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Thread: Iraq 2015: nowt is simple in this conflict

  1. #61
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JWing View Post
    New article today about how the militias/Hashd al-Shaabi might be a political threat to the established Shiite parties in Iraq.
    Joel,
    when researching about topics of this kind, please try to find out what's the stand of each of these parties' towards Tehran, especially what kind of contacts they have to the Khamenei clique (for example: via Soleimani-Vahid axis or in some other fashion).

    IMHO, such links are likely to prove decisive for their future positions and strength too.

  2. #62
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    Default Iran is the Greatest Threat to Iraq

    One view, one I happen to agree with.

    Iran-backed Shi'ite militia pose biggest threat to Iraq not Isis, warns ex-CIA boss

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/iran-backed...a-boss-1492988

    The biggest threat to Iraq's long-term stability does not come from Islamic State (Isis), but from Iran-backed Shi'ite militias fighting the Sunni extremists, former US general and CIA boss David Patraeus said this week.

  3. #63
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    On the lighter side

    Life in Baghdad: Joy Amid the Chaos of War | FRONTLINE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftPH...d=2489&elqat=1

    A rare and surprising look at the everyday lives of ordinary young Iraqis. Against the backdrop of war, life goes on. Families are still attending carnivals and…

  4. #64
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    Please check out my latest interview. I talked with Col. Joel Rayburn the author of Iraq After America, which was one of the best books on Iraq published last year, about Iraq's political parties and insurgency. Here's a link.

  5. #65
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Joel - thank you for that very interesting interview.

    The PMU groups look strong now, just as ISIS once did, but the question remains as to how militarily effective they can be and if they have the sort of funding and structure from Iran or the Iraqi government to actually entrench themselves over primarily Sunni or mixed areas in northern Iraq and Anbar.

    Tikrit will eventually fall, but can this ragbag of organizations actually take and hold ground over time, especially in Sunni areas, without conducting a widespread ethnic cleansing campaign? And even if such a campaign could actually take place, what Shia settlers will venture from the south voluntarily to hold disputed ground?

    Iran's help has helped Assad hold on in Syria, but they haven't been enough to hold the regime army together or prevent the widespread militia-zation of Assad forces. As we see in Syria, these militias do not have the 3Ci or logistical capabilities to undertake a decisive offensive onto unfamiliar ground. I doubt that this exists in Iraq either.

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    Just published my security report for the 3rd week of March in Iraq. Casualties were down from previous week. IS & government forces both were on the offensive in Anbar but fighting there is stalemated. Kurds are in the middle of a major operation to clear southern Tikrit. Salahaddin offensive stalled with divisions between Iran, Hashd, ISF & Baghdad. Read more here.

  7. #67
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    In response to 'Tequila's' question above...

    You can expect the IRGC-QF-run PMUs to become a sort of 'Iraqi IRGC'.

    To ascertain the 'effect' of creation of such groups, Khamenei & Co (via Soleimani) are going to distribute them at different - and multiple - levels of society. That way not only that every gang in charge of specific group is going to get its 'piece of cake', but the IRGC is going to be capable of establishing itself in control over all aspects of Iraqi society (from the political, via military, down to the economy).

    With other words: they'll do the same like they do at home.

    As can be seen on examples of Iran (2009) in Syria (since 2011), such systems are proven as extremely hard to topple.

    Regarding 'funding': presently, a mix of 'few bucks' and religious zeal make such enterprises a very economic. And in long term: hand at heart, with Iraqi oil de-facto under their control, and Chinese banks in their backs (keep in mind that Chinese are meanwhile biggest investors in Iraq)... what can go wrong for Iranians?

    And even if such a campaign could actually take place, what Shia settlers will venture from the south voluntarily to hold disputed ground?
    They've found enough of them to settle in various parts of Baghdad, already. I doubt this is any kind of significant problem.

    Iran's help has helped Assad hold on in Syria, but they haven't been enough to hold the regime army together or prevent the widespread militia-zation of Assad forces. As we see in Syria, these militias do not have the 3Ci or logistical capabilities to undertake a decisive offensive onto unfamiliar ground. I doubt that this exists in Iraq either.
    That's an issue of priorities and time.

    Priorities: as long as the situation in Syria was near-hopeless, it was top priority and the IRGC-QF was 'pumping' everything there, including own troops, Iraqi Shi'a groups, Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinians, Arab Nationalists etc., etc., etc. They reorganized the SyAA into the NDF, they reorganized security apparatus and re-trained the air force too...

    Once the Daesh 'exploded' over half the Iraq, Iraq received priority. Battle-hardened IRGC's own forces, Iraqi Shi'a etc. were re-deployed to Iraq and replaced by the Afghan Hazara units plus Lebanese Hezbollah. Presently, Iraq has top priority on IRGC-QF's 'to do' list and that's going to remain for a while longer.

    Even so, the IRGC-QF is still pumping enough effort (money and forces) into Syria to keep the situation balanced. Indeed, the time is now on its side: it has already established itself in control over regime's military and security apparatus there, developed the Syrian Hezbollah (said to be quantitativelly already bigger than its Lebanese original), etc., etc., etc. It's presence is sufficient to keep the insurgents and the Daesh busy, and the regime afloat.

    Plus, while Iraq received priority because the Daesh began approaching the Iranian border, this means not that it's going to remain that way 'forever'. It might easily take 'years', but have no doubts: for the IRGC-QF, there is no such thing like 'border between Iraq and Syria' already since long.

  8. #68
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    A sarcast like me cannot but observe that the situation in Iraq is 'getting better and better'...

    Now the US begins Tikrit surveillance flights - which means that, whether Washington wants to do so or not, it's going to support the IRGC-QF:
    ...The US-led coalition against Islamic State has begun surveillance flights over the Iraqi city of Tikrit, which is being besieged by government forces.

    Coalition officials said the support was requested by the authorities in Baghdad. They would not say whether air strikes would also be carried out.

    Until now, the US had no involvement in the Iranian-backed operation in Tikrit.

    But a Pentagon spokesman said the assault had "stalled", with IS militants in the city centre "dug in".

    This is the first attempt to push out IS from a major urban centre in Iraq and is seen as a test for an operation to retake the country's second largest city, Mosul, which along with Tikrit was seized last June.
    ...
    Iranian military advisers - led by Gen Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force - helped co-ordinate the assault.
    ...
    Where's the point? Soleimani is NOT playing some 'advisor' and 'helping coordinate tha assault': he's IN CHARGE of this operation.

    Perhaps Obama could deliver F-16s ordered (and paid for) by Iraq straight to Iran? After all, Iran was one of first export customers for the type: indeed, the first 50 F-16A/Bs delivered to Israel were originally built for Iran...

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    A short detailed look at the role of the fraction-ridden Kurds, in both Iraq
    and Syria; in particular what happened @ Mt. Sinjar and Kobane:http://defenceindepth.co/2015/03/25/...islamic-state/

    The author Rob Thornton, who has spent time teaching in Iraqi Kurdistan, ends with a warning:
    Without a common ‘Kurdish’ purpose they are just as likely to fight each other as they are to fight ISIL.
    davidbfpo

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    Gallup just released a public opinion poll of Iraqis from the end of 2014. Premier Abadi and the Iraqi govt have very strong support, especially when compared to former PM Maliki. When asked about the economy however people were very skeptical. Read about the results here.

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    Analysis of the U.S.-Iranian rivalry behind the Tikrit op. It was originally planned by Iran and the Hashd forces without even including the govt. When PM Abadi heard about it the Iraqi forces were added. Iran wanted a victory over a major urban area of Iraq without the U.S. Offensive started out well, but then stalled when Tikrit core reached. Led to debate over what to do with ISF & Abadi getting Coalition air strikes. Defeat for Iran's plans but just one move in the rivalry between the two powers in Iraq. Read more here.

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    Just published my weekly security report for Iraq. Attacks went up during the fourth week of March but casualties actually dropped, for the fourth week. Anbar fighting remains stalemated. Was big uptick in violence in Diyala with militias joining in. Kurds continued offensive into southern Kirkuk otherwise reported violence has almost disappeared there. Ninewa IS continues to rule through fear and executions while carrying out harassing attacks upon Kurds. Salahaddin obviously Iran-Hashd plan to take Tikrit on their own failed and Baghdad had to call in Coalition air strikes. Read more here.

  13. #73
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    Iran claims US drone killed two military advisers in Iraq
    Two Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen were killed by a US drone in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, Iranian state media said Monday, in a report that was denied by the Pentagon.

    The official IRNA news agency said the two had been posted to Iraq as advisers in the war against Islamic State (IS) group jihadists and that they died in the drone strike on March 23.

    Pictures of the two men, named as Ali Yazdani and Hadi Jafari, were posted on Iranian news websites after their funerals on home soil.
    ...
    However, the US Department of Defense said in a statement that it had not conducted air strikes in the Tikrit area on the date the men were said to have been killed.

    "Coalition forces initiated air strikes near Tikrit on March 25, two days after the alleged incident occurred and no air strikes were conducted in or near Tikrit on March 23," said Major Omar Villarreal, a spokesman for US Central Command.

    "We have no information to corroborate claims that coalition air strikes killed two IRGC members," he added, referring to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
    ...
    Ups...

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    Think that's pretty much propaganda to denigrate the Coalition air strikes. The Hashd forces have various claims that the U.S. killed a number of their fighters and Federal Police.

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    Just wrote a report about Sheikh Akram Kaabi and his Hezbollah al-Nujaba group. Kaabi was a student of Ayatollah Sadiq al-Sadr, then became a military commander within the Mahdi Army under the son Moqtada. In 2004 after battles of Najaf Iran said that it was ready to fully support Sadr in his fight against the U.S. and they created Asaib Ahl Al-Haq as a secret cell of the Sadr movement. Iran eventually grew tired of working with Sadr seeing him as too difficult and encouraged AAH to break away which happened in 2008. Kaabi went with AAH and became a top leader in that organization. When Syrian war started Kaabi created Hezbollah al-Nujaba which he claims is an independent organization but appears to still be part of AAH like AAH was secretly still part of the Sadr movement originally. Kaabi openly praises his ties to Iran, attacks the U.S. threatening to target their aircraft in Iraq, and says he believes in vilyat al faqih. Read more here.

  16. #76
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JWing View Post
    Think that's pretty much propaganda to denigrate the Coalition air strikes. The Hashd forces have various claims that the U.S. killed a number of their fighters and Federal Police.
    Perfectly possible: there are really loads of unbelieveable claims and misinformation flying all over the Middle East - and in our media too - these days.

    That said, can't say I would be sorry if this one proves to be truth.

    BTW, something of similar kind could now happen to IRGC-QFs in Yemen. Despite Saudi-Sudanese re-approachment of the last year, and the SuAF deploying its Su-24s to Saudi Arabia two days ago, there is still a significant number of Iranian advisers working with the Sudanese armed forces and in the local defence industry.

    Would by 'funny' if some IRGC-QF advisor working for Houthi now gets bombed out by a SuAF Su-24...

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    UN just released a report on Iraq's justice system. Found systematic abuse by police to gain confessions from defendants and judges ignoring it. Many other human rights groups have made similar reports, but usually focus upon terrorism cases. UN found that there is a denial of due process and acceptance of abuse by Iraq's judiciary in all types of cases from those accused of terrorism to prostitution. Read more here.

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    Just released my monthly totals for violence in Iraq in March. Attacks and casualties both went up from February largely due to Tikrit operation. Numbers are still lower than highs of the summer of 2014. Read more here.

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    Just wrote up an analysis of the successful clearing of Tikrit. Exposed internal and external divisions within Iraq. 1st it showed that while IS tactics can delay an offensive they don't have the manpower to stop government forces. 2nd the rivalry between Iran and the US for influence in Iraq was in full play in the operation. Iran wanted to be the sole power behind the campaign and did not want US involvement. Baghdad ended up asking for US support. 3rd it showed that some Hashd forces are not under govt control as they burned homes and looted. That caused an uproar within the political class and religious establishment in Najaf and was luckily brought under control. Read the full article here.

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    Just published an analysis of recent car bomb trends. Dec 2014 saw fewest car bombs since 2012. Since then IS has increased number and days used each month pointing to a new campaign. Looked like IS's car bomb factories and networks had been disrupted for a short bit, but have now recovered. IS also increasingly using them not against civilians as normal but now mostly military targets in tactical attacks. Read more here.

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