Showing posts with label War Iraq. Show all posts
Showing posts with label War Iraq. Show all posts

July 6, 2016

UK Decision Going into Iraq Criticized in Inquiry (IRAQ War in pics) “Trump Remarks"

The 2.6 million-word Iraq Inquiry report was released Wednesday, in which probe chairman John Chilcot criticized the United Kingdom and former Prime Minister Tony Blair for their decision to invade Iraq in 2003 "based on flawed intelligence." Blair said that while he made the war decision "in good faith and in what [he] believed to be the best interests of the country", he admits that going to war was the "most agonizing" decision he ever made.
Include the following visualizations for a timeline of the Iraq War as well as UK military deaths in post-WWII conflicts and in the Iraq War specifically.
Breaking: Donald Trump praised former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for his strategic handling of terrorism in Iraq at a campaign rally Tuesday night in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Include the following visualizations to show the rise of terrorism in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was removed from power. 

October 17, 2015

Pres.Obama Changes Mind about Afghanistan, Why?

 Americans Training Afghanistan forces

As he described the factors that went into his decision to keep American troops in Afghanistan, the one word President Obama did not mention on Thursday was Iraq. 
Four years ago, he stuck to his plan to pull out of Iraq, only to watch the country collapse back into sectarian strife and a renewed war with Islamic extremists. Facing a similar situation in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama has decided not to follow a similar course.

Whether keeping a residual American force in Iraq would have made a difference is a point of contention, but the president chose not to take a chance this time. In seeking to avoid a repeat of the Iraq meltdown by keeping 9,800 troops in Afghanistan next year and 5,500 after he leaves office, he abandoned his hopes of ending the two wars he inherited.
In Reversal, Obama Says U.S. Soldiers Will Stay in Afghanistan to 2017OCT. 15, 2015
Dr. Joanne Liu, the president of Doctors Without Borders, spoke on Wednesday in Geneva.Obama Issues Rare Apology Over Bombing of Doctors Without Borders Hospital in AfghanistanOCT. 7, 2015
While not openly drawing lessons from the Iraq withdrawal, Mr. Obama drew an implicit distinction by emphasizing that the new Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani, unlike the Baghdad government in 2011, still supported an American military presence and has taken the legal steps to make it possible. 

“In the Afghan government, we have a serious partner who wants our help,” Mr. Obama said in a televised statement from the White House. “And the majority of the Afghan people share our goals. We have a bilateral security agreement to guide our cooperation.”

Lisa Monaco, his homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, later addressed the comparison during a conference call with reporters. “The differences are clear from 2011,” she said. “The Afghan government has asked us to stay, has invited us in, wants to work with us and wants to have an enduring partnership,” she said.

By contrast, said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, “in 2011, we didn’t have that effective cooperation from the Iraqi central government.”

In 2011, the Obama administration and the Iraqi government of Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, then the prime minister, negotiated over the possibility of keeping thousands of American troops there after the end of the year but bogged down in a dispute over liability for American forces. Ultimately, Mr. Obama gave up and decided to stick to the original schedule for a 2011 withdrawal enshrined in an agreement reached between President George W. Bush and Mr. Maliki at the end of 2008.

Mr. Obama then went on the campaign trail seeking re-election boasting about pulling out all troops from Iraq. But without an American presence, Mr. Maliki turned increasingly sectarian, repressing Sunnis and aligning more closely with Iran. Critics argue the vacuum left by departing American troops fueled the rise of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Mr. Obama has since sent back about 3,000 American troops to help a new Iraqi government fight the Islamic State.

Similarly, in Afghanistan, despite years of fighting and a temporary increase in American troops there at the start of Mr. Obama’s presidency, the Taliban have made a comeback, a point starkly underscored by the brief takeover of the city of Kunduz, while the Islamic State has begun making inroads as well. 

Mr. Obama’s plan to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan other than a small embassy contingent by the time he left office always struck national security experts in both parties as untenable, and most assumed he would reverse himself. A bipartisan group of former officials, including two of Mr. Obama’s defense secretaries, released a report this week urging him to keep troops there.

Stephen J. Hadley, a national security adviser to Mr. Bush and a signatory to the report, said on Thursday that Mr. Obama presumably wanted to “avoid giving the Republicans another issue” after the setbacks in Iraq. 

The White House rejected such interpretations. “I can tell you that politics played absolutely no role in the president’s decision-making here,” Mr. Earnest said.

Even if it did, Republicans in Congress like Senator John McCain of Arizona and Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio only gave Mr. Obama partial credit, applauding his decision to reverse the withdrawal while contending more forces were still needed.

Security analysts said the new plan may be just enough to preserve the status quo. “Keeping 5,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan with a training and direct action mission may prevent the country from deteriorating as quickly as Iraq did after the U.S. withdrawal in 2011,” said Seth Jones, an Afghanistan specialist at the RAND Corporation. “But it’s unclear whether it will be enough to turn the Afghan ship around.”

Antiwar activists, however, expressed disappointment that Mr. Obama went back on his word, pointing to the recent bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital as an example of the increasing cost of war. Keeping troops for a 15th year, they said, would likely make no more difference than they had during the previous 14 years.

“This is disastrous,” said Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of “Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror,” a new book on the Islamic State. “The notion that the lesson of Iraq is keeping a military occupation permanently in place is somehow the answer is absolutely the wrong lesson.”

Mr. Obama has long made it clear he is loath to commit American military forces to the region, especially ground troops, deeming it a largely losing proposition that costs American lives without fixing the problems being addressed. And he repeated on Thursday that he opposes “endless war.”

But he views Afghanistan as more directly tied to American interests than Iraq or Syria, since it was the base from which Al Qaeda planned its attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. And Mr. Obama does not want to pass along to his successor a fraying situation in Afghanistan on top of the current turmoil in Syria and Iraq.

The presence of 5,500 troops — down from more than 100,000 at its peak — may make only a modest difference militarily. But Mr. Obama is gambling that it matters politically by showing that the United States will not give up on the Kabul government and leave a vacuum for other forces to fill.

“We’ve made an enormous investment in a stable Afghanistan,” Mr. Obama said. “Afghans are making difficult but genuine progress. This modest but meaningful extension of our presence — while sticking to our current, narrow missions — can make a real difference. It’s the right thing to do.”

August 14, 2015

Because of His last name Jeb started debating Iraq All Over Again, Smart?


There are none among the 22 presidential hopefuls in the 2016 field for whom Iraq is more fraught than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Now Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, and Bush, one of the leading Republican candidates, are both striving to frame a debate rekindled by the rise of the Islamic State.
On Tuesday night, after weeks of exchanging increasingly direct blows with Clinton, Bush took the stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to offer “a vision for confronting and defeating radical Islamic terrorism,” as his campaign described it.

But first, Bush suggested that the Iraq War might have been won after his brother, George W., ordered the 2007 surge, had not President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton squandered its gains.

“That premature withdrawal was the fatal error, creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill – and that Iran has exploited to the full as well,” Bush said. “And where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away.”

Just days ago, Clinton responded to months of Republican assaults on her foreign-policy record and attempts to tie her to recent crises and anxiety about the Islamic State.

“We can’t go back to cowboy diplomacy and reckless war-mongering,” she said in a speech on Jeb’s home turf in Florida, not mentioning him by name but clearly alluding to his brother’s brand of foreign policy. “We can’t go back to a go-it-alone foreign policy that views American boots on the ground as a first choice rather than as a last resort. We have paid too high a price.”

That speech, on Cuba, opened up a new chapter in Clinton’s campaign. Previously, she had kept some distance from her national security experience. As Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., put it in the first GOP presidential debate last week: “If this election is a resumé competition, then Hillary Clinton’s gonna be the next president.”

But in the wake of the Iran deal and a general GOP focus on national security, her campaign seems to have calculated that now is the time to seize control of the narrative, and offer a diplomacy-first foreign policy, her slightly more hawkish version of Obama’s.

Clinton senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said this tack is nothing new. “She welcomes the opportunity to debate how to deal with ISIS and other terrorist groups,” he said in a “pre-buttal” to Bush’s speech. As Obama’s secretary of state for four years, he said, “Of course she believes that [national security] has to be a central issue in this campaign.”

Yet Bush has also emphasized other issues, trying to draw attention to his business experience and economic record as governor of Florida. He’s struggled with the inevitable questions of how he’ll handle his family’s foreign policy legacy, but continues to insist he’s “his own man.”

In May, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked Bush whether he would’ve invaded Iraq as his brother had, knowing what we know now. He responded, “I would have [authorized the invasion], and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody.” By reminding of Clinton’s vote for the Iraq War as a senator, he was trying to neutralize a likely Democratic line of attack.

Kelly brought it up again while moderating last week’s GOP debate. This time, Bush said, “Knowing what we know now, with faulty intelligence, and not having security be the first priority when we invaded, it was a mistake.” He added that Obama “abandoned Iraq.”

Bush hopes voters will accept the GOP interpretation of history: that the Obama administration, including Clinton, lost post-surge Iraq and allowed the Islamic State to rise. “So why was the success of the surge followed by a withdrawal from Iraq, leaving not even the residual force that commanders and the Joint Chiefs knew was necessary?” Bush asked Tuesday. And where was Clinton? “In all her record-setting travels, she stopped by Iraq exactly once.”

This glosses over a few key facts. It was President Bush who set the deadline for withdrawal in 2011, for example, and the Obama administration that tried and failed to persuade the Iraqi government to let the U.S. troops stay. Jeb is betting that American voters won’t remember it that way, especially amid the brutal immediacy of ISIS’s broadcasted beheadings.

In his pre-buttal, Sullivan said, “ISIS grew out of al Qaeda in Iraq. And where did AQI come from? It didn’t exist before the invasion.” As for Clinton’s travels: “The key issue is not how many times does a plane touch down at the airport, it’s how intensive and effective is the engagement that leads to progress.”

Bush and other Republicans have been quick to blame the “Obama-Clinton doctrine” for today’s global insecurities. As Bush put it, “Who can seriously argue that America and our friends are safer today than in 2009?”

But few have explained how they would defeat the Islamic State or defuse other threats. In advance of the speech, Bush campaign officials promised “specific prescriptions for addressing the threat of global jihad,” but they were absent, at least, from the excerpts they sent.

“Instead of simply reacting to each new move the terrorists choose to make, we will use every advantage we have – to take the offensive, to keep it, and to prevail,” Bush said at the speech, calling broadly for the U.S. to “engage with friends and allies,” “lead again,” and “begin rebuilding the armed forces of the United States.”

“A winning strategy against the Islamic State, or against any threat to ourselves and our friends, depends ultimately on the military strength that underwrites American influence,” he said. “For generations, American-led alliances, American diplomacy, and American credibility deterred aggression and defended the peace. This is the way forward.”

Of the policy recommendations Bush did lay out in his speech, many did not differ dramatically from those advocated for or considered by the Obama administration. At contrast to other candidates such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., he did not explicitly call for tens of thousands of U.S. troops to be deployed against the Islamic State. 

“We must make better use of the limited forces we have by giving them a greater range of action,” he said. “We do not need, and our friends do not ask for, a major commitment of American combat forces.”

But several of his policy pronouncements would require far more significant use of U.S. military power and could make such a “major commitment” a necessity. He called for the embedding of U.S. troops with Iraqi forces toward the front lines of the fight against ISIS; arming the Kurds directly, a move explicitly opposed by the Iraqi government; and establishing “multiple safe zones” and a no-fly zone in Syria. 

Sullivan responded by echoing the Obama administration’s slam on opponents of the Iran deal: They won’t recommend alternatives, because the one they want is war.

Bush “appears to propose doing pretty much the same thing that President Obama is doing,” Sullivan said. “If that is what he wants – more American boots on the ground in combat in Iraq – he should come out and say so.”

But Sullivan also noted gaps between Clinton and Obama’s thinking on the Islamic State. “She supported more early and aggressive efforts to train the Syrian moderate opposition, and believes that could’ve contributed to greater stability in the region,” he said. “She’s glad the president is doing that now.”

And he took this veiled swipe at Bush and the rest of the Republican field: “She just thinks, from her actual experience as secretary of state, the world is more complicated than that, and requires more subtlety, sophistication and strength in leadership.”

August 9, 2015

Iraq in Danger of Splitting into Several Nations

 Reception to then Pres. Bush in Iraq(shoe thrown by Iraqi journalist)

Iraq as we know it is in danger. Which means it’s time to start thinking about what the nation will look like if it does disintegrate, and consider what policy challenges would then confront the world. 
Though Iraq’s three major ethnic groups — Sunnis, Shia and Kurds — live in generally distinct geographic regions, there will be nothing neat or clean about a breakup. A split won’t calm political waters nor will it bring near-term stability. And for US policy? The already labyrinthine geopolitical puzzle will become even more maddeningly complex.
Let’s break it down into what would happen in each of Iraq’s three ethnic enclaves.

Could We See a Kurdistan?

The most predicable and stable of the three is the Kurdish region in the north. Recall that Saddam Hussein ruthlessly persecuted the Kurds, even using chemical weapons against them in 1988. As a result, the international community protected the region aggressively after the 1990 Gulf War, devoting NATO warplanes to patrol the skies and keep Hussein at bay. This helped the Kurds build what is now the most homogeneous, prosperous and stable part of Iraq — with probably the most effective fighting force, the so-called Peshmerga.
But the Kurds want independence for more reasons than just the violence in the south.
Kurds could eventually offer the U.S. bases. 
Having grabbed the oil-rich area of Kirkuk, Kurds have already begun exporting the oil through a pipeline running west to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Access to that oil could not only make Kurdistan independent — but also a wealthy, more secure, independent state.
Soldier in uniform with machine gun
Splintering, Splitting Iraq
And then there’s the matter of Turkey, which may, surprisingly, be amenable to an independent Iraqi Kurdish state. The once-fervent separatist movement among Kurds within Turkey has lost steam; Prime Minister Erdogan has lifted many formerly oppressive restrictions on their language rights and allowed Turkish Kurds fuller political participation. Also, Turkey, hungry for oil, likes the prospect of a friendly oil-supplier on its border. A Kurdish state could actually serve Turkey well, providing a buffer of sorts for Turkey, victim of harsh al-Qaida attacks in the past, against the chaos further south. A Kurdish state would likely get cozy with the U.S. too; they’re already coming to the U.S. to request weapons and military support. And here’s a big idea — Kurds could eventually offer the U.S. bases in exchange for that aid. Which would mean a foothold for Washington, a secure location other than — or in addition to — Baghdad, from which to attack al-Qaida in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Moderates vs. ISIS in the Sunni “Caliphate”

This takes us to the second key enclave: the Sunni heartland of western and central Iraq. The region, now dominated by ISIS, looks headed for enforced Sharia law — unless Sunnis opposed to this fate can resist what now seems inevitable.
We could soon see a power struggle between radical Islamists and moderate Sunnis.
ISIS this week declared an Islamic “caliphate” to be governed by Sharia law. They have taken over most major towns, captured banks and other institutions, and seized control of border posts in Jordan and Syria (the latter obliterating that border, causing ISIS-controlled territory in Syria to bleed into Iraq). 
The many Sunnis who oppose the ISIS ideology are in the fight mainly to protest the punishing approach Prime Minister Maliki’s Shia-dominated government has taken toward them. We could soon see a power struggle between radical Islamists and moderate Sunnis, some of whom have no interest in imposing Sharia law. Those moderates are striving to regain the dominant role they had in Saddam’s Sunni-dominated government.
Kids and people surrounding a truck
Thousands of people have fled Iraq’s city of Mosul after it was overrun by ISIS.
For now, ISIS is poised to prevail in any such struggle. They control guns, money and governance. And despite their well-publicized brutality, they know that to get any public support, they have to soften the blow by providing social services. So in some of the areas they control, they are doing everything from repairing power lines to collecting garbage, fixing potholes, rebuilding markets and re-establishing postal services.
But there will be nothing soft about ISIS’ approach to the neighborhood outside their control. They threaten the Kurds, the Shia-controlled areas, not to mention neighboring countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
If ISIS holds on to power, it means they will be operating as a terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East. This from a group with a clearly stated ambition to outdo Bin Laden in their global reach and impact.

Shia Land: Iran’s Backyard

The third piece of any Iraqi partition — the Shia area from Baghdad stretching south — faces the most uncertain future. It’s under attack from ISIS and is deeply divided within.
Expect any Shia-dominated government that survives in what remains of Iraq to be an annex of Iran.
The Baghdad-based Iraqi Parliament convenes this week, but it’s anyone’s guess whether Shia Prime Minister al-Maliki can hang on to power. In the coming weeks, we’ll likely see Shia politicians trying to stave off military defeat. And the question remains: Can the Shias try to bring Sunnis and Kurds into a governing coalition (a near hopeless cause) or will they have to go it alone? 
Shia-governed Iran next door is much more involved in the region than the U.S. — and they will be loathe to allow Sunni terrorists to overrun a neighboring Shia power. So expect any Shia-dominated government that survives in what remains of Iraq to be essentially an annex of Iran.

No Clear-Cut Solution

Every option has a significant downside. As the regions splinter, the U.S. will find itself amid a multinational spaghetti junction with confusing new alliances and enemies to parse.
If the U.S. decides its overriding objective is to crush ISIS, then it has a problem: Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Stamping out ISIS lifts pressure from Assad, whom ISIS is trying to vanquish. Targeting ISIS means the U.S. must simultaneously work directly to depose Assad, which it so far has hesitated to do.
Perhaps the biggest plot thickener: As Iran works to keep ISIS from overrunning Baghdad, it may have to swallow an alliance of convenience with the “Great Satan” — the United States. And as Sunni-governed Saudi Arabia seeks to thwart ISIS’ new threats to cross into Saudi territory, it may have to work with … arch regional rival Iran, a nation the Saudis are facing off against simultaneously in the proxy war in Syria.
But terrifying as each possibility may be, stepping back from this messy map is not an option. Because to make no choice is to choose.

John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin is the former deputy director of the CIA. He writes a regular column on OZY called “The Spy Who Told Me” and teaches at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

September 8, 2014

Obama Cleaning after Bush’s Mess in Iraq a broken dangerous state


Let’s remember who got us into this mess in Iraq, despite plenty of warnings—from Republicans, even—that this is where it would all lead us. Blame Bush? In this case, absolutely.

A picture is coming into focus now, is it not? As I write the United States has launched more than 80 air strikes against the Islamic State. As the strikes have already expanded—and in my view properly so—beyond the original goals of saving the Yazidis and protecting American people and property in Erbil, there’s no clear telling of where and when they will end.
So let me run this depressing thought by you: They have every chance of ending with Barack Obama, and undoubtedly his successor as well, having to prosecute the war that George W. Bush and his geniuses made inevitable with their lies and errors and perversions of law and criminally irresponsible fantasies about this Iraq that they promised us would reveal itself before our eyes as painlessly and quickly and even beautifully as a rose coming to bloom in time-lapse photography.
Conservative readers are already tweeting: Here we go, blame Bush again. Well, in a word, yes. I’m afraid these dots are preposterously easy to connect. But first, we have a date with the wayback machine.
I have been looking back over a few predictions about the Iraq War from back in 2002 and 2003. Recall Dick Cheney: “Weeks rather than months.” Also “we will be greeted as liberators.” Paul Wolfowitz: “There's a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” Wolfowitz again, since he was to my mind the most Satanic of the bunch: “It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army. Hard to imagine.”
Well, you know the rest. I could fill a book with these little memories. I could also fill another book—but a slenderer one, since so many of our “leading intellectuals” and so much of our foreign-policy establishment types noted the prevailing winds and hyped themselves into a pro-war frenzy—with grim predictions. But I’ll limit myself to two.
The first: “Possibly the most dire consequences would be the effect in the region. The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S. The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There would be an explosion of outrage against us. We would be seen as ignoring a key interest of the Muslim world in order to satisfy what is seen to be a narrow American interest.”
And second: “While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf. Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guidelines about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in mission creep, and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs.”  
Pretty good, that first one. Holds up. Noam Chomsky? A Nation editorial? Nope. Brent Scowcroft, writing in The Wall Street Journal. The second is a bit of a giveaway, what with that first sentence, but the mordant irony of it is still delicious: That was Scowcroft writing with none other than George W. Bush’s father.
George H.W. Bush and Scowcroft could not have known, writing in 1998, what those “incalculable human and political costs” would be. But they were on the right track, and now, we know. A jihadist organization unlike any we’ve seen before that was birthed (as al-Qaeda in Iraq) in the chaos of post-invasion Iraq around the time when the Iraqi people, we were told, were going to be tossing rose petals at our soldiers’ feet.
Yes, others deserve blame too—Obama (which I’ve written before) because of his Syria policy; the Iraqis themselves, chiefly Nouri al-Maliki, for freezing the Sunnis out of the government; and Bashar al-Assad, who’s been busy killing innocents and until recently winking at ISIS. But the group sprang to life because our invasion uncorked these sectarian forces in precisely the way Scowcroft (and others) predicted—only, in all likelihood, with more violence and vehemence than even he could have foreseen.
So this war, the one we’re starting now against the Islamic State, is the direct descendant of the Bush war. In fact, they’re not even different wars; just different chapters in the same war, precisely as if, after Hitler shot himself, an even more extreme and fanatical menagerie of Nazis arose out of Croatia or somewhere, and we needed another few years, another few trillion dollars, and another few thousand war dead to knock them down.
What are Obama’s choices? They are few. One hopes that we can continue these air strikes and really knock ISIS back on its heels—that air strikes alone can do the job while Iraq rallies under its new prime minister and becomes a real country. One hopes also that the leading Arab and Muslim nations join the fight. But whatever exact form it assumes, this war will take a long, long time. It could lead to our bombing ISIS positions not just in Iraq but in Syria too. It will certainly run into the next presidency. And no, Rand Paulites, we can’t just get out. Letting the Islamic State grow isn’t really an option.
How can things have reached this point of tragic inescapability? For a hundred reasons. But they started in the first place for one reason: We made war in Iraq, and we made it dishonestly and frivolously and stupidly. 

August 9, 2014

US Finally Launches Air Attacks in Iraq Still Trying to Fix past Pres. Mistakes

 U.S. Launches Airstrikes on ISIS Forces

One of the thousands of Iraqi Christians forced to flee their homes to escape Sunni militants described his escape from the violence Friday. The 42-year-old, who NBC News has agreed to call Sameer for his own safety, was forced to leave his liquor shop in Bartella, a Christian enclave near the city of Mosul that was overrun Wednesday by militants from Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)."I heard today that ISIS fighters broke into my shop and destroyed it," he said. "My store is a part of my house, I'm afraid they might burn it, if this happened my house also would be burned. I left about $30,000 of stuff in my store, that’s all that I own."
When Sameer heard that militants were poised to seize his town, the father-of-three waited until nightfall then drove his family to the city of Erbil, five hours away. Elderly and religious figures who stayed behind in Bartella were forced to convert to Islam, pay a $200 fine or face execution, he said. Sameer's account emerged as the Pentagonannounced it had carried out airstrikes on ISIS militants to protect Erbil.

January 16, 2014

Dessert Storm Discovered

Operation Desert Storm — Declassified
This is the first page of the National Security Directive that authorized the start of U.S. military action in the Persian Gulf from January 15, 1991.  You can see all three pages of the top secret directive here.  

April 28, 2013

Iraq's Sunnis Form Tribal Army=Civil War

 Sectarian Violence Builds

Iraqi anti-government gunmen from Sunni tribes in western Anbar province march during a protest in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, Friday.
Azhar Shallal/AFP/Getty Images
Sectarian tensions are fueling violence and protests in Iraq, where more than 170 people have been killed since Tuesday, when government forces clashed with Sunni Muslim protesters at a demonstration camp in Hawija, near Kirkuk.
That incident left at least 23 dead, outraged Iraq's Sunni minority, and stoked fears among some Iraqis that their country is heading for a new civil war. Several deadly attacks have been staged on Iraqi soldiers and police this week.
"Everybody has the feeling that Iraq is becoming a new Syria," Mosul businessman Talal Younis, 55, told the AP Wednesday. "We are heading into the unknown. ... I think that civil war is making a comeback."
On Friday, Sunni protesters in Anbar Province announced that they will form their own military force, to be called the Army of Pride and Dignity — named for Pride and Dignity Square, in Anbar's capital of Ramadi, Reuters reports.
In Ramadi Friday, journalist Omar al-Saleh of Al Jazeera was present for a sermon announcing the army's formation. He describes a religious leader asking a crowd of tens of thousands, "Do you agree to sacrifice yourselves and defending your honor?"
With violence showing no signs of abating, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for peace in a speech on Iraqi TV, after 10 Iraqi military and militia members were killed in two separate attacksSaturday.
"Sectarianism is evil, and the wind of sectarianism does not need a license to cross from a country to another, because if it begins in a place it will move to another place," Maliki said, in remarks widely interpreted as implying that he believes the latest troubles have their roots in Syria.
U.N. special representative to Iraq Martin Kobler, who has condemned the violence at Hawija, said Thursday that civilian and government leaders must work together to calm Iraq's fraying society.
"I call on the conscience of all religious and political leaders not to let anger win over peace," he said, "and to use their wisdom, because the country is at a crossroads."

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