Monday, December 17, 2007

Turkey keeps bombing Iraq

Iraq strongly condemned Monday Turkish air strikes on Kurdish rebel bases in its northern territory, branding them a "cruel attack" on Iraqi sovereignty that claimed innocent lives.
so, how much closer to a free, peaceful and independent Iraq have we gotten lately?

ps: sorry for the latest lack of post. i was slightly busy, commenting on some CO2 issues. but it looks like i will return home soon :)

immunity for spying?

telecommunications companies won a skirmish in the Senate on Monday as a bill to protect them from lawsuits for cooperating with the Bush administration’s eavesdropping programs easily overcame a procedural hurdle.
By 76 to 10, with Democrats divided, the Senate voted to advance the bill for consideration. A measure to block it, which was led by Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut fell short, as those who wanted the bill to reach the floor got 16 votes more than the 60 needed to achieve that goal.
america, where are you going to?

where are the democtrats?

this is insanity!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

on torture

TPM has a very good post on torture and the problems waterboarding is giving Michael Mukasey.

in short: if he says, that waterboarding is torture (well, it obviously is!) those who used the technique in the past could be prosecuted.

, but the key to his rationale appears to be his expressed fear that the attorney general's public acknowledgment that waterboarding is torture would place interrogators in "personal legal jeopardy."
well, they obviously SHOULD be prosecuted. but that seems to be beside the point.

the current US administartion has gotten involved in a huge number of criminal affairs. at this time, it looks like they are concentrating on covering their backs..

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Big Oil ignores Pentagon lies

on the day that the US military starts declaring al-qaeda destroied or cripped, the oil price reaches some high point due to fear of a turkish incursion.

looks like those economic analysists undersatnd, that al-qaeda is not the most important force in the Iraq debacle?

and that US victory declarations are not worth the paper that they are printed on.

Friday, October 12, 2007

absurde claim by heritage

the heritage foundation is lauding the faked petraeus numbers with an absurd claim:

When the media covered the Petraeus-Crocker hearings, they missed one really big story: With about 160,000 combat troops, Gen. Petraeus managed to stem the rising tide of violence in Iraq. That is a statistic worth noting because, according to the “experts,” it couldn’t be done.

instead of noting the faked numbers or at least noting, that a reduction to the 2006 deathtoll numbers is NOT good, they get everything completely wrong

Monday, October 8, 2007

Petraeus fishy numbers

via talking points, a NYTimes article is looking back at the numbers:

Stephen Biddle, a scholar at the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations, said Petraeus's December number was "very high" but was likely the result of "statistical noise" — the tendency of Iraq numbers to jump all over the place. Biddle was an adviser to Petraeus last spring but believes the general's testimony was "potentially misleading" because it didn't discuss all the reasons why the numbers might have improved.
the times of course is not fully evaluating their sources:

Biddle was challenged by Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a former top Defense Department official in the Reagan administration. Korb said there has been no decrease in violence in Iraq. He noted that August's death toll was higher than July's and pointed to several reports, including a Government Accountability Office study that found no decrease in violence through July. Finally, Korb cited little-reported numbers released by the Pentagon a week after Petraeus testified, which Korb said showed an increase in civilian casualties since the surge began.
and this claim is MORE than fishy:

Petraeus came up with his "over 45 percent" decline by comparing December 2006 and this past August. The December number, in particular, stands out as questionable. For almost all of 2006, the U.S. military count of civilian deaths ran lower than Iraq Body Count's numbers. But the Petraeus number for December, the starting point for measuring the impact of the surge, suddenly leaped 12 percent above the group's, before plunging back well below it.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Kurds trying to sell their oil

it looks like the Kurds are trying to make deals without asking the Baghdad government:

Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has signed new oil deals in defiance of Baghdad's wishes but the landlocked region still needs central government approval before it can export any oil.
their biggest problem is, that the only way to get rid of their oil is via turkey, and the Turks do not want to strengthen the Kurds...

Monday, October 1, 2007

blackwater reports itself

yes, blackwater wrote the report investigating blackwater:

A Blackwater contractor wrote an initial U.S. government report about how his colleagues killed Iraqi civilians in a September shooting that strained U.S.-Iraqi relations, government and industry sources told CNN.
if it was not the truth, you could not believe it.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Petareus changes the truth again!

nice piece in the LAtimes:

"Certainly Al Qaeda has had its Ramadan surge," Petraeus said in his first comments to reporters since he returned from Washington to give lawmakers a status report on the war in Iraq. But he said the level of attacks was "substantially lower" than during the same period last year.
a comparison to the last month would make the current situation look bad. a comparison to last december (the most favourite months for comparisons lately) does obviousely make little sense.

so he start comparing to last year. this would have looked bad in every month till now. bizarre.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

blackwater again.

it looks like blackwater will stay in business, even though the iraqis claim to have video proof of unprovocted firing.

"If we expel this company immediately there will be a security vacuum that will demand pulling some troops off the battlefield," Tahseen Sheikhly, a civilian spokesman for the seven-month-old offensive against militants in Baghdad and surrounding areas. "This will create a security imbalance in securing Baghdad."
the explanation given, of course is a lie again, and a bad one.

how can the departure of 1000 men leave a security vacuum, in Iraq, which as we ve been told has trained 100000 of soldiers up to a lvel, that allows them to be "in the lead"?!?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


two lines from USAToday, that tell it all:

Al-Maliki said the shootings had generated such "widespread anger and hatred" that it would be "in everyone's interest if the embassy used another company while the company is suspended."

Maliki surely is the leader of a sovereign country.

dear blackwater, please shot only little, while you are prohibited to shoot...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

General Petreus betrayed us!

it is official now. the quaterly pentagon report on Iraq contradicts the petreus numbers.

Ilan Goldenberg did the numbers:

According to the MNC-I data there has been no improvement since either December (The numbers Petraeus and the Administration often cite) or February (when the surge actually began). Why wasn’t Congress shown these numbers in the presentation by General Petraeus? Why only the good news numbers? Why the lack of clarity on Petraeus’s sourcing? Especially since he himself acknowledged that the best numbers come from the MNC-I database.

In terms of actual anomalies

Anomaly A: Somehow in December, the month that is always cited by the Pentagon and the Administration, Petraeus’s Iraqi dead is actually greater than the MNC-I Iraqi Dead + Wounded. That makes absolutely no sense. You can’t have more dead than dead and wounded combined.

Anomaly B: In the months after the surge begins Petraeus’s Iraqi dead numbers are significantly lower than the dead + wounded numbers in the Pentagon report. This is inconsistent with the entire history of the previous year, where the numbers track closely. The only explanation would be a dramatic increase in the wounded to dead ratio. Perhaps there were more car bombings that injured people but didn’t kill them, as opposed to close range executions where victims do not survive. Or maybe there is another explanation. Still it seems inconsistent to see this major split just as the surge begins..

Petraeus had the numbers right, if you accept the facts that we had -600 wounded in Iraq in dezember.

now tell me, how will you call it,
if somebody uses "special numbers" for a presentation, that contradict the "real" or usual numbers?!? BETRAYEL seems to be the fitting word to use.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Iraqi army assessment

via Juan Cole, an interesting link to the Boston Globe:

The number of Iraqi Army and police battalions considered ready to conduct combat operations without help from the United States has declined from 15 at the beginning of the year to 12 this month, according to data that Petraeus provided to Congress last week.

Though the general was on Capitol Hill as part of two days of intense, high-profile hearings on the progress of the war, the readiness of Iraqi troops received scant attention from Petraeus or lawmakers.

At the same time, Pentagon assessments show that the number of Iraqi battalions considered "not ready" increased from 13 in November 2006 to 43 this past summer.

together with the advice to disband the iraqi national police and many hints from the GAO report, that iarqi units did not show up in baghdad at full strength as claimed before, we get a good assessment of the iarqi army: HORRIBLE.

yes, law makers missed this. sigh.

Monday, September 10, 2007

the Petraeus report

you can get the report here.

most obvious problems: displacement and refugees are only mentioned in the context of a US withdrawal. looks like it doesn t exist at this moment.

and his slides there.

everything is wrong with those slides. but just check slide two, showing what countries foreign fighters come from. not from saudi arabia, it seems.
yet the majority of capture foreigners is saudi. weird, eh? (cudos to some comment on TPM)

TPM has some nice video about the slides here.

Petraeus' information appears to measure attacks week by week. He didn't give comparisons to overall attacks in 2006, but opted instead to measure from discrete points in 2006: December for measures of overall violence; June 2006 for IED violence; October 2006 for attacks in Anbar province.
"look, if we start at the highest point, there is a DOWNWARD trend. fascinating!"

and (via Juan Cole) some REAL numbers from Iraq.

main media reaction? "general predicts troop reduction next year"

nice. exactly, when the troop level cannot be supported anylonger anyway. pretty convenient!

and here is a link to the Crocker Testimony.

well, he at least mentions displacements. in passing..

this was a very interesting part of his testimony:
"I cannot guarantee success in Iraq," Crocker said. "I do believe . . . that it is attainable. I am certain that abandoning or drastically curtailing our efforts will bring failure."
sounds like he is covering his ass, to me..

Petraeus report: exactly what i predicted!

look at what i said about it one month ago:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

the september report, my predictions!

for a long time now, i wanted to write about my expectations for the september report by General Petraeus. unfortunetly, most of my predictions are already becoming true:

1. the report will highlight military success.
and there even was some, much less than expected (and necessary!), though. the number of civilians killed might be slightly down. number of attacks is similar or higher than before. violence seems mostly to have been shifted, not removed.

but the real problem with this aspect is: we sent in an additional 30000 US troops. that is nearly a 25% increase! of course this would have an effect. looking at some numbers it becomes obvious, that we need at least another 60000 to get violence in Iraq to an "acceptable" level.

2. the report will claim some political progress
the US will try to force iraqis to at least attempt a vote on one of the laws. (oil, most likely)
the political process unfortunetly has become much worse lately. so this a forced law will lead to another debacle, like the constitution did.

3. the Anbar progress will take ahuge place in the report.
as i wrote before, i don t believe that forming militias is progress.

4. future action: slowly remove troops.
Bush and Co will have to face reality. a majority of americans (and of US MPs of both parties) wants troop numbers reduced. the reduction of course will not come in real action, but mostly in promises. a tiny short term reduction. a bigger reduction next year (when keeping this force level up will become difficult for the US military anyway) and prospect of a huge reduction AFTER the elections.

5. don t expect any hard numbers!
oil production? electricity delivered? numbers of attacks, violence death? the report will contain pretty little of this. and those that get in, will be carefully chosen.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

progress in Iraq?

Kansascity has a repor on the iraq progress:

When President Bush announced in January a “new way forward” in Iraq, he said that Iraqi and American troops would improve security while the Iraqi government improved services.

Responsibility for security in most of Iraq would be turned over to Iraqi security forces by November, he said.

With better security would come the breathing room needed for political reconciliation, Bush said.

With less than a week to go before the White House delivers a congressionally mandated report on that plan, none of this has happened.

i am very curious: what will sunday news do on the report tomorrow?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

the press and the number game

look at these two articles about civilian casualties.

first, NYtimes:

Still, the trend is similar: both the American and the Iraqi reports note a roughly 50 percent drop in the number of civilians who have been killed since the end of 2006. According to Iraqi government data, the number of civilians nationwide who died as a result of violent causes dropped to about 2,000 in August from about 4,000 in December 2006. American military statistics shows that the number of civilian deaths declined to 1,582 in August from 2,989 in December.
then we have the Boston Globe:

In March, the Pentagon's quarterly report estimated that there were about 1,300 sectarian slayings across Iraq in December 2006, when the sectarian violence was at its peak. But in its June report, the Pentagon revised the December 2006 death toll to more than 1,600. That change makes the decline to about 600 in April - after the surge began - even more dramatic.
so it looks like the pentagon simply keeps "UP-dating" it s old numbers. and makes new numbers look better by doing so.


Kaplan has written some piece on who disbanded the iraqi army. looks like Cheney did. funny, eh?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

more on the GAO report

the CSMonitor has a niece piece on the GAO report:

it includes critisism by o'hanlon:

The GAO's data may not reflect the downward trend experienced last month, says Mr. O'Hanlon. During his recent tour through Iraq, he adds, every local briefing he received from the US military said that attacks in that particular sector were down.
just remember, last month saw the WORST attack in iraq, EVER since the start of the war!
btw, this article on realclear politics claims, that if only you ignore those 520 dead Yazidis, august wasn t that bad a month..

but O'hanlon goes on, to make another point:

In addition, for the GAO to decline to judge whether attacks are sectarian or not is to take an overly rigorous approach to the numbers, says the Brookings expert.

"I just think they were flat-out sloppy," he says of GAO.

nice. so he clearly knows the motivs, of people killing people in Iraq?
i at least know the motivs of the US military. they will again label those 520 dead Yazidis to be NOT killed by sectarian violence.

In another discrepancy between the GAO and the administration, the GAO judges Iraq's commitment to field three government brigades in Baghdad as only "partially met," while the administration marked it as "satisfactory."

The difference? The GAO cites its concerns about the training and readiness of those Iraqi troops – and whether they are truly a deployed force. Just 65 percent of Iraqi personnel are deployed in the field at any one time, for instance, says its report.

so GAO thinks, that 65% "brigades aren t really brigades. it tend to agree. it s rather interesting to notice, how the pentagon changed it s numbers again. they insist those units arrived in Baghdad at 71%. but before the claim was, that after an initial problem with very low numbers, battalions arrived ready to act.
and remember, we are talking about battalions brought to 110% strength, before the move.
this would lead to the conclusion, that EVEN MORE soldiers stayed at home!


Kagan, who brought up the original plan for the surge, has some problems with the report as well. of course his arguments don t make any sense at all. sigh.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

GAO report. most benchmarks missed

take a look at the report here.

and TPM has a good video about the numbers game on iraqi casualties:

i m looking forward to see, how they will spin this next week...

Iraq Parliament back to work - at half strength..

iraqs parliament is back from august recess.

Parliament reconvened with 164 members and adjourned after about 90 minutes after lawmakers asked for time to read 10 bills that had been presented for their consideration, member of parliament Hussein al-Falluji told Reuters.

The 10 bills did not include any of the benchmark laws.

only slightly more than half of the lawmakers (total of 275) was present, pretty standard numbers for iraqi parliament in important meetings.

the lawmakers are under immense pressure by the US, to start passing benchmark laws.

Bush said he took Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki aside at one stage and told him: "'You're my friend and ... you've made progress in your recent meetings and now's the time to get these laws passed. You've got hard work to do.' And you know what? He understands that."
Maliki claims that he has submitted a debathification law to parliament, we ll see.

time is running out, but the US government will do whatever they can, to make at least one law happen or at least put on an agenda.

good or bad law? doesn t matter!

Friday, August 31, 2007

US senator speaks nonsense

a plane with senators was shot at, while leaving Iraq:

Sen. James M. Inhofe says terrorists' attempt to shoot down the C-130 military transport plane carrying him and other lawmakers in Iraq demonstrated the progress of the U.S. military campaign.

"Al Qaeda's unsuccessful attempt to shoot down this C-130 aircraft was a futile effort to influence its losing fight in Iraq, and served to underscore the reality that terrorism is still a threat and that there is still work to be done," the Oklahoma Republican said. "The crew’s impeccable training and flawless performance ensured the safety of the aircraft and all personnel on board."

so, being shot at, is a sign of progress these days...

on Deltoid meanwhile Robert Chang exposed David Kane, who wrote a piece about the Lancet study on iraqi mortality. it turns out, that he doesn t know how to do the basic calculations...

David, once again, you have shown that you are eager, determined, self-confident, clueless, misguided, and incompetent. Your entire argument is built on: "I can't figure it out, so no one can; since no one can figure it out, why bother asking anyone else?" David, you're spanked. You're drubbed, whupped, and schooled. You deserve all of it. You need to read this.

One more thing: "Michael Fumento! Michelle Malkin! Tim Curtin! Shannon Love! Can you hear me? Your boy took a hell of a beating! Your boy just took one hell of a beating!"

Kanes Paper found plenty of response among right wing bloggers. will they correct this error?

Corruption is norm in Iraq

this report is devestating. please take a look at individual entries!

But according to the working draft of a secret document prepared by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the Maliki government has failed in one significant area: corruption. Maliki's government is "not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anticorruption laws," the report says, and, perhaps worse, the report notes that Maliki's office has impeded investigations of fraud and crime within the government.
again i wonder, how will this look in the september report?
"some progress has been made in fighting corruption, but there s more work to be done?!?"

look at this part:

The Ministry of the Interior, which has been a stronghold of Shia militias, stands out in the report. The study's authors say that "groups within MOI function similarly to a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) in the classic sense. MOI is a 'legal enterprise' which has been co-opted by organized criminals who act through the 'legal enterprise' to commit crimes such as kidnapping, extortion, bribery, etc." This is like saying the mob is running the police department. The report notes, "currently 426 investigations are hung up awaiting responses for documents belonging to MOI which routinely are ignored." It cites an episode during which a CPI officer discovered two eyewitnesses to the October 2006 murder of Amer al-Hashima, the brother of the vice president, but the CPI investigator would not identify the eyewitnesses to the Minister of the Interior out of fear he and they would be assassinated. (It seemed that the killers were linked to the Interior Ministry.) The report adds, "CPI investigators assigned to MOI investigations have unanimously expressed their fear of being assassinated should they aggressively pursue their duties at MOI. Thus when the head of MOI intelligence recently personally visited the Commissioner of CPI…to end investigations of [an] MOI contract, there was a clear sense of concern within the agency."
or this:

Over at the Defense Ministry, the report notes, there has been a "shocking lack of concern" about the apparent theft of $850 million from the Iraqi military's procurement budget. "In some cases," the report says, "American advisors working for US [Department of Defense] have interceded to remove [Iraqi] suspects from investigations or custody." Of 455 corruption investigations at the Defense Ministry, only 15 have reached the trial stage. A mere four investigators are assigned to investigating corruption in the department. And at the Ministry of Trade, "criminal gangs" divide the spoils, with one handling grain theft, another stealing transportation assets.
no surprise, after this:

Part of the problem, according to the report, is Maliki's office: "The Prime Minister's Office has demonstrated an open hostility" to independent corruption investigations. His government has withheld resources from the CPI, the report says, and "there have been a number of identified cases where government and political pressure has been applied to change the outcome of investigations and prosecutions in favor of members of the Shia Alliance"-which includes Maliki's Dawa party.

more Iraq developments, needing Petraeus spin

looks like the the Cholera is spreading out in northern Iraq.

Lack of clean drinking water and poor sanitation has led to 5,000 people in northern Iraq contracting cholera.

The outbreak is among the most serious signs yet that Iraqi health and social services are breaking down as the number of those living in camps and poor housing increases after people flee their homes.

"The disease is spreading very fast," Dr Juan Abdallah, a senior official in Kurdistan's health ministry, told a UN agency. "It is the first outbreak of its kind here in the past few decades."

what sort of an improvement brings back such an illness? how much more improvement, before we reintroduce the pest again?

as a sideeffect, the number of refugees is rising as well:

The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has risen from 50,000 to 60,000 a month, the UN High Commission for Refugees reported earlier this week.

IHT has a good piece about the fighting between shii factions:

Rivalries and violence between Shiite factions are threatening to overshadow progress U.S. forces have made against al-Qaida in Iraq and other extremists just weeks before the top American commander and diplomat in Iraq report to Congress.

a main problem is, that the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq and it s Badr militias are dominating the police forces in certain areas. unfortunetely we are following this recipe to desaster in sunni areas now as well.

the article has this outstanding description on Sadr as well:

In many ways, the Sadrists are leading a social revolution," said Joost Hiltermann, Middle East director of the International Crisis Group, a respected research agency based in Brussels, Belgium.

"It is a struggle against the traditional political class and the wealthy merchants of the Shiite shrine cities who support the Council," Hiltermann said"

Thursday, August 30, 2007

casualty numbers???

some people ask questions, about the "lower casualty numbers":

* "The average number of daily attacks against civilians remained about the same over the last six months" states a draft version of the Government Accountability Office provided to the Washington Post. [Washington Post, 8/30/07 ]

* The Associated Press has reported that sectarian violence has actually doubled in 2007 [AP, 8/26/07 ]

* Iraqi government has refused to report civilian death toll numbers to the United Nations agency responsible for collecting this information since January. This means more than 8 months of civilian deaths have gone unreported by an outside observer.

* The Iraq Study Group confirmed that in the past U.S. military officials routinely underreported civilian death. [McClatchy, 12/06/06 ]

* Disparities in death tolls reported by the government and eyewitness accounts cause some to charge that the government is intentionally downplaying or trying to cover up the number of dead. [Christian Science Monitor, 8/03/07 ]

* U.S. officials have claimed that death tolls have diminished in Baghdad, but have failed to provide documentation to the media that would support this assertion. [McClatchy, 8/15/07 ]

i fear we wont get answers, though...

GAO report finds little progress in Iraq

the WaPo got aversion of the GAO report to congress, BEFORE it went via the department of defense filter.

the results are devestating:

Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.
"While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced," it states. While there have been fewer attacks against U.S. forces, it notes, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged. It also finds that "the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved." "Overall," the report concludes, "key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds," as promised.
no surprise, to anyone who s following the news.

meanwhile shia on shia violence made 1 mio pilgrims ordered out of karbala.

and there is a cholera outbreak in northern iraq.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Iraq deathtoll higher than 2006

the AP did a count:

The findings:

Iraq is suffering about double the war-related deaths countrywide compared with last year - an average daily toll of 62 so far this year, as against 33 in 2006.

Nearly 1,000 more people have been killed in violence across Iraq in the first eight months of this year than in all of 2006. So far this year, about 14,800 people have died in war-related attacks and sectarian murders. AP reporting accounted for 13,811 deaths in 2006. The UN and other sources placed the 2006 toll far higher.
i wonder how Petraeus is going to spin this numbers in his september report..

new UNITY seems to be a photo event:

this week there seemed to be movement in iraqi political benchmarks, finally:

Iraqi Shia, Sunni and Kurdish leaders have signed a reconciliation deal, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki says.
but it looks like this was more of an photo operation:

Mr Alayan said Mr Hashemi had joined the other four leaders in announcing the latest political move in his capacity as a "vice-president and not as leader of the Front".

Even Omar Abdul Sattar, a leader of Mr Hashemi's Iraqi Islamic Party, dismissed the agreement as stage-managed.

"It was an irrelevant media production," he said.

we will see, whether Bush will manage to at least strong arm the oil law through iraqi parliament...

NIE report

sorry for my long absence, i was busy doing some renovation work.

lot s of things happened, but i have only time for a small update:

the NIE report is out:

We assess, to the extent that Coalition forces continue to conduct robust counterinsurgency operations and mentor and support the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), that Iraq's security will continue to improve modestly during the next six to 12 months but that levels of insurgent and sectarian violence will remain high and the Iraqi Government will continue to struggle to achieve national-level political reconciliation and improved governance. Broadly accepted political compromises required for sustained security, long-term political progress, and economic development are unlikely to emerge unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments.
i agree with the majority of what it says. but you still have to consider who wrote it.
most of the assessments are optimistic, so that they don t damage the administration. but they keep the report full of warnings, to safeguard themselfes against another 9/11 debacle.


in other news, the Brits are leaving Basra:

Shiite militiamen from the Mahdi Army took over the police joint command center in Basra on Sunday after British soldiers withdrew from the facility and handed control to the Iraqi police, witnesses said.
the Brits are disputing, that their base was plundered by al-Sadr again, but i wouldn t be suprised if they did.


well, with most senior officials gone at justice, the last one migfht as well turn the lights of..

Sunday, August 19, 2007

US training falling apart

some days ago, i wrote this:

15 months at war, 12 months at home. in those 12 months, you have to spend your holiday, and all training courses to further your career. and the unit needs to bring their equipment and training on a high level again. sounds impossible? it is!

well, unfortunetely i just got confirmation about how right i was:

The US Army, struggling to cope with stepped-up operations and extended deployments of its soldiers to Iraq, has shortened the duration of several of its bedrock training courses so that troops can return to fighting units on the front lines more quickly, according to senior training officials.

One training course that is considered the "first step" in educating newly minted sergeants -- the noncommissioned officers considered the backbone of Army units -- has been cut in half to 15 days. Meanwhile, an intensive program designed to prepare young officers for advanced leadership has been compressed from eight months to less than five months so that the Army can fill positions in constant demand from commanders in the Middle East.

12 month at home, about 2 of them being used up by long deserved holidays. (2 years of holidays, crowded into one..)
then all the material needs to be checked in again, and checked out for next deployment. this alone would be a task, that could keep a unit busy for 12 months. but instead most leadership will be absent during the majority of this time, training for their next job position.

How Bush will manipulate the September Report

i was awake too long again last night, reading news. i m rather troubled by latest news. i m pretty sure, that Bush has (for once!!!) a plan for Iraq. or better to say, for his own position in Washington.

as i predicted earlier, Bush will try to claim success, in the september report by Petraeus. most of this will not be based on facts, but there is only ONE decisive point among those: political progress.

Bush needs to pass a law (ahm, make iraqis do that, that is..), to claim success. he s aiming for the oil law. and i m rather sure now, that he will achieve this. there are several indicators about this plan:

1. new iraq coalition
a new coalition, made up of Shiis and Kurds. both groups favor strong regions and an oil law, favoring those who produce the oil.
this coalition will not oppose the law and has enough votes to pass it.

2. bring in some sunnis
to give some "democratic touch" to the whole affair, Bush (ahm Maliki) is trying to bring in some sunnis.
the model for this part, is the "iraq islamic party" scam on the referendum:

The IIP led a large-scale public campaign urging Iraqis (especially the Sunnis) to vote against the constitution referendum in 2005. However, two days before the referendum took place, the IIP announced its support for a "yes" vote, following a deal with the members of the Iraqi Transitional Government whereby the newly elected Iraqi National Assembly would consider amendments to the constitution in 2006. [2]

Bush does not care about opposition on the oil law, some of it even coming from the Author of it!

pushing the oil law will most likely lead to a collapse of the Anbar progress. (unless Bush manages to buy of quite a lot of local leaders, like with the IIP.)
so the timeline needs to look like this: the law needs to be accepted short before the Petraeus report and must contain some vague proposal to future amendments. (as the constitution did)

this move will be enough to cover the complete failure of the surge all over Iraq, from baghdad
to Basra neither one of these towns is in control of Coalition forces at this moment.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Petraeus Report update

some more information on the report:

a majority of americans seems to have some doubts about the report:

But according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Thursday, 53 percent of people polled said they suspect that the military assessment of the situation will try to make it sound better than it actually is. Forty-three percent said they do trust the report.
Crocker wants to put a lot of Iran into the Iraq report:

U.S. envoy says Iraq report will sound warning on Iran

pretty bizarre, while we re still counting deads in the terrible village bombing in the north. 200? 250? 400? or even over 500?
if Iran was a major concern, the "surge" should have moved troops onto the iranian border. that did not happen. instead, the troops moved into mainly sunni territory. sometimes i wished, the US ambassador to the country, could tell sunnis and shiis apart..

meanwhile warnings are leaked about a "mixed picture" in the report. bizarre.

AG Gonzales - off topic

this is the most comprehensive sum up, of what s (recently) been wrong with the US AG:

Potential misleading statements that you may wish to examine include, but are not limited to the following instances:

1. Attorney General Gonzales testified on July 24, 2007, that the “Gang of Eight,” consisting of members of Congress, told him that “despite the recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General,” who as Acting Attorney General had found a warrantless surveillance program to be without legal basis, the government should “go forward with these very important intelligence activities.” According to press accounts, at least three members of Congress who were present for the described meeting dispute the testimony that they recommended proceeding with the program over the Acting Attorney General’s objections.

2. Attorney General Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 6, 2006, that neither former Deputy Attorney General James Comey nor other officials had concerns about the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) that was confirmed by the President. In a June 5, 2007, press conference, Attorney General Gonzales stated that a dispute with Mr. Comey concerned this very program, though he later retracted that statement. At his July 24 hearing, Attorney General Gonzales said that there was no dissent about the TSP, and that the disagreement concerned “other intelligence activities.” Numerous officials, including members of the “Gang of Eight” and FBI Director Robert Mueller have indicated that the disputes did concern the TSP, and that there was only one program. Attorney General Gonzales in an August 1, 2007, letter to me set out a legalistic explanation stating that the disputed activities and the TSP were separate components of a single program.

3. Attorney General Gonzales said in April 27, 2005, testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence with regard to National Security Letters (NSLs) and other information-gathering techniques that statutory civil liberties safeguards had been effective and that “[t]here has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse.” Similarly, his responses to written questions following his April 19, 2007, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing indicated that he had not learned of problems with NSLs prior to your March 2007 report on the issue. Documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit indicated that the Attorney General had in fact received numerous reports in 2005 and 2006 of violations in connection with NSLs and other surveillance tools. The Attorney General in his July 24 testimony suggested that his prior testimony and answers were premised on the fact that he was not aware of any “intentional” violations. The Washington Post has reported that at least one intentional violation was reported in the relevant time period.

4. In March press appearances, Attorney General Gonzales said that he had not been involved in deliberations as to which United States Attorneys should be fired. Documents and testimony obtained by the Senate Judiciary Committee showed that the Attorney General attended a November 27, 2006, meeting at which the firings were approved. In subsequent testimony, Attorney General Gonzales has taken responsibility for the firings and said that he attended this meeting, but he has maintained that he does not know who was responsible for selecting the names of U.S. Attorneys to be fired and does not remember what was said at the November 27 meeting. He has at times placed primary responsibility for which U.S. Attorneys were selected to be fired on his former Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson and former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, each of whom denies making the determinations.

5. In his April 19, 2007, testimony, Attorney General Gonzales said, “I haven’t talked to witnesses because of the fact that I haven’t wanted to interfere with this investigation.” In May 23, 2007, testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, former White House liaison Monica Goodling testified that the Attorney General had a discussion with her that made her “uncomfortable” in which he set out his version of events regarding the process of firing U.S. Attorneys and asked for her reaction. In his July 24 testimony, Attorney General Gonzales said he had a conversation with Goodling “to console and reassure an emotionally distraught woman” and to “reassure her that as far as I knew, no one had done anything intentionally wrong here.”

I had to quote this in full, as it s pretty condensed.


on other developments, FBI Director Mueller made public the notes he took, after the "very special" visit to AG Ashcrofts hospital bed.

most of the Text is blacked out, but he obviously had long talks with Bush and Cheney about the event. and he confirmed what we know. take a look!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

the US military is NOT doing a good job in Iraq.

most americans would disagree with my topic statement, even though the truth is obvious, when looking at developments in Iraq.

but here s another important indicator:

"This is an act of ethnic cleansing, if you will, almost genocide, when you consider the fact of the target they attacked, and the fact that these Yazidis are really out in a very remote part of Ninevah province where they're, there is very little security, and really no security required up until this point," Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, told CNN.

Mixon said last month that he proposed reducing American troop levels in Ninevah and predicted the province would shift to Iraqi government control as early as this month. It was unclear whether that projection would hold after Tuesday's staggering death tolls.

so, the General thought that Ninevah was doing fine and that the Yazidis were safe.
weird thought, after this event:

The sect has been under fire since some members stoned a Yazidi teenager to death in April. She had converted to Islam and fled her family with a Muslim boyfriend, and police said 18-year-old Duaa Khalil Aswad was killed by relatives who disapproved of the match.

A grainy video showing gruesome scenes of the woman's killing was later posted on Iraqi Web sites. Its authenticity could not be independently verified, but recent attacks on Yazidis have been blamed on al-Qaida-linked Sunni insurgents seeking revenge.

the US military in Iraq is seriously underequipted and understaffed. it was sent into this war without a plan and with an impossible mission.

so one could forgive them their failure in providing security for the country. but the repetitions of faults like this one, are unforgivable. as is the fact, that the US military still has not spoken up against US politics!

the september report, my predictions!

for a long time now, i wanted to write about my expectations for the september report by General Petraeus. unfortunetly, most of my predictions are already becoming true:

1. the report will highlight military success.
and there even was some, much less than expected (and necessary!), though. the number of civilians killed might be slightly down. number of attacks is similar or higher than before. violence seems mostly to have been shifted, not removed.

but the real problem with this aspect is: we sent in an additional 30000 US troops. that is nearly a 25% increase! of course this would have an effect. looking at some numbers it becomes obvious, that we need at least another 60000 to get violence in Iraq to an "acceptable" level.

2. the report will claim some political progress
the US will try to force iraqis to at least attempt a vote on one of the laws. (oil, most likely)
the political process unfortunetly has become much worse lately. so this a forced law will lead to another debacle, like the constitution did.

3. the Anbar progress will take ahuge place in the report.
as i wrote before, i don t believe that forming militias is progress.

4. future action: slowly remove troops.
Bush and Co will have to face reality. a majority of americans (and of US MPs of both parties) wants troop numbers reduced. the reduction of course will not come in real action, but mostly in promises. a tiny short term reduction. a bigger reduction next year (when keeping this force level up will become difficult for the US military anyway) and prospect of a huge reduction AFTER the elections.

5. don t expect any hard numbers!
oil production? electricity delivered? numbers of attacks, violence death? the report will contain pretty little of this. and those that get in, will be carefully chosen.


the LATimes has an interesting piece on this today:

The expected recommendation would authorize U.S. commanders to withdraw troops from places that have become less violent and turn over security responsibilities to Iraqi forces.
a rather nice variant. "reduction" inside Iraq. followed by movement to bases "at the border to kuwait", perhaps? plenty of room to move!

a nice development is, that we might not even hear his recommendations:

The senior officer in Baghdad said the military was still debating whether Petraeus should make his detailed strategy recommendations to Congress in an open or closed session.
oh, and of course the General isn t writing the report. the whitehouse is.

Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.



Tomdispatch has an enormous amount of numbers on Iraq. check it out!


i joined a debate on Billroggio today.

he made the claim that

prison population rises as almost 3,000 foreign fighters are detained.
but his source only speaks of 3000 foreign prisoners, not foreign fighters.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

bad day for Iraq

several massive car bombs killed scores in the kurdish north.

At least 175 people were killed when three suicide bombers driving fuel tankers attacked residential compounds home to the ancient minority Yazidi sect in northern Iraq on Tuesday, an Iraqi army captain said.
remember, kurdistan is supposed to be the most peaceful part of the country.

at the same time, an important bridge leading north from Baghdad was finally completly destroyed.

Meanwhile, a truck bomb exploded on a bridge north of Baghdad Tuesday, killing 10 people and cutting an important route between the capital and northern Iraq.
remember, this bridge was bombed before. the inability of the US and iraqi military to prevent secondary attacks against high profile targets (samarra mosque..) is threatening the country.

the same article mentions important hostages taken at the oil ministry:

Also on Tuesday, a deputy oil minister was kidnapped by armed men at his home in the Oil Ministry compound in eastern Baghdad, according to Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad. Abdel Jabar al-Wagaa, the senior assistant to Oil Minister Hussain Shahristani, was taken with several other ministry staff members, Jihad said.

The abduction was carried out by gunmen wearing Iraqi security force uniforms who entered the compound late Tuesday afternoon in more than a dozen official vehicles, according to the spokesman.

again, iraqi security forces are incapable of providing protection for even a couple of sites!

meanwhile it looks as if the 15 months tour would stay for a while:

U.S. soldiers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan will be facing the extended 15-month deployments until at least next June, a top Army commander said Tuesday.
15 months at war, 12 months at home. in those 12 months, you have to spend your holiday, and all training courses to further your career. and the unit needs to bring their equipment and training on a high level again. sounds impossible? it is!


have a look at this nice fact check about a claim by Obama:

As of Aug. 1, the AP count shows that while militants killed 231 civilians in attacks in 2007, Western forces killed 286. Another 20 were killed in crossfire that can't be attributed to one party.
"they hate our freedom". you bet.

Monday, August 13, 2007

military propaganda success

the recent O´Hanlon and Pollack editorial on the progress in iraq turns out to be mainly based on military propaganda. i m not suprised

But to establish their credibility as first-hand witnesses, O'Hanlon and Pollack began their Op-Ed by claiming, in the very first sentence: "VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel. . . . " Yet the overwhelming majority of these "Iraqi military and civilian personnel" were ones hand-picked for them by the U.S. military

US army recruiting, part II

some more information on current recruiting trends:

waivers for criminal past are on the rise:

With less than three months left in the fiscal year, 11.6 percent of new active-duty and Army Reserve troops in 2007 have received a so-called "moral waiver," up from 7.9 percent in fiscal year 2006, according to figures from the U.S. Army Recruiting Command. In fiscal 2003 and 2004, soldiers granted waivers accounted for 4.6 percent of new recruits; in 2005, it was 6.2 percent. -International Herald Tribune
at the same time, high school diploma is more and more becoming an exception, rather than the norm:

In 2006, the number of traditional high school graduates recruited by the Army dropped to 73%, from 84% a year earlier, according to National Priorities Project, a research group that analyzes federal data. The military's goal is 90% high school graduates — a benchmark last met in 2004.
here s another interesting post on the subject, looking at some "special use" of statistics and the influence of the war on the military:

In 2005 the Army promoted 97 percent of all eligible captains to major, an increase from the prewar norm of 70-to-80 percent. A Department official told The Los Angeles Times: "Basically, if you haven't been court-martialed, you're going to be promoted to major."

Friday, August 10, 2007

US army recruiting

will this army win the war in Iraq? i have some doubts. but see for yourself:

Despite spending nearly $1 billion last year on recruiting bonuses and ads, Army leaders say an even bolder approach is needed to fill wartime ranks.Under a new proposal, men and women who enlist could pick from a "buffet" of incentives, including up to $45,000 tax-free that they accrue during their career to help buy a home or build a business.
WaPo has a huge list of new ideas. apart from massive money, here s what they do to make young (lol <42) people join:

Among the changes that have helped attract more recruits:

_ Increasing to $20,000 the bonus for troops who join by Sept. 30 and leave for boot camp within a month.

_ Raising the enlistment age to 42.

_ Allowing recruits to come in with non-offensive tattoos on their hands and neck.

_ Offering a $2,000 bonus to Army soldiers who refer a new recruit.

_ Enlisting recruits who don't meet weight standards and must trim down their first year.

_ Advertising that targets potential recruits' parents.

_ Increasing the number of recruits with general education diplomas rather than regular high school diplomas.

_ Creating a more pleasant boot camp environment.

_ Sending "gung-ho" soldiers fresh from boot camp or war zones back to their hometowns to visit old friends and schoolmates to promote the Army.

_ Increasing to more than 15 percent the number of Army and Army Reserve troops given waivers for medical and moral reasons or for positive drug and alcohol screen tests.

and they missed the quorum in June. let s see.

Friday, August 3, 2007

July WORST month. again.

i like how Juan Cole dispelled the myth about a military improvement of the situation in Iraq:

Deadliest July Yet for US Troops;
23% Rise in Iraqi Deaths in July;

t will be pretty hard to fake success under these conditions in september. wanna bet this government is gonna try it anyway???

it is NOT "we"!!!!

well, good news first. some realistic assessment of Iraq from Mr. Gates:

"I just think in some ways we probably all underestimated the depth of the mistrust and how difficult it would be for these guys to come together on legislation, which, let's face it, is not just some kind of secondary thing," Gates said aboard his plane en route to Washington.
i did NOT underestimate the problem. neither did i think that iraq had nukes before the war. and i didn t think they would give them to al-qaeda.

YOU were wrong. not "we". simple fact.

Friday, July 27, 2007

benchmark erased

now we all know, that the benchmarks for Iraq are rather bad. being very vague, the Bush team managed to claim "progress" by citing weird performance as success.

there are a couple of REAL benchmarks though. brookings for example is reporting some of them in their monthly reports. a single look at the oil production numbers or the electricity output shows, that there is ZERO progress in Iraq.

now Bush is trying to eliminate those few real benchmarks:

As the Bush administration struggles to convince lawmakers that its Iraq war strategy is working, it has stopped reporting to Congress a key quality-of-life indicator in Baghdad: how long the power stays on.

Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that Baghdad residents could count on only "an hour or two a day" of electricity. That's down from an average of five to six hours a day earlier this year.
power in baghdad? WORST ever!


TPM has some other "disappearing" information!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"substained surge"

Officials debate sustained Iraq 'surge'

Administration and military leaders haven't decided whether progress would mean ending or extending the troop buildup.

is it just me, or doesn t this make any sense?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pakistan, the future

now a look at Afghanistan today gives an idea of the (best case) future of Iraq.

10 years from now, expect no central control, a failing military, need for more foreign troops and a situation getting worse.

a look at Pakistan today, will prepare you for the situation in Iraqs neighbors then.

Three suicide bombings killed at least 51 people on Thursday, as Pakistan's violent turmoil spread from the Afghan frontier to the south, officials said.

Bush has brought total chaos to a region. that the war in Iraq is lost, might be not the worst news these days.

On May 30, the Coalition held a ceremony in the Kurdistan town of Erbil to mark its handover of security in Iraq's three Kurdish provinces from the Coalition to the Iraqi government. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the U.S. commander for northern Iraq, praised the Iraqi government for overseeing all aspects of the handover. And he drew attention to the "benchmark" now achieved: With the handover, he said, Iraqis now controlled security in seven of Iraq's 18 provinces.

In fact, nothing was handed over. The only Coalition force in Kurdistan is the peshmerga, a disciplined army that fought alongside the Americans in the 2003 campaign to oust Saddam Hussein; it is loyal to the Kurdistan government in Erbil. The peshmerga provided security in the three Kurdish provinces before the handover and after. The Iraqi army has not been on Kurdistan's territory since 1996 and is effectively prohibited from being there. Nor did the Iraqi flag fly at the ceremony. It is banned in Kurdistan.

iraq, (non-) developments

Baghdad, can you hear the U.S. Senate?” Mr. Biden said into his microphone at one point when the communications with Mr. Crocker went silent.

An activist for the Code Pink anti-war movement shouted from the gallery, “Senate, can you hear the American people?”

so what s going on in Iraq? massive things, if you believe Ambassador Crocker and General Odierno. massive things, that don t show up in benchmarks, though.

"I can think of no major population center in Iraq that is in an al Qaeda safe haven today," Odierno said.

i can t think of one, that isn t. but surely, November will show us the truth. one goal post moved. again.

so let s look at some real benchmarks:

These months have been the worst in electricity supplies ever. We're getting an average of one hour per day of electricity from the grid. The last time we had such hour was three days ago!
this is from ITM, not a left wing source really.

and how about casualties?

close to 1000, again. on the 18th of july. as always, after the June low.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

June: most violent month ever!

sorry for my long absence. but here you go:

ABC News has learned the most recent military intelligence assessment of Iraq also shows that the overall level of violence in the country -- measured as the number of "violent incidents" -- hit its highest level in June since the war began.

According to the assessment, an average of 178 attacks a day were carried out in June. By comparison, there were only 94 attacks a day in March 2006, the month after the attack on the Golden Dome mosque in Samarra touched off a wave of sectarian violence.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lugar on Iraq

listen to senator Lugar:

We should attempt to preserve initiatives that have shown promise, such as engaging Sunni groups that are disaffected with the extreme tactics and agenda of Al Qaeda in Iraq. But three factors – the political fragmentation in Iraq, the growing stress on our military, and the constraints of our own domestic political process -- are converging to make it almost impossible for the United States to engineer a stable, multi-sectarian government in Iraq in a reasonable time frame.
what he says makes sense....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

busy days..

yes i ve been busy, but there are a couple of events, that i need to mention briefly at least:

general Pace had this gem to offer:
"If you had zero violence and people were not feeling good about their future, where are you?" said Pace, emphasizing that the sentiment of the Iraqi people is a much better measurement than the number of attacks. "So it's not about levels of violence. It's about progress being made, in fact, in the minds of the Iraqi people, so that they have confidence in their government in the way forward."
hint to the general: violence "might" effect the feeling of people.
you don t seriously want us to judge progress on your polls?


we re working more with tribes, without learning from the past:

Iraq's Ministry of Electricity has contracted with tribal sheiks to protect the electrical transmission lines running through their areas and pays them about $60 to $100 per kilometer, according to the report.
Yet the tactic is not working, auditors said.

and iraqi forces are the weak link in the new "offensive":

The U.S. commander of a new offensive north of Baghdad, reclaiming insurgent territory day by day, said Sunday his Iraqi partners may be too weak to hold onto the gains. The Iraqi military does not even have enough ammunition, said Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek: "They're not quite up to the job yet."

there s much more to say:

all enemies in iraq seem to be al-qaeda today.

cheney is no longer part of the executive branch of the US

military bloggers are celebrating a pretty conventional, corps size offensive in iarq...

but i ran out of time for today..

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"surge" might take longer..

watch out for what Petraeus is saying today:

Speaking about the amount of violence, he said, "the aggregate level is about the same. We actually have borne the brunt of much more of that, as have Iraqi security forces, and civilians a good bit less."
what he is doing is simple: give us lot s of positive news, with a small disclaimer: "counterinsurgency may take 10 years and longer". (btw, where does he get the information from, that civilian casualties are lower?)

this will calm the sceptics in his own ranks and make him invulnerable to any attack later. "i told you so" will be his answer.

and look at this:

I do not, no," Petraeus replied. "We have a lot of heavy lifting to do. The damage done by the sectarian violence in the fall and winter of 2006 and early 2007 ... was substantial."
it "IS" substantial. but i guess he considers june to be "early 2007"...


check out the abu ghraib news:

“Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba—of the Taguba report!” Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials.
it s a criminal government.

fumento afghanistan

i hit Fumento today by chance. he wrote a good piece about the "winnable war"
winnable, of course in comparison with Iraq.

it s a rather good piece of text, though it s very optimistic and was written on the day, the bus got blown up.

biggest attack in afghanistan. since 2001. and that s supposed to be the winnable war....

check this Fumento piece as well. he tried to get information about reconstruction and couldn t get any. even he is starting to wonder about the "media bias"...

zero comments

yes, i m aware of it. looks like i m talking to myself only.

but that s fine. i ll promote the blog a little, when i wrote at least 1 or 2 of the major articles.
till then, this is just my online memory.

and if you happen to stumble about it, it s for you as well...

Friday, June 15, 2007

meassuring what can t be meassured...

the new report on "security and stability" is out. well, there obviously is no security or stability in Iraq. so it s rather interesting to see, what the report is looking at.

it is not by chance, that the day after the report came out, the samarra mosque was blown up again. now if it is impossible to secure this symbolic site, nothing is secure in Iraq.

so how do you write such a report? mostly by simply inventing good news. the most obvious part is about economic development:

the fact that oil and electricity production haven t changed at all is mentioned only briefly.
instead there is a focus on the bizarre:

For 2007, the IMF projects that the economy will grow by over 10% and that the non-oil sectors will grow by approximately 7%.
sounds rather unlikely.
brookings report on Iraq gives a much lower estimate of 3%, and even that is optimistic. (page 43)

even better is the positive spin on the enormous infaltion in Iraq:

the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) has maintained tighter monetary policy in 2007, including continued gradual appreciation of the dinar, resulting in a decline in first quarter 2007 inflation compared to the same period in 2006. Year-on-year inflation in March was 33.6%, compared with 66.4% in January and a peak of 76.6% in August 2006.
great, isn t it?

supporting the enemy

these are two very interesting articles about the support for sunni groups:

The latter is hardly optimal, but optimal is no longer a luxury the United States can afford. It is questionable whether a unified and democratic state can ever be achieved, even if the tribes are not backed. Consequently, the United States should focus on avoiding the worst possible outcome, and that means doing what it can to prevent al-Qaida from having control over the Sunni provinces.
and here is another good report on it by kaplan:

The insurgents, it turns out, have mounted their own surge, and it seems to be outpacing ours. In a harrowing article in Time magazine, Baghdad bureau chief Bobby Ghosh quotes Brigadier Gen. Joe Ramirez Jr., deputy commander of the U.S. Combined Arms Training Center, as saying, "For every move we make, the enemy makes three. … The enemy changes techniques, tactics, and procedures every two to three weeks."
it is a desperate strategy. it will not help Iraq in a long term, but might effect US elections. exactly what the Bush team needs..

surge is complete

the surge troops now all are in place.

let s see what will happen..

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

iraqi security forces

the condition of the iraqi security forces is bad.

just look at this:

Asked whether he expected that the next Iraqi units to rotate into Baghdad would be even more thinly manned and less capable than those operating in the capital now, Dempsey replied, "I‘m absolutely convinced that‘s exactly what we‘ll see."
then there is the common claim, that iraqi units are undermanned, because troops are "bringing home money".

“On average, about 25 percent of the force is on leave at any given time, and they're not going on vacation. It may sound simple, but a significant portion of this is for soldiers taking leave to physically take money home to their families in the absence of things like direct deposit and electronic banking,” Dempsey said.
while this certainely is a factor, it s rather bizarre to assume a significant part of troops just deployed to Baghdad would stay behind to deliver money..

Samarra, again

well, second attack on the mosque in Samarra.
the toppled minarets will be a symbol of the incompetence of security forces in Iraq.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

last resort

NYTimes has a good article on recruiting sunni rebels:

Kuehl said he recognizes the risks in dealing with an unofficial force but decided the intelligence that the gunmen provided on al-Qaeda in Iraq was too valuable to pass up.

"Hell, nothing else has worked in Amiriyah," he said.

deja vu?

here you go:

Last summer, the U.S. military in Iraq, led then by Army Gen. George Casey, embarked on a plan in June to stop burgeoning sectarian violence. Casey increased the U.S. forces patrolling Baghdad's neighborhoods by 3,700, to a total of more than 15,000, and promised a canvass of the most troubled neighborhoods to root out insurgents. The Iraqi army was to lead in searching homes and securing the neighborhoods.

Military officials claimed a 40 percent drop in sectarian violence in August. But by October, violence was again out of control and the effort ended.

same story this year.
and the claims that violence went down dramatically simply have vanished.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

too soon to call the "surge" a failure?

Bill Roggio has an item on the NYtimes report on the failure of the "surge".

so what do we know?

1. since the surge started, US casualties are up.
this was to be expected. the same effect happened in the past. but the level of casualties is extremely high. the may number (127) is only topped by two months in 2004, both of which were the result of heavy street fighting in Fallujah.
and while it was clear, that this fighting would stop soon, the situation today is completly different. expect the number to stay high.

2. General Petraeus had to admit, that the number of attacks remained at the same level.
i wouldn t exactly call this good news.

3. Iraqi civilian casualties are at the same level.
while there was a short term effect on a very specific type of violence (tortured bodies being found in Baghdad), there is no evidence that iraqi civilian casualties has gone down.
and we need to factor in, that violence has been shifted away from Baghdad, the center of media attention. so real casualty numbers likely are even higher that what we get to see.

4. Sunnis "unite" against al-qaeda
i ve written in the past, that i do not see this as a sign of certain progress, at least in the long term. but it s the single big indicator for a "success" of the "surge".

so what do we get out of it?

a) the "Anbar miracle" is completly independent from the surge. it was caused by an error by al-Qaeda. it s not linked to the surge in any way.
Bill is wrong in this comparison as well:
The leaked memo on the status of the Baghdad Security Plan is reminiscent of the report on the status of Anbar province that was leaked to the Washington Post in the fall of 2006. "The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there.
a strategy can fail, even though one wins the fight.

b) the current casualty numbers in Iraq are too high. the claim that the surge needs more time, just doesn t make sense under this point of view. this death rate is breeding hatred. ethnic cleansing is ongoing. refugees continue to leave iraq. the damage to the country is huge, every month. it just is impossible to have this going on.
the claim that nobody expected reduced violence 4 months after the surge of the war, is bizarre. the early "success" reports about "sectarian killings down by 60%" contradict this claim.
and finally, the surge simply doesn t have much more time. neither the political scene, nor the US military capacity allows for unlimited extension of the surge.

Turkey and Iraq

it looks like there has only been a minor incursion.

but both sides have an interest in keeping this low. the kurdish part is the only successful region in Iraq and the turks want to join the EU.

i assume minor incursions will become more regular. and a single big attack could completely change the situation.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

there is a reason, why i start this blog today and i hope that the future will provide an opportunity to write about it. but for the moment, i ll just try to take a short look at some recent developments.

there is good news from Iraq. the "Anbar Salvation Council" has appeared as the grand new hope for an improvement to the security situation. similar organisations are forming all over Iraq.

and yes, in the short term the group will provide help for the US forces in the country. attacks in Anbar are down, which is good news. for the moment.
i do believe, that the Sunni tribes who joined the group, will bring down the number of attacks against US forces significantly. and yes, the numbers of reported incidents of violence against civilians will drop as well.

but in the long term, the effect will be a different one. the local tribe will provide the local police. and local military recruiting is mainly based on local tribes as well.

in the long term, this will not work out. what will happen can be seen in Afghanistan, where we still suffer from our deals with the warlords.

the same Sunni tribes, who fight against Al-Qaeda today, will turn against Shiis and Kurds tomorrow. with the weapons, training and authority tat we provided to them.


two small additions:

The number of civilians killed in Iraq jumped to nearly 2,000 in May, the highest monthly toll since the start of a U.S.-backed security crackdown in February, according to figures released on Saturday.
the number of civilians who died, was highest again in may. there is always a spike in may, but the fact that the "surge" could not prevent you, tells you a lot about its nature.
(i will write extenisvely about civilian casualties in a future post)

From south and north, Iraq's Kurdish region felt pressure from two sides Saturday, as saboteurs bombed a vital bridge link to Baghdad, and Turkish troops stood arrayed to the north for a possible cross-border strike, a move Iraq's prime minister warned against.
watch out for the north. big things will happen there this year, as the referendum draws nearer. the US is evacuating civilians at the moment..

Seed of Doubt *** Iraq News***

so looks like i ll start writing my first blog post today.