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Thread: Iraq catch-all: after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended

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    Default VIDEO: Did You Know This About Iraq?


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    Default VIDEO: Iraq, Land Between Two Rivers


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    Default Spring Festival In Babil, Iraq

    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.

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    Default Turkey, Iran and Kurdistan

    davidbfpo,

    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.

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    Default Iraq’s Premier Maliki And His Deputy Mutlaq Reconcile

    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.

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    Default Kurdistan’s Oil Policy And Iraq’s Disputed Territories

    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.

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    Default Human Rights Watch Reports On Two Mass Arrest Campaigns And Continued Abuses By The S

    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.

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    Default The Shi'a Succession

    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....
    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/featur...grand_3-052412
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Default Iraq Insurgents Launch Summer Offensive In June 2012

    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.

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    Default What Does Iraq’s Sadr Want?

    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.

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    Default Insurgents’ Summer Offensive Begins In June 2012

    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.

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    Default An Iraqi Perspective On The Iraq Warq Interview With Mark Kukis And His Voices Of Ira

    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.

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    Default Critique of “Testing The Surge,” Article Misses Major Factors That Reduced Violence I

    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.

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    Default Al Qaeda: We’re returning to old Iraq strongholds

    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.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...gholds/?page=1

    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.

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    Default What Is Security Like Today In Iraq? An Interview With Michael Knights

    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.

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    Thumbs up

    JWing,

    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.
    davidbfpo

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    Default The Major Flaws With The Lancet Reports On Iraqi Deaths, Part I

    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.

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    Default Major Flaws With The Lancet Reports On Iraqi Deaths, Part II

    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.

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