« Semi-Breaking, but Good News: Benghazi Edition | Main | Iraq/Afghanistan Diary - 19 June 2014 »

17 June 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Impressive. Nice piece of work.



It was from the heart. SWMBO wrote the parts on Islamic law and got no credit at all. Nobody will admit the effect this had;. pl

alba etie

Would it be possible that some kind of radical new governing federation of Iraq came out of this present chaos ? And could the remaining leadership of the Saddam Hussein government be part of that federal arrangement ? And equally the Kurds have their own state with the Iraqi Federation ? Wouldn't all the neighbors including the Iranians welcome a stable Iraq ?

different clue

If the emerging Sunni state turns out to be the ISIS state of the MSM's bleatings, then it would probably try attacking Jordan/KSA/Syria aGAIN/etc.
If the emerging Sunni state becomes a state of the aggrieved tribes, then who knows? Maybe if Iraqi Nationalist Shia groups like possibly Muqtadah al Sadr's and others inspired by Sistani's call can wipe out the Maliki regime and its personell, then such a Muqtadahstan and Kurdistan can work with Sunnistan to form an all-parts-equitably-treated Federation of Iraq.

If the emerging Sunni state becomes a Saddamist Baathistan 2.0, then it will try to reconquer Kurdistan and wage as many new genocides and expulsions against the Kurds as it possibly can. I imagine the Kurds are planning for that possibility by keeping their soldiers totally out of the fighting and held in reserve for defense . . . and by deepening bussiness ties with Turkey and maybe Iran as fast and hard as possible to gain two over-the-border patrons, and by assuring the Turkish and Iranian governments that they in no way seek any sort of soveriegn independence.

But I am just a layman, so these conditional guesses could be just as wrong as every other guess I have made about what will happen in the Arab world.


From the very outset of this latest Iraq mess, Col. Lang has been so far ahead of the curve. He was to my knowlege, the first to point out that ISIS does not have the skill set or manpower capacity to conduct the kind of military operations we have seen since January,when the original Fallujah takeover occurred. He identified the role of the Sufi sect, an avowed enemy of the Wahhabist ISIS elements, and singled out the role of the old, war-experienced Baathist officers and soldiers in the effort. I recall from much earlier postings that Col. Lang was an adviser to the Iraqi military during the latter phases of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and his current assessments are informed of a deep knowledge of the thinking processes of the key Iraqi commanders who are still around, although long ago purged from their country's military by the likes of Wolfowitz, Bremer, Cheney and Chalabi. I'd urge all participants in this blog to also go back and read or re-read "Drinking the Kool-Aid" and I would ask Col. Lang to conveniently repost it for those new to this site.

We have been engaged in the wrecking of an ancient civilization in the heart of the world's energy supply. This is beyond incompetence. The Obama Administration's zealous humanitarian interventionists are the liberals' answer to the Cheney neocons. There is far more continuity in incompetence and messianic fanaticism from Bush-Cheney to Obama than most would care to imagine, given the shallowness of our current political discourse.

What is noteworthy is that we in the United States have a number of experienced intelligence specialists, with an institutional memory that could inform our institutional decisions--but the White House and other policy-making centers are tone deaf and blind to those who can truly inform our decision-making process. We are fortunate that General Martin Dempsey is Chief of Staff and has been an obstacle to the zealots. Imagine where we'd be today if Obama had gone ahead with the orders to bomb Syria last September. I worry most about our blindness in the Ukraine situation, where we are not squared off against Middle East regimes but against Russia, but are showing the same kind of one-size-fits-all "democracy cures all ills" madness.


Unbelievable. Supposed liberal Anne-Marie Slaughter calling for bombing Syria to take out Assad again. As if the regional conflict isn't big enough. Her name fits her. And the NYTimes gives her a big megaphone to do it.


thank you for making study available...looking forward to reading it



Apparently the White House can't understand what is actually happening and needs (again) to have someone explain it to them. I suggest they start out with "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, ....." then attach the emir's comments.

Thank you for the links. It is another opportunity to learn for those willing to put in the effort.


Juan Cole has a well reasoned summary of the Sunni situation on his site. http://www.juancole.com/2014/06/iraqs-sunni-arabs.html

Could it be that Obama's inaction and restraint might be a foretaste of a policy that might result in a tripartite division of Iraq instead of the senseless support of the Shiites suppression of the Sunnis? Perhaps he is waiting for the establishment of some sort of natural border stasis between the two groups? Regardless of what the US does, eventually, sooner or later, the Sunnis must get some sort of self-determined home rule or their radicalization will continue indefinitely. It is probably better to reach an accommodation sooner than later. The world does not need a second festering sore like the Israeli-Palestinian quagmire to run on indefinitely.

Of course the blabbering media and the neo-cons will fight this to further their position locally in the US at the expense of everyone else in the world at a great cost in live to be extinguished.


Good analysis: Iran believes ISIS stems out of America's support for the Takfiri, has exasperated disgust; American news reports of Iran sending an army to Iraq / coordinating with America, appear to be disinformation; nonetheless Iran is open to intelligent discussion from any side. Compilation of high-level quotes.



Maliki's power base seems more resilient than expected. Is there any chance of him getting booted any time soon? Who/what would replace him?

What is the Iranian's game in the region? Do they fully support Maliki and the anti-Sunni camp, or would they prefer a more inclusive (and stable!) government?

Alison McGandy

Col., Ideologues were always ready to step in to write on Islamic law when materialists I have known pooh poohed it's importance. Do you detect a right wing angle in the Islamic law section?


Alison McGandy. No. it seems to me now as it did then to be a straightforward statement of the facts. My wife, a considerable Islamic scholar drafted much of the section you refer to even though she is not listed among the authors. This was an injustice. You would have to point out to me what you are talking about. pl

Alison McGandy

Oh, I thought you referred to someone far less reputable! I beg your pardon and thank her for such a major contribution.


Alison McGandy

there was no one on the writing team who had any particular political bias either domestically or in foreign studies. The book was written as a manual for DoD use in planning the then ongoing campaign. It served that purpose. The study views Islam as a politico/religious system, not as a vessel for revealed truth. It is not written from the point of view of a believer nor should it have been. pl



Given Anne-Marie Slaughter's track record of victorious leadership in war we should of course immediately do what she suggests.


PL, while reviewing the Table of Contents of the report I thought that "Appendix One: Understand How To Live And Work With Tribesmen" looked the most interesting place to start reading. Realized at the end that you had written that part, and found I was not at all surprised by that. I was very impressed that you placed so much importance on treating tribesmen with respect because I have long felt that treating others with respect is the basic currency of relations with others. One of the aspects of this blog that I really appreciate is that through your moderation of comments you make a strong effort to ensure that commenters treat each other and you and the topic at hand with respect. Sadly, respect for others seems to be at an all time low in the US gov't foreign policy groupthink. Instead we are stuck with an arrogant imperial foreign policy in which the US is basically the biggest bully on the planet... there is no longer has any sense of noblesse oblige.



"We have been engaged in the wrecking of an ancient civilization in the heart of the world's energy supply."

With respect Harper, this is not incompetence, it is the desired outcome for Israel. They will stop at nothing to undermine, destabilise and destroy any Islamic state that threatens to provide a stable investment climate for Western funds as Syria and Lebanon has threatened to do more than once.

Once the West becomes considerably invested in the economies of middle eastern countries like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, then the Israel project has run out of time because those countries will then have enough international political clout to insist on a settlement of the Palestinian problem.

Then of course there is the geopolitical motive. America consumes a huge percentage of the planets natural resources: "With less than 5 percent of world population, the U.S. uses one-third of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 23 percent of the coal, 27 percent of the aluminum, and 19 percent of the copper,” he reports. “Our per capita use of energy, metals, minerals, forest products, fish, grains, meat, and even fresh water dwarfs that of people living in the developing world"


It appears to be clear that the destruction and destabilisation of Third world countries and or course their economies, postpones the day when their populations can compete with American consumers for scarce resources. We somehow think that this is to our advantage.

To put that another way, do we wish to buy our energy and minerals from intelligent politically and commercially savvy countries who are aware of its scarcity value, the future needs of their own populatons and thus wring every cent and political concession out of their customers? ...Or do we prefer to buy from corrupt, lazy and self centred Oligarchs who care for no one but themselves?


Fred, please consider the possibility that the Whitehouse does understand exactly what it is doing and that chaos in the Middle East and Ukraine is what it desires.



i understand that possibility quite clearly.


First Egypt, then Ukraine, and now another democratically elected president being dumped by the US establishment for being "inconvenient." It will be interesting to see what Maliki’s response will be.

UPDATE 5-In Washington, growing chorus calls for Iraq's Maliki to go http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/06/18/iraq-security-usa-idUKL2N0OZ1L020140618


Did anyone see the treatment Gen Dempsey received from Lindsey Graham in yesterday's committee hearing? Disgraceful. I wish Dempsey would have been unleashed but he had to play nice.



So, the old lady from South Carolina had a hissy fit? My. My. I suppose Dempsey told her that the armed forces lack the means with which to target air attacks in Iraq? Yes? Well he was correct. The only real possibility would be soldiers on the ground using laser designation. That would be fun! Imagine standing on some dusty plain doing this while surrounded by Iraqi Army "soldiers" who have a record of running from contact with the enemy. But, a USAFR JAG colonel would know best. pl

different clue

I had thought that Alawi's Iraqia list got the single biggest parliamentary plurality but Maliki finagled a countercoalition to become Prime Minister with. My memory may be wrong on multiple counts.

Still, it becomes up to Maliki's opponents to dispose of the Malikists if they can.


different clue

Honestly I couldn't remember exactly how Maliki became prime minister, except for the fact that he was "chosen" with "input" from the US to be the face of democracy in Iraq. I probably should have put the phrase 'democratically elected' in quotes too.

You inspired me to refresh my memory of how Maliki came to power. Here's a link to his wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouri_al-Maliki (note: IMO, all wiki pages on politicians are especially suspect, so further sources should be checked to confirm).

With that disclaimer, I found this interesting...

In the December 2005 parliamentary elections, the United Iraqi Alliance won the plurality of seats, and nominated Ibrahim al-Jaafari to be Iraq's first full-term post-war prime minister. In April 2006, amid mounting criticism of ineffective leadership and favoritism by Kurdish and Sunni Arab politicians in parliament, al-Jaafari was forced from power. On 22 April 2006, following close U.S. involvement in the selection of a new prime minister, al-Maliki's name arose from the four that had been interviewed by the CIA on their connections to Iran (the others being Hussein al-Shahristani, Ali al-Adeeb, and one other).[citation needed] United States Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said that "[Maliki's] reputation is as someone who is independent of Iran." Khalilzad also maintained that Iran "pressured everyone for Jaafari to stay".[8] More recently, however, it has been claimed that al-Maliki was the preferred candidate of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, and that it was Soleimani who brokered the deal between senior Shiite and Kurdish leaders that lead to his election as Prime Minister.[9]

Some background on Maliki,also from his Wikipedia page:

On 16 July 1979, al-Maliki fled Iraq after he was discovered to be a member of the outlawed Islamic Dawa Party. According to a brief biography on the Islamic Dawa Party's website, he left Iraq via Jordan in October, and soon moved to Syria, adopting the pseudonym "Jawad". He left Syria for Iran in 1982, where he lived in Tehran until 1990, before returning to Damascus where he remained until U.S. coalition forces invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam's regime in 2003.[5] While living in Syria, he worked as a political officer for Dawa, developing close ties with Hezbollah and particularly with Iran, supporting that country's effort to topple Saddam's regime.[6]

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad