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The Battle of Baghdad (Law Enforcement)

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Battle of Baghdad

BY NIBRAS KAZIMI

August 9, 2006

URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/37573

 

For the past few weeks, Baghdad was astir with news of an imminent coup d'etat. Those in power were worried, and those near power were looking forward to a political reshuffle from which they would emerge ahead. The scene included ambitious officers who half-jokingly promised plush diplomatic posts to their civilian friends, and prominent politicians who assumed that the military conspirators would call upon them to lead the country through a government of national unity. Desperate times require desperate measures, and most of the Iraqi political class in the Green Zone reasoned that the Americans could see no way out in Iraq except through bringing in a man of steel to save the day. No more rowdy democracy, no more muddled constitutional interpretation; stability would be measured by boots marching in unison and military bands banging away in tune.

 

I was recently challenged to a bet by a prominent Iraqi officer: the Americans will give the go ahead to the Iraqi Army to seize power within six months. I was looking forward to meeting this officer, who had made a name for himself in the press as a can-do enforcer giving chase to the terrorists. He was relatively young, charismatic and confident. But he was also afflicted with every Middle Eastern officer's fantasy: the belief that he alone can bring about national order and glory. As the head of a security brigade, his men had recently been outfitted with armored troop transports and heavy guns, and he made the claim to me that he could occupy Baghdad in four hours. He believes that it was only a matter of time until the Americans come to him and ask him to take over. If he wins, I buy him lunch, and if I win, well, I get to vote again in three years for a new parliament.

 

Iraq has had a bad experience with coups; after all, the Saddam regime came about through one. There had been such a rash of coups in the 1950s and 1960s and in some of these coups, an American hand could be discerned, including the first time the Ba'athists came to power while riding a tank through the palace gates.

 

Baghdad is paralyzed with fear, the shops are closed and the streets are empty. It seems that entire middle class neighborhoods have moved to Amman, Damascus, and Cairo. It has never looked or felt so bad, never mind the numbers of innocents who are daily getting chewed up by sectarian strife. In despair, there are many who would trade away such messy luxuries as freedom, democracy and constitutional rights for khaki-tinged tidiness. Hence the whispers and now audible warnings of a coup in the making.

 

But barring a serious (not to mention disastrous) turn-around in American policy, such a jarring change in the political order will not come about. Most Iraqi army officers, when asked if they were planning something illegal, did not even feign a commitment to their limited role as guardians of Iraq's defenses under the command of a civilian leadership, but rather dismissed such speculation by saying that they can't do much with the American military in Iraq looking over their shoulders. But the desire for a coup is there, and that in itself is a dangerous flaw in how the new Iraqi military is being trained by the Americans — even though they are nominally the only level of oversight holding them back.

 

Iraq's new defense minister, General Abdel-Qader Al-‘Ubaidi, gets many accolades both from the officers under him as well as the politicians in the cabinet and parliament. He was a good choice for the job, but an unconstitutional one. The founding document of Iraq's democracy states that no one in uniform can take on a civilian governmental position after leaving the armed services, unless a specified period of time had elapsed. It was ordained so with Iraq's history of turbulent coups in mind, and as a reminder to the military brass that it was the civilians who now called the shots. This was not the case with General ‘Ubaidi, who left his command of Iraq's infantry and took on the defense portfolio without the constitutionally mandated grace period. What is more dangerous is that no one is talking about it. That encourages the younger officers to be contemptuous of the political leadership and await an opportunity to seize the controls for themselves.

 

Ayad Allawi's camp is fueling talk of a military take-over, with the caveat that the Americans want him back in charge of a national unity government. Some are also interpreting the charm campaign by the suave and gentlemanly deputy commander of Iraq's Joint Forces Command, General Nasier Abadi, who was making the rounds in Washington and New York last week, as an American Plan B to introduce a new Iraqi face for some future political exit strategy. The whole thinking is precipitated on the notion that liberal democracies cannot fight virulent insurgencies, and that only a military dictatorship can hold Iraq together. But officers are trained to kill and destroy, not to build and govern. All too often, this basic fact is forgotten in the Middle East and elsewhere.

 

The battle for Baghdad can be won by the Iraqi government and Coalition forces in three weeks. There is a one month opening until mid-September to convince Iraq's middle class — the people who run the country and keep it together — that the state is still salvageable. Otherwise, with the summer drawing to a close, they will have to decide whether their exile and hiding is going to be of a more permanent nature and will plan ahead accordingly. The good news is that Sunni insurgency is exhausted and there is plenty of internal chatter questioning just how long they can keep up the pace of the violence. Their equal numbers in mayhem, the Mahdi Army militias, have descended into a chaotic grab for money, rather than a concerted effort to wage a civil war. The latter are not Hezbollah, and they can be confronted and scattered relatively easily. Secure Baghdad, and those who stand against the state will be demoralized and broken, and the middle-class will be tempted to risk retaking their country back from the hooligans. Success hinges on how many people can be made to believe that victory is still tenable.

 

The nascent political process in Iraq is worth sacrificing for. In the grand scheme of things, the prognosis for Iraq looks much healthier than the stale regimes around it in the Middle East, each resting for now atop a nest of time bombs. Although the numbers of dead and dying speak otherwise, the storm has passed Iraq, and there are many positive achievements to take advantage of in order to cripple the militias and the insurgents further, and to begin the process of turning them back. One such advantage is the new and disciplined Iraqi army that clearly enjoys confidence and leadership. Such a tool should not be encouraged to spend its time contemplating idle fantasies of a coup, but rather should be wielded now in an all or nothing battle for the preservation of the state of Iraq.

 

Mr. Kazimi can be reached at nibraska@yahoo.com

 

=========================================================

 

The Battle of Baghdad

 

By ZALMAY KHALILZAD

August 23, 2006; Page A10

 

BAGHDAD -- Although there has been much good news to report about security progress in Iraq this summer -- the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the handover of security responsibility for Muthanna province, the fifth of 10 Iraqi Army Division Headquarters to assume the lead in its area of responsibility -- Iraq faces an urgent crisis in securing its capital, Baghdad. Although Iraqi leaders and the Coalition have a sound strategy to turn the situation around, it is vital that Iraqis control sectarian violence and come together against the terrorists and outside powers that are fomenting the violence.

 

In July, there were 558 violent incidents in Baghdad, a 10% increase over the already high monthly average. These attacks caused 2,100 deaths, again an increase over the four-month average. More alarmingly, 77% of these casualties were the result of sectarian violence, giving rise to fears of an impending civil war in Iraq. While statistics should not be the sole measure of progress or failure in stabilizing Iraq and quelling violent sectarianism, it is clear that the people of Baghdad are being subjected to unacceptable levels of fear and violence.

 

* * *

This trend is especially troubling because we cannot achieve our goal of a secure, stable and democratic Iraq if such devastating violence persists in the capital. Baghdad represents one-fifth of Iraq's total population, and is a microcosm of Iraq's diverse ethnic and sectarian communities. Baghdad is also Iraq's financial and media center, the latter of which is especially important given that the declared strategy of the terrorists and violent sectarian groups in Iraq revolves around creating a perception of growing chaos in an effort to persuade Americans that the effort in Iraq has failed. Therefore, violence in Baghdad has a disproportionate psychological and strategic effect.

 

The deterioration of security in Baghdad since February's attack on the Samara Mosque is the result of the competition between Sunni and Shiite extremists to expand their control and influence throughout the capital. Although the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq has been significantly attrited, it still has cells capable of operating independently in Baghdad by deploying car bombs to Shiite neighborhoods. At the same time, Sunni and Shiite death squads, some acting as Iranian surrogates, are responsible for an increasing share of the violence. This cycle of retaliatory violence is compounded by shortcomings in the training and leadership of Iraq's National Police. To combat this complex problem, Iraq's national unity government, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has made securing Baghdad its top priority. The government's Baghdad Security Plan has three principal components:

 

• Stabilizing Baghdad zone by zone: Four Iraqi Army battalions, two Coalition brigades and five military police companies will be redeployed to Baghdad, resulting in more than 12,000 additional forces on the city's streets. The National Police will simultaneously undergo intensive retraining, with each brigade to be subjected to a three-day assessment period, with its leadership evaluated and, if necessary, replaced. Each brigade will subsequently receive additional training focused on countering violent sectarianism before redeployment. Over the last 10 days this approach began to be implemented in five areas of Baghdad -- Doura, Ghazaliyah, Rashid, Ahmeriyya and Mansour. In coming weeks other districts will be added.

 

 

Iraqi government and Coalition forces are adopting new tactics to stem sectarian killings. Increased checkpoints and patrols are being used to deny freedom of movement and safe haven to sectarian killers. The leaders of the death squads are being targeted. Security forces have started to work with cross-sectarian neighborhood committees. These and other new tactics will drive toward the goal of achieving security neighborhood by neighborhood. As each district of Baghdad is secured, operations will expand into contiguous zones over coming weeks and months.

 

• Disrupting support zones: Even as Iraqi and Coalition forces concentrate on securing specific neighborhoods, they will continue to conduct targeted operations in other zones that are staging areas for the violence. This includes targeted raids and other operations on areas outside of Baghdad's center, where planning cells, car-bomb factories and terrorist safe houses are located. This will degrade the ability of the terrorists and death squads to mount offensive operations into the areas we are working to stabilize.

 

• Undertaking civic action and economic development: One of the most tragic elements of the increasing violence in Baghdad is that it has robbed the Iraqi people of the sense of normalcy they desperately seek after living under crushing tyranny for more than three decades. In the immediate aftermath of Iraq's liberation, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Iraqi people was demonstrated as Baghdad's shops overflowed with consumer goods prohibited under the previous regime. However, the increasing violence in the streets of Baghdad has forced many Iraqis to close their shops for fear of their safety.

 

Consequently, after joint Coalition and Iraqi military operations have secured a neighborhood or district, a structure of Iraqi security forces sufficient to maintain the peace is expected to be left in place and reinforced with the capacity to undertake civic action and foster economic revitalization. This will be supported with $500 million in funds from Prime Minister Maliki's government and at least $130 million of U.S. funds.

 

These economic support funds will be used to offer vocational training and create jobs, especially for 17-to-25-year-old males; to foster public support through improved services, such as medical care and trash and debris removal; and to build local governmental capacity to protect and provide for their citizens. These goals will be achieved through a mixture of high-impact, short-term programs; mid-term programs designed to stabilize these initial gains; and programs focused on long-term economic development. Prime Minister Maliki's plan for securing Baghdad is also closely tied to the national unity government's larger program for reconciliation, which seeks to foster political understanding between Sunni and Shiite forces, including those that either control or influence unauthorized armed groups involved in sectarian conflict.

 

In addition, a moral compact between the religious leaders of the two Islamic communities -- which will ban sectarian killings -- will delegitimize the violence. Such a compact would deny the killers a political or religious sanctuary while Iraqi and Coalition forces deny them physical shelter. For the longer term, the plan seeks to induce insurgents and militias to lay down their arms by implementing a program to demobilize unauthorized armed groups. It will also review the implementation of the de-Baathification process -- referring those accused of crimes to the judiciary and reconciling with the rest.

 

* * *

It is understandable that when the American people hear of new U.S. casualties and witness the images of bloodshed from the streets of Baghdad, they conclude that our plans for stemming sectarian violence in Iraq have failed. Yet, implementation of the Baghdad Security Plan has only recently begun. Iraq's national unity government has been in office barely three months, and its ministers of defense and interior have been on the job for less than 80 days. Iraqi ministers are still hiring key staff, and they are learning to work together, under the leadership of a new prime minister. The Committee for National Dialogue and Reconciliation, charged with overseeing implementation of the reconciliation plan, was formed only three weeks ago.

 

Moreover, as tragic and dangerous as the ongoing violence is to our shared vision of a free and prosperous Iraq, it is not representative of the Iraqi people's sentiments toward one another. In July, a poll by the International Republican Institute, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to democracy promotion, found that 94% of Iraqis said they support a "unity" government representing all sects and ethnic communities, with only 2% opposed. Some 78% of Iraqis opposed Iraq being segregated by religion or ethnicity, with only 13% in favor. Even in Baghdad, where the worst of Iraq's sectarian violence has occurred, 76% of those surveyed opposed ethnic separation, with only 10% favoring it. The challenge of the Baghdad Security Plan and its accompanying effort at national reconciliation is to realize the overwhelming majority of Iraqis desire to live in peace with one another against the violent minority who seek to impose their vision of hatred and oppression.

 

These programs are already beginning to show positive results. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense reports that the crime rate in Doura has been reduced by 80%. In the Rashid district, Sunni and Shiite political leaders, tribal leaders and imams met and signed an agreement forswearing violence. The tribal leaders went a step further by renouncing protection for tribal members who engage in sectarian violence.

 

Although it is too early to determine whether these success stories will be replicated throughout the city, this initial progress should give Iraqis, as well as Americans, hope about the future. Contrary to those who portray Iraq as hopelessly mired in ancient ethnic and sectarian feuds, Iraqis themselves want to put the divisions of the past behind them. The Battle of Baghdad will determine the future of Iraq, which will itself go a long way to determining the future of the world's most vital region. Although much difficult work still remains to be done, it is imperative that we give the Iraqis the time and material support necessary to see this plan through, and to win the Battle of Baghdad.

 

Mr. Khalilzad is the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

 

URL for this article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115628769204442748.html

 

Copyright 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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BahirJ,

Thank you so much for this striking deep insightful article by Alkazumee..

I might come back to have my comments but for now I would post my reply to Mutergem on similar subject already posted under "Hot subjects".. http://baghdadee.ipbhost.com/index.php?sho...=105entry6631

 

I heard a lot about a possible US retreat to the stratigic goals set by President Bush. I can't comment if these reprots are based on credible resources or information but I can talk from an iraqi prospective.

 

It is simply rediclus to have such option, not from possibility of happening but from the disastrus unpredictable implications that such assumed change might bring to Iraq , ME and whole world. The situation today is completely different than 1991. The spirit of freedom that was planted by the occupier's calls to Iraqis is a real one.. Some might look to Iraqi frustration to the current situation and might say that they would accept any other solution even another dictator.. However the last four years gave us a very strong messages. When it comes to reality, Iraqis would stand up to their freedom and would not choose other option. The last three voting processes with all threats never stopped them from send that message.

 

On other hand, there is no power on ground to enforce such option while local communities had already established their own arrangments that is today much more powerfull than the central governemnt. More than that we need not to underestimate the real objection to such move by Kurds and Shia.. Having Iran waiting for such conflict by Americans to these two most powerful groups , one can easily imagine the extend of damage to the American interests in Iraq and the region.. A damage that might go way beyond the implications of the foolish war by Israel generals to fight Hezbollah through demolishing Lebanese democratic government and system.

 

I have a strong feeling that the temporary marriage between American and Iraqi interests is going to be a "family arranged" strong one that have the call for democracy as it's housing.. No one should even think to hurt that only roof that keep every body safe..

 

Baathist are making a lot of noise preaching for such retreat , reminding and threatening Iraqis of what would happen to them when such retreat could happen, however I never ran into any Iraqi who even give it any serious thought.. today people are not affriad of Baathist return to power, they more affriad of the disastor that such option might bring to Iraq already wartorn infrastructure

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Intersting article by Omer, Iraqi blogger.. I might give a glue on the necessary action need to be taken by the Coalition and Iraqi government..

Have a look to IraqThe model.com

 

 

A tale of two tribes, a gang and a militia...

Is it civil war in Iraq or is it not? And if it is, is there a way to stop it and if it's not, is there a way to avert it?

Who's to blame for the sectarian violence and who's escalating it? And what role foreign terror groups like al-Qaeda is playing in this regard? Is it possible that foreign terrorists, with their numbers estimated to be between several hundreds to a few thousands, were/are capable of inflicting so much damage and taking the lead in provoking sectarian strife in a country of 28 millions?

 

These are some of the questions I hear and read very often these days. It's not easy to find the right answers without taking a much closer look at what's happening on the ground preferably by following the sequence of events in a limited area(s) to get a better understanding of the reality of the situation.

 

Today I have a true story for you about the sectarian tension in one area of Iraq, although it's only one area but it has a lot in common with other areas and I believe similar stories are taking place in other areas.

 

The story is taking place in a suburb of Baghdad with mixed tribal and sectarian composition and it's a suburb where we happen to have relatives living over there.

Last week my father and I went there to attend the funeral of an extended family member; everything went almost normal until we wanted to go home. Here's part of the conversation that went between us and one of our hosts:

(O=Omar, F=my father and R=relative)

 

R: Er, I don't know how to put this, but coming here was a mistake in the first place, I'm glad you made it safe but if you leave now I will be concerned about your safety.

 

F: Why? What's going on that I'm not aware of?

 

R: There's been a lot of trouble here recently and traveling at this time of the day can be so dangerous.

 

F: Ok, I'm listening…

 

R: It all started several months ago when a bunch of young men from the local tribes began showing strange extreme religious behavior we're not familiar with in this area.

They did not have influence here in the beginning and their apparent action was limited to hate talk against Shia who they refer to as the "enemies" while we coexisted here and lived peacefully with Shia tribes for centuries.

It didn't take long before they translated their rhetoric into violent action, they started to carry out ocassional kidnapping and assassinations against Shia men from neighboring tribes and even attacked Shia neighborhoods deep inside Baghdad after they acquired heavy mortars and katyusha rockets.

At this point we began to realize the true identity of those young men and we began to believe that they became part of al-Qaeda…

 

The Shia community showed restraint for a while but then their patience ended and the militias started to fire back…at us unfortunately.

The worst escalation happened last week when al-Qaeda snatched a relative of a senior Shia party official near his home, the militia of that party retaliated by kidnapping ten men of a Sunni tribe and there were also incidents of forced displacement on both sides…we don't know if a peaceful settlement can be ever reached.

 

O: Many other districts suffer from the similar tensions yet people still move around even at some risk, so why can't we go? Or is it that bad?

 

R: Beginning every afternoon several roadblocks are set on the one street leading to Baghdad and every couple kilometers you'll face a roadblock and gunmen of this or that tribe or sect. They do this to protect their communities and outsiders will be at great risk of being abducted or shot at.

 

F: Ok, I see that now but who are those troublemakers in the first place and how many are they that you can't stop them from getting you into trouble?

 

R: About a dozen…they belong to a few of the Sunni tribes and their chief is the son of former big head in Saddam's government.

 

O: Did you try to talk to them, intimidate them or do anything to dissuade them from keeping up their dangerous game?

 

R: We tried, first they told us they were protecting us from Shia death squads and they fooled many of people here with that claim but that's bull shit because now they are the reason death squads are after us.

 

F: That doesn't make any sense! You mean the entire tribe and neighboring ones can't control a dozen of militants?

 

R: The problem is that these people behead victims and mutilate bodies, they plant bombs and use dirty tricks…the tribe's men are not adapted to dealing with this kind of horrors.

When sheikhs met to arrange for reconciliation the terrorists sent messages telling the sheikhs they were "no longer wanted" and that they were "ripe" for beheading.

By the way this was the 2nd meeting between Sunni and Shia sheikhs, the first one was held immediately after the Samarra bombing, it was a purely local initiative without mediation from the government or clerics…we had been good neighbors for ages! The sheikhs signed a pact of honor that forbid bloodshed and displacement and that what kept sectarian violence away from the area…until those bastards came in.

 

F: But still, you know who they are and you can ambush them and get rid of them once and for all.

 

O, interrupting: Have you tried reporting them to the Army or whatever security force working here?

 

R: Some elders are considering such plans but many people are afraid of reprisal from other al-Qaeda cells in the region to which those guys might be connected. We are farmers and we have families to worry over. And No Omar, we didn't do that and even if we did we don't expect the authorities to respond to report about a cell of 10 militants in a dangerous orchard area when they're busy fighting thousands of them inside Baghdad.

Plus, any military operation here will certainly bring a lot of collateral damage to our homes and farms. Those bad guys have no respect for our lives and would do anything to remain at large.

 

(I learned later that day that one of the locals had more guts and confidence in the authorities than the rest and did contact the security forces but the man admitted to me that the operator who received his call kind of "terrified" him by the way he spoke and by his irrelevant uncomfortable questions about the identity of the caller while callers have the right to remain anonymous. Anyway, so far no measures have been taken in response to that tip).

 

 

 

Actually the conversation went much longer than this as we realized we had to spend the night at my father's cousin's place so we didn't have much to do but chat about the situation.

The next morning we tried again to go home but the street-safety forecast wasn't reassuring at all, long story short, we were able to return home only on the third day seizing the chance of a gap in the "enemy's" checkpoints.

 

I'm still keeping an eye on the developments over there and I talk to some relatives frequently over the phone and I encourage them to do something to put an end to this sad situation and expose the perpetrators. Most of them share my attitude but they say they're still studying the mechanism of action, one of them said "we need to revolt against them."

 

What I see in this case is that the majority is not interested in being involved in this kind of conflict but, at the same time action and reaction from gangs that do not represent the majority are capable of finding a rift among the lines of what normally is a peaceful community.

 

I truly hope things end in the way I and the majority of my people like, after all, bonds created and maintained over centuries are no doubt stronger than the evil doings and ill wishes of a few mad criminals.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060906/ap_on_...o_rebuild_lh1_1

Nations compete for Lebanon rebuilding

 

 

I wish if Iraqi parties are smart enough to make others compete in rebuilding Iraq as they do with Lebanon..

 

We need to learn much from the Libanies lessons ..

I know that many countries are competing in Iraq, but not to rebuild though. The question is how we can change the dynamics..

 

I think one way is to have a nother "Hizbullah" donates money to Iraqis who loose their home in the terror attacks.. !!

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Today in a big blow to Alqaeda and Sadamist, more than two millions Iraqis marched on foot from different Iraqi cities to Kerbala to celibrate the the 15th of Shaaban. Alqaeda new thug leader timmed his second appearance through Aljazeera on almost same day to Call Sunni Iraqi to kill Shia in addition to his call from Alqaeda cells to kill more American soldiers in the next 15 days..

 

The 15th of Shaaban is the day when Muslims redirect their pray from Jerosilm to Mecca and also it is the day of the birth of Almahdee , the Survivor..

 

Al Mehdee had born about twelve centuries ago in Samaraa in same place that Alqaeda exploded six month ago

 

Shia around the world "more than three hundered millions" celebrat this day, the top of that celebration is to be in Kerbala..

What I didn't understand is that lack of coverage to this massive celebration by the west media. And the lack of linking such brave demonstration by Iraqis to the fight against Terror.. Most of those marching women, men , kids were saying to Aliraqia that they walked hundereds of killometers to show Alqaeda that they are not going to be terrorised byalqaeda and sadamists thugs..

 

The fight against Alqaeda and other terror groups is not only in the west , it is the iron will by Iraqis who never give up against these thugs dispite all indirect support by western media to alqaeda by calling this fight as SECTERIAN fight!!

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http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/09/09/...main/index.html

 

At least CNN came up with some coverage.. It is first time in the last four years that the governemnt military and police ALONE without any shia militia presence to the hard job so succesfully.. No reproted attacks , just three alqaeda thugs got arrested trying to entr Kerbala near Musaeb.. Another incedent where two three pligrims got killed on road to Kerbala near Doura in Baghdad while marchin to kerbala through the most dengrous triangle of death.. On second day , iraqi millitary attacked a cell of qaeda and killed three and captured couple of suspects..

Have a look to the photos.. Look to the faces, are they a scared people ? the whole world need to learn from Iraqis how to stand high agaianst terrorists...

 

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/5330634.stm

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5329684.stm

 

BBC story and photos..

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I know that many countries are competing in Iraq, but not to rebuild though. The question is how we can change the dynamics..

 

I wrote this three days ago.. The Maliki vist to Iran might flag such change of dynamics..

 

We need to divert the competetion to be a healthy one.. I think the US administration is working on such change by giving the maliki a green light to go for it

Have a look to the CNN coverage..

 

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/09/12/...iran/index.html

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it is that the Syrian regime may be reaping what it sows

from below..

 

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8...00.html?cnn=yes

 

 

Why Syria May Be the Real Victim of the Attack

The raid on the American embassy in Damascus signals a greater threat to the Syrian regime than to the United States

By SCOTT MACLEOD

SUBSCRIBE TO TIMEPRINTE-MAILMORE BY AUTHORBackground: The Trouble with Syria

Related Blogs: Click here for blog postings from around the web that are related to the topic of this article.

 

Posted Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2006

Coming a day after the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and following another videotaped al-Qaeda vow to stage new attacks, Tuesday morning's foiled terrorist raid on the American embassy in Damascus is certainly cause for U.S. concern. A Syrian interrogation of one surviving attacker will seek to determine whether the incident was in fact the work of al-Qaeda or that of other individuals seeking to add to the carnage. Anti-American feelings are high throughout the Middle East, which in recent months has been gripped not only by the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but the ferocious summer battles between Israel and Hizballah in Lebanon. With radicals blaming the U.S. in all three wars, it is prudent to assume that some of them may seize this opportunity to strike.

 

But the Syrian regime itself may have more to worry about in this particular attack than the U.S. That's because as it may have been intended as a riposte to Washington, the raid was a bold challenge to the rule of President Bashar Assad. The attack was carried out by as many as four Islamic militants shouting Muslim slogans in the heart of Damascus's diplomatic quarter not far from Assad's own residence — in short, one of the most heavily protected neighborhoods in Syria, if not the Middle East. The attackers failed to kill any American diplomats, and Syrian security guards apparently managed to slay three of the assailants. But that doesn't mean the terrorists were bumbling amateurs.

 

Bitterly at odds with Washington, Assad's regime has sometimes allowed militants to get too close to the U.S. embassy. During an anti-American demonstration in 2000, security forces looked the other way as a mob stormed the grounds and ransacked the American mission. Amid last winter's protests over Danish cartoons viewed as mocking the Prophet Mohammed, demonstrators burned the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus.

 

Another way to look at it is that the Syrian regime may be reaping what it sows. Among Arab leaders, Assad is alone in his outspoken support for Islamic militant groups like Hizballah in Lebanon, and the Palestinan factions, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. U.S. officials believe that the Assad regime has secretly aided the three-year-old Sunni insurgency in Iraq, providing passage for jihad volunteers and funds, and safe haven for insurgency leaders. At the start of the war in 2003, Arab jihadists who poured into Damascus en route to Baghdad were allowed to openly line up outside the Iraqi embassy just down the road from the American embassy.

 

Assad, whose regime is officially secular despite its close alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran, often casts himself as the champion of radical Islamic movements. Last month, in a speech openly ridiculing moderate Arab leaders, he hailed Hizballah's war in Lebanon as a stinging defeat for Israel that undercut American plans for the region. But it is beginning to look like at least some of the Islamists consider his regime the enemy, too.

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Seems to me that the results of the Baghdad's Battel is starting to shine.. There is a growing confidence among Baghdadee's that the year 2007 with the 37 B$ budget is going to make a lot of change, the governemnt steps in applying security is now much more clear.. From more than 30 car explosin a day , now we have about two a day.. From more than 50 kidnapping to almost handful a day.

The aggressive projects by OIL, Ellectrical, interior ministries, the Baghdad micipal authoroties is sounding

More than that , the militia rule in Baghdad is shrinking.. Both sides seems to be tired.. Today the joint move by Alsadrees and Sunni Main slate Altawafuc to demand for dated program for withdraw is a unique political move that we didn't see over the last eighteen months..Though we might don't agree with but we need to encourage such steps.. At the end Iraqis need to step forward and ask for their full sovergnity.. Tjsi is for the benefit of Iraqis and Americans.. It would also put more pressure on all political parties to finalize a stable mid way solutions to their conflicts..

 

The visit by Maliki and the positive signs by the White house and the visit of Khalil Zada to Suadi Arabai , might flag a day of change of mechanisnm from violant competion to building one..

 

I don't want to put it so rosy but , as one of my friends who used to live in Baghdad over the last four years " he said I am more confident that we will have normal life by 2007"! He is an engineer that run a contracting firm.. Thsi is first time I ever hear an optimistic view from him

 

Let us wait ..

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I think President Bush put it just right .. That battel of Baghdad is where the the fight with Alqaeda might be the one.. This might be unfortunate news to some Iraqis who feel like caught in the middel while they are not yet prepared. However, I feel so confused by those US politicians who fail to see that link and keep repeating that there is no evidence that Sadam helped out the 9/11.. Such approach is exactly the same that got us into 9/11. An approach that leave the real issue to hung around logical formalities.

 

If Sadam is related or not, we need to concentrate on the real issue which is simply that Iraq war had set a golden opportunity to fight Alqaeda at a place that they can't just cut and run as they did in Afghanistan.. Again that is some thing that Iraqis mightn't be happy to see happening on their land, but reality is that both Americans and Iraqis had been caught into, being planned to be that way or not..

 

Today any diverse to this fact by getting us into worthless debate about real intentions would not help our fight. I know some losers have nothing to do but to engage themself in such debates..

 

We need to go with this battel to the end that is our destiny..A one that we mightn't choose but it is a fact and we can't go around it..

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:blink: I have read this site for more than 2 years and am impressed with Salim, his recent postings show a much clearer view of the situation is visible in both the news and Iraqi commentaries. Yes, the march was on US news, not as much as one would like to hear, but the main commentary from news sources in US was that religious pilgrims were killed on the march. Very little was said about who attacked the pilgrimage. Salim, Americans want Iraq free and democratic. Whatever method works to get there is great. If this new security plan for Baghdad works, it will be amazing how many people come back to the city. I believe there will be a wonderful future in your country if people can settle down and become 'neighbors' again, regardless of who is Allah's favorite group, Sunni or Shia! Freedom is both a tenuous idea and a sometimes bloody prize. Our country has had it's share of dead patriots as yours has now. At such a price I wish more Iraquis would work together. It is a wonderful feeling to hear that your politicians are finally getting their staff together and that Ministries are starting to show some effort at re-building plans and that there is some talk about a firm method to take full control and get America out of this situation that has been so ugly for your people and our military. I know there is talk here is US about how much revenge killings might be done by both Mahdi army and Iraq Army groups. Is there a future where Mahdi army and domestic police forces can be trusted? Is there a future where Wahabbi teachings will be demonstrated to be twisted Muslim tenets? Where those who love Allah, regardless of their teachings can go to a place of worship without fear of strife? This might be a test of what Iraq really wants.

Yes, I look forward to hearing great things of the Iraqi nation. A nation where people have come together to take their country back from terrorists, dictators, occupying Americans, (others occupying also), religious fanaticism and corruption. I look forward to that Iraq and will keep on watching this site for your announcement that the last American has left and the next planeload of westerners are tourists.

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Is there a future where Mahdi army and domestic police forces can be trusted? Is there a future where Wahabbi teachings will be demonstrated to be twisted Muslim tenets?

 

 

I personally think mixing these two very important issues is reflecting a confusion.

Mahdi Aramy and Wahabi teachings can live within new Iraq as far as they disband any illegal actions .

Suadi's are Wahabees , and they are best friends of USA. Alsadrees are critical part of Iraqi popular defence against Alqaeda and their allies in Iraq.

 

I personally think that mixing Alqaeda with Alsadrees is a plan by Sadamist to put the Sadrees in front of the American tank.. The sadamis knew that theycan't dream of returning back to power with Sadrees touring around.. They want to hit two birds by one stone.

It is well known in Iraq that it is only due to alsadrees , Alqaeda and Sadamist are failing in Baghdad.. You might think I am defending Alsadrees. Indeed I am not and for me , Alsadree radical metality might be the next big threat to prosperous Iraq if they failed to change their radical attitdue. But fighting alsadrees today is just similar to the call to fight the communist in Soviet union during the second world war.. !

We should not give alsadrees excuses, but we should not loss such great opprotunity finding some one that can stand in front the sadamist and qaeda in the streets of baghdad.

Six months ago , the qaeda was expanding through baghdad discrets relying of their allies. Today they are hiding . In Alfadel, centre of Baghdad, Sadamist and qaeda were the only thugs controlling the discret. Today they don't dare even showing their support to Bin Ladin or Sadam. Same in New-Bghdad, Mansoor and Bataween..

 

Alsadrees are a critical part of Iraqi political process, we need to encourage them.. That what Khalil Zada had done so succesfully as he did with other Sunni radicals.. We don't need to get fooled by new Sadamist politicians that work with terrorist at night and show different face in day , As president Talabani said..

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A NT article that might reflect some concerns about the current Maliki's national unity government.. Indeed the author is mirroing the concerns by many Arab writers , specially those who had some concerns with the current Iraqi democratic changes....

The main problem of such writings is that they keep believing that Iraq should be governened by up down government, as the case in other parts of ME in order to solve it's problems. Today Maliki is no more than a way to represent the common will of Iraqis , all Iraqis.. He doesn't have any larger authority than any PM in a democratic governemnt..It is the will of Iraqis that he need to fullfil. Any it is their cost to pay on any wrong descisions.. It is a very long hard process to teach a nation of how to govern them self, and Maliki's governemnt is their choice.

 

Four months is not something to give judgements on a braod coalition governemnt like the one on Iraq.. Division among parties and within coalitions is a a sign of power in democratic systems, here the writer is considered it as a sign of weakness.. I am not saying things are going definily in the right direction, so as not definitly in the wrong one, as the writer might be suggesting.. Things are going as per the plans , step by step , hard daily small ones. All in the main goal direction.. Such process might be hard to be caught by a news report writers who are mainly looking for big results..

 

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Doubts Rise on Iraqi Premier’s Strength

By EDWARD WONG

Published: September 20, 2006

BAGHDAD, Sept. 19 — Senior Iraqi and American officials are beginning to question whether Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has the political muscle and decisiveness to hold Iraq together as it hovers on the edge of a full civil war.

Four months into his tenure, Mr. Maliki has failed to take aggressive steps to end the country’s sectarian strife because they would alienate fundamentalist Shiite leaders inside his fractious government who have large followings and private armies, senior Iraqi politicians and Western officials say. He is also constrained by the need to woo militant Sunni Arabs connected to the insurgency.

 

Patience among Iraqis is wearing thin. Many complain that they have seen no improvement in security, the economy or basic services like electricity. Some Sunni Arab neighborhoods seem particularly deprived, fueling distrust of the Shiite-led government.

 

Concerns about the toughness of the new government seemed reflected in President Bush’s comments when he met Tuesday with Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani. Mr. Bush said he wanted Iraqis to know “that the United States of America stands with them, so long as the government continues to make the tough choices necessary for peace to prevail.”

 

Mr. Maliki, a conservative Shiite, took office in May. A senior American diplomat here said the White House still had confidence in him, mainly because “he has articulated goals for Iraq that make sense to us.”

 

Bush administration officials have repeatedly cautioned that Mr. Maliki needs more time. “This is a national unity government of many, many moving parts,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He has got to negotiate as he goes.”

 

But diplomats who deal with the Bush administration on Iraq issues, and recently departed officials who stay in contact with their colleagues in the government, say the president’s top advisers have a far more pessimistic view.

 

“The thing you hear the most is that he never makes any decisions,” said a former senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations. “And that drives Bush crazy. He doesn’t take well to anyone who talks about getting something accomplished and then refuses to take the first step.”

 

American officials here say they do not intend to let Mr. Maliki fail and are helping him in a variety of ways. For example, to bolster Iraqis’ confidence, American generals are spending money on quick reconstruction projects like trash pickup as the military goes through troubled neighborhoods of Baghdad.

 

The embassy has advisers who work closely with cabinet ministers and has deployed hundreds of Americans to seven provinces to help Iraqi officials build up the government’s political and economic strength. A senior envoy said the biggest effort was simply “Diplomacy 101” — insisting to Iraqi leaders that they resolve their differences.

 

But increasingly, Iraqi and Western officials say the unity government is one in name only, with the political parties representing different sects and ethnicities constantly at odds, undermining Mr. Maliki’s ability to build consensus.

 

While the United States has military might and political influence, it must rely on the Iraqi government to reach out to the country’s political and religious leaders. Trying to placate everyone has kept Mr. Maliki from being able to offer amnesty to Sunni insurgents or forcefully disarm Shiite militias, officials say.

 

The main Shiite bloc itself is deeply divided, depriving the prime minister of crucial support. So he relies on Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric who commands the powerful militia called the Mahdi Army, for political backing. The militia has been blamed by many Sunni Arabs for sectarian killings.

 

To ensure that the minority Sunni Arabs remain involved in the government, Mr. Maliki finds himself compromising on issues like cabinet appointments with conservative Sunni parties that have occasional contact with nationalist guerrillas.

 

“I think he has said good things, but in practice there has been no change,” said Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish legislator. “The security situation is deteriorating and violence is getting worse. He has done nothing against militias. At the same time, the reconciliation dialogue is not moving forward. It doesn’t look good, the prospects for the government.

 

“I thought he’d be stronger, but he looks weak,” Mr. Othman said. “He feels frustrated because nobody’s cooperating with him.”

 

The same sentiments are heard in the streets of the capital.

“There’s no security, no job opportunities, no services, nothing at all,” said Muhammad Jabar Abdul Ridha, 18, a construction worker walking through downtown Baghdad on Tuesday afternoon. “This government hasn’t done anything better than the previous one.”

 

Skip to next paragraph

The Reach of War

Go to Complete Coverage » While some officials in Washington say Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice still insist in staff meetings that Mr. Maliki must be given more time and support, there is a growing sense that he is not about to change his operating style. A former senior official said the big test would be whether Mr. Maliki could confront Mr. Sadr. “If you don’t do that, I don’t know how he can succeed,” the official said.

 

The prime minister’s aides declined repeated requests for an interview with Mr. Maliki, who emerged as a compromise choice for prime minister during a power struggle last spring in which the White House and Mr. Sadr backed different candidates.

 

Supporters of Mr. Maliki say it is too soon to judge his tenure. Any unity government requires compromises, they argue. “He’s been in office only a short time, and the size and number of problems from the former regime and former cabinets are huge,” said Sheik Khalid al-Attiya, a deputy speaker of Parliament.

 

Mr. Maliki has made efforts to quell the Sunni-led insurgency, including reaching out to some Sunni Arab guerrilla groups, Iraqi officials say. That may help widen a rift in the insurgency between Iraqi nationalists and foreign fighters. Sheiks in rebellious Anbar Province announced last Sunday that 25 of 31 tribes in the province were ready to fight against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

 

Iraqi and American officials who have dealt with Mr. Maliki say he is much more blunt and expressive in meetings than his predecessor as prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who leads Mr. Maliki’s political party. Mr. Maliki is not given to diplomatic formalities and makes his views known, they say. At the same time, he likes to listen to a range of opinion — often at the expense of making decisions, the officials say.

 

Mr. Maliki acts as if he is backed into a corner these days, said a moderate legislator who recently spent two and a half hours in a private meeting with him.

 

“You were one of the hawks,” the legislator recalled telling Mr. Maliki. “Now you’re one of the doves.”

 

“No, I’m still one of the hawks,” the legislator quoted the prime minister as saying. “I just need time.”

 

Mr. Maliki’s security plan for Baghdad, now the American military’s main effort of the war, intentionally avoids direct confrontation with Mr. Sadr’s militia, despite Iraqi Army generals’ apparent willingness to attack the militia and despite growing violence by rogue militia elements. The plan, begun last month after an initial failed effort in June, involves military sweeps of violent neighborhoods, generally after fighters have already fled.

 

The murder rate has dropped in some neighborhoods. But the plan’s effectiveness was called into question last week, when more than 165 bodies were found across Baghdad in four days. Shiite militiamen are the main suspects. The Baghdad morgue has said more than 1,500 civilians were killed in August, a 17 percent drop from July but higher than nearly all other months of the war.

 

Brig. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, assigned to help train Iraqi police and army units, said Iraqi Army commanders, who usually have fewer sectarian loyalties than the police, were ready to take on the militias but had not gotten approval from the government.

 

“There’s this obvious question that the army guys are asking, about ‘When are we going to get rid of the militias?’ ” General Pittard said in an interview while meeting with American military advisers at a base in Taji. “If you talk to the leaders of the Iraqi Army, they’ll say, ‘We need to be given an order to disarm the militias.’ ”

 

Last month, after American and Iraqi soldiers attacked a militia safe house in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, the prime minister denounced the action and promised compensation to families of Iraqis killed or wounded in the assault.

 

Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the second-ranking commander in Iraq, said American and Iraqi generals were waiting for Mr. Maliki to find a political solution to the militias.

 

“How long will that process take?” he said. “I don’t know.”

 

Mr. Maliki has little obvious leverage over Mr. Sadr, who controls at least 30 seats in Parliament and six ministries, making him one of the most powerful figures in the government. Mr. Sadr has no intention of disbanding the Mahdi Army, because it is now part of the government, said Bahaa al-Aaraji, a senior legislator allied with him.

 

“They are just volunteers defending their country,” Mr. Aaraji said.

 

Mr. Maliki is also tiptoeing around other powerful Shiite leaders with militias. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Parliament’s Shiite bloc, has ignited a political firestorm by calling for the legislature to approve a mechanism to create autonomous regions. Many are opposed, and the move threatens to splinter the government. But rather than rein Mr. Hakim in, Mr. Maliki has kept quiet.

 

As a centerpiece of his reconciliation project to end the Sunni insurgency, Mr. Maliki wants to forge an amnesty policy that would draw into politics some militant Sunni Arabs and former officials from Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, Iraqi politicians say.

 

But the proposal has been attacked by hard-line Shiites like Mr. Hakim, who is opposed to leniency for killers of Iraqis, and American politicians outraged at the idea of amnesty for those who have attacked American troops.

 

That could doom Mr. Maliki’s plan, said Ayad Jamaladin, a moderate Shiite legislator on the government’s reconciliation committee.

 

“Innocent people don’t need amnesty,” he said. “Guilty people need amnesty.”

 

Some conservative Sunni leaders are also resisting Mr. Maliki’s efforts. Politicians in Baghdad and tribal sheiks in restive areas insist that he meet a long list of demands that includes releasing all detainees and setting a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. Many Sunnis also fear that Mr. Maliki is beholden to Iran, and his trip there last week further stirred concerns.

 

“With whom should we reconcile?” asked Sheik Muhammad Saleh al-Bajari, a spokesman for tribes in Falluja, the Sunni Arab stronghold. “With those who brought the occupier and killed and destroyed the future of this country?”

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/20/world/mi...t/20maliki.html

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Today, six million students started their first day at school for the new year.. Is this some thing possible under a situation that many media is talking about iraq?

 

Six million kids, how many schools? how many staff members, books, preparations..

 

Today another flag day in the iraqis long struggle against terror, of all it's kind.

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Last Wednesday, Newsweek-Washington Post's Lally Weymouth interviewed Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in New York. Excerpts:

 

Q. What happened in your meeting with President Bush?

A. We told him our progress in trade, the economy, training the army . . . and we asked him to provide the Iraqi army with the necessary arms for improving the capacity of the army. We also thanked him for his continuous support of Iraq. Don't forget, we were living under the worst kind of dictatorship.

 

Q. What did the president say to you?

A. That he will continue to support the Iraqi people and will remain there until we ask him to leave.Reportedly the U.S. government is losing faith in Prime Minister [Nouri al-]Maliki.President Bush assured us that he will support the Maliki government. We assured him that all Iraqi political parties support Maliki. He has done many important things for Iraq. He has ordered all of the militias to stop their activities.But they haven't stopped.They are not operating as before.

 

Q. When should the U.S. troops leave?

A. In seven provinces, the American army has withdrawn. The Iraqi army is replacing American forces in many cities. We hope that at the end of this year we will be able to control 12 provinces. We will remain in need of the American and coalition forces until we've trained our army and will be able to face terrorism and defeat it.

 

Q. How long will that be?

A. I think within two years we will be able to train our army and have the capacity to face terrorism. . . . The presence of American forces -- even a symbolic one -- will frighten those who are trying to interfere in our affairs.

 

Q. Are you talking about Iran?

A. Our prime minister just came back from Iran. He got good promises from Iran on security -- promises that they will never permit any kind of interference in the internal affairs of Iraq.

 

Q. Do you believe that?

A. Our prime minister tells me he got real and serious promises. Let us see.

 

Q. What do you think of the popular theory that Iraq should split into three parts?

A. I don't think so. Iraq will not break up into three parts. Iraq will remain united -- we will have a united, federal Iraq. Kurds are struggling for the unity of Iraq -- Sunnis and Shiites, the same. There are differences among the Shiites and Sunnis which must be resolved, but not about the partition of Iraq.So, while many here in the U.S. believe the war is a mess, you believe the opposite.Iraq is not in chaos. There are many provinces that are calm -- where people live in prosperity. . . . I want to assure the American people that Iraqis are now enjoying democracy and human rights and are struggling to secure the country.

 

Q. Would you welcome U.S. bases in Kurdistan?

A. Yes, they are welcome. Kurdistan wants the Americans to stay. In some places Sunnis want the Americans to stay -- Sunnis think the main danger is coming from Iran now. There is a change in the mind of the Sunnis. The Sunnis are for having good relations with America. The [shiites] have started to think that.

 

Q. Will the U.S. put bases in Kurdistan?

A. I think we will be in need of American forces for a long time -- even two military bases to prevent foreign interference. I don't ask to have 100,000 American soldiers -- 10,000 soldiers and two air bases would be enough. This will be [in] the interest of the Iraqi people and of peace in the Middle East.

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