and that fighters are going back and forth between Syria and Iraq at will. This is just the latest example of the ineffectiveness of the army and police in combating the country’s insurgency.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/06/security-operations-fail-to-stop.html)

06-29-2013, 12:37 PM

The article nicely lays out the good, bad, and the ugly of long term impact of the US regime change policy.

"Iraq, today, 10 years on from the war, from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, is not what the Iraqi people hoped for and expected. We hoped for an inclusive democracy, an Iraq that is at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbors," Salih said. "To be blunt, we are far from that."

"But," he added, "it's important to understand where we started from. ... Literally hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were sent to mass graves. Ten years on from the demise of Saddam Hussein, we're still discovering mass graves across Iraq. And Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein -- the overwhelming majority of Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein."

07-02-2013, 06:07 PM
Listen to my interview on Middle East Week Podcast (http://middleeastweek.org/home/2013/7/2/turmoil-in-iraq) about the deteriorating security situation, economic and political problems, and the future of Iraq.

07-03-2013, 01:15 PM
“The truly incredible story of a guy named Kirk Johnson who started a list of hundreds of Iraqis who needed to get out of their country. They were getting death threats, and he was their only hope. Only 26 and living in his aunt’s basement, he had no idea what to do. How Kirk kind of succeeded spectacularly and failed spectacularly at the same time.” LINK (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/499/taking-names)

07-08-2013, 05:47 PM
June 2013 was another violent month in Iraq. Since the beginning of the year, attacks and deaths across the country have been steadily increasing. That reached new levels after the security forces used excessive force in a raid upon protesters in Hawija at the end of April. That led to a series of retaliatory attacks by both insurgents and tribes, and the start of a new offensive by the Baathist Naqshibandi, which ran the Hawija demonstrations. At the same time, Al Qaeda in Iraq has been stepping up its operations since December 2012 with a bombing campaign across southern Iraq along with its traditional targets. The government has tried to respond, but the security forces’ counterproductive tactics of mass arrests and raids have not been able to stem the tide, and have probably made the situation worse. That pretty much sums up the new status quo in Iraq with militants picking up their attacks, while the government is incapable of stopping them.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/07/security-situation-still-dire-in-iraq.html)

07-08-2013, 05:48 PM
“The truly incredible story of a guy named Kirk Johnson who started a list of hundreds of Iraqis who needed to get out of their country. They were getting death threats, and he was their only hope. Only 26 and living in his aunt’s basement, he had no idea what to do. How Kirk kind of succeeded spectacularly and failed spectacularly at the same time.” LINK (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/499/taking-names)

That was a great show that people should listen to.

07-10-2013, 03:56 PM
The Badr Organization portrays itself as just one of many political parties, but it wasn’t always like that. The Badr Organization started off as the Badr Brigade, an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force, and the militia of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI). It fought on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq War, and after the 2003 invasion continued to work closely with Tehran carrying out covert operations for it. Even to today it is committed to Iran and its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but it doesn’t like to talk publicly about that.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/07/iraqs-badr-organization-maintains-its.html)

07-16-2013, 05:10 PM
Given the dire security situation that Iraq faced from 2003-2008 it was no surprise that the United States gave little attention to the Iraqi Army’s logistics. It wasn’t until several years after the U.S. invasion that the Americans finally began planning and contracting to develop the Iraq’s support network, so that it could maintain its forces and equipment. This went through huge problems including the complete un-interest amongst the Iraqi military leadership for this task. By the time the U.S. withdrew its forces in 2011, several supply depots had been established and a computerized management system was in place. The problem was that the Americans oversaw this network, and when they left the Iraqis weren’t capable of keeping it up and running. The result is that most of the logistics for the Iraqi army has broken down since then.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-breakdown-of-iraqi-armys-logistics.html)

07-22-2013, 05:00 PM
Ramadan began at the start of July 2013, and so has a new wave of attacks by Iraq’s insurgency. June saw a decline in deaths, but that was apparently because militants were preparing for the holy month to begin. In the first half of July there has almost been twice as many killed as the same time period in June. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) knew that such an offensive was coming, but have proven hapless at stopping it, because of their institutional deficiencies. July is looking to be one of the deadliest of the year highlighting the rebirth of the insurgency, and the weakness of the government to prevent it.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/07/iraqs-insurgents-picking-up-attacks.html)

07-23-2013, 05:21 PM
video (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/07/islamic-state-of-iraq-and-levant-video_23.html)

07-23-2013, 05:22 PM
video (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/07/islamic-state-of-iraq-and-levant-video.html)

07-23-2013, 05:22 PM
Besides the daily regimen of bombings and shootings Iraq has also witnessed a number of attacks upon clubs, bars, cafes, liquor stores, and women since 2003. This year is no different with reports emerging of a number of closures, beatings, and drive by shootings of various businesses in Baghdad. While no one has been named, it is widely believed that Shiite militias are responsible. Several politicians have come out in support of these operations, claiming that they are enforcing the public’s morals and restrictions during Ramadan. The government on the other hand has issued a number of conflicting justifications for these incidents, while no one has ever been prosecuted for them. A rather ironic set of events given that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s list is called State of Law. That has led some to accuse the premier of either being behind some of these assaults or standing by and doing nothing about them since they likely involve some of his erstwhile allies. These acts represent how Islamists have attempted to impose their will upon Iraqi society using force.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/07/iraqs-shiite-militias-trying-to-impose.html)

07-24-2013, 04:59 PM
Mark Van Der Laan is a Professor of Biostatistics and Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2005 he won a presidential award for his work. In 2006 he wrote a number of articles about the two surveys on deaths in Iraq since the 2003 invasion that publicly became known as the Lancet reports. The first Lancet paper was published in October 2004 and estimated 98,000 excess deaths in the 18 months following the overthrow of Saddam, excluding the province of Anbar. The second one argued there were 654,965 killed from March 2003 to July 2006. Van Der Laan was one of many who questioned the reliability of these polls. Unfortunately, those critiques remained mostly academic, and were never heard of by most of the public. Today as violence is increasing in Iraq and the insurgency is making a comeback, the Lancet studies are being brought up again even though they have major flaws. Here is Prof. Van Der Laan explaining his views of the Lancet reports.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/07/a-critique-of-lancet-reports-on-iraqi.html)

07-25-2013, 04:34 PM
Here is Prof. Van Der Laan explaining his views of the Lancet reports.
Comments after a quick glance at the interview:

2. Of course there was sample bias. The survey was done during a war.

3. “Many studies explain how they do their survey work.” And many do not.

7. Any article can go from submission through peer review to publication in a month. Reviewers need part of a day to do the reviewing, but that usually happens weeks to months after receipt because they are unpaid and their review commitments are near the bottom of their to-do list.

9. The Lancet published the then best study to date. That doesn’t call its credibility into question at all, in my opinion. As for major media outlets, it is old news that they like to sensationalize. Another problem is that they don’t hire or contract out to people who can correctly interpret studies created for specialists and rewrite them for a general audience. That’s on them, not on The Lancet or the original researchers.

Apart from being what I feel is judgmental about The Lancet, I don’t necessarily disagree with Van Der Laan’s critiques. But they are critiques of research and its dissemination in general, really.

08-01-2013, 05:36 PM
There were actually two others surveys released almost at the exact same time as the two Lancet reports that interviewed thousands more Iraqis and had much smaller ranges and averages for possible deaths in Iraq, and are widely considered more reliable than the Lancet reports.

08-01-2013, 05:36 PM
Iraq and Afghanistan are both in the news, but for all the wrong reasons. The United Nations recently released a paper noting increased civilian casualties in Afghanistan. In Iraq, the insurgency is seeing a re-birth carrying out almost daily bombings. When comparing the two, Iraq is still more than twice as deadly as Afghanistan.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/08/despite-increasing-violence-iraq-still.html)

08-05-2013, 04:56 PM
July was an especially bloody month for Iraq. Insurgent groups, especially Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) launched an offensive characterized by a series of bombings in quick succession, plus the dramatic attack upon the Abu Ghraib prison. What made the situation worse was that the security forces knew an offensive was coming, and even knew about the prison raid, but were completely unable to stop any of it from transpiring. That showed that the militants are in the driver’s seat, able to dish out death anytime they want with little to no resistance from government forces.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/08/iraqs-insurgents-launch-ramadan.html)

08-05-2013, 08:05 PM
Interesting short read from ISW after the jailbreak:http://iswiraq.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/al-qaeda-in-iraqs-breaking-walls.html

A little more:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/05/the_great_escape_abu_ghraib_prison_al_qaeda?page=f ull

08-08-2013, 05:37 PM
Iraq is in the midst of finalizing a multi-million dollar arms deal with Russia. The contract was surrounded in controversy when it was originally announced in late-2012 with accusations of corruption. Now Baghdad is moving ahead with it claiming that it was re-negotiated, but the same claims of kickbacks and commissions for officials and businessmen have resurfaced. This follows a pattern started when Iraq first regained control of its government in 2004 using middlemen in weapons procurement contracts that skim off millions of dollars. It is deals like these that make the country one of the most corrupt in the world.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/08/russian-arms-deal-follows-pattern-of.html)

08-12-2013, 05:02 PM
Sectarian politics has ruled Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Although the Americans are widely blamed for institutionalizing this style of government, the Iraqi opposition was already organizing themselves by sect and ethnicity in the 1990s. Since the U.S. invasion, every Iraqi government has been a national unity one where all the winning lists have been given a seat, and top positions are divided up using ethnosectarian quotas. Washington and others have argued that this system was necessary to include all of Iraq’s diverse population, so that they could work together to form a new democracy. In practice however, it has only led to dysfunctional governments and corruption. To discuss the impact and future of this form of rule is University of Miami Political Science Professor Adeed Dawisha who specializes in democracy and politics in the Middle East.

continued (http://www.musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/08/ethnosectarian-politics-in-iraq-its.html)

08-13-2013, 03:22 PM
Iraq's insurgency is making a comeback. The number of attacks and deaths has gone up dramatically this year with almost weekly mass casualty bombings. The security forces have proven incapable of preventing any of these operations. The April 2013 raid upon the Hawija protest site in Tamim province is widely regarded as the spark that ignited the current unrest. There were larger political issues however, dating back several years, which led to the current deterioration in security.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/08/political-background-to-iraqs-current.html)

08-19-2013, 05:24 PM
Nouri al-Maliki has been the prime minister of Iraq since 2006. His reign has been marked by increasing controversy as he has reneged on promises, and taken on his rivals using the security forces and corruption charges. His approach to government can in part be explained by his past. He joined Iraq’s first Shiite Islamist organization the Dawa Party in the 1960s, which was then an underground movement. He was eventually forced into exile in 1979, because of his activities, and became a leader in the armed struggle against Saddam Hussein in both Iran and Syria. After the 2003 invasion, he served as an underling within the party until he was picked as a compromise candidate for the premiership between the rival Shiite religious parties. Most of his early history was unknown outside of Iraq until a recent article by Ned Parker and Raheem Salman in the Spring 2013 issue of the World Policy Journal. Here is an interview with Mr. Parker about Maliki’s life, and how it has shaped him as the prime minister of Iraq.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-life-of-nouri-al-maliki-interview_19.html)

09-03-2013, 03:06 PM
Deaths in Iraq dropped slightly in August 2013, but they are still far higher than what they were at the beginning of the year. It appears that the insurgency has free reign in certain parts of the country, and has been able to carry out wave after wave of car bombings despite a new security plan launched at the beginning of the month. In fact, the crackdown is likely making the situation worse with indiscriminate arrests that can only turn sectors of the population against the authorities. This unfortunately is the new status quo in Iraq with emboldened militants, and an ineffective government.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/09/violence-continues-in-iraq-despite-new.html)

09-05-2013, 03:18 PM
While Moqtada al-Sadr is gloating over his showing in Iraq’s 2013 provincial elections, and picking up his attacks upon Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki he has another issue to deal with. That is the Sadrist breakaway group the League of the Righteous led by Qais Khazali, who was one of the followers of Sadr’s father Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr. Both claim to be maintaining the legacy of the elder Sadr. That has often led to clashes between the two, which picked up in recent months. This dispute plays into the larger struggle over who will be the leader of Iraq’s Shiite community.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/09/sadrists-league-of-righteous-clash-in.html)

09-10-2013, 03:08 PM
The main narratives of the Iraq War tend to come from American and British sources. It has not been until recently that the Iraqi perspective has been added to the mix. One major difference between the two is what was the turning point in the conflict. According to the U.S. Iraq had fallen into a civil war by 2006, and things were not reversed until 2007 when the Surge began. That brought new counterinsurgency tactics, which focused upon protecting the population and turned many tribes and insurgents against their compatriots. Some in Anbar would disagree with that history. Thamir al-Asafi is the chairman of the Council of Muslim Scholars, a theologian for the Sunni Endowment, and a professor of religious studies at Al-Anbar University. He helped bring clerics on board for the Anbar Awakening, and was an early spokesman for the on-going Anbar protest movement. He was interviewed for a U.S. Marine Corps history of the Anbar Awakening, which was published in 2009. According to him, it was the people of Anbar who were faced with Al Qaeda in Iraq and foreign fighters on the one hand, and the Americans on the other, who decided to take a stand, and try to secure their communities before the Surge began. To Asafi it was the Iraqis who turned things around despite the Americans, not because of them.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/09/understanding-anbar-before-and-after.html)

09-10-2013, 03:11 PM
The Anbar Awakening, which emerged in 2006 was a mix of sheikhs, clerics, and tribesmen, many of which were involved with the insurgency. Each was driven by their own motivation to give up the struggle against the Americans and the Iraqi government, and instead turn their weapons on their former compatriots. Sheikh Abdullah Jalal Mukhif Faraji was one such individual. He was the deputy head of the Sunni Endowment in Anbar, and a member of the Ramadi city council that later helped lead the Anbar Salvation Council along with Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha and others. To Faraji it was the extremism of Al Qaeda in Iraq that led to the formation of the Awakening, which later became a political force in Anbar.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/09/understanding-anbar-before-and-after_10.html)

09-11-2013, 03:06 PM
Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was not the first in Anbar to challenge Al Qaeda in Iraq’s hold upon the province, but he was the most successful at it. He proposed the Anbar Awakening in 2006, which eventually helped re-take the governorate away from the militants. It was a dramatic transformation for a place that the American forces had almost written off. Abu Risha had far more goals than that, but he wasn’t able to see them come to fruition as he was assassinated a year after he formed the Awakening. His brother, Ahmed Sattar al-Rishawi Abu Risha took over the movement after his brother’s death. He followed through with Abdul’s plans and transformed the movement into a political organization. To Ahmed Abu Risha the Awakening was an initiative that only Iraqis could have come up with, as only they had the ability to sway others away from the insurgency and transform Anbar.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/09/understanding-anbar-before-and-after_11.html)

09-12-2013, 03:08 PM
As the United States Congress was discussing a military strike against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons, Iran’s new foreign minister travelled to Iraq where he received widespread support for opposing any such move. The Iranian diplomat met with a number of different Iraqi politicians all of which warned about the negative repercussions of any U.S. action against President Bashar Assad. This was a rare occasion where Iraq’s elite agreed upon Syria. In the past, each political party has carried out its own foreign policy with different groups coming out for the Syrian rebels, while others have implicitly supported Damascus. The threat of U.S. missiles has brought about rare unity on this issue.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/09/iraq-opposes-us-military-strike-on-syria.html)

09-17-2013, 03:07 PM
Sheikh Abdul Abu Risha and Sheikh Wissam Abdul Ibrahim Hardan were the brains behind the Anbar Awakening. The two met in 2006, and decided to organize the major tribes in the province against the insurgents. The problem was that many of the sheikhs were reluctant at first to join in Abu Risha and Hardan’s scheme. The Awakening also had to convince the Americans of their sincerity, and deal with the Iraqi Islamic Party that controlled Anbar. Once they overcame these difficulties, and were successful in expelling the militants however, the Awakening began breaking up. Those divisions are still apparent today as Hardan has now become an ally of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and opposes his former Anbar brethren. The Awakening experience for Hardan then was a disappointment. He became a hero for fighting militants, but then failed to gain the local and national power that he hoped for.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/09/understanding-anbar-before-and-after_17.html)

09-23-2013, 03:25 PM
The security situation in Iraq is already bad, but recent anecdotal stories could be pointing to things getting much worse. In Basra, there are reports of threats and killings of Sunnis in retaliation for attacks upon Shiites in the rest of the country. In Diyala and Dhi Qar there have been stories of families fleeing intimidation, while in Baghdad an angry mob burned a suspected suicide bomber and bodies have been found dumped and executed. These are all happening in the midst of the government’s latest security operation, which is proving as ineffective as the last one. These recent acts are directly related to the inability of the government to contain the insurgency. If these types of events become more common it could be a sign that society is breaking down once again, and armed groups are taking matters into their own hands.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/09/security-going-from-bad-to-worse-in-iraq.html)

09-30-2013, 03:20 PM
Violence in Iraq has escalated to the worse levels seen since 2008. The insurgency is making a comeback, while the central government is repeating many of the mistakes made by the United States after the 2003 invasion. The cause of this crisis is a breakdown in the country’s politics. Members of the Sunni community feel increasingly alienated from the government, because their national leadership has failed, their local politicians are ignored, Baghdad has focused the security forces upon their areas, and the protest movement has not achieved any tangible results. To help explain how this situation has led to the current security crisis is Maria Fantappie, a former visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center and currently an Iraq researcher for the International Crisis Group. You can follow her on Twitter @Maria Fantappie and the International Crisis Group @CrisisGroup.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/09/explaining-political-factors-behind.html)

10-07-2013, 03:12 PM
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods Force Commander General Qasim Suleimani is a rather infamous figure in Iraq and the Middle East. The general has been blamed for organizing attacks upon American forces when they were in Iraq, helping to put together new governments in Baghdad, and now he’s running Iraqi fighters into Syria. The man is a jack of all trades involved in espionage, covert operations, and power politics. He’s rarely talked about in public however, which was why Dexter Filkins’ recent article for the New Yorker profiling the general was quite revealing. Here now is an interview with Filkins about General Suleimani’s role in Iraq.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/10/iranian-revolutionary-guards-commander.html)

10-08-2013, 03:22 PM
August 2013 was the worst month of the year for Iraq’s fragile security situation. Insurgents carried out a huge number of mass casualty bombings, as the public seemed to teeter on the edge of losing faith in the government to protect them. There were increasing stories of sectarian retaliation up and down the length of the state. That begs the question of which direction Iraq is heading. Is this the new norm or are can things get any worse?

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/10/iraqs-security-situation-looking.html)

10-20-2013, 05:28 AM
Sheikh Jassim Mohammed Salah al-Suwadawi of the Albu Soda tribe and Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Janabi of the Albu Mahal tribe were two prominent tribal leaders in eastern Ramadi. They found themselves unemployed after the 2003 invasion, but unlike many of their compatriots they did not turn that frustration into armed struggle against the Americans and Iraqi government. Instead they attempted to reach out to Baghdad and the U.S., but their initial attempts were failures. Eventually they joined the Anbar Awakening and helped secure the province. Along the way they lost many relatives and followers to violence. Their story shows the early struggles and consequences of joining the tribal revolt in Western Iraq.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/09/understanding-anbar-before-and-after_26.html)

10-21-2013, 03:29 PM
As security deteriorates in Iraq, the government is desperately searching for solutions. Recently Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for revitalizing the Sons of Iraq groups, which he neglected after the U.S. withdrawal, and about using the Tribal Support Councils that he created several years ago. The latest idea being floated is the creation of “popular committees” in Baghdad and its suburbs, which would assist the security forces. The first group to publicly acquiesce to this plan is an Iranian supported militia with ties to Maliki. That raises fears that the committees could lead to official backing of the various militias that still exist within the country and the creation of new ones. This could be a step backwards for the country, as stability is not served by supporting neighborhood gunmen.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/10/iraq-considers-forming-neighborhood.html)

10-23-2013, 03:12 PM
Sheikh Aifan Issawi of the Albu Issa tribe was an important leader in the Anbar Awakening. While most of his tribe joined the insurgency and worked with Al Qaeda all the way up to 2007, he followed his own path trying to cooperate with the Americans in his hometown of Fallujah. He went on to turn his exploits on the battlefield into a seat on the provincial council in 2009. He was later appointed to parliament as part of the Iraqi National Movement in 2011. Unfortunately, in 2013 insurgents caught up with him and assassinated him. Issawi was one of the prominent sheikhs in Anbar that turned his role in the Awakening into a successful political career until his untimely death.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/10/understanding-anbar-before-and-after.html)

10-28-2013, 03:19 PM
In October 2013 a new study was released in the PLOS Medicine journal estimating the number of deaths following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It attempted to avoid and make up for some of the criticism of previous surveys that looked at fatalities in the country. These included the 2004 and 2006 Lancet papers, the 2004 Iraq Living Conditions Survey, the 2007 Opinion Business Research (ORB) poll, and the 2008 Iraq Family Health Survey. The new report estimated 460,000 excess deaths occurred after the fall of Saddam Hussein. It didn’t give a figure for all violent deaths, but did say that for adults aged 15-60 132,000 died because of violence from 2003-2011, which is very similar to Iraq Body Count and figures recorded by the U.S. military. The Iraqi Family Health Survey and the Iraq Living Conditions were both within the range of the new one as well, while the two Lancet reports and the ORB questionnaire were far outside of it. While no survey can be authoritative the new PLOS one at least confirms that a few of the earlier estimates were capturing some of the death and destruction released by the Iraq War, while largely repudiating the Lancet articles.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/10/new-survey-on-estimated-deaths-in-iraq.html)

11-05-2013, 04:24 PM
Iraq’s Anbar province used to be one of the centers of the insurgency, and it might be becoming one again. Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha recently told the press that 40% of the governorate was under the control of militants. Today there is a free flow of fighters back and forth across the Syrian border. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is targeting the security forces and local politicians. More importantly, it is attempting to gain control of territory as there have been several assaults upon towns and cities this year. This has occurred despite the Iraqi security forces (ISF) announcing one operation after another. Its tactics of raids and retreats have proven largely ineffective, and the mass arrests that have taken place are counterproductive. Violence is picking up across many parts of Iraq, but Anbar is one specific area where insurgents are attempting to establish a permanent presence.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/iraqs-anbar-province-once-again.html)

11-06-2013, 04:29 PM
Violence in Iraq remained at extremely high levels in October 2013. There were waves of mass casualty bombings in the central part of the country. Insurgents looked to be re-establishing themselves in some of their former strongholds such as Anbar and Ninewa. That was shown in the monthly death tolls that were just released with both Iraq Body Count and the United Nations recording over 7,000 killed in the first ten months of the year.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/over-7000-killed-in-iraq-in-1st-10.html)

11-11-2013, 07:08 PM
Ten months since the protests started in Anbar in December 2012 it now appears that a political deal might be cut to end them. Speaker Osama Nujafi’s Mutahidun Party has gone from one of their biggest supporters to now wanting to cut a deal with Baghdad to end them Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is under pressure to make some concessions given the deteriorating security situation in the country. The change in mood has been seen over the last two months as the premier has met with various Anbar notables including Governor Ahmed Diab and Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha the head of the Awakening. It’s far from clear whether any meaningful will come from these talks, but the effort is under way to conclude the demonstrations.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/more-steps-towards-reconciliation.html)

11-12-2013, 04:22 PM
As security has deteriorated in northern and central Iraq the south has not been saved. Al Qaeda in Iraq has launched a sustained campaign to bomb major cities at least once a month in southern Iraq. Babil province with its mixed population has seen constant insurgent activity. Due to the sectarian attacks upon Shiites people have begun retaliatory attacks upon Sunnis in Basra as well. Despite all that most of the population in the south has not witnessed the violence seen in the rest of the country.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/southern-iraq-escapes-most-of-violence.html)

11-13-2013, 04:17 PM
Southern Iraq has witnessed plenty of violence in 2013, but it pails in comparison to central and northern Iraq. While a province like Baghdad might have five to ten attacks per day, some provinces in the south have that many in a year. Different governorates have also gone through different experiences. In Babil for example there has been a relentless wave of attacks mostly aimed at average citizens. Basra has seen a mix of Al Qaeda in Iraq bombings, and religious, political, and sectarian violence. Karbala and Najaf have gone through repeated attempts to stir sectarian tensions by attacking pilgrims heading to the holy cities. Wasit on the other hand has experienced an increasing number of insurgent bombings. Other governorates like Muthanna and Maysan have only seen occasional militant operations. Al Qaeda in Iraq has picked up the pace of its operations in the south carrying out more aggressive and coordinated bombings, but these are still occasional rather than normal events.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/reported-security-incidents-across.html)

11-14-2013, 04:19 PM
Iraq’s Fallujah has once again become a center for insurgent attacks in the country. Most recently the mayor of the city was assassinated in November 2013. Afterward the provincial council voted to replace the chief of police for the governorate due to the deteriorating security situation. The police and the army have failed to protect the city, and it appears that militants have free reign there.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/fallujah-mayor-assassinated-while-anbar.html)

11-18-2013, 04:17 PM
In just the last few years Turkey’s policy towards Iraq has gone through a dramatic transformation. For decades, Ankara was opposed to any form of autonomy or independence for Iraq’s Kurds, while it denied rights to its own Kurdish population, and fought a long insurgency led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Since the second term of Turkish Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan from the Justice and Development Party (AKP), that has begun to change. Turkey now stands as the largest investor in the Kurdistan region, it has become one of the main backers of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, has cut deals with Irbil to allow it to truck in oil, and is working on building pipelines between the two. This has led to talk that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will eventually move towards independence from Iraq, with the help of Turkey, something that was unthinkable just a little while ago. To help explain why Ankara has changed its stance is Professor Henri Barkey who teachers International Relations at Lehigh University, and who has written extensively about the Middle East and Turkey.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/turkeys-changing-stance-towards-iraqs.html)

11-20-2013, 04:13 PM
Sheikh Ali Hatem Sulaiman is from the Dualim tribe one of the largest in Iraq’s Anbar province. His story is symbolic of what beset the Awakening after its successful fight against the insurgency. Once it secured the governorate, the Awakening attempted to enter politics, and that brought out all kinds of personal rivalries, and ended up dividing and ending the tribal movement. Sulaiman went from threatening the Iraqi Islamic Party that ruled Anbar, to making a deal with it. He was an ally of Sheikh Abu Risha then became his critic. He then allied with Premier Nouri al-Maliki only to turn on him. He is currently part of the Anbar protest movement where he has made a number of inflammatory statements against the government. It seemed like fighting the insurgency was the easy part for the Awakening, because when it attempted to take control of Anbar and gain a voice in Baghdad the movement fractured.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/understanding-anbar-before-and-after.html)

11-25-2013, 04:59 PM
Al Qaeda in Iraq has gone through a resurgence this year. It wasn’t long ago that the group was on the decline with much of its leadership arrested or killed, and many of its cells broken up. Now it is responsible for more and more mass casualty bombings, it has re-established its presence in the provinces, and is operating in Syria that has allowed it access to new funds, personnel, and material. To help explain the rebirth of Al Qaeda in Iraq is Jessica Lewis the research director at the Institute for the Study of War and author of several recent reports on the Islamist group.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-rebirth-of-al-qaeda-in-iraq.html)

11-26-2013, 05:46 PM
Iraq’s Ninewa province and its capital city of Mosul have returned as a central hub for the country’s insurgency. After the Surge in 2007 many militant groups fled north to places like Mosul where they were then reduced by American and Iraqi forces. Now insurgents are making a comeback. They are attempting to assert their will over the governorate’s population and economy, and targeting the local security forces.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/resurgence-of-iraqs-insurgency-in.html)

11-27-2013, 05:54 PM
For many years Iraq Body Count called Iraq’s Ninewa province the deadliest per capita in the country. That was because the governorate capital of Mosul was the main urban base for the insurgency. Militants were able to play upon the internal divisions in the province between Arabs and Kurds, and Sunni displeasure with the central government to build up support. From 2009-2010 violence dropped in Ninewa as people decided to try their hands at politics. Many now consider that a wasted effort. Today the insurgency has made a comeback in the province. The result is that Ninewa is once again one of the most dangerous places in Iraq.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/11/security-situation-in-iraqs-ninewa.html)

12-02-2013, 04:18 PM
The conflict in neighboring Syria has provided both opportunities and problems for Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Kurdish President Massoud Barzani and to a lesser extent the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have attempted to forge ties with Syrian Kurds and shape events there to their benefit. These have only met with limited success as the Syrians have their own agendas. To help explain this policy is Wladimir van Wilgenburg who until recently was based in Irbil, and is an analyst for the Jamestown Foundation out of Washington DC, and writes for Al Monitor.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/explaining-iraqi-kurdistans-policy.html)

12-03-2013, 04:16 PM
Iraq went through another brutal month in November 2013. Three of the four organizations that track deaths saw a slight decline from last month, but the figures were still high overall. Two of the groups have now surpassed 8,000 fatalities for the year. Most of the violence is due to Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and its Soldiers’ Harvest campaign, but other militants are active as well contributing to the high number of killed. There are also increasing fears of retaliatory attacks by Shiites against Sunnis. That does not mean that Iraq is facing another civil war, but the insurgency has been re-born, and the current level of violence is likely to be the new norm.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/over-8000-killed-in-iraq-so-far-in-2013.html)

12-04-2013, 04:21 PM
The Iraq War created a new set of sectarian politics in the country. The transformation amongst Sunnis was a perfect example. Before they did not have a real sense of themselves as a group, but after 2003 they felt threatened by the Shiite parties that they conflated with Iran, and that helped create a new communal identity. Two authors Fanar Haddad and Harith Hassan al-Qarawee have tried to explain these transformations. Their ideas along with statements by sheikhs, religious men, and soldiers from Anbar show how sectarianism did not emerge from centuries long conflict, but was rather created by the social and political situation in Iraq after the invasion.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/sunni-identity-politics-in-iraq-after.html)

12-10-2013, 04:17 PM
Iraq’s Ninewa, and specifically the provincial capital Mosul has once again become a hotbed for insurgent activity. Many different militant groups operate there including Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Baathist Jaish Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshibandi, and Ansar al-Sunna. One major target of these groups has been public employees. Recently 200 guards from the Badush prison quit after a concerted campaign to threaten and intimidate them. That followed the assassination of several district mayors in Mosul that shut down their local councils. This was just the latest attempt to undermine the administration in the governorate.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/insurgents-undermine-another.html)

12-11-2013, 04:26 PM
Since October 2013, the Mutahidun party that runs Anbar has tried to negotiate with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to put an end to the protests in the province. There have been several meetings between officials in Baghdad and Anbar over the last several weeks to try to work out some concessions between the two that might appease the demonstrators. Both sides are worried about the increasing terrorist threat in Anbar, and Mutahidun would also like to focus upon governance that would require the cooperation of Baghdad. As those steps were being taken however, the protesters said they were no longer interested in the talks. That leaves the future of this effort up in the air.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/attempted-reconciliation-between-iraqs.html)

12-12-2013, 04:19 PM
November 2013 saw southern Iraq return to its annual average in terms of attacks and casualties. There were two waves of car bombings during the month, but otherwise violence was scattered and low level across the region. That was different from the previous two months that saw a huge amount of fatalities. Compared to the rest of Iraq the south remains relatively peaceful despite the best laid plans of insurgents.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/security-situation-in-southern-iraq.html)

12-13-2013, 04:09 PM

12-17-2013, 04:12 PM
The number of attacks remained high in Iraq’s Anbar for November 2013. As usual most of those were concentrated in the province’s cities especially Fallujah and Ramadi. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), the power system and transportation were the main targets. Despite that the number of fatalities was dramatically lower than the previous two months.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/attacks-on-iraqi-forces-and.html)

12-17-2013, 04:39 PM
It is the season of goodwill and I thought you should get a special post of thanks for keeping Iraq in focus. I expect watching that country, even the region, is painful for many members and readers.

For sometime now you are the only person who posts here. That may indicate something, but a number of once pertinent and controversial threads have gone into hibernation - Iran comes to mind.

After the fall of South Vietnam was there a similar distant gazing back after even more blood and treasure had been spent?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year JWing.

12-18-2013, 04:14 PM
Thanks David for the kind words.

12-18-2013, 04:15 PM
According to the United Nations Iraq’s Ninewa has been the second deadliest province for most of 2013. That’s because the governorate capital Mosul is the major urban base for the insurgency. Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Baathist Naqshibandi and others have been able to assert control over wide swaths of the city and surrounding area. Unlike places like Baghdad where mass casualty bombings are the norm, in Ninewa violence consists mostly of low-level shootings and roadside bombs but with no less deadly results.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/low-level-attacks-characterize-violence.html)

12-19-2013, 04:17 PM
Sheikh Majid Abdul al-Razzaq Ali al-Sulaiman is one of the two elder sheikhs of the Dulaim tribe, one of the largest in Anbar province. He is the uncle of Sheikh Ali Hatem Sulaiman, and both were leaders in the Awakening movement. The elder Sulaiman has an interesting story because he fled to Jordan in the 1990s after he took part in a failed coup against Saddam Hussein and become involved in opposition politics. After 2003 he quickly became disillusioned with the American occupation and retreated to Anbar. There he became a target of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and that was what led Sulaiman to join the Awakening. That movement quickly became divided by personal rivalries and broke up into different factions. Sheikh Sulaiman’s story therefore covers the gamut of changes that took place in Anbar both before and after the 2003 invasion.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/understanding-anbar-before-after.html)

12-23-2013, 05:18 PM
Professor Nadje Al-Ali is a professor of gender studies at SOAS, University of London. She has authored several books and articles on the history and present state of Iraqi women including Iraqi Women: Untold Stories From 1948 to the Present and What Kind of Liberation?: Women and the Occupation of Iraq, and was one of the editors of We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War. The Iraq War has given rise to a number of contradictory stories about women in Iraq. One is that Iraqi women were liberated and on the rise under Saddam, and then all that was reversed after the 2003 invasion as religious parties gained control and attempted to impose their views upon society. An opposing view was that Iraq was a typical Arab Muslim country where women had a secondary role, but then the Americans freed them from these restrictions. To try to provide a clearer picture of what women have gone through both before and after the fall of Saddam Hussein is an interview with Prof. Al-Ali.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/iraqi-women-before-and-after-2003.html)

12-24-2013, 06:30 PM
Dr. Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies recently testified to a joint committee of the United States House of Representatives that Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) couldn’t help but overstep itself. During the early part of the Iraq War the Islamist organization tried to impose its foreign version of Islam upon Iraq, and intimidated and executed those that disagreed with it. It was actions such as those that eventually turned many Iraqis against it. Today, AQI is making a comeback establishing bases again within the country and carrying out a dizzying array of bombings. As the group looks to gain territory once again it is returning to its bad habits, which will eventually cost it sometime down the road.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/al-qaeda-in-iraqs-excesses-that-could.html)

12-26-2013, 06:27 PM
Here's an interview I did (http://www.global-politics.co.uk/blog/2013/12/26/Iraq_2014_Maliki/#.Urwl9BCD1T8.twitter) with Global Politics about Iraq in 2014.

12-26-2013, 06:31 PM
After several attempts at reconciliation between Anbar’s provincial government and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to end the on-going protests there events turned for the worse in December 2013. The premier claimed that the demonstration sites were a base for Al Qaeda and demanded that they be ended, and hinted at a crackdown. Just before that Sheikh Hamid al-Hayes accused the death of his nephew upon the Ramadi protests as well, and threatened to use violence unless the perpetrators were turned over to him. It seemed like either the government or Hayes’ tribe was about to storm the Ramadi protest camp, but then things suddenly calmed down. Stepping back from the brink was best for all concerned, but it was another sign of the decline of the protest movement.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/crackdown-on-protest-site-in-iraqs.html)

12-30-2013, 05:50 PM
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki just turned a military tragedy, which rallied much of the country behind the government, into a campaign against the Anbar protest movement. In the middle of December 2013 Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) set up an elaborate trap, which resulted in the death of much of the leadership of the Army’s 7th Division. Baghdad then launched a massive military campaign in Anbar that almost all parties and much of the public supported. In the midst of this offensive however, the prime minister decided to go after the Anbar demonstrators by claiming that they were behind the terrorists, and then ordered the detention of Parliamentarian Ahmed Alwani of the Iraqi Islamic Party who was one of their leaders. The lawmaker was captured, but not before a shoot out that resulted in several deaths and brought out hundreds of people into the streets in Anbar in support of him. Now the government is demanding that the protest sites close. In doing so, Maliki turned a national moment into a personal vendetta against his opponents.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/iraqs-pm-maliki-goes-from-offensive.html)

12-31-2013, 05:41 PM
The Surge in Iraq created a huge controversy in American politics when it started in 2007. There were arguments about whether the U.S. should send in more troops or withdraw its forces to solve Iraq’s increasing chaos. Since then there has been a lively discussion about how much of a factor the Surge was in combination with other events such as the sectarian cleansing of Baghdad, the Anbar Awakening, the Sons of Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr’s cease fire, and more in reducing the violence in the country. To provide an inside view of the Surge is Professor Peter Mansoor the General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair of Military History at Ohio State University and General David Petraeus’ former Executive Officer from 2007-2008. He recently published a book about his experience during that time entitled Surge, My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/inside-surge-interview-with-prof-peter.html)

01-01-2014, 04:20 AM
The Surge in Iraq created a huge controversy in American politics when it started in 2007. There were arguments about whether the U.S. should send in more troops or withdraw its forces to solve Iraq’s increasing chaos. Since then there has been a lively discussion about how much of a factor the Surge was in combination with other events such as the sectarian cleansing of Baghdad, the Anbar Awakening, the Sons of Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr’s cease fire, and more in reducing the violence in the country. To provide an inside view of the Surge is Professor Peter Mansoor the General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair of Military History at Ohio State University and General David Petraeus’ former Executive Officer from 2007-2008. He recently published a book about his experience during that time entitled Surge, My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/inside-surge-interview-with-prof-peter.html)

That was a very fine interview. Very discouraging though in that Big Army and Big Navy got it wrong...again. And then they tried to sabotage the effort.

I wonder if Gian Gentile will see this and respond.

01-01-2014, 07:15 AM
Dr. Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies recently testified to a joint committee of the United States House of Representatives that Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) couldn’t help but overstep itself. During the early part of the Iraq War the Islamist organization tried to impose its foreign version of Islam upon Iraq, and intimidated and executed those that disagreed with it. It was actions such as those that eventually turned many Iraqis against it. Today, AQI is making a comeback establishing bases again within the country and carrying out a dizzying array of bombings. As the group looks to gain territory once again it is returning to its bad habits, which will eventually cost it sometime down the road.

It will cost it but how long do you think it will take? If it takes at all. The last time they got fed up with AQ, the American Army was there. This time we won't be there. Will they be able to overthrow AQ without Bradley's to back them up?

I've read that the takfiri killers are starting to impose similar regimes in the parts of Syria they control. How do you think it will play out there?

01-01-2014, 08:21 PM
Hi Carl,
Glad you liked the interview. Couple responses

1) I've talked to people who worked in the govt & White House during the Bush years and they have different opinions on what happened. Some think the Bush admin was just as divided as others others say it was a real battle between organizations. It seems like each individual and institution had its own view of Iraq. Rumsfeld was against national building for example and wanted out of Iraq as soon as the invasion was over. Gen. Abizaid and Adm Fallon believed that the US was destabilizing Iraq so wanted out. The Joint Chiefs thought the troops deployments was breaking the military and wanted out. Rice & The NSC were looking for ways to win, etc. I take the view that there were deep internal divisions within the administration that hamstrung Iraq policy until 07 and the Surge.

2) Al Qaeda seems to be taking a two different strategies in Syria & Iraq. In Syria they appear to be doing a lot of hearts & minds ops learning from Iraq. In Iraq however its all terror, although they are trying to portray themselves as the protector of the Sunnis. I think Iraq's previous experience with AQI is the reason why they're gaining little traction there.

01-02-2014, 05:35 PM
On December 30, 2013, Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in conjunction with Anbar Governor Ahmed Diab took down the protest site in Ramadi. The province was already inflamed by the arrest of Parliamentarian Ahmed Alwani two day before from the Iraqi Islamic Party who was one of the leaders of the demonstrations. Immediately fighting broke out in Ramadi and Fallujah, which has continued to the present time. This has brought the internal divisions within Anbar to the forefront with different groups and individuals coming out for and against Baghdad in this conflict. In the bigger picture, the premier’s actions have probably succeeded in turning a large part of Anbar opinion towards armed struggle, which will undermine Iraq’s already precarious security situation.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2014/01/aftermath-of-shutting-down-ramadi.html)

01-02-2014, 05:38 PM
VIDEO: Fallujah Rebels Burn 6 Police Humvees


VIDEO: Revolution In Fallujah Burning Government Vehicles


ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ VIDEO: Al Qaeda In Iraq Fighters In Falluja


VIDEO: Gunmen Driving Through Ramadi


VIDEO: Mujahadeen In Control Of Fallujah, Jan. 1, 2014


01-03-2014, 03:59 AM
1) I've talked to people who worked in the govt & White House during the Bush years and they have different opinions on what happened. Some think the Bush admin was just as divided as others others say it was a real battle between organizations. It seems like each individual and institution had its own view of Iraq. Rumsfeld was against national building for example and wanted out of Iraq as soon as the invasion was over. Gen. Abizaid and Adm Fallon believed that the US was destabilizing Iraq so wanted out. The Joint Chiefs thought the troops deployments was breaking the military and wanted out. Rice & The NSC were looking for ways to win, etc. I take the view that there were deep internal divisions within the administration that hamstrung Iraq policy until 07 and the Surge.

That's fascinating. Despite all the wrangling around here and other places over cointras, coindinistas, pop-centric, enemy centric and everything else, it may all have been a matter of divided command and a leader that needed to finally decide to take command and tell people what to do.

01-03-2014, 10:06 AM
I think that's what Mansoor would say. Before the Surge Bush delegated Iraq policy to the Pentagon and almost everyone there wanted out of Iraq. There was no real policy to win or beat the insurgency outside of some individual commanders out in the field. When things finally deteriorated into full scale civil war Bush suddenly realized that he had to do something and took more direct control and that's what led to the Surge, his constant video conferencing with Maliki, etc.

01-03-2014, 10:14 AM
Since around 20 December, the Iraqi Army is running an offensive against the ISIS in Anbar and Ninive Provinces. The operation in question is including units from the 1st and 7th Divisions of the Iraqi Army, plus air force assets like Beechcraft King Airs, Cessna AC-208s, and (recently acquired) Mi-35s of the Iraqi Air Force.

Here a video of one of Mi-35 attacks:

...and here a King Air in action:

01-04-2014, 03:05 PM
Almost an April Fool's Day headline I thought on reading, but it is not.

Anxious to rid itself of the lawlessness that still plagues Iraq’s southern capital, Basra’s governor has hired a private military company run by a British general who helped capture the city from Saddam Hussein.
Maj Gen Graham Binns, who is the chief executive of Aegis Defence Services, commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade when it led the siege of Basra in 2003.
Four years later he supervised the handover of the city to Iraqi security forces. Now, amid growing concern about a fresh wave of terrorist violence across the country, Basra’s governor has invited Maj Gen Binns’s company back to assist at a “strategic level”.


01-06-2014, 04:25 PM
As fighting continues in Iraq’s western Anbar province, the various tribes there have found themselves in a precarious situation. Some have aligned themselves with the central government against insurgents, some are opposed to both the federal forces and the militants, while still others have joined the gunmen. Anbar was always a very divisive place in part because of the deep-seated tribal rivalries. Those are all being exasperated by the current rebellion in the governorate.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2014/01/violence-in-iraqs-anbar-highlights.html)

01-07-2014, 04:17 PM
The fighting in Anbar has not stopped Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from going after the leaders of the country’s protest movement. One of the original causes of the conflict in the governorate was the arrest of Iraqi Islamic Party Parliamentarian Ahmed Alwani who was known for giving inflammatory speeches about Shiites at the Ramadi sit-in square. Now Baghdad has warrants out for Sheikh Ali Hatem Sulaiman and Sheikh Mohammed Taha Hamdun both prominent members of the demonstrations.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2014/01/with-fighting-still-going-on-in-anbar.html)

01-08-2014, 04:32 PM
2013 ended on a bad note for Iraq. The open rebellion in Anbar province against the central government was just the latest sign of the decline in the country’s security. Overall, violence increased last year as the insurgency, especially the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant saw a revival. That led to deaths being two to three times as high at the end of the year as the beginning. 2014 looks to be just as bad if not worse.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2014/01/2013-ends-with-deaths-and-violence.html)

01-09-2014, 04:14 PM
Anbar is now in open rebellion against the Iraqi government. By December 2013 the signs were there that the province was about to explode. During the first two-thirds of the month there was a concerted effort to kill and intimidate local sheikhs. In the last part security incidents took off, and switched to targeting the security forces. That was topped off by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIS) ambush of the leadership of the 7th Division that led to the death of its commander and two brigade leaders. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki then ordered a major offensive in the desert and border regions of Anbar, which was met by an upsurge in operations by the ISIS. Then the premier made a grave mistake by arresting Parliamentarian Ahmed Alwani who was a leader in the protest movement, and then had the Ramadi sit-in square closed down. That brought out tribes and the insurgency, and led to the current crisis.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2014/01/security-in-anbar-december-2013.html)

01-13-2014, 04:22 PM
As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) attempts a comeback it continues to repeat the same mistakes that turned most of the country against it in the past. Part of its current Soldiers’ Harvest campaign is to gain and hold territory in Iraq. As a result it has moved into certain towns and cities and begun issuing warnings and orders to the population about what it will not accept based upon its interpretation of Islam. Recently it has banned wearing western clothing and listening to music. Another bad trend is its tendency to attack anyone that does not agree with it. These extremist ideas and tactics were exactly what the group did from 2004-2006, and which eventually led to groups like the Anbar Awakening and the Sons of Iraq being formed. These same missteps will likely cost it again, it is just a matter of time.

continued (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2014/01/islamic-state-of-iraq-and-levant.html)

01-13-2014, 07:28 PM
If we consider it's history in Iraq and the reactions in Syria it sounds indeed quite likely, but of course one can not be sure that it will work out like that again.

By the way does that ban on 'Western clothing' just go for women? ISIS fighters seem to wear partly just that.

01-15-2014, 02:14 AM
That was for men. They said people couldn't wear t-shirts, slacks, ties, etc.! For women it was the traditional, cover themselves.