Meanwhile in Iraq, progress Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Some interesting things have been happening in Iraq. For instance:
U.S. and Iraqi troops killed more than 100 insurgents last week in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a U.S. Army officer said Monday.
Two Iraqis also died in the fighting, said Col. John Gronski, commander of the U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division. No Americans were killed.
Gronski said Iraqi forces "are doing very well" in the battle against insurgents in the volatile Anbar province city.
"The Iraqi army is conducting aggressive operations here based on human intelligence from the people of Ramadi themselves," he said.
Gronski said the Iraqi soldiers' improved capability has bolstered the morale of U.S. troops working with them.
Ramadi is the most dangerous city in Iraq, to include Baghdad. What this operation indicates is the Iraqi military is getting better and better and, most importantly, doing those things which are more difficult for US trooops: interacting with the locals and gathering immediately actionable intel. This operation in which 100 insurgents were killed is definitely an indicator of success in that regard.
Once the logistical tail and the C3I nodes needed to support the military and security battalions in the field are in place we'll see a huge jump in level one battalions. That is targeted for happening this year. And when it does, coalition forces should begin to stand down in earnest.
As we've mentioned any number of times, there are various factions loosly lumped under the label "insurgent". One of the largest is the Sunni insurgency. There may be some significant progress in ending that portion of the insurgency according to Iraq's President, Jalal Talabani:
Meanwhile, in an attempt to reach out to insurgents, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said he has been meeting with seven armed groups in hopes of agreeing a deal to include them in Iraq's political process.
None of these groups include people loyal to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to a statement issued Sunday from Talabani's office.
"These groups who are holding talks with the president are those who believe in a prosperous Iraq. Their will to fight America has waned," said a spokesman in the president's office.
A source close to Talabani said the meetings have been under way for some time.
The groups are realizing that Americans are not their true enemy, the source said, and that they have been "fighting the wrong enemy."
"[These groups] are coming to the realization that one day the Americans will leave — and that the most important thing is an Iraq that is free from Iranian influence," the source added.
Again, a critical step. Success in shutting down the Sunni insurgency would allow coalition and Iraqi security forces to concentrate on the smaller groups to be found among al-Queda and the Ba'athist dead-enders.
Speaking of al-Qaeda, Counterterroism Blog reports that there is all but open warfare between the Sunnis and al-Qadea in Iraq (and the information gathered supports Talibani's claim to be making progress in stopping the Sunni insurgency):
The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point looks at newly released al-Qaeda communiques from the Harmony database. The final analysis concludes (PDF) "al-Qa`ida operational commanders [in Iraq] are increasingly vexed by the continued loss of popular support, which they attribute to the willingness of Sunni tribal leaders and politicians to participate in the political process." The report continues:
One of these letters, written by an unknown commander in Zarqawi’s organization, describes the problems that local community leaders have caused for al-Qa`ida, particularly in al-Anbar province. By supporting local elections, collaborating with American military officials, and encouraging young Iraqi men to join police and security forces, Sunni politicians and tribal sheikhs have successfully steered thousands of Iraqis away from the jihadi message and toward the participation in the political process. The author, therefore, advocates the assassination of these figures.
In the words of the 'unknown commander' (from the letter titled "Al Qa'ida in Iraq Situation Report" - PDF):
So this is the reality we’re living in al-Anbar in general, and Ramadi in particular, that is the head Sheiks of some tribes, and symbols of the Islamic Party, sat with the Americans in Jordan, and other places, to fight terrorism and its people. The Sheiks started teaching people about these ideas, this conspiracy is led by two sides, the first is the heads of the tribes, the second is the leaders of the Islamic Party and mosques speakers, so they announced their war on the Mujahidin, it increased during the elections for the new constitution, their danger was so great, that hundreds of people volunteered in the police and the army, and thousands of people participated in the elections, renouncing their religion, and listenning to the erratics. After we took a look at the situation, we found that the best solutions to stop thousands of people from renouncing their religion, is to cut the heads of the Sheiks of infidelity and erratic.
The leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is attempting to set up his own mini-army and move away from individual suicide attacks to a more organised resistance movement, according to US intelligence sources.
Faced with a shortage of foreign fighters willing to undertake suicide missions, Zarqawi wants to turn his group into a more traditional force mounting co-ordinated guerrilla raids on coalition targets.
Al-Qaeda is sending training and planning experts to help to set up the force and infiltrate members into Iraq with the assistance of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the sources said.
Note too that this report also supports Talibani's contention that "the most important thing is an Iraq that is free from Iranian influence". And here we have reports of al-Qaeda teaming with Iran to staff it's "army".
One assumes the Iraqi people know leopards don't change their spots and won't buy into supporting al-Qaeda now that it has gone 'conventional'. But doing so is almost a gift. It plays right into the hands of both coalition and Iraqi security force's training. It's very hard to defend against a human being who is willing to blow themselves up in order to kill others. It isn't as difficult to fight a more conventional enemy, especially one who has already ostracized the majority of the population.
Add the fact that the government is now forming and preparing to govern and one has to see that progress is indeed being made in Iraq.
Every time — every single time — that AQ has tried larger-scale guerrilla attacks, the attackers have been slaughtered. They’re getting desperate for the next stage of the insurgency when they haven’t even come close to maturing the previous stage. They don’t have the support of the people... so if they try this, they’re toast. I applaud their new tactics (which they started trying a little over a year ago) and I hope they stick with them. They may even manage to conquer a six-foot plot of Iraqi land for each guerrilla.
They’re getting desperate for the next stage of the insurgency when they haven’t even come close to maturing the previous stage.
You know Ornery, that’s the point that every report I’ve seen which breathlessly announces this development completely misses.
AQ wants to go to stage 2 and they have horribly botched stage 1. The reason the VC were able to directly confront ARVN units was because they had worked for years developing strong support among the population. AQ has worked for 3 years to completely turn the population against them to the point that Sunnis have specific organization actively hunting and killing them.
But, to hear the MSM talk about it, this is an ominous development.
I’m sure coaltion forces are licking their chops, despite Zarkawis assertion that he’s "broken their back".
They’re getting desperate for the next stage of the insurgency when they haven’t even come close to maturing the previous stage
But, practically speaking, Al Qaeda is just not a major part of the Iraqi insurgency. Yes, yes, every death is a tragedy and all that, but the problems facing Iraq come more from the Iraqi militias, the former Saddam people and the dissatisfied Sunnis. And many from those groups are in the Iraqi security forces...
Al Qaeda is a big name, but they’re not much more than a small component of the stabilization problem.
Very positive developments. They wont stand a chance against US units, and I have a feeling many Iraqi units will give them a run for their money (with al-Quedas death knell being fast US air support.)
Although I do expect a large multi-city offensive (based around where-ever the MSM is hanging out) in a last ditch attempt to sway our public/political opinion. And I do expect the MSM to misreport it.
As to drawing down. Good signs, but I wouldn’t expect US troops to draw down rapidly as Iraqi units are fully online. That would be like taking the training wheels off the bike and then shoving your kid down a hill into traffic...
We’ll have a measured withdrawl of our forces. Although we’ll want to keep trainers, support, and special forces/quick reaction forces there. Plus air power and costal protection (not sure how the Iraqi navy is proceeding.)
But, practically speaking, Al Qaeda is just not a major part of the Iraqi insurgency.
That’s true, which is why I pointed out the possibility of stopping the Sunni portion of the insurgency is so important (and why progress in doing that being made by Talibani is so critical). That is the largest part of the insurgency. Get them out of the fight and AQ becomes a much easier problem to handle, especially with their now stated intention to fight more coventionally.
We get some real signs of improvements, so that a.hole Joe Biden get uppity and says we need to partition the country up into three pieces.
Just wait until more of the insurgency decides that the best way to get the Americans to leave is to go political. They say that success has many fathers, well you will come to believe that the Iraqi government was gang raped.
BTW, Micheael Fumento has been reporting from Ramadi lately where he has been embedded with patrolling troops (mixed Iraqi/American.)
Probably a good background read to why 100 insurgents got killed.
I heard an interview with him yesterday by Dennis Prager. Interesting stuff.
Also, do you think its possible to drain a significant amount of the pool of would be suicide bombers by simply giving them an outlet like Iraq?
Well, if you think about it, those who are recruited are told their effort is going to drive the "Crusaders" out of Iraq. And 3 years later, and after oodles of parts and bits of jihadi bombers have been distributed all over Iraq, those nasty old Crusaders are still there and just as feisty as ever.
Would you be inclined to buy into their pitch now?
I have read this blog for a long time. Time and again, this blog has ignored bad news out of Iraq, inflated good news, and declared we are making progress.
Over three years occupuying this country and 100 dead insurgents represents progress. I thought we weren’t doing body counts?
Meanwhile, of course, you ignore that Iranian forces are crossing the border into the country we occupy to kill Kurds, and that the Kurds are trying just as hard to kill them.
Worse, the LA Times reports today:
In Iraq, meanwhile, a meeting of the country’s most senior Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and Turkmen leaders from the northern city of Kirkuk offered a renewed demonstration of the simmering divisions among Iraqis.
Yalmaz Najar, leading the Turkmen group, said after the conference that Sistani had promised to defend the rights of Shiite Turkmens fighting with Kurds for political control of oil-rich Kirkuk.
There are various reports of Shiite militias moving north into Kirkuk. Sunni Arabs have a dog in this fight too. Of course, Turkey has all sorts of reasons to be concerned.
Like most wingers, you get hung up on Zarqawi and Al-Qadea and the relationship between the local Sunni community and foreign Sunni Arab fighters. Stuck in 2004, I guess. And the Iraqi army? Do you really believe that the Iraqi "army" wouldn’t disintergrate within two minutes if we left?
Meanwhile, the real danger is going on at a completely different level, and on a completely different order of magnitude. Forget civil war - - that would be a blessing. Think regional war.
But we killed 100 Sunnis. Thank god we have finally turned the corner.
Coda - From Riverbend - 5/1/06:
[In April of 2003], We immediately began hearing about the Iranian revolutionary guard, and how they had formed a militia of Iraqis who had defected to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. We heard how they were already inside of the country and were helping to loot and burn everything from governmental facilities to museums. The Hakims and Badr made their debut, followed by several other clerics with their personal guard and militias, all seeping in from Iran.
Today they rule the country. Over the duration of three years, and through the use of vicious militias, assassinations and abductions, they’ve managed to install themselves firmly in the Green Zone. We constantly hear our new puppets rant and rave against Syria, against Saudi Arabia, against Turkey, even against the country they have to thank for their rise to power- America… But no one dares to talk about the role Iran is planning in the country.
The last few days we’ve been hearing about Iranian attacks on northern Iraq- parts of Kurdistan that are on the Iranian border. Several sites were bombed and various news sources are reporting Iranian troops by the thousand standing ready at the Iraqi border. Prior to this, there has been talk of Iranian revolutionary guard infiltrating areas like Diyala and even parts of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the new puppets (simply a rotation of the same OLD puppets), after taking several months to finally decide who gets to play the role of prime minister, are now wrangling and wrestling over the ‘major’ ministries and which political party should receive what ministry. The reason behind this is that as soon as a minister is named from, say, SCIRI, that minister brings in ‘his people’ to key positions- his relatives, his friends and cronies, and most importantly- his personal militia. As soon as Al-Maliki was made prime minister, he announced that armed militias would be made a part of the Iraqi army (which can only mean the Badrists and Sadr’s goons).
A few days ago, we were watching one of several ceremonies they held after naming the new prime minister. Talbani stood in front of various politicians in a large room in the Green Zone and said, rather brazenly, that Iraq would not stand any ‘tadakhul’ or meddling by neighboring countries because Iraq was a ‘sovereign country free of foreign influence’. The cousin almost fainted from laughter and E. was wiping his eyes and gasping for air… as Talbani pompously made his statement- all big belly and grins- smiling back at him was a group of American army commanders or generals and to his left was Khalilzad, patting him fondly on the arm and gazing at him like a father looking at his first-born!
So while Iraqis are dying by the hundreds, with corpses turning up everywhere (last week they found a dead man in the open area in front of my cousins daughters school), the Iraqi puppets are taking their time trying to decide who gets to do the most stealing and in which ministry. Embezzlement, after all, is not to be taken lightly- one must give it the proper amount of thought and debate- even if the country is coming unhinged.
As for news of the new Iraqi army, it isn’t going as smoothly as Bush and his crew portray. Today we watched footage of Iraqi soldiers in Anbar graduating. The whole ceremony was quite ordinary up until nearly the end- their commander announced they would be deployed to various areas and suddenly it was chaos. The soldiers began stripping their fatigues and throwing them around, verbally attacking their seniors and yelling and shoving. They were promised, when they signed up for the army in their areas, that they would be deployed inside of their own areas- which does make sense. There is news that they are currently on strike- refusing to be deployed outside of their own provinces.
One can’t help but wonder if the ‘area’ they were supposed to be deployed to was the north of Iraq? Especially with Iranian troops on the border… Talbani announced a few days ago that the protection of Kurdistan was the responsibility of Iraq and I completely agree for a change- because Kurdistan IS a part of Iraq. Before he made this statement, it was always understood that only the Peshmerga would protect Kurdistan- apparently, against Iran, they aren’t nearly enough.