Monday, November 13, 2006
The neoconservatives don't play much of a role in this account, which is a military history and a fair reflection of what were the forces that led us to this outcome, but one place where [they do] is almost like a Marx Brothers movie in the middle of this great story of the war. That is, the decision at the last minute to bring in a small number of Chalabi's soldiers so there could be an Iraqi face to the invasion. Then at the last minute, without anyone's knowledge -- not our own military commanders, apparently -- Chalabi himself was flown in. Talk a little about that, because he was an embodiment of the neoconservative idea, that this would become a transformation of Iraq.
Well, it's a really odd episode that I was able to report on the record, because I interviewed the American military officer who was the liaison with Chalabi. An American Army colonel, Ted Seal, was assigned to be with Chalabi and his fighters as a liaison officer, and every day he would get on the phone and report back to CENTCOM the status of Chalabi's fighters, unvetted. A lot of them were from Iran, by the way -- Iraqis who had fled to Iran. One day he gets an instruction to call General Abaziad, who is now the central commander, but he was then General Franks' deputy. General Abaziad says, "How many fighters does Chalabi have?," and this was at the time when we were coming up against the Fedayeen, it was getting a little tougher, the fall was going on, people were getting a little nervous about how this is going. Colonel Seal said, "Well, I'll ask him, he's standing right next to me." He said, "Ahmed, how many fighters do you have?" He said, "I have a thousand." So, Seal gets on the phone, "Uh, seven hundred." And they said, "Well, we'll fly them down there."
And so, it was agreed that they would be flown down to Talil and they would be kind of an Iraqi "Free French"-type force, you know, the Iraqi freedom fighters, and they would join us and they would speak the language at least, and they would be Iraqis, and forces that were reluctant to surrender to the Americans might surrender to them. Well, it emerged during this that Chalabi also wanted to go, and General Abaziad hadn't bargained for that. There was a discussion between [Abaziad] and Paul Wolfowitz; he didn't want to introduce a would-be politician into Iraq and take sides, but Wolfowitz's point was basically, "You're the guy that asked for his fighters and the fighters want their leader." So, they all do go down to Talil, they end up playing no constructive role in the war whatsoever, and Chalabi uses the opportunity to go to Nasariya and start making speeches. It's one of the little known but very interesting sub-themes in this war.
Chalabi got rid of his forces [mostly from Kurds and Iraqi refugees in Iran], and he brought another forces we don’t know them, or where they came from.
We where not allowed to have any contact with them, all what we saw is; they leave their camp [in Al-sayd club in Baghdad] in the evening and come back next day in the early morning, later we knew they had a death-list, this is the beginning of the “Death-Squads”.
Are they under the US command or Iranian command? I don’t know
Key lawmakers from al-Maliki's Islamic Dawa Party said that in the coming Cabinet shake up, which the prime minister promised during a closed-door parliament session Sunday,
Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani was at the top of the list to lose his post because police and security forces were failing to quell the unbridled sectarian killing that has reached civil war proportions in Baghdad and the center of the country.
Al-Bolani, a Shiite who was chosen in June and a month after al-Maliki's government was formed, is an independent. The United States demanded that the defense and interior posts be held by officials without ties to the Shiite political parties that control militia forces.
The interior minister controls police and other security forces which already are infiltrated by the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army, the armed wing of al-Sadr's political movement.
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 2:19 AM
Also Sunday, the country's Sunni defense minister challenged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's contention that the U.S. military should quickly pull back into bases and let the Iraqi army take control of security countrywide.
Defense Minister rejected calls by al-Maliki for the U.S. military to speed transfer of security operations throughout the country to the Iraqi army, saying his men still were too poorly equipped and trained to do the job.
"We are working hard to create a real army and we ask our government not to try to move too quickly because of the political pressure it feels. Our technical needs are real and that is very important, if we are to be a real force against insecurity," al-Obaidi said.
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 2:05 AM
Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister
Hurriyet, a leading Turkish newspaper, published an interview with Mr Gul, in which he appeared not only to pronounce on the future of Iraq but also to hint to the country's Kurds that there might be dire consequences if they proceed with their drive for greater self-determination. In unusually blunt language, Mr Gul warned them
- not to pursue any dream of a separate Kurdish state,
- to let go of their designs on the oil-rich city of Kirkuk,
- and to stop protecting the guerrillas of Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has bases in the mountains of northern Iraq.
Iraq's neighbours, he said, would not stand by and watch the country being carved up.
He warned Iraq's Kurdish leaders, Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, and Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG), not to rely on America's continued presence. They “should not forget that Turkey will remain in the region forever.”
Turkish observers interpreted the foreign minister's remarks as primarily for domestic consumption. His ruling AK party is under pressure from nationalists because of the continuing demands being placed on it by the European Union;
So far as the PKK is concerned, the KRG spokesman pointed out that Iraq's Kurds were now taking part in formal discussions with Turkey and America to find a peaceful solution.
It was Mr Gul's caution over the status of Kirkuk that has most upset the Kurds. They insist
- “Arabisation” of the city must be reversed,
- After this -- a referendum whether to join the Kurdish federal region.
But Turkey opposes the whole process, fearing that control of Kirkuk's oil would give the Kurds an economic platform for independence. Thus, on Kirkuk at least, Mr Gul's warning is worrying.
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 1:37 AM
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Al-Quds al-Arabi publishes a summary of a statement by Baath resistance leader Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri denouncing the recent AP-originated story about laying down their arms, and attributing it to the occuption's disinformation campaign. Al-Duri writes: "Let the dogs of Rome (meaning the empire), and before them the Safavid dogs of Persia know, crouched in their Green Zone fortress, that the coming days will be darker for them than a moonless night..." which is his way of saying they haven't laid down their arms. Moreover, Al-Duri goes out of his way to deny that there are any contacts at all between the Baath resistance and the Americans, in Amman or anywhere else. And he says there won't be until the conditions that were originally laid down have been met (timetable for withdrawal, restoration of the Baath, and so on). Which suggests that at least from the Baath point of view, any contacts there may have been in the past have not led to any continuing contacts.
Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri (born July 1, 1942) was an Iraqi military commander and was vice-president and deputy chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council until the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. 
His family hails from the region around Tikrit, where his father worked as an ice seller. At the time of the invasion, Al-Douri, along with President Saddam Hussein and Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, were the three surviving plotters who brought the Ba'ath Party to power in a coup in 1968. Following the coup, he continued to retain a prominent position in the Ba'ath regime. This was aided by the fact that Al-Douri came from the same clan area as Saddam and had not disposed of a power base; thus he did not pose a threat to Saddam's ambitions.
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 10:42 PM
Thursday, November 09, 2006
See also from CFR
The Tribal Areas of Pakistan
Carin Zissis, Staff Writer
November 9, 2006
* What are the Pakistani tribal areas?
* How are the tribal agencies governed?
* Do religious extremists operate in the tribal lands?
* What is the role of the Pakistani government in the tribal lands?
* What is the Miramshah Agreement?
* What are the Bajaur accords?
* Are Islamabad’s agreements with these semi-autonomous areas effective?
* What does the future hold for the tribal areas?
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 11:50 PM
‘Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know’ February 2003
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 1:31 AM
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Robert Young Pelton first became aware of the phenomenon of hired guns in the War on Terror when he met a covert team of contractors on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border in the fall of 2003. Pelton soon embarked on a globe-spanning odyssey to penetrate and understand this shadowy world, ultimately delivering stunning insights into the way private soldiers are used.
Enter a blood-soaked world of South African mercenaries and tribal fighters backed by ruthless financiers. Drop into Baghdad’s Green Zone, strap on body armor, and take a daily high-speed ride with a doomed crew of security contractors who dodge car bombs and snipers just to get their charges to the airport. Share a drink in a chic hotel bar with wealthy owners of private armies who debate the best way to stay alive in war zones.
Licensed to Kill spans four continents and three years, taking us inside the CIA’s dirty wars; the brutal contractor murders in Fallujah and the Alamo-like sieges in Najaf and Al Kut; the Deep South contractor training camps where ex-Special Operations soldiers and even small town cops learn the ropes; the contractor conventions where macho attendees swap bullet-punctuated tales and discuss upcoming gigs; and the grim Central African prison where contractors turned failed mercenaries pay a steep price.
The United States has encouraged the use of the private sector in all facets of the War on Terror, placing contractors outside the bounds of functional legal constraints. With the shocking clarity that can come only from firsthand observation, Licensed to Kill painstakingly deconstructs the most controversial events and introduces the pivotal players. Most disturbingly, it shows that there are indeed thousands of contractors--with hundreds more being produced every month--who’ve been given a license to kill, their services available to the highest bidder.
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 1:50 AM
Thursday, November 02, 2006
"Give me a second here, Rush, because I want to share something with you," Bush said. "I am deeply concerned about a country, the United States, leaving the Middle East."
Bush said that he was "worried that rival forms of extremists will battle for power, obviously creating incredible damage if they do so; that they will topple modern governments, that they will be in a position to use oil as a tool to blackmail the West."
"People say, 'What do you mean by that?'" The president continued. "I say, 'If they control oil resources, then they pull oil off the market in order to run the price up, and they will do so unless we abandon Israel, for example, or unless we abandon allies.'"
"You couple that with a country that doesn't like us with a nuclear weapon, and people will look back at this moment and say, 'What happened to those people in 2006?' and those are the stakes in this war we face," Bush said.
"On the one hand we've got a plan to make sure we protect you from immediate attack, and on the other hand we've got a long-term strategy to deal with these threats, and part of that strategy is to stay on the offense," Bush continued. "Part of the strategy is to help young democracies like Lebanon and Iraq be able to survive against the terrorists and the extremists who are trying to crush their hopes, and part of the democracy is for a freedom movement, which will help create the conditions so that the extremists become marginalized and unable to recruit."
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 6:24 AM