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Archive for the ‘Iraq war’ Category

A national treasure

Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2014

Andrew Bacevich:

Consider the following claims, each of which in Washington circles has attained quasi-canonical status.

* The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.

* The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest.

* Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.

* The interests of the United States and Israel align.

* Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.

For decades now, the first four of these assertions have formed the foundation of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The events of 9/11 added the fifth, without in any way prompting a reconsideration of the first four. On each of these matters, no senior U.S. official (or anyone aspiring to a position of influence) will dare say otherwise, at least not on the record.

Yet subjected to even casual scrutiny, none of the five will stand up.

Bacevich is a national treasure. An Army colonel who lost a son, he has spoken out against our dangerous and ineffective policy with great courage.

Posted in history, Homeland Security, international, Iraq war, military | Comments Off on A national treasure

Anglo-American policy in the Middle East explained

Posted by Charles II on August 31, 2014

I received this from a friend.

Just in case you are confused by what is going on in the Middle East, I have obtained this simple explanation of the UK Government’s apparent position:

We support the Iraqi government in the fight against ISIS. We don’t like ISIS, but ISIS is supported by Saudi Arabia whom we do like.

We don’t like Assad in Syria. We support the fight against him, but ISIS is also fighting against him.

We don’t like Iran, but Iran supports the Iraqi government in its fight against ISIS.

So some of our friends support our enemies, some enemies are now our friends, and some of our enemies are fighting against our other enemies, whom we want to lose, but we don’t want our enemies who are fighting our enemies to win.

If the people we want to defeat are defeated, they could be replaced by people we like even less.

And all this was started by Blair siding with Bush and invading a country to drive out terrorists who were not actually there until after we went in to drive them out.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Iraq war, Just for fun | 4 Comments »

Read these

Posted by Charles II on August 13, 2014

Blame Turkey for arming ISIS.

[This is not to say Turkey is primarily to blame. This sounds like a narrative to blame Turkey for something the US either approved or acceded to.]

How US destroyed Iraq

Patrick Cockburn on ISIS.

And especially this:

In the face of these failures Iraq’s Shia majority is taking comfort from two beliefs that, if true, would mean the present situation is not as dangerous as it looks. They argue that Iraq’s Sunnis have risen in revolt and Isis fighters are only the shock troops or vanguard of an uprising provoked by the anti-Sunni policies and actions of Maliki. Once he is replaced, as is almost certain, Baghdad will offer the Sunnis a new power-sharing agreement with regional autonomy similar to that enjoyed by the Kurds. Then the Sunni tribes, former military officers and Baathists who have allowed Isis to take the lead in the Sunni revolt will turn on their ferocious allies. Despite all signs to the contrary, Shia at all levels are putting faith in this myth, that Isis is weak and can be easily discarded by Sunni moderates once they’ve achieved their goals. One Shia said to me: ‘I wonder if Isis really exists.’

Unfortunately, Isis not only exists but is an efficient and ruthless organisation that has no intention of waiting for its Sunni allies to betray it. In Mosul it demanded that all opposition fighters swear allegiance to the Caliphate or give up their weapons. In late June and early July they detained between 15 to 20 former officers from Saddam Hussein’s time, including two generals. Groups that had put up pictures of Saddam were told to take them down or face the consequences. ‘It doesn’t seem likely,’ Aymenn al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadists, said, ‘that the rest of the Sunni military opposition will be able to turn against Isis successfully. If they do, they will have to act as quickly as possible before Isis gets too strong.’

It would be a really good time to cut a deal with Putin, Assad, Abbas, and Rouhani, and get back to the business of repressing the really dangerous people in that part of the world. Too bad we don’t have a Congress intelligent enough to see this.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Iran, Iraq war, Russia, Syria, terrorism | 6 Comments »

NYT notices Ukraine’s neo-Nazis. In the last paragraph.

Posted by Charles II on August 10, 2014

Andrew Kramer, NYT:

Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.

In pressing their advance, the fighters took their orders from a local army commander, rather than from Kiev. In the video of the attack, no restraint was evident. Gesturing toward a suspected pro-Russian position, one soldier screamed, “The bastards are right there!” Then he opened fire.

This via Robert Parry, who culls the items showing the role of neo-Nazis in the removal of the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych and in the violent confrontations that followed.

Kramer notes that the Ukrainian strategy is based on the theory that the Russians are going to let them overrun the nationalists and consolidate their hold on power. I would guess that the reason we are not already hip deep in Iraq has to do less with Obama’s restraint and more with fears that the Russians are just waiting for the right moment.

Also interesting: in the coup, the confederate flag was reportedly amid Nazi symbols (although this is not as evident from the video as Flounders implies).

Posted in Iraq war, Russia | 4 Comments »

No, sending troops to Iraq is not very smart

Posted by Charles II on August 8, 2014

Who is ISIL/ISIS and what do they want

Glenn Greenwald

Oil situation (caution: Ken Pollack

I have been too distressed by all of the warlust–in Ukraine, in Gaza, in Iraq–to put together a more substantive post. But, bottom line: I think that ISIS/ISIL wants us to put troops into Iraq. At the moment, they hold strong cards, though going after the Kurds will probably prove to be their undoing. Pollack has this interesting paragraph:

One possible mitigating factor is whether Baghdad would use the opportunity presented by the new civil war to revise its approach to oil contracting. So far, Baghdad has insisted on terms for its contracts with foreign oil firms that have significantly diminished their profitability. Many of the major oil companies signed these contracts only in the hope that they would later be able to secure more lucrative contracts if they demonstrated their commitment to Iraq. Some of these became so frustrated with Baghdad’s stubbornness that they pulled out of the south and began to shift their operations to Iraqi Kurdistan instead. Although Baghdad has been remarkably stubborn on this matter, the demands of waging the civil war might force it to reconsider as the only way to keep the major oil companies in Iraq and pumping the oil that is now vital to its war effort.

So…civil war–bug, or feature?

Posted in Iraq war, terrorism | Comments Off on No, sending troops to Iraq is not very smart

They shall reap what they sow

Posted by Charles II on June 17, 2014

DemocracyNow had an interview with Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar, one of Riverbend’s cohort:

AMY GOODMAN: … Why don’t you respond first to what the former prime minister of Britain said, that it [the nascent civil war in Iraq] has nothing to do with the U.S. invasion and occupation, and the British, as well, of Iraq?

RAED JARRAR: Oh, I think it has everything to do with the U.S.-, British-led invasion and occupation. The idea of destroying the strong central government and creating three or more partitions in Iraq was heavily promoted at that time. It was promoted sometimes on the political level, but many times on the demographic level. We saw, during the occupation of Iraq, millions of Iraqis were displaced inside the country. …what’s happening in these few weeks of, you know, like an uprising in these Sunni-dominated provinces in Iraq can be directly traced to the divisions that were installed by the U.S.-led occupation in 2003.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Raed, I’m reminded of that very mundane, but prophetic, warning of Colin Powell to George Bush—if you break it, you own it—that in reality, the invasion of the United States and of Britain in 2003 really, it appears, has created instability still unresolved.

RAED JARRAR: Correct. And in addition to that, the U.S. is still interfering in Iraq.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Raed Jarrar, I’d like to ask you about not only the role of Iran right now and the potential for greater cooperation between the United States and the Iranian government, but also the role of Saudi Arabia and its relationship to ISIS.

RAED JARRAR: Let me start by saying the armed uprising in six Iraqi provinces has many other players from the Sunni side or the local population side. There has been a lot of focus on ISIS because it makes a good media story. It’s this crazy group. Everyone is an expert now on ISIS and where it came from. And it tells a compelling story for a U.S. intervention: There is an extremist terrorist group that is threatening a legitimate central government that is our friend. That is the narrative now. I think that is important to unpack and deconstruct, because, on the one hand, ISIS is one of many players in this uprising. It’s really naive to believe that one crazy terrorist group can take 50 percent of Iraq’s territory in a week. There are many other players, including—I think the most important players are tribal leaders in all of these provinces, and their armed militias, and former Iraqi officials from the Saddam Hussein government, led by the former vice president, Izzat al-Douri, who runs a group called al-Naqshbandi, a group. There are other smaller players like the Iraqi Islamic Army, the Mujahideen Army, the 1920 Brigades. There are, I would say, at least 12 other players. So it’s more indigenous. The vast majority, I would say, maybe almost everyone who’s fighting, is an Iraqi, unlike what the image that is being drawn by the Iraqi authorities.

On the other hand, there is a central government, of course, that is being supported by the United States. It’s mostly comprised of Shiite parties, and the army is almost exclusively Shia. And it’s surrounded by many local and foreign militias and forces, which is a good leeway to answer your question. The last few days witnessed an actual military participation by Iran. According to The Guardian, there are a couple thousand Iranian troops that entered Iraq. They’re most likely from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The first images of the first Iranian to be killed in Iraq from this Iranian Revolutionary Guard surfaced a couple of days ago online, and it seems that his funeral is held today in northern Tehran. From reading the captain’s biography online, the one who died in Iraq, it seems that he’s younger. He’s been sent to Syria before. So, it seems that there is an actual military involvement by Iran.

Saudi Arabia and other players have been involved very much in Iraq, as well. Saudi Arabia maintains strong relationships with the former Iraqi officials, including Izzat al-Douri, the vice president. And there are some rumors about Saudi Arabia supporting some other militant groups in Iraq. Let me take one step back and say that this regional intervention, whether it came from Iraq or—excuse me, from Saudi Arabia or Iran or Turkey or Jordan or whatever, these are also consequences of the destruction of the Iraqi central government in 2003, when Iraq had a legitimate, strong government. All of these neighbors existed around Iraq, but they were never able to manipulate the country and use their proxies for civil war inside the country before. And now, of course, with the new realities, this is how Iraq looks. I think everyone from the region has their hand in Iraq supporting one horse in that race.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Raed, how do you explain the breathtaking collapse of the Iraqi army in the face of what is not really a large guerrilla force lined up against them?

RAED JARRAR: It is surprising for an outsider, I think, to see how fast it fell. But in reality, it did not really fall in a week. It fell in a long time. Some people argue a decade; some people argue a few months. If we just go back to January of this year, the Iraqi forces attacked two unarmed, peaceful protest sites in Iraq—one in Hawija near Kirkuk and one in Fallujah. And this created a huge backlash against the Iraqi government in Sunni-dominated areas. There has been attacks against and, you know, by the Iraqi army and the militias supporting it in Fallujah and Anbar for at least the last four months.

AMY GOODMAN: Raed, I wanted to ask about what’s happening with the Kurdish pershmerga forces, what role they’ve been playing in the wake of the ISIS insurgency, what’s happened with the takeover of Kirkuk by the Kurds. This is Brigadier General Sherko Fatah speaking Saturday.

BRIG. GEN. SHERKO FATAH: [translated] Because of the security situation in Kirkuk, peshmerga forces have taken over the positions of the 12th Infantry Brigade, who abandoned their posts, and soldiers abandoned their positions and fled. Because of the collapse of the morale, they could not defend themselves, and therefore they fled. In order to prevent the Islamic militants from taking over these positions and threaten Kirkuk city, higher orders were issued, first to move and take these positions.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the significance, Raed Jarrar, of the Kurds taking over Kirkuk in this oil-rich city in northern Iraq?

RAED JARRAR: It’s very interesting to see the dynamic now between the uprising forces in the six Sunni provinces and the Kurdish authorities, because the Iraqi central government’s media have been criticizing the Kurdish authorities in the last couple of days, saying that they betrayed their relationships with al-Maliki, that they have been coordinating with the rebels, with the former Baathists, with the—like this type of accusations. Things on the ground actually suggest that there might be some coordination between the uprising forces and the Kurdish forces, because there were very minor clashes between the two sides, and so there might be actually some sort of political coordination. Keep in mind that the former Iraqi vice president of this regime, Mr. Tariq al-Hashimi, who fled to Turkey a few years ago, came out yesterday in support of the uprising in these six provinces. He called it the Iraqi Spring—very romantic, you know, for how destructive the situation has been. But Mr. al-Hashimi maintains very strong relationships with the Kurdish side. So, many people were reading that as maybe ha [he] has been leading these coordinations between what’s going on in the six Sunni provinces and Kurdistan.

If you want to negotiate with someone, I would say we have to reach out to the other side, people who are involved in the uprising, whether they are tribal and youth leaders in these six provinces or former officials who are flooding back to the country, former army officers who are running these operations—running fighter jets, for God’s sake. There are two fighter jets that were seen yesterday attacking current Iraqi army, flying out of the—you know, out of Mosul. So it just gives you a hint of how there is real institution behind the uprising.

We long ago blogged about how the US used death squads in Iraq. While that seems to have evolved somewhat into a broader-based repression against Sunnis, repression doesn’t work over the long run. The US government has been complicit in, indeed very likely causative of that repression. The government of al-Maliki is reaping what it–and we–sowed.

Posted in Iraq war | 1 Comment »

The Iraq War is not over

Posted by Charles II on May 26, 2013

John Pilger, The Guardian:

The dust in Iraq rolls down the long roads that are the desert’s fingers. It gets in your eyes and nose and throat; it swirls in markets and school playgrounds, consuming children kicking a ball; and it carries, according to Dr Jawad Al-Ali, “the seeds of our death”. An internationally respected cancer specialist at the Sadr teaching hospital in Basra, Dr Ali told me that in 1999, and today his warning is irrefutable. “Before the Gulf war,” he said, “we had two or three cancer patients a month. Now we have 30 to 35 dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48% of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years’ time to begin with, then long after. That’s almost half the population. Most of my own family have it, and we have no history of the disease. It is like Chernobyl here; the genetic effects are new to us; the mushrooms grow huge; even the grapes in my garden have mutated and can’t be eaten.”

Along the corridor, Dr Ginan Ghalib Hassen, a paediatrician, kept a photo album of the children she was trying to save. Many had neuroblastoma. “Before the war, we saw only one case of this unusual tumour in two years,” she said. “Now we have many cases, mostly with no family history. I have studied what happened in Hiroshima. The sudden increase of such congenital malformations is the same.”

A WHO report, the result of a landmark study conducted with the Iraqi ministry of health, has been “delayed”. Covering 10,800 households, it contains “damning evidence”, says a ministry official and, according to one of its researchers, remains “top secret”. The report says birth defects have risen to a “crisis” right across Iraqi society where depleted uranium and other toxic heavy metals were used by the US and Britain.

Posted in environment, Iraq war | 1 Comment »

The Salvador Plan

Posted by Charles II on March 22, 2013

Back in May, 2005, I linked a story in ZMag that stated:

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal from February 16, numerous “pop-up militias” thousands strong are proliferating in Iraq. Not only are many of these shadowy militias linked to Iraqi politicians, but the Pentagon is arming, training, and funding them for use in counter-insurgency operations. Most disturbing, one militia in particular–the “Special Police Commandos”–is being used extensively and has been singled out by a U.S. general for conducting death squad strikes known as the “Salvador option.”

In November of 2005, Nicholas Davies of ZMag sourced this to Newsweek (Peter Maass of NYT Mag was also important in uncovering the story), and identified the US officers in charge as Col. Daniel Steele and former DEA officer Steven Casteel, and noted that:

On September 8, 2005 the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq issued a human rights report, stating that the governing institutions created by the United States in Iraq are engaged in an organized campaign of detention, torture, and extrajudicial execution, directed primarily at Iraqis who practice the Sunni form of Islam.

The Guardian and BBC have at last discovered the story, and have fleshed out some of the details of how it operated, particularly the point that it was directed by General Petraeus through a subordinate, Colonel James Coffman. Mona Mahmoud, Maggie O’Kane, Chavala Madlena, and Teresa Smith, The Guardian:

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.

Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency….

The allegations, made by US and Iraqi witnesses in the Guardian/BBC documentary, implicate US advisers for the first time in the human rights abuses committed by the commandos. It is also the first time that Petraeus – who last November was forced to resign as director of the CIA after a sex scandal – has been linked through an adviser to this abuse.

Most importantly, the BBC turned it into a 51 minute video that you can watch at the Mahmoud et al. article, so maybe it will finally register on public consciousness.

By the way, Steele was apparently Oliver North’s operations guy. Also, Maggie O’Kane directly credits Wikileaks for making the report possible.

The US ran death squads in Vietnam. The US ran death squads in Central America. The US ran death squads in Iraq. The US, I believe, is running death squads even now. There’s enough on the record to convene a war crimes court on Donald Rumsfeld.

Posted in Iraq war, torture | 3 Comments »

Operation Phoenix Rises Again: Why Bradley Manning and Wikileaks Acted in Support of American Values

Posted by Charles II on March 6, 2013

Operation Phoenix was the US terror operation in Vietnam. Repression in Latin America in the 1980s followed the same playbook. And now, Iraq:

Via Atrios, The Guardian’s Mona Mahmood, Maggie O’Kane, Chavala Madlena and Teresa Smith:

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq, that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.

Colonel James Steele, then 58, was a retired special forces veteran nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, according to an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic. After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the membership of the Special police commandos was increasingly drawn from violent Shia groups like the Badr brigades.

A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman (now 59) worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding. Coffman reported directly to General David Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organise and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq between 2003 – 2005, and kept returning to the country through 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.

“Every single detention centre would have its own interrogation committee,” claimed al-Samari , who has for the first time talked in detail about the US role in the brutal interrogation units. “Each one was made up of an intelligence officer and eight interrogators. This committee will use all means of torture to make the detainee confess like using electricity or hanging him upside down, pulling out their nails, and beating them on sensitive parts.”

The Guardian/BBC Arabic investigation was sparked by the release of classified US military logs on WikiLeaks that detailed hundreds of incidents where US soldiers came across tortured detainees in a network of detention centres run by the police commandos across Iraq. Private Bradley Manning, 25, is facing a prison sentence of up to 20 years after he pleaded guilty to leaking the documents.

The pattern in Iraq provides an eerie parallel to the well-documented human rights abuses committed by US-advised and funded paramilitary squads in Central America in the 1980s.

Are electric shocks to the genitals and pulling out fingernails what this country stands for, what it means when it talks about “freedom?” Bradley Manning’s defense is that he acted to release the documents he did because he believed that to do otherwise would be to follow unlawful orders. If we do not accept torture as an American value, why is Bradley Manning in prison?

The answer is pretty clear: our government does regards torture as perfectly acceptable.

Posted in Iraq war, torture, Wikileaks | Comments Off on Operation Phoenix Rises Again: Why Bradley Manning and Wikileaks Acted in Support of American Values

Darrell Issa Burns A Few US Agents In Libya, Just So He Can Look Good On The Sunday Talk Shows

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 20, 2012

Remember when Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby burned a high-value CIA agent, Valerie Plame, in revenge for her husband Joe Wilson’s proclaiming that a key Bush-Cheney pretext for the invasion of Iraq — the alleged Niger yellowcake shipments — was bogus?

Now we find that, just so he could score some political points, Darrell Issa, former car thief and now a guy who at $500 million in wealth is the richest member of Congress, just outed a number of currently working CIA operatives, many of whom are in-country Libyans and who were doing some important projects in addition to their CIA work:

One of the cables released by Issa names a woman human rights activist who was leading a campaign against violence and was detained in Benghazi. She expressed fear for her safety to U.S. officials and criticized the Libyan government.

“This woman is trying to raise an anti-violence campaign on her own and came to the United States for help. She isn’t publicly
associated with the U.S. in any other way but she’s now named in this cable. It’s a danger to her life,” the administration official said.

Another cable names a Benghazi port manager who is working with the United States on an infrastructure project.

“When you’re in a situation where Ansar al-Sharia is a risk to Americans, an individual like this guy, who is an innocent civilian
who’s trying to reopen the port and is doing so in conjunction with Americans, could be at risk now because he’s publicly affiliated with America,” the official said, referring to the group thought to have led the Benghazi attack.

One cable names a local militia commander dishing dirt on the inner workings of the Libyan Interior Ministry. Another cable names
a militia commander who claims to control a senior official of the Libyan armed forces. Other cables contain details of conversations between third-party governments, such as the British and the Danes, and their private interactions with the U.S., the U.N., and the Libyan governments over security issues.

“It betrays the trust of people we are trying to maintain contact with on a regular basis, including security officials inside
militias and civil society people as well,” another administration official told The Cable. “It’s a serious betrayal of trust for us and it hurts our ability to maintain these contacts going forward. It has the potential to physically endanger these people. They didn’t sign up for that. Neither did we.”

Again, does this remind you of how Cheney and Scooter Libby outed Valerie Plame — and her entire in-country network of Iraqi contacts — just to get back at her hubby Joe Wilson for saying that he didn’t find any WMDs or WMD precursors in Niger?

The main difference here, besides the fact that this information, though sensitive and tightly held, was not classified, is this: Darrell Issa doesn’t even have the excuse of wanting revenge. He did it for cheap political posturing — and because he could do it, and could get away with it.

Posted in CIA, IOKIYAR, Iraq war, Libya, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Valerie Plame | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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