Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Iraq and the continued negotiations

Al Mada reports that negotiations continue for US military forces to remain in Iraq beyond 2011 and that both the Iraqi government and the US government agree that some US presence is needed for training Iraqi forces. The report also notes that 'trainers' could get immunity via either the arrangement with the State Dept or NATO.

Eli Lake (The Daily Beast) speaks with Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and reports:

Last month, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraq was continuing to negotiate the details of the post-2011 U.S. training mission in his country.
Bowen said the Iraqi army has some important bright spots. “The military and police are better equipped and trained than they have ever been before in modern Iraqi history, but they have a significant way to go before the military is capable of external defense, defending its borders,” he said, singling out Iraq’s special operations forces in particular. “They are among the best in the Middle East, if not the best.”
In the latest report from Bowen’s office, released Friday, Gen. Babakir Zibari said Iraq is not capable of providing for the country’s external defense now, though he added that the country may be able to suppress internal strife. He also said in an interview published in the report that Iraq’s air force will not be capable defending the country’s air space until 2020.
“The Iraqi air force is still at a very rudimentary phase,” Bowen said. “They have no jet aircraft—they rely on rotary wing aircraft.”

Nouri's crackdown on 'Ba'athists' has taken a lot of attention off the continued targeting of Sahwa also known as "Sons Of Iraq" and "Awakenings." These are largely Sunni fighters who were paid by the US government to stop attacking US military equipment and US troops. (That's Gen David Petraeus explanation from April 2008.) Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) speaks with Sahwa leader Abu Azzam al-Tamimi who states there are 50,000 Sahwa left in Iraq, 30,000 of which are in Baghdad. (At their height, there were approximately 98,000 according to Petraeus' 2008 Congressional testimony.) When the US turned control of the Sahwa over to Nouri, there were promises of bringing them into the process via government jobs. That never really happened and al-Tamimi notes it is unlikely to happen by year's end when the program is supposed to end.

Back to the crackdown on Nouri's political enemies. Dar Addustour reports politicians are calling on Nouri to release the over 600 Iraqis he's had arrested recently. And they report that more were arrested yesterday in Basra -- two journalists working for Basra radio: Mohammad Matouk and Zia Albzona. Al Rafidayn carries an article on the "Sons of the General Command of Jihad and Liberation" which is supposedly a Ba'athist group and supposedly distributing pamphlets throughout Nasiriyah demanding people joing them in a coup attempt against Dhi Qar Province. Dar Addustour also reports that Sheikh Ali Hatem Suleiman states he was at his office last night when the government attempted to harm him either by arrest or by killing him. The government states that they raided his home yesterday and that this was over a property dispute.

Moqtada al-Sadr has called for an emergency session of Parliament to discuss what the US is doing in Iraq and what the plans are. That session is scheduled for tomorrow. (He's also called for Nouri al-Maliki not to go to DC next month.) Dar Addustour reports that a meeting is to be held at Jalal Talabani's home and there's some indication the meeting may take place today, ahead of the emergency session. It's also noted that when the meeting does take place the topics will include US Vice President Joe Biden's scheduled trip to Iraq this month.

The following community sites updated last night:

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