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Old 12-14-2011   #1
Dayuhan
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Default Iraq catch-all: after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended

I'm not in a position to say how accurate it is, but its existence is a matter of concern:

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/12/13/wo...t/iraq-maliki/

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

Quote:
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."...
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Old 12-14-2011   #2
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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.
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Old 12-14-2011   #3
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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.
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Old 12-14-2011   #4
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ISW, 11 Dec 11: Maliki Arrests Potential Opposition
Quote:
...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
Quote:
...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...
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Old 12-14-2011   #5
Steve the Planner
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Default Things that Unite, Divide

Dayuhan:

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.
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Old 01-02-2012   #6
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Default Iraq catch-all: after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended

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
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Old 01-02-2012   #7
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Default Posted in SWJ Blog

I posted on Front Page. See here

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/how...-invasion-iraq
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Old 01-04-2012   #8
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Default Iraq catch-all: after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended

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

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.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-13-2012 at 10:01 PM. Reason: Add Mod's note & PM to author
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Old 01-04-2012   #9
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Default Security Slightly Improved In Iraq In 2011

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.

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Old 01-05-2012   #10
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Default Will Kirkuk Unravel Now That The American Forces Are Gone?

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.

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Old 01-06-2012   #11
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Default Deadly Bombings On January 5, 2012 Unlikely To Change Iraq’s Status Quo

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
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Old 01-07-2012   #12
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Default Iraq catch-all: after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended

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
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Old 01-11-2012   #13
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Default Iraq catch-all: after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended

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.

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Old 01-12-2012   #14
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Default Iraq catch-all: after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended

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.

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Old 01-13-2012   #15
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Default Iraq catch-all: after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended

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.
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Old 01-13-2012   #16
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Default My Mesopotamian Getaway

A curious travelogue and politics article in FP by Emma Sky:
Quote:
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:
Quote:
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.

Link:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...taway?page=0,0
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Old 01-16-2012   #17
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Default Insurgents Pick Up Attacks In January 2012, Just As They Did Last Year

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.

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Old 01-23-2012   #18
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Default What Role Will The League Of The Righteous Play In Iraqi Politics?

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.

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Old 01-25-2012   #19
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Default Iraq’s Prime Minister Maliki Flexes His Muscles In Diyala Province Again

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.

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Old 02-06-2012   #20
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Default January 2012 Security Statistics Undermine Case That Iraq Heading Towards New Civil W

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.

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