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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Where Iraq is on November 20 2004

Here we go again. This my second attempt at this post Blogger last night ate half my post. I think we need to take a step back and see where we stand in Iraq. Despite what was a very successful and hard fought campaign this week, the media still portrays a scene of doom and gloom and defeat. Of course that is a personal opinion based on my observations, but I think a valid one. Often I notice the media gets hung up on one story and it sets the whole tenor of their outlook the whole week. The story of the week was very badly handled "Marine shooting story". So lets look where we stand.
One my favorite bloggers as of late, a military blogger that served in Iraq now in Kuwait I believe by the the blog name of 2Slick's forum. He is quite familar with the area thats been in the news especially Mosul where in the he was stationed. Lets look at what he has to say. On his Nov 20 th post it appears that 2Slick's is quite frustrated with the media outlook too. In his post "Whats next for Fallujh?" he writes:
This simple answer to this question can be found by looking at the current state of affairs in Samarra, Najaf, and Sadr City. Oh, I'm sorry- the press isn't telling you anything about that. Well, the short story is that our forces are steadily working on financing and supervising reconstruction projects- employing a substantial Iraqi work force and getting the towns back on their feet. Newly trained Iraqi cops provide security and protection, and US forces just sort of monitor the situation and help where they're needed. This is what we in the business call an "exit strategy."
It appears 2slick's is a little frustrated at the media also. Often the media coverage is driven around the topic of Individuals whether they are good guys or bad guys. For instance you often hear the phrase or something like it that "we're not winning the war on terror because we haven't got Bin laden" This week the media seem to follow the same theme by portraying the the battle for Fallujah as partly a failure because "we didn't get al Zawari". Please! What was the media expecting, that Al Zawari would make his last stand in Fallujah similar to scenes from The Alamo. Another great blogger to which I quote today by the the name of The Adventures of Chester Blog has a link to very important article about what was really going on in Fallujah. This article states:


Insurgents captured in Fallujah have told Iraqi military
interrogators that most of those fighting in Fallujah were former security
officers for the regime of Saddam Hussein. The insurgents said Saddam
organized special operations units, starting in 2001, to counter any foreign
invasion in Iraq. Most of those units, the insurgents said, are still active in
the Sunni Triangle. Officials said the Sunni insurgency was being directed
from Syria. They said Saddam loyalists were receiving funding and orders from
senior aides of the former Saddam regime based in Damascus, including ex-Vice
President Izzet Ibrahim Al Douri.
Iraqi Interior Minister Faleh Hassan Al Naqib said his government and the U.S.-led coalition faced a revolt throughout the Sunni Triangle, Middle East Newsline reported. Al Naqib said the revolt was being directed by a unified command and control network led by Saddam loyalists. He said the insurgents sought to prevent or disrupt national elections scheduled for Jan. 27.
"The battle for Fallujah has become the test for Saddam loyalists," an Iraqi official said. "Fallujah was the center of the terrorism and the symbol of the terrorists."
The uprising in the Sunni Triangle has included insurgents who had been based in Fallujah. Officials said Sunni insurgents, including Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, and up to 2,000 fighters left Fallujah over the last two months to launch a revolt in other cities.


That article tells us alot. The most important being that the the Iraq viewed Fallujah as a very crucial test for the Saddam Loyalist. In that test the Saddamittes failed. Also The other aspects of this story must be followed up on. Saddam way back in 2001 must have realized that an invasion was likely. If this insurgency is being directed from former Saddam officials in Syria, then Syria must be brought into line either by the carrot or sitck approach. The former regime elements also seem to have the same thinking that is echoed by Al Zawari's letter that was found earlier this year, that being when the Iraq citizens feel they have power and start thinking they the people run things then the jig is up.
So whats up in Fallujah? Its amazing that so many press accounts have conflicting pictures. For instance what do the people in Fallujah feel about whats happening. The blogger
Last Nights BBC News has great illustration of how we must be careful of what the msm is saying. The venerable Bebe reports fom a supposed independent journalist in Fallujah. He "reports" in this article the following



US forces control most of the city now, except for some areas in the south.
We keep hearing that aid has arrived at the hospital on the outskirts of the
city, which is now in the hands of the Americans. But most people in this area
are too weak or too scared to make the journey, or even to leave their homes.
For now, the best option is to stay put. I would like to escape Falluja, but
I fear I will end up getting killed if I try. A group of journalist friends
left the city by car last week as the assault was starting. I have no idea what
happened to them. Not one of their mobile phones works and I fear the worst.
Food and water are all but finished. I have enough dried dates and water to
last me another few days. If, in five days' time, it is still impossible to
leave the city or get any supplies, I might have to raid my neighbour's vacant
house for food and water. I can enter their place by jumping from our roof
onto theirs. I am completely out of touch with the situation in the rest of
Iraq. Looking at Falluja now, the only comparisons I can think of are cities
like Beirut and Sarajevo

Elsewhere the BBC provides more breathless quotes from this eyewitness/journalist the above link will take you to those interview too here is a sample:

Different clans in the city have their own militias but they all seem
to be working together to fend off US forces. The people of Falluja are very
clannish - but they have also always been very religious and right now faith is
a stronger bond than family.
relations between local fighters and police have always been good - a deal struck some months ago means the police are welcome in the city provided they do not take orders from the Americans. There are more police on the streets than usual - possibly to protect the property of residents who are leaving the city. But the risk of looting is small - the local militias have a reputation for being very tough with the criminalsI am not aware of any foreign fighters in Falluja. If there are any foreigners here, they have blended in very well with the locals. Foreigners used to frequent the city in the past, but many of them were forced to leave under a deal the city's leaders struck with the government.
Ninety-nine percent of the fighters here are Fallujans.

I could go on and on from quotes from this "Journalist" but lets see what the London times reported in this article shall we.



Mutilated bodies dumped on Fallujah's bombed out streets today painted
a harrowing picture of eight months of rebel rule.As US and Iraqi troops
mopped up the last vestiges of resistance in the city after a week of
bombardment and fighting, residents who stayed on through last week's offensive
were emerging and telling harrowing tales of the brutality they endured.
Flyposters still litter the walls bearing all manner of decrees from insurgent commanders, to be heeded on pain of death. Amid the rubble of the main
shopping street, one decree bearing the insurgents' insignia - two Kalashnikovs
propped together - and dated November 1 gives vendors three days to remove nine market stalls from outside the city's library or face execution. The pretext
given is that the rebels wanted to convert the building into a headquarters for
the "Mujahidin Advisory Council" through which they ran the city.Another
poster in the ruins of the souk bears testament to the strict brand of Sunni
Islam imposed by the council, fronted by hardline cleric Abdullah Junabi. The
decree warns all women that they must cover up from head to toe outdoors, or
face execution by the armed militants who controlled the streets.

"They would wear black masks, carry rocket-propelled grenades and
Kalashnikovs, and search streets and alleys," said Iyad Assam, 24. "I would hear
stories, about how they executed five men one day and seven another for
collaborating with the Americans. They made checkpoints on the roads. They put
announcements on walls banning music and telling women to wear the veil from
head to toe." It was not just pedlars of alcohol or Western videos and women
deemed improperly dressed who faced the militants' wrath. Even residents who
regard themselves as observant Muslims lived in fear because they did not share
the puritan brand of Sunni Islam that the insurgents enforced.One devotee of
a Sufi sect, followers of a mystical form of worship deemed herectical by the
hardliners, told how he and other members of his order had lived in terror
inside their homes for fear of retribution."It was a very hard life. We
couldn't move. We could not work," said the man sporting the white robe and
skullcap prescribed by his faith. "If they had any issue with a person, they
would kill him or throw him in jail."

I agree with the beforementioned blogger that perhaps someone should question the BBC's "journalist:"in Fallujah as to his bias. One good question Last Nights BBCs News said should be asked of him was how was he so freely able to report in this "religious"controlled town. I will let you decide whom to trust but I am putting my money on the London Times reporters.
Lets move on to other areas of Iraq right now particually Mosul that was so breathless reported on this week. Remeber I said 2slick was stationed in mosul he coomments on sections of this a ap article excerpts below:
At least 13 other insurgents were captured in Mosul, authorities said.



In western Mosul, Iraqi National Guard and a special police force
raided several areas Thursday night, killing 15 insurgents and capturing 10
others, Deputy Gov. Khasro Gouran said.The raid on the al-Zaharawi hospital in
Mosul - Iraq's third-largest city - was conducted by Iraqi commandos with the
Ministry of the Interior's Special Police Force, backed by U.S. troops.Forces
cordoned it off after getting information that insurgents were treating their
wounded there, said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings with Task Force Olympia.


2Slick's observations on this are
Well, that didn't take very long. It also looks like I was right about the rapid mobilization of LTG Petraeus' Iraqi Sooper Troopers. These guys are looking more compitent and confident every day. That's a very good sign.
The ap article goes on to say:

U.S. and Iraqi forces began a major military operation Tuesday to wrest
control of Mosul after gunmen last week attacked police stations, bridges
and political offices in apparent support of Fallujah guerrillas. On Friday,
three of the city's five bridges were reopened to traffic and most of the
city remained calm, though U.S. forces came under some "indirect fire" that
caused no injuries, Hastings said.

2slick response is Yep- this sounds like the Mosul I remember
The Adventures of Chester Blog, again a soilder that was there I think sums it up nicely here in his November 17th posting:
So coalition forces strike the city of Fallujah, and Iraqi insurgents respond by attacking in Mosul, Baquba, Kirkuk and Suweira. This, we now hear, proves that the more insurgents the U.S. kills, the stronger the insurgency grows. Call it the Obi-Wan Kenobi school of international relations: Strike him down, and he'll only become more powerful.In real warfare, of course, killing the enemy means there are fewer enemies to kill. And in one week in Fallujah, and at the cost of some 40 American soldiers' lives and several Iraqi ones, about 1,200 insurgents were killed and another 1,000 taken prisoner. The insurgents have been denied their principal sanctuary. Their torture chambers--a stark indication of what they intend for all of Iraq if they're allowed to prevail--lie exposed.More important is the demonstration effect: Ordinary Iraqis can take heart that the Allawi government and the U.S. mean business, something that had been put into doubt by the failure to take Fallujah back in April. The sooner and more aggressively the fight is taken to other insurgent strongholds, the better the chances that January's scheduled elections can be held on time, in conditions of relative security, and with Iraq's Sunni minority committed (or resigned) to pursuing their options at the ballot box. Assessing the ultimate impact of any battle takes time: It is true that of the 5,000 insurgents estimated to have been in Fallujah, the majority, including terrorist ringleader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, appear to have gotten away in the exodus of civilians that preceded the battle. These insurgents will no doubt continue to mount gruesome attacks throughout the country, with the aim of cowing the silent majority of Iraqis who'd like to be on the side of freedom if given the chance.Still, it is instructive to note the view the insurgents themselves took of the battle. In an audio recording transmitted on the Internet, a voice said to be Zarqawi's warns, "Once they have finished in Fallujah, they will head toward you. You must not let them succeed in their plan." That sounds more like the voice of desperation than it does the voice of confidence. Another point in the Zarqawi recording bears attention: "This war is very long, and always think of this as the beginning, and always make the enemy think that yesterday was better than today." In Israel, this is known as the question of the barrel: Is there a bottom to it or not? Beyond whatever tactics the Iraqi insurgents may employ, their strategy is to convince Americans that there is no bottom; that their cause enjoys huge popular support; that it feeds off the resentments that "occupation" inevitably engenders; and that it can go on undeterred by whatever damage U.S. forces inflict.Sadly, there are plenty of Westerners willing to buy into this hypothesis, since it sits so well with those who think the war was a mistake and thus can't imagine that we can still win. Yet apart from the military success, the big news of the Fallujah campaign is that most Iraqis quietly supported it. The protests from nationalist politicians was far more muted than in April, perhaps because they have seen from the car bombings and beheadings what the Zarqawis also intend for them.
Their principal santuary is gone. I do expect viloence to continue because of the elections but its appears to me that significant tactical, political, and psychological milepost has been reached. By the way not much to report from the Kurd area up north pretty calm. Also what about Southern Iraq. Remember how the Media was repeating Basra every five minutes and predicting the whole country was going to rise up against us. Well its been pretty quiet. There of course there are problems in area of Bagdad but I expect with their sanctuary where they were free to build car bombs to their hearts content that the situation should improve there. Especially in light of the Iraqi governments campaign to crack down on "hardline Clerics" such as they did yesterday. Lets not get weak in the knees people. Lets examine the info we get carefully and lets finish the job there.

UPDATE I
Fadhil Badrani is the the indepenent journalis/eyewitness that i referenced above as working for the BBC over at Biased BBC in the comments section several observant bloggers made the following comments you can see all comments at this link
If you put the name al-Badrani into media databases you will find that the very first reference to Fadil al-Badrani - with the first name spelt Fadel - is from 25 September 2004. It was carried by the Reuters news agency. It's a story about a US airstrike in Falluja. So he's been a journalist - or, at least, a journalist working for a western news organisation - for all of two months.However, on 2 January 2004 US forces detained, and then held for three days, three Reuters employees and one NBC one near Falluja. They had attended the scene of a downed US helicopter. They were allegedly abused by US troops during their captivity. Reuters protested about the alleged abuse subsequently. The names of the four detainees? Salem Ureibi, Ahmad Mohammad Hussein al-Badrani, Sattar Jabar al-Badrani and Ali Mohammed Hussein al-Badrani.Henry 11.18.04 - 1:45 pm #

and
Maybe. But if you put the name al Badrani into the media database I used you get only 400-odd articles mentioning that name. These refer to about ten different people, mostly Iraqis. That doesn't make it 'pretty common'.And I think it's at least possible that the thee journalists called al-Badrani detained and allegedly beaten up by US forces near Falluja in January, and the man called al-Badrani in Falluja criticising the US occupation in 2003 (and Dr al Hakim al Badrani of Falluja hospital, who also features in media reports) are related to the fadil al-Badrani now reporting for Reuters from Falluja. Which, I think, suggests that Fadil may not be quite the impartial and objective observer he is represented as being by the BBC and others.Henry 11.18.04 - 3:48 pm #

also
Oh, and in July 2003 Reuters carried a story from Falluja quoting 'real estate agent [!] Mohammad al-Badrani' as saying "Saddam is an Iraqi, he's of our flesh and blood, but these foreigners are intolerable. We are suffering."I wonder whether any of these al-Badranis are by any chance related?



13 Comments:

Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

You da Kingfish. I bow before your researching. I link with humility and admiration.

November 20, 2004 at 4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I think your analysis doesn't properly consider the sectional nature of the crisis in Iraqi governance. The southern Shi'a and the northern Kurds easily generate a "majority" of Iraqis whose interests conflict in one way or another with Sunni Arabs and Turkomen*. I don't mean to imply that the conflicts are necessarily overwhelming and intractible, but if insurgents are consistantly convincing a sufficient portion of those two minority groups that civil war and partition is preferable to the impending domination of the national government by Shi'a and Kurds, the regional insurgency could persist for quite a while. While the national government is thereby distracted and its legitimacy challenged, power stuggles within the Kurdish Regional Government and the Shi'a heirarchy could very well continue to erupt. I wish I could say more, but as MI, I'm proscribed from giving judgements heavily inflected with classified information.

None of which is to say that I think that the doomsayers are correct or that things are really awful over there. I just want to bring attention to a sorely neglected dimension of the overall scenario

November 20, 2004 at 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops - forgot to add the asterisk postscript, which was to reference events in Tal Afar

November 20, 2004 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I think that you analysis of the situation is balls-on. I also have made several posts about some strategies in Iraq.

Keep up the good fight!

Kev

November 21, 2004 at 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2Slick says:

"In real warfare, of course, killing the enemy means there are fewer enemies to kill."

Well, real symmetric warfare, which this is not. In traditional force-on-force conflicts, the time taken to train and equip new soldiers means that even with an infinite conscript pool, a lost soldier takes months to replace. The insurgents, however, are essentially random people who pick up readily-available weapons and shoot them at us. If we kill a man, then his two brothers, his son and his brother-in-law can all easily grab a Kalashnikov and take to the streets if they're angry enough - they suffer no deficit of training relative to the man we killed. 2Slick quotes estimates that we killed 1200 insurgents and captured another 1000. Compare that to the ~350000 people who usually live in Fallujah. The Sunni Triangle is not about to run out of warm bodies.

So 2Slick is right to focus the rest of his discussion on rebuilding and psychological impact. Bodycounts are not a terribly useful metric otherwise.

November 21, 2004 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

Hey Kingfish!

See what you started? I haven't been able to post on your blog half the day either - do you want to move all those comments over here?

I've been looking at Anon-MI's links and hunting up some other ones. Interesting that China is talking turkey with Turkey and that supposedly in December Turkey's supposed to get the official okay to start the process of EU membership.

OF COURSE all of that would have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Turkey believes it has a sound historical claim to Kirkuk and sees a pressing humanitarian crisis forming with the poor Turkmen in northern Iraq. And of course it would have nothing to do with that Iraq-Turkey oil line. Right now I'm trying to hunt up what the pipeline fees were during the UN Oil for Food era.

Diplomacy makes me sick.

November 21, 2004 at 7:55 PM  
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