The Baghdad Bugle, Iraq-Haiti-Libya (Iraq)

Iraq, April, 2012,

Contributed from Iraq;

The US military’s withdrawal did not have the positive impact that many had hoped with claims that Iran had simply replaced the US military. As a result, violence has increased sharply in Iraq in recent months. To distract the international community from their internal affairs, Syria and Iran have continued to supply logistical and financial support to terrorist organizations within Iraq in an attempt to destabilize the country., Hard evidence has been difficult to come by but has, and does continue to surface. Weapons and material uncovered to date point to obvious involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IEDs in the form of shaped charges, an Iranian speciality since at least 2006, RKG-EFP home made grenades, modified silencers, and rocket launchers for indirect fire capability stamped with Iranian symbols and serial numbers). Most of this equipment has been smuggled through Shia dominated Iraqi territory bordering with (Shia dominated) Iran. In addition to material aid, training has been provided in camps on the Iranian side of the border with Iraqi mediators being used to avoid direct contact with insurgent elements.  Syrian elements operate in a similar manner to Iraq’s North West.

Internally, constant political maneuvering and infighting for the most important positions of power has had a negative effect on the ground and on the development process. Mistrust between key political figures is having a very real impact on both relations between Iraqi citizens and their view of the government. The loss of faith in elected representatives is expected to contribute to reduced participation in the next round of elections. In Iraq there is a very real fear that this problem will push the country closer to civil war. Baghdad is seen as increasingly autocratic and not interested in the concerns of minor, yet significant portions of Iraqi society such as the Kurds, Sunni Arabs and even other Shia parties that do not belong to the party of President Nuri Al-Maliki. The minor parties are not looking to trade accusations. They simply want to address the factors leading to the increase in violence in order to avoid the citizens of Iraq becoming victims of the destabilization efforts of foreign elements. The ongoing violence requires serious attempts at compromise and power sharing to redress the damage, prevent Iraq from hemorrhaging, dividing and descending into civil war.

Comment - Any descent into 'civil war' is likely to be confined largely to the Centre of Iraq (Baghdad region) with the likelihood of 'animated' involvement from the West i.e. Ramadi and Fallujah. These two Sunni Arab dominated towns don't care much for the likes of Al Qaeda but they are extremely frustrated at the amateurs trying to run Iraq at present. Not even Saddam Hussein could control these towns properly and they were the principal bases for the local insurgency, not foreign element inspired terrorism, against American troops from '03 to -' The North, Kirkuk/Kurdistan is well under wraps, tightly controlled by both Asayish forces from the PDK and PUK political parties and backed up in large numbers by the Pershmerga, the Kurdish military. The North never experienced the insurgency and terrorism of the South since 2003. Neighbourhood Watch on steroids backed up by private prisons in control of the PDK and PUK saw to that. In the South, serious oilfield developments are under way on a number of fronts. The Shia, nationalist population based out of Basra are determined never to let any foreign power interfere with this national resource again. The collective memory of Iraq's experience with the English oil companies dating from the 1920's is considered an aberration that must never be allowed to happen again.

IRAQ 19 Dec 2011

Allawi was Iraq’s best hope for President in the Jan. 2005 elections. With Shia support, the Sunni population had a chance to realize this but shot themselves in the foot. Aside from terrorist intimidation, other Sunnis divided their own vote by supporting regional Sheikhs that they knew personally instead of looking at the election from a national perspective. The rest is history. Criticizing Allawi for being authoritarian is disingenuous as it is exactly what Iraq requires, short of mass graves. Allawi does need to pull his head in regarding the Americans however and comments about not finishing the job. Both boots-on-the-ground soldiers and civilians back home were fed up with the constant internal bickering at the expense of U.S.national treasure in all its forms.

IRAQ 22 January 2005

MEDIA WATCH

There are a lot of good Arab individuals over here but the Kurds are far more cohesive as a community. True, if you're a Kurdish politician you run a good chance of getting vaporised by the other guy if he thinks you're in his way but generally they're really friendly people. Of course the advantage for a Kurdish politician in wiping out one or several of his enemies in one hit is that it will be blamed on the insurgency....like the police. About 5 months ago a big deal was made out of approximately 50 'insurgents' carrying out a sustained attack on a police station. The attack, uncharacteristically, lasted for at least an hour and a half with the baddies coordinating their actions in a more or less professional 'fire and move' style attack. Instead of the usual 'spray and run' antics used by the deadbeats over here they continued their attack until they gained access to the station and went room to room in a clearing operation.

Result; A pile of experts pontificating on CNN etc about the increasing professionalism and determination of the insurgency. Nice story but the truth was a little closer to planet earth. Of the two main tribes in Tikrit one monopolized the police force through nepotism and sheer weight of numbers, a typical story for this country. Whenever somebody was picked up by the police following a criminal act in the town one guess and no prizes for picking which family was always accused. Not only was the tribe without the police connections constantly accused of every chicken stolen in the town but had to watch while the tribe with the connections carried on a lawless reign without fear of the authorities. Well, surprise, surprise, one day they obviously decided they had had enough. Some of these guys had obviously been skipping their anger management classes and decided to settle the issue once and for all.

Hence, all the air time ......

 

FINANCE

The International Institute for Strategic Studies produced a report on Iraq which revealed both the blinding intelligence and naivety of the people who advise our governments on trivial subjects such as warfare, reconstruction, development etc. The first part of the report was true about American aims and views in the Middle East and that the costings for the simplest projects in Iraq are absolute bollocks and a total waste of a colossal amount of money. So fair play to them, they do deserve little gold stars stuck on their foreheads for good work. Also, to be fair to the Americans many are aware of the problem and are beginning to tighten the purse strings. There are however, small, padded (and lockable) rooms for those who wrote the report and came up with the following solution to the problem. For the second stage of the reconstruction of Iraq,which we are now entering into, just hand over the bulk of the money to the Iraqi 'government' and let them get on with it. There are people over here in very high positions of authority you couldn't trust to change a flat tyre without stealing four of the nuts and not bothering to tighten the fifth, never mind a chunk of 18 billion dollars.

EMPLOYMENTSECTION

As an added feature The Bugle will be running an employment section this month for all Iraqis seeking local and national positions for the reconstruction of their country. To simplify the process and bring ourselves into line with national standards we won't bother with time consuming practices like job advertisements or asking for people's qualifications. To streamline the whole process this section will stick to advice only.

The uppermost priority in most employers minds for choosing a suitable applicant upon whom to spend American taxpayer's dollars is where and to whom the applicant was born. Some may have mistakenly believed that a minimum grounding in technical matters may have been preferable, possibly even necessary for the installation of some of the most sophisticated machinery being paid for and brought in from Western Europe and the United States. Individuals with this technical grounding must realise that they do not have the competence to install and operate this machinery unless their father was also born into a wealthy tribe or is sufficiently connected to whichever political party just happens to be riding the most recent political tide.

In the recent past being born into the right family of a Sunni Arab tribe qualified any individual as an administrator in any field. With the recent changes in the political landscape many applicants are now advised tochange fathers. In the Northern regions any position involving the supervision of five or more individuals applicants are advised to change their entire family, tribe and ethnic background. This process is not as cumbersome as it sounds. The Iraqi administration has been improving people’s qualifications and experience for years by wiping out all trace of individuals backgrounds for a modest fee. For those who are converting, or reconverting as the case may be, just pop down to your local government building with the necessary fee and help your friendly civil servant fill out the necessary forms.

For those who had the lack of foresight to be born in the countryside and notthe city apparent poverty and a large family will be proof of your abilityto carry out a task better than any of your competition. To emphasise your qualifications play on the genuine goodwill of any potential employer, his unspoken obligation to help his fellow man as another Muslim and large doses of pity.With all these factors taken into consideration nobody will even remember what the actual task is that is supposed to be carried out and the job,whatever it was, will be yours.

Next Month; How to behave when delegated any authority.

 

CIVIL/MILITARYAFFAIRS

Steady progress is being made with the ING, the new Iraqi army or 'Patriotic Citizens of Iraq' if translated literally. They are steadily gaining respect from the population and as an outsider you can see the progressive difference between them and the police. Both organisations needed a massive influx of volunteers to build their numbers but the approaches used by both organisations couldn't have been more different.

The four words which most accurately sum up the reasons for the current state of the police force are; Cowardice, Nepotism, Criminals and Incompetence. This frustrates many of the veterans who had to successfully complete a minimum of three years police college and are now forced to accept anybody solely based on the trading of political and tribal favours. Any fool who is concerned with minor details such as policing skills doesn't get invited to the table.

Just outside of Kirkuk we have a massive airfield about the size of 20 football stadiums being used by the Americans as a military base which means that even our local insurgents manage to hit it from to time with mortars when they get their eye in. The fact that they always launch from roughly the same area doesn't seem to bother one police station in particular. Well, as the saying goes, "What goes around ........

The Americans, having to patrol this area because those who are responsible for it find it inconvenient, set up a night Observation Post just recently. Nothing particularly discreet considering they regularly fire off flares to tell everybody they are there and warn off trouble makers. They even had concrete barriers around their vehicles to stop anybody ramming them. Being the commandos they are, this particular night the police from this famous station managed to rouse themselves to go out for a patrol. Now whether they had all just woken up at the same time, not seen the flares, mistook American armoured Humvee military vehicles and concrete barriers for local terrorists or just decided to have a pop at the Americans is unclear but what these geniuses did was turn off their lights, get out of their vehicle and open fire on the Americans. Bad move. Not famous for their marksmanship they didn't hit anybody but the Americans responded, killing at least one, wounding two and destroying their vehicle.

Poor visibility was no excuse. There is so much ambient light around Kirkuk from the clear Northern skies and all the oil wellhead fires burning off excess gas from the oilfields that you can see for at least a mile without any problem.

The ING, or New Iraqi Army, while not perfect like the rest of us, is a different kettle of fish. You'll end up with wasters in any military but they at least had a selection process. Somebody is imposing a certain discipline at least most of the time and they are constantly taking most of the exposure around the towns and out on the roads. Most of them are well presented and take a certain pride in what they do. And some of them are extremely pro-active. In the ranks there are guys you could put straight into any officer school and they would mix it with the best of them.

Contributors comparison of the Middle East to Northern Ireland;

Dear Editor

I would like to offer my congratulations to you foryour vision and judgement when you so rightly predicted the very timely, and asyet undiagnosed death of the terrorist leader and failed statesman Yasser Arafat (scepticism is an innate Scottish trait!). Myself, and the rest of the free world, watch with interest the consequences of Arafat's death and the effect it has on the ensuing Middle East peace process.

In the UK, the announcement that the government has accepted a ceasefire declaration from the protestant loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the recent dialogue between Gerry Adam's Sinn Fein Party and Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) at Leeds Castle in Kent bids well for the future of the Northern Ireland(NI) peace process. However, the death of Yasser Arafat has not gone unnoticed on the battle scarred streets of NI, where he was revered on thenationalist/republican half of the political-religious divide and despised fromthe loyalist/unionist side. Deemed as a leader of an oppressed nation Arafat's plight was easily recocnisable to the nationalist community and their own struggle with the "British Oppressors".

Perhaps things would have been different for the Palestines and the Middle East if Arafat had been able to make the transitionfrom terrorist to statesman as convincingly as Nelson Mandela and perhaps indue course Gerry Adams himself. This, however, does not condone the actions of Adams and the IRA of using terror as the vehicle forgetting to the political bargaining table.

In NI there is an inbred culture of whatever one side supports the other opposes, and events in the Middle East are no exception tothis rule. Claims by the loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force(UVF)that Ulster's protestants can trace their roots back to the sacred land ofIsrael, and the nationalist's support for Arafat and the PLO is an ample enoughexcuse for loyalists to rejoice in the death of the PLO leader. For the firsttime in nearly 30 years peace in NI is a realistic and viable option, however,the chance to "get one over" the archenemy, still is and perhaps always will be anessential ingredient in the Irish psyche.

Closer to home, Arafat's death and theIsraeli-Palestine conflict has touched the religious divide here in Scotland.In an example of the sheer perversness of the sectarian differences that plagueScotland and in particular the shallow world of Scottish Football, on the nightof Arafat's death Scotland's two famous football teamswere playing each other in Glasgow. On one side there was the predominantlyprotestant Glasgow Rangers, who's fanswear England football shirts, sing pro English/British songs, carry effigies ofthe 17th century protestant King William, stand to attention for the anti-Scottish "God Save the Queen", and in a last ditch attempt to antagonise their cross-city rivals wrap themselves in the flag of Israel! In a city fuelled bysectarian hatred the predominantly catholic Glasgow Celtic fans are no better, dressed in the Republic of Ireland shirts, singing anti-British pro IRA songs, and drapped in the flag of the PLO!

The processes of peace may be underway but on thestreets of Glasgow and Belfast sectarianism, bigotry and innate hatred are rife. The death of Yasser Arafat may indeed be the catalyst that fast tracksthe Middle East to a long and lasting peace, and if so Editor yourpremise of "the world being a better place" after Arafat's death would be an exceptional prophesy! However, once a sceptic alwaysa sceptic...........!!

Slainte Mhath

 

This one is a straight ‘cut and paste’ job but for anybody who is interested it does paint quite an accurate picture. Aside from the political control the Kurds have also taken almost complete control of the commercial aspects of Kirkuk, monopolising virtually every major contract in the city and refusing any available positions both in the public and private sector to many Turks and Arabs.

CONTROL OF KIRKUK FORETELLS POWER STRUGGLE
By Sarah El Deeb
ASSOCIATED PRESS#

KIRKUK, Iraq — Iraq's long-suppressed Kurds have converged on oil-rich Kirkuk to claim it as their own, setting the stage for a struggle that will affectthis country profoundly once the Americans hand over power to a new Iraqileadership. Already, tensions are rising among the Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen ethnic groupsvying for control of the city. Despite their shared Muslim faith, the three communities have been distrustingand killing each other for centuries. The hatred boiled over in May with thedeaths of 11 persons, then in August when at least another 11 were killed.Clashes left two more dead on New Year's Eve. "This is not the Arabs' homeland. Their home is in the south," saidRibawar Ibrahim, a 25-year-old Kurd who fought Saddam Hussein's rule. Mr. Ibrahim is a "peshmerga," or "one who faces death," whomarched with American forces and Kurdish comrades during the invasion of Iraqlast year. He gave up his weapons after the fall of Kirkuk but is willing to pick up a gunagain to keep the city in Kurdish hands. To ease tensions, U.S. troops are confiscating weapons and maintaining anighttime curfew.

For centuries, Iraq's rulers have used ethnicity as a tool for controllingKirkuk, which forms a natural border between Kurdish-majority northern Iraq andthe Arab-majority south. Kirkuk was a Kurdish town until the late 19th century, when Ottoman rulers encouragedTurkish-speaking settlers to stay. The last reliable census, in 1957, found that the Kurdish population of Kirkukwas reduced to 48.3 percent. Arabs comprised 28.2 percent and Turkmen 21.2percent. By the time Saddam came to power in 1979, his ruling Ba'ath Party's policy of"Arabization" of Kirkuk was in full swing — Arabs from central andsouthern Iraq were given financial incentives to settle here. Kurdish officialssay about 300,000 Kurds were evicted and forced to move north.

The northern provinces became free of Saddam's control after the 1991 PersianGulf war under a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone. The provinces became autonomouslygoverned by Kurdish militias and parties. Since the collapse of Saddam's regime, about 35,000 Kurds have moved intoKirkuk, a city of 1.2 million people, and an estimated 100,000 Arabs have fled,said Kirkuk Deputy Gov. Hasseeb Rosh-Bayani. Many of the Kurds are occupying government buildings, museums, former Ba'athParty headquarters, old British forts and the city's main soccer stadium. Once a colorful ethnic cauldron, Kirkuk today has an entirely Kurdish face.Kurds dominate the police force, the new mayor is a Kurd, and Kurdish schoolshave sprung up everywhere. "They took advantage of the situation. The Kurds took over official posts,they took over institutions, even buildings. They just inherited the oldregime," said Hussein Ali Saleh, a local Arab leader.

Kurds initially wanted a democratic Iraq to be divided into two federal states— Kurd and Arab. But most Iraqis and neighbouring countries objected, fearingethnic separatism would flare. Kurds now are leaning toward the idea of creating a half-dozen smaller autonomous states with Kirkuk belonging to one of the Kurdish states. But Arabs prefer to retain the 18 governates that existed under Saddam. Theyare demanding more representation in the U.S.-installed Iraqi Governing Council, now consisting of 11 Kurds, six Arabs, six Turkmen and six Assyrians. Many fear the militias will shed blood after the Americans withdraw. "If they leave, it will be really serious in here," said Col. Burhan Taha, a Turkmen policeman. "The police force can't parallel the militias of the political parties."

IRAQ - Anon. 28 July 2004

While the rights and wrongs of the invasion of Iraq continueto be debated, one fact remains. The U.S. took a (long overdue) sledgehammer to the status quo in the Middle East in 2003, what Bashar al-Assad referred to as the ‘Western conspiracy to destroy the Arab way of life through the use of technology.’ Trading accusations and counter charges is a sad, pathetic and forseeable consequence of the U.S. ending the gravy train to a tiny minority (in Iraq), a minority hell-bent on exploiting their own for personal enrichment rather than building their own country. While grave errors were made by the U.S., the unfashionable concept of personal responsibility will now have to be taken by this tiny cabal. The Great Satan label used by the Iranian regime will look more ridiculous by the day.

Dear Readers;

This is the June edition of the Baghdad Bugle. We guarantee swift delivery of the July edition sometime around mid-October.
 
Bashir Village- Northern Iraq. Kirkuk Region.
'The Bashir Agreement' is considered a prototype, or starting point in what will be the extremely, long, difficult and costly process of land repatriation between the former and present owners of large swathes of land, particularly in Northern Iraq. The genocidal maniac running this country just recently, affectionately referred to as 'Saddam' ran a rather different type of program, 'Arabisation' (of the North) in an effort to dilute his old enemy, the Kurdish population and his perceived enemy, theTurkish population. Bashir village, principally Turkish, had 23 members of its community randomly selected, taken out and executed by Saddam's henchmen with the reasonable explanation provided that they were agents of Iran. The remainder of the population were thrown out of their homes and an Arab population promptly installed. The Turks in turn, promptly set up a miniature tent city beside the village, the tents being provided by those fearless defenders of freedom at the U.N. They are still there to this day eyeing their former homes from sunrise to sunset and patently aware that the pendulum is slowly swinging back the other way. An extremely articulate, highly experienced American negotiator, fluent in Arabic and with decades of experience in the Middle East is currently cobbling together the Bashir agreement in an effort to right past wrongs and make some sense of it to the second generation of Arabs who have begun growing up in Bashir. Very few, however competent, would want her job. The locals have a different way of sorting out their differences as we saw recently. A couple of Arabs made the mistake of going over to the water pump supplying the Turks. The Turks took exception to this and confronted the offenders. Personally, I didn't think any religion in the world allowed a man to refuse water to another but feelings run pretty deep at Bashir. A fist fight ensued, which was 'resolved' and both parties returned to their homes. A short time later the AK 47 Russian assault rifles were broken out on both sides (1 AK47 and one loaded magazine is allowed per house for self defence.) and a 15 minute firefight began. The police and new Iraqi army arrived on the scene and prudently decided not to get involved, throwing up a cordon around the area and waiting for the bullets to run out. After the festivities had died down everyone was pleased to report that no-one was injured except one of the policemen on the cordon who had accidentally discharged his AK 47 and shot himself in the foot.

 

Your intrepid reporter recently met with several important members of the most powerful political party in Northern Iraq. Due to the amount of excellent dark rum on hand he was unable pose any serious, intelligent or probing questions which may have enlightened his readers to the true situation in Iraq. He was, however, asked by these very important members of this emerging society for his predictions for the future of Iraq (to which he gladly agreed as long as his glass was kept full). Economy; A two speed Iraq with the North picking up significant speed within the next 5 years. Capital investments, particularly land, will show unprecedented gains. i.e. Get in now or forget it. The South, despite all the money being pumped into it will probably take at least 10 - 15 years before Joe Citizen starts to feel a significant difference. Baghdad property, in the twilight zone, will however continue to appreciate significantly. Politically; You can hear a pin drop when a Westerner gives his opinion on this one. They need to achieve their goals in at least 2 steps. 1. Force the powers that be in Baghdad to accept their presence in the constitution which is currently being written. This is a thorny one. The Arabs want to centralise all power in Baghdad and the Kurds are ultimately trying to achieve an independant state in the North. 'Pluralism' I think is the cocktail party word for what the Kurds must achieve in the new constitution and nothing less. 2. Once Baghdad is forced to at least accept their presence then they must run Kurdistan on their own terms. In the sweep of history every major power that has come into contact with the Kurds has..the technical term is 'shafted them', a common term for the Bugle's readers eludes me at the moment. Anyway...they must take this once in a lifetime opportunity to finally stamp into the map of Iraq the territory of Kurdistan once and for all or lose it forever despite what the Syrians, the Turks, the Iranians or the Americans think. By this stage I could have been mistaken for thinking that more than a few were in agreement. The twinkles in their eyes were unmistakable. Any future conflicts in the Middle East will of course be covered by the Bugle in its typically unbiased, balanced and totally professional manner.

January 18, 2004 Baghdad Bombing

January 18, 2004 marked the turning point in the two distinct forms of the Iraqi insurgency against Coalition forces in Iraq. As opposed to the locally focussed Sunni guerilla insurgency West of Baghdad targeting military personnel, January 18, 2004 marked the beginning of outright terrorism in it’s purest forms. Official definitions by the FBI describing violent, dangerous acts, intimidation, coercion and political acts skirt around the brutality of this Baghdad bombing. The intent of the VBIED (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) at the main gate to the former presidential palace was twofold. The immediate intent was to kill as many defenceless Iraqi citizens as possible lining up to begin work. The wider, political intent was to dissuade all Iraqi civilians from providing logistical and operational support for Coalition Forces in the newly established Headquarters. 

Due to the fortified location, the physical damage was mostly to human beings, approximately ‘twenty odd’human fatalilties and over one hundred casualties with the death toll expected to rise over the following days. Western perceptions and definitions of terrorism fail to take into account the realities of Iraqi culture, both social and religious, and the Iraqi economy. Previous Ba’ath government sponsored acts of terrorism against it’s own people had created  a very dark form of resilience and capacity to cope in its population. As a result, the impacts of the bombing were borne for the most part by the immediate victims and their families, rather than the local economy, population and infrastructure.  Sectarian inspired fatalism, combined with no real employment opportunities, saw local Iraqi civilians soon lining up to take the jobs of those who had just been killed. Families have to be fed and killings are often rationalised as ‘God wanting these good people to be with him in heaven’.

The true impacts of the bombing were both hidden and overt. The severe casualties died unnoticed in their homes and in the underresourced Iraqi hospitals in the ‘Medical District’ of Baghdad, also subject to regular bombings in the following months. The overt impacts were more obvious on the Coalition Provisional Authority than the primary intended target, the Iraqi population.  Vehicles were ‘up-armoured’ and all civilian contractors were on notice to take their security and dealings with the local population seriously or be deported to their country of origin. ‘We’ began to put up our own barriers with the very population that we were supposed to be assisting to rebuild their economy and infrastructure. Construction and oversight costs soared along with corruption and cultural suspicion at every level of the rebuilding effort, handing an unintended defacto victory to the terrorists. In the same manner that the local Iraqi civilians were not dissuaded from working with Coalition Forces, the ‘true terrorist’ element of the insurgency was not dissuaded either. As they became more organised and better financed over the coming months the bombings increased, killing individual CF personnel and an ever increasing number of Iraqi civilians. 

 

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