Monday, November 14, 2011

Mercenaries for the skies of Iraq

Al Mada reports that US President Barack Obama is saying the Iraq War is "about over" and that the US government is down playing the concerns of the Sadr bloc over the decision to use Kuwait as a staging platform for US forces. This will be in addition to the forces under the US State Dept's control. Spencer Ackerman (Wired) reports:

The State Department has already requisitioned an army, part of the roughly 5,000 private security contractors State is hiring to protect diplomats stationed in Iraq. Now, State is hiring someone to provide a little help from the air: an “Aviation Advisor” responsible for “Search and Rescue (SAR), medical evacuations (ME), transporting Quick Reaction Forces (QRF) to respond to incidents, and provid[ing] air transportation for Chief of Mission personnel.” It’s not a familiar job for the diplomatic corps, which is why State is seeking to bring in someone from the outside.

The State Department put out this notice on Nov. 4. That’s 58 days before the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Fifty-eight days before State has the skies over Iraq to itself.

When you see Wired here, know a favor's been called in. In related news, Aswat al-Iraq notes, "The Legislature of the so-called White al-Iraqiya Bloc in the Iraqi Parliament, Aliya Nuseif, has demanded the Iraqi government to carry out a complete account for security contractors, in charge of protecting the American Embassy in Baghdad."

In other news, Chen Zhi (Xinhua) reports General Babker Zebari, Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Joint Forces, headed an Iraqi delegation to Tehran where they met " with the commander of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour." The Tehran Times adds, "In a meeting in Tehran on Sunday, Iraqi Chief of Staff General Babakr Zibari and IRGC Ground Forces Commander Mohammad Pakpour stressed the need for closer ties between Tehran and Baghdad. Commander Pakpour, who hosted General Zibari and his accompanying delegation, hoped the trip will help strengthen bilateral ties. Pakpur said the Iraqi people have endured many problems and difficulties over the past ten years, however, a gradual withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq has created an opportunity in which Iraqi people and officials can directly govern their country." Fars News Agency continues:

The general expressed the hope that Iraq and its armed forces could gain increasing success after the end of the 8-year-long occupation which he described as a hard and cumbersome era for the Iraqis.
The IRGC Ground Force commander further noted the profound political and cultural commonalities of Iran and Iraq as two Muslim and friendly neighboring nations, and stressed, "We hope that the existing commonalities pave the ground for cooperation, coordination and expansion of all-out relations."

There is (and has been) alarm and concern by some US officials (military and civilian) over what happens between Iran and Iraq? David S. Cloud's piece for the Los Angeles Times is part of that:

In Iraq and other trouble spots, Iran is handing out money and weapons, often in secret, in an effort to expand its clout and stay ahead of the political changes sweeping the region since the start of the "Arab Spring," U.S. officials say.
The Islamic Republic still faces severe challenges, however. If opposition forces in Syria manage to topple President Bashar Assad, Iran could lose its closest ally in the region.

It's cute the way Cloud rushes to draw a line between the Pentagon and the White House. Cloud's missed all of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton's recent remarks about Iran?

No one knows what will happen. If there's concern on the part of the White House (and their comments last week indicate there is), then they shouldn't have backed Nouri al-Maliki for a second term (which meant they overruled Iraqi voters when they did). Setting Nouri aside, the others involved wouldn't necessarily rush to embrace a partnership with Iran that was more of a partnership than what they have with their other neighbors. There's some concern in the administration over clerics. That's a possibility. But so are turf wars. An Iraqi cleric embracing Tehran is one reducing their own sphere of influence.

Those are just thoughts, not predictions. Repeating, no one knows what will happen.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Occupy" went up last night.
On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) -- topics explored include Occupy Wall Street, Gaza with Felice Gelman and hosts Michael Smith and Michael Ratner discuss their upcoming book Who Killed Che?

The e-mail address for this site is