Sunday, May 27, 2018

Musings On Iraq In The News

I was cited by Ibrahim al-Marashi in "Iraq elections: The curious case of the Communist-Sadrist alliance" for Middle East Eye.

Review SABOT Publications, M1A1 in Iraqi Service


Review SABOT Publications, M1A1 in Iraqi Service, Warmachines 04 Photo reference book, St. Charles: SABOT Publications, 2017

Iraq’s 2014-17 war against the Islamic State gained international attention. It was inevitable that this conflict would raise interest in Iraq’s military as well. That explains the publication of SABOT’s M1A1 in Iraqi Service. The book is for modelers and tank aficionados, and consists of 65 pages of color photos and illustrations of M1A1 Abrams tanks of Iraq’s 9th Division and the Special Division Tank Regiment, although there appears to be one photo of an Abrams with the Hashd al-Shaabi because the unit insignia have been removed, and there are large Shiite flags flying from it.

This Day In Iraqi History - May 27


1917 UK Col Clayton worried Sykes-Picot would create opposition by Sharif of
            Mecca against UK taking Baghdad
1941 Operation Regulta began British forces marched north from Basra to
Kut and onto Baghdad
1941 British forces moved from Fallujah to cut Baghdad-Mosul road and railway
1941 PM Gaylani told Italians he was disappointed with Axis assistance
1947 Month after returning to Iraq Mustafa Barzani started another revolt against govt
1991 Kurdish parties threatened to go back to fighting if deal not reached with Baghdad
            over autonomy
1993 UN Resolution 833 set Iraq-Kuwait border
1995 PUK and KDP met to maintain Kurdish parliament during civil war
2003 Rumsfeld said Iraq might have destroyed its WMD right before war but they
            would be found
2003 Preliminary report sent to Washington said 2 captured trailers were not mobile
            WMD labs as first thought
2003 Cleric at Fallujah mosque praised 1st serious attack on US troops 2 soldiers killed
            9 injured at checkpoint
2003 Outgoing ORHA head Garner told Bush and Rumsfeld Iraq making progress and
            US would be out of country in weeks
2003 New UN Rep to Iraq deMello said that the sooner Iraqis had power the better
2004 Sadr agreed to deal to end fighting US forces in Najaf and other southern cities
2005 Badr militiamen in Wolf commando brigade blamed for sectarian attacks
            on Sunnis
2005 Sheikh Janabi of National Dialogue Council said violence had changed to killing
            based upon identity Sunnis getting killed for being Sunni
2008 Maliki issued arrest warrants for new party in Diyala made up of Sahwa Part of
            crackdown on Sunni in province
2008 Fmr Under Sec of Def Feith criticized Bush for switching goal of Iraq war from
            threat of Saddam to spreading democracy
2009 US Army Chief of Staff Gen Casey said US could be fighting in Iraq for next 10
yrs
2009 Iraq signed 2 year deal with IMF for $7 bil to help with budget deficit
2011 Anbar council rejected protest calls to make province federal region
2011 Protest in Baghdad over lack of services demanded release of prisoners
2012 Pres Barzani said KDP and PUK peshmerga would be united by end of year Still
            hasn't happened
2012 Kurdish Coalition said hadn’t decided on no confidence vote against Maliki 
2013 13 ISI car bombs in Baghdad killed 36 wounded 147
2013 Sadr gave Maliki 24 hrs to have ISF clear Asaib Ahl Al-Haq from streets of
            Baghdad
2014 New op in Jurf al-Sakhr, Babil four days after declared freed
2014 Protest in Nasiriya over lack of electricity and services
2014 Report Iran pushing PUK to support 3rd term for Maliki
2015 Iranian Foreign Min denied Iranian troops fighting in Baiji said only advisers
2015 Fmr MP Othman said 2,822 Peshmerga killed fighting IS since June 2014
2015 Report Army and Hashd ordered to shut bridge to displaced trying to flee Anbar
            into Baghdad
2016 Sadrists protest in Baghdad Police fired tear gas to break them up Demos
            in Babil Karbala Basra Dhi Qar Muthanna too
2016 Kataib Hezbollah stopped large group of displaced fleeing Sjar Anbar abducted
            73 men not seen afterward
2017 Iranian Revolutionary Guard general killed advising Hashd around Baaj western
            Ninewa
2017 Toronto Star printed story by Der Spiegel author providing more information on
            abuses by Rapid Reaction unit during Mosul battle

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Review Faust, Aaron, The Ba’thification of Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s Totalitarianism


Review Faust, Aaron, The Ba’thification of Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s Totalitarianism, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015

The Ba’thification of Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s Totalitarianism starts off with a dramatic story of a bicycle repairman in Wasit province who shot his son for deserting the army during the Iran-Iraq War. The man wrote to the Baath office for deserters asking to be pardoned for his crime. The secretary of the office passed his request all the way to Saddam Hussein who not only amnestied him, but gave him a commendation and entered his account into the official records of the war. The point of Aaron Faust’s book is to explain why people like this lowly laborer would kill his own child for a dictatorship like the one in Iraq. Was it because people loved Saddam as thousands of letters and speeches proclaimed each year, were they loyal to the regime, or was it because they were terrified into submission as writers such as Kanan Makiya wrote about? What Faust argues is that the Baath Party and Saddam created an all encompassing system, which offered rewards and punishments and attempted to control every facet of Iraqi life from marriage to where people lived to their education to their jobs and future. Under such a system the vast majority had to comply to ensure their livelihood and that of their families.

This Day In Iraqi History - May 26


1941 2nd trainload of German military aid arrived from Syria Stored in Mosul
            but never used
1941 12 Italian planes landed in Kirkuk from Syria to operate under Germans
            Immediately attacked British forces in Anbar
1941 Mussolini met with German military attache and expressed concern about Iraq
            Asked whether Belin would give substantive or symbolic support to Iraq
1941 Mussolini told German military attache Iraq could turn tide in Mediterranean
            Attache said Berlin serious about Iraq
1964 Pres Arif established Joint Presidency Council with Egypt in failed attempt to
            unite 2 countries under pan-Arabism
2002 During trip to France Bush said he had no Iraq war plans
2004 NYTimes said some of its reporting on Iraq before war was questionable and not
            sufficiently vetted
2005 PM Jaafari said govt would crackdown on those taking law into their own hands
            in response to reports of Shiite death squads
2006 Pentagon report to Congress on Iraq said insurgency had not started civil war
            Said violence only in 4 provinces Said insurgency would decline in early 2007
2006 Sec State Rice said 48 US govt workers signed up to work in Iraq Gen Casey said
            not enough Rice told him he was out of line
2006 Report Maliki wanted to increase number of Iraqi forces from 250,000 to 325,000
            by end of year Was trying to purge militias from Iraqi forces
2006 Report Maliki wanted Iraqi forces to control all of Iraq’s provinces except Baghdad
            and Anbar by end of 2006
2008 US military reported attacks in Iraq at lowest level since May 2004
2008 Iraq brokered deal to have quicker release of Iraqi prisoners Year later Iraq
            would complain about releases increasing terrorism
2008 ISI elements that that fled Mosul during govt crackdown began attacking Yazidis
            in Sinjar
2009 Integrity Comm head attacked Maliki for allowing Trade Min Sudani to resign
            Said it helped him escape questioning for corruption
2011 Inter Min Explosive head Gen Jabri released after arrested for involvement in
            buying fake bomb detectors
2011 ISI killed Accountability & Justice Comm head Ali al-Lami in east Mosul
2011 Sadr told BBC that his militia was attacking US forces as they were withdrawing        from Iraq
2011 Sadrists held rally in Baghdad against US occupation
2015 IS executed Iraqi soldiers from Sadr City in Fallujah Hung him from bridge
            Hashd used it to justify attacking city in July
2015 Report over 400 buildings in Dour district in Tikrit destroyed by Hashd after
            city freed
2016 Abadi called on reform protests to stop due to Fallujah operation

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Review Ballard, John, from storm to Freedom, America’s Long War with Iraq


Review Ballard, John, from storm to Freedom, America’s Long War with Iraq, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2010

from storm to Freedom, America’s Long War with Iraq by John Ballard attempts to take the long view of the conflict between the United States and Iraq starting with the Gulf War through the sanctions to the 2003 invasion and Iraq War. This seems a natural history as the Gulf War was when Washington first came into conflict with Baghdad, and Saddam Hussein remaining in power afterward set the stage for the following decades. The main drawback is that Ballard is a military historian so the big political issues such as whether the 2003 war was justified and its impact are never adequately dealt with.

This Day In Iraqi History - May 25


1940 Iraq For Min Said said England and France should grant Syria and
            Palestine Independence to counter Axis propaganda
1941 Hitler Order 30 Germany would support Arabs against British especially in Iraq
1948 Iraqi forces took Geulim and reached Kfar Yona and Ein Vered 1st Arab-
Israeli War
1983 7,000 Turkish troops moved 18 mi into Kurdistan to attack PKK bases Iraq and
            Turkey had agreement to allow cross border ops vs Kurds
1988 Iraq using chemical weapons pushed Iran out of Shalmache bridgehead in
            Basra
1999 Clinton Natl Sec Adv Berger met with 7 Iraqi opposition parties receiving US
            funds Told them president wanted Saddam removed by end of his term
2003 5,000 Iraqis protested outside Green Zone demanding a new govt security
            salaries for soldiers
2003 CPA order 5 created DeBaathification Council Would be run by Ahmed Chalabi
2003 Inspection team examined 2 captured trailers Immediately found they were not
            mobile WMD labs as originally thought
2003 Kirkuk council elected 6 members then arrested by US for alleged Baathist
            ties
2007 Ret Gen Keane told VP Cheney Surge needed to be sustained until 2008
2008 Report insurgents fled to Tikrit and Ramadi during Mother of Two Springs
            operation in Mosul
2008 Mayor of Mosul escaped 4th bombing attempt on his life in 10 days
2008 USAmb Crocker said ISI had been severely disrupted in Iraq
2008 US and ISF conduct weapons searches in Sadr City Arrested 200 Mahdi Army
            militiamen in Amil and Baya
2008 Report Sadrists paid $300 for anyone that attacked British forces in Basra Money
            came from Iran
2009 Maliki accepted resignation of Trade Min Sudani charged with corruption
2011 Iraq ranked 2nd to last in Global Peace Index
2011 Dep PM Shahristani said Iraq could not defend itself after US withdrawal at
            end of year
2012 Dawa held march in Baghdad to support Maliki during no confidence drive
            against him
2012 Baghdad said that all Kurdish oil deals with Turkey had to be approved by the
            central govt
2013 Mutahidun accused Maliki of backing militias with government money
2014 Anbar Operations Command claimed 90% of Ramadi freed ISIS still occupied
            major parts of city
2014 Anbar Operations Command said 40 attempts to take Fallujah from Jan-May
            2014 and all failed
2014 Sadrists threatened to go into opposition if Maliki got 3rd term as PM

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Iraq’s Election Fraud Controversy


After every election in Iraq parties claim there was cheating. Some of this is due to actual fraud that took place, but others are simply upset with their poor showing. This year seems more serious as a variety of parties are threatening lawsuits, boycotts and demonstrations, along with the prime minister and United Nations asking the Election Commission to take these charges seriously.

This Day In Iraqi History - May 24


1922 Cleric Khalisi informed southern tribes British were trying to get their
            way in new Anglo-Iraq Treaty
1941 Mufti of Jerusalem told Italians Arab revolt hinged on Iraq and it needed more
            support
1980 Iraq backed failed coup vs Khomeini in Iran
1982 Iran’s Op Beit al-Moqaddas ended with Iraqi forces pushed back to Iran-Iraq
border in Khuzistan province 12,000-15,000 Iraqis captured Iran regained 2077 sq mi of Iranian land
1982 Israeli press reported US sent arms to Egypt which were then sold to Iraq
1990 US National Security Council deputies meeting told that US still sharing
            intelligence with Iraq
1999 Sec State Albright met with 7 Iraqi opposition groups receiving US funds Said US
            would provide them nonlethal aid
2002 Rumsfeld issued order to Joint Chiefs to begin Phase Four postwar planning
            for Iraq
2004 Bush said US would stay the course in Iraq and move towards returning
            sovereignty and creating democracy in Iraq
2005 SCIRI’s Hammoudi named head of constitutional drafting committee
2006 Joint Chiefs intel report said insurgency enduring despite political progress and
            growth of ISF
2006 Report police and army full of militias insurgents and criminals carrying out
            abuses and sectarian violence
2006 Report US officials and military apologized for former Inter Min Jabr from ISCI
            and Badr saying they weren’t responsible for police abuses
2006 Maliki said he wanted to reign in militias and demobilize them Went to Najaf to
            try to get Ayatollah Sistani to make statements against militias
2006 Iraqi Army’s 16th Brigade in charge of Dora south Baghdad ran death squads and
            assassinations in conjunction with insurgents Killed its own commander
2007 Sheikh Issawi assassinated and funeral hit by suicide bomber in Anbar
leading to parts of his tribe to join fight against ISI in Fallujah
2009 Hashemi resigned as head of Islamic Party
2011 Anbar councilman blamed Syria for allowing insurgents to cross its
            border into Iraq
2011 Trade Min Sudani accused of wasting $245 mil while in office
2011 Report US forces coming under increased attacks as withdrawal date at end of
            year approached
2011 US Def Sec Gates went to Iraq to lobby for US troop presence past end of year
2012 KRG PM Barzani said that if Baghdad cut off fuel deliveries KRG would
            export oil independently
2012 Sadr asked National Alliance to replace Maliki
2013 Integrity Comm said it was opening investigation into buying fake bomb
            detectors Went nowhere
2013 Clash at Ramadi protest site between those for and against turning Anbar
            into federal region
2013 Imam at Mosul protest site argued for making Ninewa federal region
2013 Sadrist killed fighting in Syria had funeral attended by movement members    
            showing Sadr’s participation in Syria war
2015 Iranian Ground Forces commander said Iranian military moved 40km into
            Diyala to protect border from IS
2015 KRG claimed it met its oil export quota set in 2015 budget and therefore
            should receive it full monthly payment from Baghdad
2015 US Def Sec Carter questioned Iraqis’ will to fight after Ramadi fell to IS
2017 Interior Min announced investigation into abuses by Iraqi forces during Mosul
            campaign in response to Der Spiegel article Nothing came of it

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Security In Iraq, May 15-21, 2018


The third week of May saw another record low in violence. There were only 38 incidents reported, which surpassed the previous low of 40 in the first week of April. Unfortunately, that dip did not mean a decrease in casualties. After a super violent March, it appears that the Islamic State is back to regrouping.