Sunday, October 26, 2014


Margaret Griffis ( reports, "At least 238 were killed today and 18 more were wounded. Most of the casualties were militants. Iraqi forces reclaimed several more villages today."

As the violence continues, questions should be popping up about Iraqi forces.

For example, Adnan Abu Zeed (Al-Monitor) reports:

[T]housands of young Iraqi men who are unemployed are enticed by the announcement of the new security formations, which they see as an opportunity to express their religious beliefs fueled by the "righteous jihad" fatwa on the one hand, and to meet their financial needs on the other. The "righteous jihad" is a fatwa issued by Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani after the fall of Mosul on June 10, according to which people join the security forces, which lack members, in the fighting.
The Iraqi government is tasked with forming the National Guard, which is to include the volunteer armed forces that support the army in its fight against the Islamic State (IS), in a bid to impose security in the provinces.
When Hassan showed his friends, who are looking for similar jobs, the application form to volunteer with the National Guard, they were immediately interested. “Most of the young people in the popular mobilization will join the new forces,” Hassan told Al-Monitor.
Meanwhile, many people are wondering about the “feasibility” of these formations, and whether or not they will lead to the creation of more militias that would pave the way for dividing the country and fueling armed conflicts.

The idea of a national guard with three divisions -- Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurd -- has been bandied about and especially found support in the US among various commentators.

But it's less popular in Iraq.  And it's equally true that it may not fly at all.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reported earlier this month on how the Sahwa have largely washed their hands of efforts to co-opt them in the ongoing battles:

Attempts were recently made to convince moderate Sunni Muslims, and their armed factions, to join the fight against the IS group during negotiations held in Amman, Jordan, and in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Unfortunately these negotiations were mostly unsuccessful.

A source at the US embassy in Baghdad told NIQASH that there had been secret negotiations taking place between various Sunni Muslim armed factions, via Arab and Iraqi Kurdish intermediaries, for the past three months. At the request of US diplomats and military personnel, officials from the Iraqi government have been meeting with the leaders of these groups in Erbil and Amman.

US military man, General John Allen – officially the US' Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter IS – had been trying to contact the tribal factions and leaders who were his friends and allies when he was a soldier in Anbar, the source said. Allen was also the brains behind Iraq's “Awakening Movement”, a group of Sunni Muslim fighters, funded and formed by the US government, to get Al Qaeda out of their hometowns, post 2003.

“But it was surprising,” the source said. “Most of them [General Allen's former allies] refused to cooperate with us. And some of them are actually now living outside of Iraq because of the previous Iraqi government's policies.”

The White House blew it.

For four years, they failed to stand up for Sahwa as Nouri targeted them, refused to pay them, arrested them.  Now they need the Sahwa and the fighters have decided they won't leap just because the White House says "jump!"

So who does that leave?

The militia plagued Iraqi army.

And the Peshmerga, the elite Kurdish security force.

AFP reports:

Iraq`s Kurds unveiled plans Friday to send fighters to help defend the Syrian border town of Kobane, amid uncertainty over a separate deployment of Syrian rebels announced by Turkey.
[. . .]
An official in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Arbil said peshmerga fighters will head for Kobane next week.

Halgord Hekmat, the spokesman for the ministry responsible for the peshmerga, said the lightly armed reinforcements will "not exceed 200 fighters". 

Kitabat carries an AFP report about members of Iraq's Parliament expressing doubt that the KRG can independently send Peshmerga outside of Iraq without the permission of the Iraqi Parliament.  (The Kurdistan Regional Government is a group of three or four provinces in northern Iraq which are semi-autonomous.)  Kitabat also features Hussein Zangana's argument that the deployment is legal and does not require a stamp of approval from the Iraqi Parliament.

I don't doubt the legality of the KRG's move.

I just question why you send the Peshmerga out of Iraq when they should be needed in Iraq?

Shouldn't their efforts right now be focused on, for example, Mount Sinjar where the Yazidis continue to be held hostage?

The UN is calling it a possible genocide and yet the Peshmerga has forces to spare to send out of the country?

It makes no sense.

And expect huge outrage if the Islamic State stages a major attack in the KRG while Peshmerga forces are sent to the  Syrian border.

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

 The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4491.  (It's actually 4492 but they haven't updated the toll since the most recently announced death.)

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The following community sites updated:

  • Kat's "Kat's Korner: Stevie Nicks' 24 Karat Classic" and "Kat's Korner: Aretha Knew You Were Waiting For This" went up earlier today.  Isaiah's latest goes up after this.

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