Thursday, October 12, 2006

Iraq Confidential

The following is is from Time Magazine, but I saw it on (so basically nicked it from) Akinoluna's blog. So thanks to her. Time dug around to check that an email that escaped into the wilds of the internet was genuine. It was and the Marine officer in Iraq who wrote it agreed to let them publish it.

These are my three favourite bits:

Most Profound Man in Iraq — an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."

Coolest Insurgent Act — Stealing almost $7 million from the main bank in Ramadi in broad daylight, then, upon exiting, waving to the Marines in the combat outpost right next to the bank, who had no clue of what was going on. The Marines waved back. Too cool.

Best Chuck Norris Moment — 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in a small town to kidnap the mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the Bad Guys put down his machine gun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machine gun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.
But all of it is worth a read.

Over the last couple of years I've read quite a bit of stuff like this by smart, decent-sounding, level headed-seeming American officers and soldiers in Iraq. I've also met some (both US and other coalition) soldiers who had been in Iraq who would match the same discription. I've also met a couple of ultra-smart and very nice US State Dept. officials who were part of the first group to go in after the war. With all the talent and decency in the middle ranks you wonder why Iraq is now the total desperate fuck-up that it is.

7 comments:

Jebediah said...

Although it ended up under the wrong post, I saw your comment about the pirate/boob ad on Akinoluna's blog, so I thought I'd take a look at your page. I've bookmarked it for later perusal.

Akinoluna said...

"With all the talent and decency in the middle ranks you wonder why Iraq is now the total desperate fuck-up that it is."

*hand in the air*

Ooh ooh call on me!!!

Ahem...The same reason that, despite all the talented, low-level public officials currently serving their communities, the federal government is full of rich windbags: Getting to be in charge is all based on who you know. It's all politics in the upper officer ranks.

And don't forget, we the military are not in charge of this war. The same rich windbags running the federal government are the SAME rich windbags running the military.

Civilians who have never been to war are running this Iraq show. A general says he needs several hundred thousand troops in Iraq? Hush, sir! Take your 140,000 and do what we say!

We just do what they tell us to do, whether we think it's a good idea or not.

Which is why I don't think the Iraq disaster is a military problem. It's a civilian coughgeorgerummycough problem.

KGS said...

It's only a "fuck-up" in the Sunni trinagle, due to a continual flow of Iranian weapons and logistical support.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Come on KGS - do you really believe that? If all is sweetness and light in the south, why is the most senior officer in the British army saying the UK should withdraw before the army is broken? Indeed who is still killing British servicemen down there? And you really think that the Sunni insurgent groups in al-Anbar would stop fighting if it wasn't for Iranian support? What Iranian support exactly? Why would the Iranians be supporting groups which a) are anti-Shia, b) anti-Iranian and c) well funded by both the former Iraqi-regime and sympathisers elsewhere in the Arab world?

You should get a hold of "Insurgency and Counter-insurgency in Iraq" by the US Army Colonel Ahmed Hashim, reckoned by many to be the best book so far on the insurgency, and I don't think once he mentions Iran, because obviously their support is going to the Shia militias, not the Sunni insurgent group that he studied. http://tinyurl.com/y95zuy

Saying "it's all the Iranians fault" might be comforting politically as it means people don't have to look at the utter failure of US policy in Iraq, but it doesn't have much to do with reality.

KGS said...

Gee Toby,
Now let me get this straight Toby, you're stating on the record, that you don't believe the Iranians are funding suppyling and aiding the insurgency? (Talabani's recent vist to Iran addressed just this issue, maybe you know something he doesn't?)

For somebody to believe what your proposing, they would have discount the favored Iranian strategy of, the ends (Iranian hegemony) justifies the means (Sh'iia martyrdom on a grossly grand scale).

Are you saying that the Iranians wouldn't be willing to "off" a far fewer in number of their own co-religionists, when a destabilized Iraq is at stake, a scenario that would be in the Iranian's own best interests?

Given the hundreds of thousands of Iranian children who were found dead on the battlefields during the Iraq/Iran war, clutching their plastic keys that would unlock heaven for them and their families (Allah likes the martyrs as well as their kin), who were nothing more than "cannon fodder", proves to me that these Iranian degenerates are prone to future "unthinkable" atrocities.

I never said that there wasn't unrest in the south, but it's no where near the hostilities in the so called "Sunni Triangle". When it comes to logistics, any "insurgency" lacks the ability to prolong a fight on their "good looks" alone, it takes cold hard cash and lots of it.

http://www.blackanthem.com/News/military200608_1150.shtml
"Labels on weapons stocks seized inside and outside Iraq point to Iranian government complicity in arming Shiite militias in Iraq, Army Maj. Gen. Richard Zahner, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence with Multinational Force Iraq, said at a news roundtable.

U.S. officials have said in the past that Iran is fomenting instability in Iraq. In August, Army Brig. Gen. Michael Barbero said that the Iranian government is training many members of the Shiite insurgency in Iraq. Barbero is the deputy operations chief on the Joint Staff.

"Iran is definitely a destabilizing force in Iraq," Barbero said during an Aug. 23 Pentagon news conference. "I think it's irrefutable that Iran is responsible for training, funding and equipping some of these Shiia extremist groups and also providing advanced (improvised explosive device) technology to them, and there's clear evidence of that."

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/focusoniraq/2006/September/focusoniraq_September184.xml§ion=focusoniraq

"The United States and Britain have in the past accused Iran of fostering violence in Iraq. The Islamic Republic denies it.

But the official gave far more detail, and said the latest weapons finds -- including explosives bearing factory stamps indicating they come from Iran -- show that the policy of arming Iraqi militia is supported at high levels in Iran and not the work of rogue Iranian operatives.

“You see them enabling all comers,” he said. “And by the way, nobody in this country stays bought. You’re rented.”

http://memri.org/bin/opener.cgi?Page=archives&ID=SP75004
"Question: "Do the [Iraqi] Ba'thists play a significant part in the terrorist operations?"

Sha'lan: "Absolutely not. They started contacting us and cooperating with us particularly in the area erroneously called 'the Sunni triangle.' We have neither a Sunni nor a Shiite triangle."

Iraqi Interior Minister: 'Iran Plays an Important Part, Whether Official or Popular, in the Terrorist and Sabotage Operations being Carried Out in Iraq'

"The Iraqi Interior Minister Falah Hassan Al-Naqib attacked Iran and accused it of being behind the terrorist actions to which Iraq is subjected. Following discussions yesterday with his Jordanian counterpart Samir Al-Habashna, Al-Naqib told reporters, 'It must be acknowledged that Iran plays an important part, whether official or popular, in the terrorist and sabotage operations being carried out in Iraq.' He emphasized that Iraq is now being targeted.

"Al-Naqib added, 'The sabotage and criminal operations now going on in Iraq, regardless of their political or religious garb – it is the same element that plans it, the same mind that organizes it, and it is using one and the same strategy for targeting Iraq and Iraqi unity.' "


http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/09/28/iraq.iran/index.html
"The official said Iran -- which is overwhelmingly Shiite and largely Persian -- tries to spread its largess to other militants as well, but can wield only so much influence throughout Iraq -- which, while predominantly Shiite, is largely Arab.

He said Iran is not trying to fuel civil war in Iraq, but rather is trying to make sure it retains some influence with whichever group comes out on top in Iraq."



http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/23/AR2006082301390.html
Brig. Gen. Michael Barbero :

"I think it's irrefutable that Iran is responsible for training, funding and equipping some of these (Shiite) extremist groups and also providing advanced IED technology to them," Barbero said. "IED" refers to the improvised explosive devices _ roadside bombs _ that have caused much death and destruction in Iraq."

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

"Now let me get this straight Toby, you're stating on the record, that you don't believe the Iranians are funding suppyling and aiding the insurgency?"

Unless you mean just the Sunni insurgency (which you seem not to be) then no Kenneth, that's not what I said at all, as I think my comment above yours made that pretty clear. The UK govt. has been accusing Tehran of supplying the shaped charges that have now killed a number of British servicemen for two or three years now. I think its patently obvious that the Iranians are operating in Iraq (as presumably are all the other neighbours although probably not to the same degree). What I wrote was: And you really think that the Sunni insurgent groups in al-Anbar would stop fighting if it wasn't for Iranian support? What Iranian support exactly? Why would the Iranians be supporting groups which a) are anti-Shia, b) anti-Iranian and c) well funded by both the former Iraqi-regime and sympathisers elsewhere in the Arab world? And you then left a number of links (thanks BTW) that pretty much make this point. They all (except the MEMRI translation of the interview which doesn't say either way) say that the Iranians are supporting the Shiia groups, not the Sunni insurgency in al-Anbar, which is exactly what I said originally.

I claim no more knowledge of this than beyond what I've read, but as I said - read Col. Hashim's excellent (if a bit dry and scholarly) book. His job in the military was to try and understand the insurgency. He was in Iraq for years with access to all the intelligence reports - and as I say, as far as I remember, when talking about the Sunni insurgency he makes no mention of Iranian support; which seems rather logical.

KGS said...

Hi Toby,
I disagree.

1.) The amount that Iran plays in arming all the various Sh'iia terrorist militia groups (in order to maintain its influence) directly influences the overall situation as a whole, which directly spills into the Sunni camp "as a success" as well. A successful Sh'iia campaign of violence helps the Sunni and vice versa, so just the Iranian support for the Sh'iia alone, translates into a benifit the Sunni terrorists.

2.) I am not convinced that the Iranian's "are not" funding (giving logistical support) the Sunni jiahdi's as well, in order to maintain the level chaos to an acceptable degree to help facilitate/ensure the successes of the other various Sh'iia militias it hedging its bets with. It's totally irrelevent to me just how much the Iranian support is in terms of percentage, (that the Sunni militias receive far less than the Sh'iia) but more importantly that they are interested in making sure that they (Iranians) are of some importance to whichever group is left standing....including the Sunni Arabs.

3.) The Iranian funding of Iraqi Sunni Kurds prove that they can do business with whomever, if its deemed to benifit them, Sunni amd Sh'iia alike. Though the
MEMRI interview didn't speak of the Sunni, it implied as much "The sabotage and criminal operations now going on in Iraq, regardless of their political or religious garb – it is the same element that plans it, the same mind that organizes it, and it is using one and the same strategy for targeting Iraq and Iraqi unity." All of this clearly serves Iranian interests, of course they would not dismiss the Sunni just because they're Sunni, as long as they're helping to kill government soldiers and Coalition forces, they're an asset. CNN "The official said Iran -- which is overwhelmingly Shiite and largely Persian -- tries to spread its largess to other militants as well, but can wield only so much influence throughout Iraq -- which, while predominantly Shiite, is largely Arab. He said Iran is not trying to fuel civil war in Iraq, but rather is trying to make sure it retains some influence with whichever group comes out on top in Iraq."

4.) Iran has proven itself willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of Sh'iia (including children) in pursuit of a goal, sacrificing some of their co-religionists in Iraq is then "not out of the question" by any means. Especially when the stakes are so high, all are deemed "cannon fodder" for the sake of maintaining its hegemony/influence.

It's just plain inconceivable that the Iranians "would not be" hedging its bets WITH ALL the various terror groups now operating inside Iraq.

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