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  1. From Musings On Iraq Iraq Thinks Its Politicians And Parties Are Failing Them According To New Opinion Poll
    It's worth reading the detail of this to get a picture of the countries mood.

    Key numbers:
    o 70% of Sunnis unhappy with the direction the country is going in
    o Young Sunni men particularly pissed off
    o Poor Shi'a unhappy and shifting towards Sadr

    What really disappointing is Maliki had managed to seize the reins from the Septics and largely shake off the devious Iranians. Allawi really had emerged as a potentially solid leader who seemed determined to represent Sunni as well as Shi'a interests, his party even won an election by a hair, only to be out maneuvered by the sectarian Shi'a status quo. The country remains mired in near Afghan levels of corruption with a rentier elite determinedly milking the place while a repressive military run it day to day.

    We perhaps should consider that a healthier adversarial democracy that provided better incentives to politicians to actually serve the voter may be an entirely unrealistic expectation in a country deeply scared by decades of divisive dictatorship and then a savage ethno-sectarian civil war. It's remarkable that they have come as far as national unity governments carving up the pie largely peaceably but if it continues like this it will be a dead end.

    This is not an encouraging example looking at the Arab Spring. The chorus from the protesters is they will not be like Iraq. They may be lucky to achieve as much as "The Persians". Iraq could be said to be different as it has had revolutionary change imposed upon it by force of arms. I don't really buy this "conceived in sin" argument, it fails to take account of a genuine popular surge towards Islamic but representative government by the natives. After the invasion the relatively sophisticated Iraqi Shi'a while hampered by American administration had political force, direction, capable leaders, well organized parties often with intimate support from a Qom ultimately interested in their success. Neither Libya, Yemen nor Syria have these advantages. Only Egypt has similar promise and it is plagued with not very different systemic problems that decades of democracy may only slowly erode.
  2. On Iraq Gulf And Analysis 'Can US Aims in Iraq Be Squared with a Discourse of Iraqi Sovereignty? by Reidar Visser
    Beneath his "bring the boys home" base's nose Barry via Panetta has been signaling fairly desperately that the US wants to retain some formal basing other than their huge 6000 man Baghdad embassy. Actually a pretty big presence, I've seen 20,000 troops talked about, which probably means the ability to multiply that in secure basing in a short time.

    DC might be better contenting itself with Kuwait, the fifth fleet and invest instead in encouraging thriving Iraqi-Turkish relations to thwart Qom's long game. But it's consistent with the high spending Pentagon's dull witted monopoly board basing policy and there is the underlying fact that US withdrawal under Bush's SOFA timelines does carry risks. Bibi may also bomb Iran just to show his fans in Congress he's got a bigger dick than Barry.

    The Kurds actually would like the US to stick around to guarantee the KRG's autonomy, a motivation that naturally the rest of Iraq's population does not share. Elements in the army will anticipate being able to milk DC for point lining aid like Pindi. The wily politicians of Baghdad may actually wish to retain a discrete presence, mainly to balance Iran's influence. It's not so much the troops but evidence of a sustained US interest. If I was them I'd be dragging this out painfully until a decent bung is extracted from Barry.
  3. From Musings On Iraq Indecision Over Iraq Policy In Pre-9/11 Bush Administration
    This will disappoint the conspiratorially minded Team Bush was set on going to Baghdad even before coming to power.
  4. A footnote on history.

    From Musings On Iraq Laurie Mylroie’s Convoluted Iraq-Terrorism Conspiracy Theory
    The Mylroie tale is one of the strangest of Iraq war. It seems laughable now but a truly crackpot, paper thin, conspirloon story linking Saddam to Oklahoma and both WTC attacks that appears to have convinced some very smart people like Wolfowitz and had Cheney nodding along when it suited his purposes.

    That Saddam was headed off into proto-Truther la la land, does not surprise me, Ahmadinejad was hinting the same recently. Well you do expect it of these guys.

    A decade ago what I found strange was amidst the agitprop on Iraq the near silence on the substantial links from AQ too Pakistan, the ISI and the Haqqanis. Mullen finally broached the latter a few days ago, it's taken a decade for it to get much publicity. I can recall Wolfowitz repeatedly praising Pindi efforts in the GWOT, that was perhaps an even bigger denial of reality clashing with a preferred narrative.
  5. On NightWatch
  6. On FP Who won the war in Iraq? (Here's a big hint: It wasn't the United States) By Peter Van Buren
    My bold, the Iraq war may not have done little to serve our interests but perhaps it's not all bad.

    It's worth considering these two countries fought a brutal trench war a few decades ago, a war that scarred their consciousness as the Great War did the French and the Germans. Yet now their peoples are increasingly close and interlocked economically. The Iraqis badly need this relationship with a largely supportive Iran as they recover from both Saddam and his fall. While ludicrously corrupt and badly governed Iraq is slowly progressing politically, it may yet have a positive affect on it's bigger neighbor.
  7. In WaPo Iraq, siding with Iran, sends essential aid to Syria’s Assad By Joby Warrick
    Maliki a couple of years ago was pretty critical of Syria, accusing it of hosting elements of the Iraqi insurgency given to staging spectacular attacks on Baghdad. But like the Israelis they have to be worried about what might follow Assad and the consequences at their border. Like the Turks there is KRG II to fear. Like Lebanon the Iraqis bear the scars of civil war, one next to them is liable to spill over and a hostile Sunni state in Saudi's orbit is hardly desirable.

    That is sufficient motivation, I'd not make too much of the Iranian element in this, the Iraqis are not pawns of Qom they simply share many of its interests and the enmity of its regional rival, The Magic Kingdom
  8. On Musings On Iraq Iraq Improves Ranking In Corruption Index
    Tied with Haiti, still it's an improvement.
  9. On NightWatch
    My bold, an interesting way to look at Syria.
  10. On NightWatch
    The Kurds are the big open question in Iraq, the KRG was a US protectorate for a long time, those days are over and there is oil involved. It'll be interesting to see which way Qom jumps, they have been somewhat supportive of the KRG and may not like Maliki consolidating his power. Of course the Kurds are also an issue in Syria.
  11. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Blimey Alib....is this a one man effort or can anyone join in ?

    For those who served on Op Telic... A Brit CIMIC adviser tells her side of the story in post invasion Kirkuk and elsewhere in the time of the CPA.

    Iraq war will haunt west, says Briton who advised US military | World news | The Guardian

  12. A bloody 06 style day, 115 dead. New AQ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi makes his bloody debut hitting security targets, promises to retake strongholds, also to strike the US homeland.

    Via Musings On Iraq

    Russian reporting and biased, sees a Syrian connection.
  13. Al Jaz gives the equally biased Qatari view, it's all because Nouri al-Maliki has consolidated power.

    I tend towards the Russian view here AQ's old Syrian ratlines going into reverse in aid of the Syrian revolt recently can't have been good for Iraqi security.

    Syria still contains a great number of Sunni Iraqis, that were the losers in Iraq's sectarian civil war, it's not hard to guess which side many would pick in Syria, even former Baathist may align against the Alawites. The Syrian regime's heavy hints about using gas against foreign elements would worry me if I was one of them. The potential for a sectarian conflagration between Iraq and Syria is a growing risk. That's the sort of worst case scenario "The Surge" period was hoped to have warded off.
  14. Something for the Oilys.

    My own opinion about this is that Iraq was a badly calculated war in which the security of energy supplies were an important argument for policy realists in the Pentagon and Bush administration, though these were pretty thin on the ground at the time. A lot of the public talk on oil was dizzyingly stupid, the idea that the reconstruction would be paid for not by US tax dollars but fountains of Iraqi black gold comes to mind. After a lot of reading I think headless chicken panic, pre-conceived Pentagon notions on what the next war might be and unipolar hubris played a bigger role. The policy realists who were enthusiasts were largely to be disapointed. The following articles are all worth reading in full.

    On Musings On Iraq Did The U.S. Plan On Privatizing Iraq’s Oil After The 2003 Invasion?
    On Musings On Iraq Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction’s “Hard Lessons” Chapter 13 “Restarting Oil Production”
    From T.P.M Barnet's blog Fascinating achievement of US foreign policy: Iraq outcranks Iran on oil

    And in the resulting state we have now their still much room for squabbling over oil. In TNI [URL="http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/baghdad-erbil-battle-iraq-7357"]Baghdad and Erbil Battle for Iraq[/URL]
    It is therefore fair to question the KRG’s timing of its decision to challenge Baghdad last April. Pipelines connecting the Kurdish region to the Mediterranean are still two years away. The Turkish government has not yet decided what kind of direct hydrocarbons relationship it wants with the KRG. That decision could lead to Iraq’s break-up, a prospect that Ankara has historically feared and actively resisted because of the threat it would pose to Turkey’s own territorial unity. Yet times are changing: the Syria crisis and a possible U.S.-Iran war could redraw the region’s borders. Not knowing how the chips will fall, political actors are starting to move to secure their interests as best they can and maximize any advantage they might gain.

    The Maliki government and the Kurds are therefore unlikely to kiss and make up. Any new agreement will be a temporary accommodation that would give each what they need most right now—Baghdad: revenues from Kurdish crude before its own production in the south ramps up; Erbil: the ability to pay producing companies before they throw in the towel in utter frustration. The real battle—over the future of Iraq and Kurdistan—is still a couple years away.[/QUOTE]And now we have Syria, a powder keg of ethno-sectarian tension that's spilling over into Iraq and Lebanon.
  15. On Musings On Iraq How Operation Desert Fox Finished Off Iraq’s WMD Programs
    And here was me thinking it was just another war of Bill Clinton's penis.