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.