Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Iraq and the unspeakables

Insurgents attacked a main U.S.-Iraqi base Tuesday in the northern city of Mosul, killing one American soldier and striking directly at the Iraqi command center for an anti-insurgent offensive.
The barrage underscored the resilience of al-Qaeda in Iraq and other groups after repeated attempts to break their hold in Mosul, where at least seven U.S. soldiers have been killed since early February.

The above is from the Washington Post's briefs "Around the World" in today's paper. They explain the discrepancies between the US claims and the Iraqi police claims (US military asserts it was a rocket, Iraqi story is it as mortars). Note "al-Qaeda in Iraq and other groups" which we'll come back to. But this is from Lara Jakes' "US commanders hone battlefield diplomacy ahead of Iraq mission shift" (AP):

The sight of a U.S. officer riding with locals instead of in a bomb-protected vehicle is a window into the future for American forces. With the end of combat operations fixed for August 2010, commanders will switch to support and training roles and are now sharpening their skills at street-level diplomacy.
It's all part of the shift in Iraq to emphasize the soft power of the Pentagon, which can use its troops and armored equipment to move around the war-battered nation more quickly and easily than State Department or other American officials. But it's also left the military grappling with how to task combat troops in Iraq beyond the end of combat deadline set last week by President Barack Obama.

Lara Jakes says it's two things and carefully avoids what it really is: counter-insurgency. At some point, maybe long after the illegal war is over, people are going to have get honest about what was done in Iraq. "al-Qaeda in Iraq and other groups"? Maybe that's a sign of some maturity and honesty to come down the pike? As noted in Monday and Tuesday's snapshots, Wikileaks has posted a RAND study. The November 2008 study was written by Russell W. Glenn and S. Jamie Gayton, is over 300 pages and [PDF format warning] entitled "Intelligence Operations and Metrics in Iraq and Afghanistan, Fourth in a Series of Joint Urban Operations and Counterinsurgency Studies." The RAND study makes clear that the 'enemy' is more complex than the media tends to portray it as they toss around "al Qaeada in Mesopatamia" or "al Qaeda in Iraq" or (David Martin, CBS News) "al Qaeda." We'll note two sections from the RAND study. First from page two:

The many overlapping insurgent, terrorist, criminal, and other foes that together comprise the heterogeneous enemy in Iraq -- and an only somewhat less varied one in Afghanistan -- continue to feed on their damaged societies. What appear to be randmo bombings, kidnappings, and other atrocities sometimes constitute a well-conceived insurgent campaign of exhaustion.

And from page fourteen:

Previous U.S. experiences with COIN operations demonstrate how difficult it is to obtain informaion on even a single insurgent threat. Consider the situation confronted in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s. In that case, a single, coherent entity dominated threat analysis from the macro perspective (though it might have several interacting components, e.g., the North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong, of VC). In Iraq, the number of insurgent organizations alone makes intel collection and analysis several orders of magnitude more problematic. Add criminal, terrorist, supposedly legitimate political, rogue military and police, or other threats and the task is yet further quantum levels more difficult.

The Iraqi Islamic Party (IPP) is the party of Iraq's vice president Tariq al-Hashimi. It was in the news most recently when thugs ("Awakening") demanded the vote in Anbar Province's provincial election be 'fixed' by the so-called election commission. The thugs got their way. IPP is back in the news cycle. Alaa Majeed (UPI) reports they have spoken out against the visit by the chair of Iran's Assembly of Experts, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani: "IIP members said the visit is unwelcome and called on the Iraqi government to launch an investigation into Iranian interference in Iraqi internal affairs, which some say brought the war-torn country to the brink of civil conflict."

Brandon notes Iraq Veterans Against the War's Dustin Alan Parks poem "I am the anti-war movement" and below is an excerpt:

You call those who refuse to fight absent
Those who have the courage to resist are not absent
They're knocking on your door right now
Begging to be heard and exercise their rights
But you refuse to allow entry to opposition
Which is fine because I have this message:
I found a back door...
I opened my mind and used it as a key
So now I am here and you can't ignore me

We'll again note the following from Iraq's Foreign Ministry:

2 March, 2009

Foreign Minister Meets U.S. Secretary of States

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met on Monday March 2nd 2009 Ms. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State on the sidelines of the International Conference for the reconstruction of Gaza in Sharm El-Sheikh.

During the meeting they discussed bilateral relations and President Barack Obama's plan for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, as well as Iraq's regional relations in addition to discussing Iraq's welcome to host the Ministerial Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan and the United States in Baghdad in the coming period.

Mrs. Clinton welcomed and supported the convening of the next ministerial meeting in Baghdad during the meeting and thanked the approval of the Iraqi Government on the nomination of the new American ambassador in Baghdad, Mr. Christopher Hill.

Zebari and Clinton talked about Iraq. The New York Times can't be bothered (day two) with covering Iraq in print. But the two foreign ministers (that's what a secretary of state is) did speak on Monday -- about the country the US press is no longer interested in.

State Dept Photo / Mar 4, 2009 /
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with students in an English language school in Ramallah, Wednesday, March 4, 2009.

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