Orders for al-Maliki

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Geopolitical Diary, 1-11-07, by Strategic Forecasting

``Iraq After al-Maliki

On Wednesday [1-10-07], the same day U.S. President George W. Bush unveiled his new plan to deal with the situation in Iraq, rumors circulated that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could resign in as little as four months. The leading contender to replace him is Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi, who was al-Maliki's main rival for the position when he was elected in April 2006.

Should he leave office, al-Maliki would be the second elected Shiite prime minister in two years to have met with failure. Both al-Maliki and his predecessor, interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, are members of Hizb al-Dawah (HD). They were able to take power when the other main Shiite factions -- the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the al-Sadr Bloc -- agreed to give [the Dawah Party] the prime ministership, each to prevent the other from gaining power ...''

[Summary of Orders for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki:

al-Maliki must give the coalition and Iraqi troops the authority to pursue "all extremists" - (meaning there would no longer be any special treatment for the Shiite militias belonging to the government parties);

al-Maliki must reshuffle the cabinet to bring more Sunnis into power;

al-Maliki must eliminate the ban on employing members of former dictator Saddam Hussein's Baath Party;

al-Maliki must more equitably share oil revenues with Sunnis;

al-Maliki must rewrite Iraq's divisive pro-Shiite constitution;

al-Maliki must implement the recommendations of the various national reconciliation conferences;

al-Maliki must complement an expected US troop increase of 21,500 with an increase in Iraqi troops. (But already, administration officials acknowledge that doubts remain about whether the promised Iraqi force, to be made up of Kurdish pesh merga militia units from northern Iraq, will actually show up in Baghdad committed to quelling sectarian fighting).

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Playfuls.com, Romania , 1-11-07, By Anne-Beatrice Clasmann, DPA

``The Shiite-dominated government under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has revealed itself to be not at all enthusiastic about Bush's new strategy for Iraq.

To avoid a public confrontation, the government has not said publicly what in fact it is about the plan that it objects to. But it has said that decisions about Iraq's fate will have to be taken in Baghdad and not Washington.

It is clear that Bush did incorporate into his strategy document some strong warnings for al-Maliki, including a demand that the Iraqi government give the coalition and Iraqi troops the authority to pursue "all extremists" - meaning there would no longer be any special treatment for the Shiite militias belonging to the government parties.

Bush also demanded a cabinet reshuffle, which al-Maliki had promised weeks ago but still has to carry out, and extended a hand to the Sunnis by forcing the Shiite government to accommodate the minority in questions such as the distribution of the country's oil wealth and the ban on employing members of former dictator Saddam Hussein's Baath Party ...

Adnan al-Dulaimi, the head of the Sunni Consensus Front, [made] positive noises over the US president's strategy ...

It was also to be welcomed that Bush warned the government to implement the recommendations of the various national reconciliation conferences and go after the militias, al-Dulaimi said.

Izzat al-Shabandar, who represents the secular alliance of ex- prime minister Iyad Allawi in parliament, even saw a "great rapport" between the US president's strategy and that of his own party.

"Because we also believe that accompanying political and economic measures are necessary and that it is not sufficient merely to concentrate on the military aspect," al-Shabandar said.

The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, which is close to the insurgents and is accused of supporting terrorism by the Shiite parties, can take no pleasure in Bush's plans.

Under the motto, "Every US soldier on Iraqi soil is one too many," the association has called on the US Congress to oppose the president's plans "to prevent the continuing spillage of the blood of innocents."

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KurdishMedia.com, 1/10/2007, By Rauf Naqishbendi

``... When Moqtada al-Sadar returned to Iraq, his Mahdi Army was about a thousand armed men strong; now his army numbers more than 60,000, and has grown so rapidly that he can't even keep track of his followers or their criminal activities ...

The lack of restraint of al-Sadar has had disastrous consequences. The Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Transportation are now controlled by him, and the Facilities Protection Service is a source of financing for the Mahdi Army. These three ministries have been turned into the ammunition and support center for Al-Sadar's terror organization.

Iraqi health institutions had been run by scientists and health professionals. As soon as Al-Sadar took control, he replaced the management teams with personnel from his organization who don't even have backgrounds or experience in the medicine or healthcare fields. Additionally, he transformed hospitals into death squads, beheading innocent patients and engaging in indiscriminate daily carnage leaving many Iraqis the sacrificial victims of his power struggle.

Al-Sadar's men have been able to attain police and army uniforms and equipment. In these disguises they have attacked both the Iraqi army and police forces, kidnapping and killing their opponents, thus making Baghdad the most dangerous place in the world.

Due to the lack of purposeful action by the Iraqi government as exemplified above, Iraq has become a battleground for international terrorism, including al Qaeda. To our dismay as we wage the War on Terror, insurgents and terror groups are becoming financial enterprises reaping the benefits of their terror activities, and they have gotten beyond self-sufficiency and are now monetarily capable of financing terrorism beyond Iraq.

Their main source of income is looting Iraqi oil and selling it on the black market; the profits from this have been estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars. Their target has been the oil-rich fields of Kirkuk whose oil used to be routed to Turkey via pipelines. These pipelines were constantly being sabotaged and finally it was decided to transfer the oil via trucks, and that is where the terror looting occurs ...

The drilling of oil in Kirkuk must stop until every barrel of drilled oil can be accounted for ...''

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www.powells.com

``Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (American Empire Project) by Robert Dreyfuss

The first complete account of America's most dangerous foreign policy miscalculation -- 60 years of support for Islamic fundamentalism -- is the gripping story of America's misguided efforts, stretching across decades, to dominate the strategically vital Middle East by courting and cultivating Islamic fundamentalism.''

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``This Wikipedia article is about Communist rule in Afghanistan (1978-1992), which is separate ... from the Soviet war in Afghanistan. [Soviet occupation of Afghanistan: 1979-1989. mujahidin: a military force of Muslim guerilla warriors engaged in a jihad (holy war)]

... A sharp increase in military support for the mujahedin from the United States and Saudi Arabia allowed it to regain the guerilla war initiative. By late August 1986, the first FIM-92 Stinger ground-to-air missiles were used successfully. For nearly a year they would deny the Soviets and the Kabul government effective use of air power.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from Swans.com, 5-24-04, by Milo Clark

``Wahabi And Saudi Arabia

... Islam is not Wahabi. Wahabi is not Islam. Saudi Arabia is Wahabi. Saudi Arabia is the seat and financial core of Wahabi terrorism.

Wahabi is an extreme fundamentalism obsessed with eradicating all ... who are not Wahabi. The West is not Wahabi. The West must also go.

The ... Ismaili sects of Islam today [are] headed by the Aga Khan. It is from Ismaili history, the ninja of Central Asia, that we have our word "assassin." The Hazara of central Afghanistan are Ismaili. The Afghan Taliban, Wahabi to the core, detest the Ismaili ...

All Wahabi, world-wide, abhor Shi'a. Regularly and routinely, Wahabi kill Shi'a at every opportunity. Regularly and routinely, all Wahabi everywhere attempt to obliterate the shrines, cemeteries, mosques of all non-Wahabi Islam. The many Sufi brotherhoods, the community glue of Central Asia, enrage Wahabi.

Today's Mecca under Wahabi control since about 1920 has not one shred of earlier Islam left. The bin Laden family construction companies have totally rebuilt both Mecca and Medina, the two holy cities of Islam, into a Wahabi theme park.

The bin Laden family enterprises are linked inextricably with the Saudi Royal Family. The Saudi Royal Family is linked inextricably with the Wahabi ...

Wahabi Islam is rooted in the deserts back and east of Mecca: the driest, harshest, most desiccated area of the peninsula, known as Najd. By the 1700s, Najd's two most powerful tribal families, al-Wahab and al-Saud were tightly allied. The al-Wahab family, later al-Shaykh, then and now, controlled interpretations and imposition of a radically fundamental quasi-Islam. The al-Saud emerged from their habits of nomadic banditry to seize political control where power of arms prevailed.

It is enormously significant that today's capital of Saudi Arabia, the only nation in the world named after its controlling family, is in Najd. Riyadh is a created rather than traditional city. It symbolizes the unrelenting drive of Wahabi sects to erase references, symbols and sites of traditional Islam, the non-Wahabi past. Whenever possible, Wahabi will destroy any relics, ruins, sites of traditional Islam. Graveyards, saints' shrines, mosques dedicated to other sects or houses of other religions are smashed ...

The first Wahabi missionaries began to spread throughout Islam in the early 1800s. They went east into what is today Afghanistan, Pakistan and India ... Most of the Pakistani madrasas, religious schools, which trained Taliban for Afghanistan are versions of Wahabi, if anything, harsher and more intolerant ...

While British influence remained strong into the early Cold War years, Americans soon took over in Saudi Arabia. Aramco prospered and profited beyond imagination. Expatriate employees were housed in hermetically sealed compounds, Little Americas or Little Britains ...

Wahabi wrath at invading idolaters ... was to explode with Osama bin Laden's vitriol of the 1990s culminating in the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York City ...''

With access of outsiders tightly managed, Aramco returnees, executives, Congressional advocates, academic sycophants and bureaucratic implants created and maintained a carefully orchestrated mythology of Saudi Arabia as America's staunchest ally. Few, if any, hints of Wahabi extremism escaped the enveloping net. Academics echoed this myth.

Americans slumbered and drove more and more gas-guzzling vehicles until the first oil shock, the first hints to Americans of an extreme presence in Saudi Arabia, came in 1973. Their proxies having lost a war with ... Israel, backed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia took vengeance through gas pumps ...

The intimate relationships between American elites and Saudi/Wahabi elites are only now receiving some attention ... Note Craig Unger's new book: "House of Bush, House of Saud," ...

The Saudi Royal Family has long financed and abundantly supported Wahabi expansion throughout the world. Wahabi money builds almost all new mosques in the USA. Wahabi imams run them. Each Friday, venomous sermons flood the ears and minds of worshipers. The [implacable] enemy denounced [in the] War on Terror, and fought with all the resources of the USA, is firmly at home within our borders ...''

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TomPaine.com, 1-11-07, by Robert Dreyfuss

``Robert Dreyfuss is an Alexandria, Va.-based writer specializing in politics and national security issues. He is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005), a contributing editor at The Nation and a writer for Mother Jones, The American Prospect and Rolling Stone. He can be reached through his website, www.robertdreyfuss.com

At the tail end of the Vietnam war, when everyone in Washington knew that America had lost, peace talks stalled and President Richard Nixon ordered a massive bombardment of North Vietnam over Christmas, 1972. In a horrific and needless weeks-long reign of terror, the United States bombed cities and villages in Vietnam, including a devastating strike that demolished Bach Mai, Hanoi's largest hospital. Once the president got that out of his system, the assault ended, the peace talks resumed and shortly thereafter the United States gave up on the war.

What President Bush is doing in Iraq is precisely the same thing. There is virtually no one in the foreign policy establishment, in the military or anywhere else who believes that the Iraq war can be won. But, by sending 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq to engage in a massive, citywide offensive in Baghdad, Bush is doing what Nixon did in 1972. He is unleashing carnage for reasons that are not military, but political and petulant. Many thousands of Iraqis, and not a few Americans, will die as a result'and, in the end, the United States will have to get out of Iraq anyway.

The essence of Bush's 'new' policy is to double the U.S. troop presence to about 40,000 soldiers and Marines in Baghdad, where they will act as shock troops for the forces of the an Iraqi army dominated by the Shiite militiamen. The U.S. forces will operate in and alongside thousands of Shiite-dominated army and police thugs. Said Bush:

The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort'along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations'conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.

In other words, U.S. forces will bolster the death squads operated by Iraqi army and police units, whose sectarian atrocities have been widely chronicled. The 'patrols' and 'checkpoints' they establish have gained a reputation for murderous, anti-Sunni massacres and kidnappings, and it is certain that by 'going door-to-door' they will do anything but 'gain the trust of Baghdad residents,' at least if they are Sunnis.

A preview of the new policy unfolded this week [1-9-07] in Baghdad. Astonishingly, there, U.S. forces waged an all-out, day-long firefight that wreaked havoc along a stretch of Haifa Street, one of Iraq's main thoroughfares, which runs south along the Tigris River right into the U.S.-fortified Green Zone. The area along Haifa Street is mostly Sunni, and when the people of the neighborhood defended it against a foray by a Shiite death squad, U.S. troops intervened in support of the Shiites.

A thousand U.S. troops, backed by heavy weapons, helicopters and F-15s laid waste to the area. 'It was the most intense combat I have ever seen,' a U.S. operations officer told the Washington Post . 'We were in a fight for 11 straight hours.' The Iraqi government reported that at least 50 'insurgents' were killed.

It should be pointed out that this intense combat took place not in some remote village in Anbar province, but in downtown Baghdad, less than a mile from the U.S. embassy, within walking distance of the Green Zone. That is the sort of counterinsurgency warfare that the Bush administration plans to wage across all of Sunni Baghdad, in alliance with the Shiite-led regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

So, it appears that President Bush has decided to launch a major escalation of the war in the face of bipartisan opposition to it in Congress, in the face of strong resistance to it by the U.S. military command, and despite last November's election that was widely interpreted as a mandate from voters to end the war not to expand it. He is sending 20,000 more U.S. soldiers into what is certain to be house-to-house combat in Sunni areas of the Iraqi capital.

But, like the Christmas bombing of Hanoi in 1972, which was the last gasp of the imperial American effort to control Vietnam, the New Year's escalation in Baghdad in 2007 is probably the last gasp of Bush's own imperial misadventure ...

In the end, the current Bush effort to 'surge' forces into Iraq won't do more than harass the growing Sunni resistance movement, and it won't bring Iraq closer to any sort of stable political accord across the Sunni-Shiite divide ...''

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The Taipei Times, 1-11-07, By Helene Cooper NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE, WASHINGTON

``Will Iraq play by the rules of the new US strategy?

The US has been walking a fine line between saying Iraq is sovereign and meaningfully steering events there

It's a refrain that US President Bush and his top deputies have uttered many times over: "Iraq is a sovereign nation, and we stay because they have asked us to be there," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in October ...

"Let me put it this way: At the end of the day, we're going to have to do some forcing," said Kenneth Pollack, an expert on Iraq at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution ...

Taking US officials at their word, Iraq has embraced its sovereignty. Al-Maliki exercised it in October [2006] when he contradicted US officials who said the Iraqi government had agreed to a timetable for security measures.

He exercised it again in November when he ordered US forces to abandon checkpoints and roadblocks they had set up in Baghdad to look for a missing US soldier. He did it one more time in the last days of last year [2006], when he ignored US requests that Saddam Hussein's execution be delayed until legal issues were cleared up ...

Last summer [2006], US military commanders asked for six Iraqi battalions, as part of an effort aimed at quelling violence in Baghdad. But that effort foundered when the US and Iraqi authorities failed to marshal sufficient forces to hold neighborhoods after they were cleared of insurgents and militias ...

Certainly, the Bush administration could have forced the issue of Saddam's execution, to delay it; he was, after all, in US custody, and it was an US unit that turned him over to Iraqi officials in the early hours of Dec. 30 [2006] ...''

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Midwest Television, 1-11-07

Mideast Skeptics Blast Bush's Iraq Plan

``CAIRO, Egypt -- President Bush's strategy to send thousands more troops to Iraq was met Thursday with strong skepticism ... Many saw the surge in troops as a desperate move that will only increase U.S. failures in Iraq and could deepen sectarian divides in the country ...

Many in the Arab world profoundly distrust al-Maliki's government, believing it is serving Iran's interests and aims only to establish Shiite domination of Iraq, without making concessions to the Sunni minority that ruled the country under Saddam Hussein ...

Bush said he had ordered an additional aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf region and the deployment of the Patriot air defense system to "friends and allies" in the area in what was seen as a tough signal to Iran.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini denied Tehran was meddling in Iraq, saying Bush made the accusations "to cover up its wrong policies" in Iraq."The installment of Patriot missiles is part of the U.S. policy direction to create a support umbrella for the Zionist regime (Israel) through an Islamic country," he said, according to the state news agency.''

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Geopolitical Diary, 1-11-07, by Strategic Forecasting

``Iraq After al-Maliki

... Al-Maliki's potential resignation is an indication that the problem is not a question of performance (or lack thereof) for any individual prime minister, but rather has to do with intra-Shiite politics. If Abdel Mahdi, the No. 2 man in SCIRI, were to become prime minister, it would upset the internal balance of power within the Shiite community and, more important, exacerbate intra-Shiite tensions, thus leading to further violence and instability within the country.

Should al-Maliki resign and Abdel Mahdi take his place, the Shia would have to agree on someone to assume the position of vice president, and the other factions would have to compensate HD in some way for the loss. This also would likely deepen tensions between the Iraqi government and the Mehdi Army, the militia loyal to radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, since SCIRI is al-Sadr's main rival.

Should SCIRI assume the top post, it would mean the prime ministership would be controlled by the most pro-Iranian Shiite group. This would further undermine Washington's influence in Baghdad, given that the Bush administration does not want to negotiate with Tehran over Iraq -- at least not from its current, weakened position.

Al-Maliki's resignation also could bring about the collapse of the Shiite coalition, which is currently hanging by only a thread, with deep internal differences between its members. The Shia cannot afford for their collective position to be further weakened.

Thus far, the Shia have chosen to sacrifice effective governance for the sake of unity. They will continue to do so. Therefore, it is unlikely that any new prime minister, particularly one from SCIRI, will be able to govern the country effectively.''

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CanWest Interactive, 1-11-07, by Sheldon Alberts, CanWest News Service

``WASHINGTON - This time, it's up to the Iraqis. U.S. President George W. Bush's decision to send up to 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq may be the most controversial element of his new strategy to rescue the U.S. mission there ...

Despite having a Prime Minister who doesn't want the job, a police force infiltrated by death squads and a bureaucracy that can't meet its payroll, the nine month-old "unity" government has finally convinced the U.S. President it is up to the task.

According to the White House ... the Iraqi army will deploy three new brigades to the capital no later than Feb. 15 [2007] and take the lead in confronting Shiite death squads responsible for much of the bloodshed, U.S. officials said. That new offensive includes a commitment to confront radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army, identified by U.S. commanders as the biggest threat to long-term security in Iraq ...

If Mr. Maliki does mount a sustained effort to confront the cleric, it will mark a dramatic change in his government's approach. Until now, Mr. Maliki's Dawa party has relied heavily on support from other Shiite political parties with allegiances to Mr. Sadr. His influence was evident as recently as October [2006], when Mr. Maliki ordered U.S. troops to remove a military blockade of Sadr City.

Under the new plan, security in Baghdad will be the responsibility of a single Iraqi commander.

Five brigades of U.S. troops -- about 17,500 soldiers in total -- will act "in support" of Iraqis in Baghdad.

The other 4,000 U.S. new troops -- mostly Marines -- will be deployed to Anbar province, where al-Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents are at their strongest.

Mr. Maliki has also renewed promises to pass legislation to share oil revenues between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, and plans provincial elections designed to increase Sunni involvement in the political process.

Mr. Bush's decision to bank on Mr. Maliki is made partly out of political necessity but it also required a huge leap of faith. By all accounts -- even from some inside the White House -- he has been a major disappointment as Prime Minister. Just last week, he told The Wall Street Journal he never wanted the job and wished he could quit before his term ends.''

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United Press International, 1-12-07, By Martin Sieff

``An admiral for Iraq

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- President George W. Bush`s choice of a Navy admiral to head Central Command after Gen. John P. Abizaid has set tongues wagging. Why send an admiral to command a land battle unless you don`t expect the battle to remain a land one?

At first glance, the appointment leaked last week makes no sense. Admiral William Fallon is a brave, decorated, immensely experienced Navy aviator who in recent year also enjoyed great success as running PACOM, the U.S. armed forces` Pacific Command. That has long been an overwhelmingly naval and air asset strategic theater ...

It is certainly true that the other new commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who will succeed Gen, George W. Casey Jr., as U.S. and coalition ground forces commander there more than makes up for any lack of experience or deficiencies Admiral Fallon has ... He also commanded the 101st Airborne Division during the March 2003 invasion of Iraq ...

If the Bush administration either plans to launch air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities in the foreseeable future, or if it expects any significant Iranian offensive operations against U.S. forces in Iraq, in the Persian Gulf region, or against U.S allies in the Gulf, then Admiral Fallon`s appointment, and his vast experience in directing carrier-borne air strikes makes far more sense ...

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NEWS ARTICLE, from The Los Angeles Times, 1-14-07, By Louise Roug

``Kurds leery of plan to increase forces

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Already a dangerous battleground for an array of forces, Baghdad could soon be flooded with another volatile element: thousands of Kurds from northern Iraq.

As part of President Bush's new strategy for Iraq, 8,000 to 10,000 Iraqi troops will deploy to Baghdad from elsewhere in the country in the coming weeks, according to American and Iraqi officials. As many as 3,600 of them could be Kurds. It would be the first time such a large number of Kurdish forces have been sent to the capital.

The impending deployment has raised fears among Kurds, most of whom live in a well-protected autonomous enclave, that they are being dragged more directly into Iraq's bloody and complex sectarian conflict.

Most of the fighting in Iraq takes place between Sunnis and Shiites, but Kurds fear that could change if they're seen as players in the country's main struggle.

"I don't think it's wise," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish lawmaker in Baghdad. "This is a Sunni-Shiite conflict."

Kurdish troops are not acquainted with Baghdad, many speak neither Arabic nor English, and their participation could create an even deeper conflict between Kurds and Arabs, he said.

While large numbers of Kurds mix with Arabs in the Kirkuk and Mosul areas of northern Iraq, and a small number live in the capital, Sunni and Shiite politicians also question the wisdom of bringing Kurdish soldiers into the conflict.

"I advise the Kurdish people to apply pressure on their leaders to prevent this step," said Mohammed al-Dayni, a lawmaker from a main Sunni bloc. Kurdish forces, he said, "will face firm resistance from both the Sunnis and the Shiites."

Sheik Abdul-Razzaq Naddawi, an aide to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, agreed that Kurdish troops would not be welcome.

"The Kurds, frankly speaking, consider themselves superior to other Iraqis," he said. "Would they allow troops from the middle or the south to arrive in Kurdistan?" he asked. "Their borders are closed, and they are practically independent." ...

Word of the planned deployment took ordinary Kurds by surprise. In their small but prospering northern enclave, they shook their heads at the prospect of getting involved in a conflict that has bedeviled the most powerful army on Earth.

"If America and the Arabs aren't able to stop Sunnis and Shiites from killing each other indiscriminately, then what use will it be to send in our forces?" one Kurd asked in an online forum.

"We do not need to have our young man getting killed in a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites," another posting read. "They are both our enemies."

The Iraqi government has planned for a 50 percent troop increase in Baghdad, adding the equivalent of an entire division. U.S. and Iraqi officials say two and perhaps three predominantly Kurdish brigades will participate.

Louise Roug writes for the Los Angeles Times.''

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NEWS ARTICLE, from The Los Angeles Times, 1-16-07, By Louise Roug and Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

``Iraq edges closer to Iran, with or without the U.S.

'There cannot be and there should not be relations with security institutions of neighboring states that work against the interests of this new Iraq.' says Zalmay Khalilzad U.S. ambassador to Iraq

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi government is moving to solidify relations with Iran, even as the United States turns up the rhetorical heat and bolsters its military forces to confront Tehran's influence in Iraq.

Iraq's foreign minister, responding to a U.S. raid on an Iranian office in Irbil in northern Iraq last week, said Monday that the government intended to transform similar Iranian agencies into consulates. The minister, Hoshyar Zebari, also said the government planned to negotiate more border entry points with Iran ...

Iraqis, who have echoed Tehran's calls for the U.S. to release the five men, say the three-way standoff that has ensued reveals more about American meddling in Iraqi affairs than about Iranian influence.

"We, as Iraqis, have our own interest," Zebari said in an interview with The Times. "We are bound by geographic destiny to live with" Iran, adding that the Iraqi government wanted "to engage them constructively."

Zebari's comments reinforced the growing differences between the Iraqi government's approach and that of the Bush administration, which has rejected calls by the nonpartisan Iraq Study Group to open talks with Iran and Syria ...

The overtures to Tehran also followed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's appointment last week of a security commander for Baghdad over the objections of U.S. officials, who favored another candidate.

American officials oppose the presence in Iraq of Iranian officials and members of the Revolutionary Guard, which is controlled by religious hard-liners in Iran. Washington and Tehran have been at odds for decades and are in a standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

But to Iraq, Iran is its biggest trading partner and a source of tourist revenue, mainly from the thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims who travel to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala every year.

In Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish north, much of the economy is founded on trade with Iran and the smuggling of contraband into the Islamic Republic. Since the 1979 founding of Iran's theocracy, Kurdistan has been a transit point for banned alcohol, movies and satellite dishes.

A blow to the economy

The U.S. raid on the Iranian office, which handled visas and other paperwork for Iraqis traveling to Iran, struck at the heart of Kurdistan's economy, which depends on commercial ties with Iran facilitated through that office.

Doing business with Iran also means doing business with the Revolutionary Guard, an institution that controls Iran's borders. Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, Iran's ambassador to Iraq, is a former member of the guard. Any neighboring country that wants to do business with Iran has to deal with members of the force, which was created by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to aid the Islamic revolution.

Iraq's Kurds share a storied history with the Revolutionary Guard, fighting side by side against former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, once told The Times that he planned military operations against Hussein with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's controversial president. Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador, acknowledged the past but said it was time for Iraqis to sever ties to such groups ...

Iraqis and Kurds who oppose the detention of the five Iranians say the U.S. raid made the Iraqi government appear weak or a puppet of the Americans.

"They should help the Iraqi government to demonstrate its independence [and] sovereignty in its dealing with other countries," said Zebari, the foreign minister, referring to U.S. officials ...

Iraqi officials want the U.S. to release the five Iranians. Zebari described them as "Iranian officials" working in a "liaison office" where Iraqis could go for "consular services like travel permits to Iran."

Kurdish regional authorities and the government in Baghdad knew about the Iranians in Irbil and were in the process of transforming the agency into a consulate, Zebari said.

"This is not a new discovery, this office," he said. The Iranians had been "working there publicly, openly. It was not a clandestine network. That's the thing we need to explain to our friends."

He said the Iraqi government had not been shown any of what Casey said was evidence that the Iranians were spies. He said Iraq had not been part of the interrogation ...

The Iraq Study Group recommended that the U.S. begin a dialogue with Iran and Syria ...

Contact roug@latimes.com and daragahi@latimes.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 12-30-06, by Brad Foss, Associated Press

``WASHINGTON -- Oil prices settled above $61 a barrel on Friday [12-29-06] to finish 2006 roughly where they began, marking another tough year for energy consumers and another stellar one for the petroleum industry.

It was the fifth straight year in which oil prices were higher than the year before, on average.

Many analysts are looking for crude-oil futures next year to average more than $60 a barrel because of ... market-rattling instability in energy- rich countries such as Nigeria and Iraq ...

Nymex oil futures peaked at an intraday high of $78.40 on July 14 [2006] but averaged $66.25 for the year, compared with $56.70 in 2005 and $41.47 in 2004 ...''

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Source: http://www.loraincounty.com

Message:

A world oil glut appears to be developing. So Bush will have to bomb the Iranian oil fields in order to achieve an average 2007 price of $80 per barrel. This will be part of the effort to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilty. The new head of CENTCOM, Admiral William Fallon, is well qualified to accomplish this.

If Iran's nuclear capabilty is not destroyed, Hezbollah in Lebanon will soon have atomic warheads for its missiles. These are fanatic fundementalists who WILL use them. It's no use saying "nice doggie" to the Iranians. Bush has an oppotunity, during the last 2 years of his presidency, to continue doing well while actually doing some good.

by Oldtimer on January 13, 2007

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www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/other/orl-syn-hoag0817,0,7035541.story

COLUMN from The Washington Post, 8-17-07, by Jim Hoagland, Washington Post Writers Group

``Waiting for Petraeus

WASHINGTON -- EESTRAGON: Let's go.

VLADIMIR: We can't.

ESTRAGON: Why not?

VLADIMIR: We're waiting for Godot.

Samuel Beckett sets "Waiting for Godot" on a country road where two tramps desperately await someone or something that never comes. But I now wonder if Beckett was somehow foretelling this summer of inferno along the banks of the Potomac, where politicians wait in mixed dread and hope for an Army general to come and tell them whether the nation should continue the war in Iraq.

The general is David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. President Bush says the report that Petraeus will deliver in mid-September will become the centerpiece of his Iraq strategy. Rarely has so much depended on one man and his assessment of what he has accomplished in just seven months ...

Much decorated and a brilliant articulator of war-fighting doctrine, Petraeus will be no easy target for war critics of either party. The preliminary signals are that he will report authentic - if still fragile - signs of progress in establishing security in Baghdad and Anbar province. He will ask for patience and time to continue what he has begun. He will not say much about political reconciliation, because there is so little positive to say.

The difference between Petraeus and Godot, of course, is that the general will come. He will report ...

Moreover, Godot was almost certainly not a person but a larger force, one that an evangelical Christian such as Bush would recognize as salvation. Salvation is what Vladimir and Estragon await in Beckett's play ...

Feedback during the past several weeks from military personnel serving in Iraq suggests to me that Petraeus can honestly report that his using more U.S. troops to pacify Baghdad neighborhoods and his arming and paying Sunni tribes to fight jihadists in Anbar have improved security.

But both of those efforts contradict and undermine Bush's avowed strategy of moving as quickly as possible to turn over responsibility for security to a national Iraqi army ...

Similar contradictions mar the U.S. push for political reconciliation: The White House is pressuring Iraq's Kurds to vote for a national petroleum law that is not in Kurdish interests at exactly the same time that Bush representatives are suggesting to the Kurds that the U.S. does not support their constitutional right to a referendum on the status of Kirkuk this year.

Likewise, the U.S. embassy pushes Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to make politically damaging compromises with his foes as the CIA starts yet another version of its long-running effort to install its favorite Iraqi politician, Ayad Allawi, in Maliki's job. And so on.

The policy contradictions and conflicts within his own government that Bush has never been able or willing to resolve have created a Beckett-like hell of unfulfilled expectations and immobility for both Iraqis and Americans.

Beckett foretold this too: As they realize that Godot is not coming, Vladimir says to Estragon, "I sometimes wonder if we wouldn't have been better off alone, each one for himself. We weren't made for the same road."

Estragon replies that it is not certain, and then asks: "Shall we go?"

Vladimir: "Yes, let's go."

They do not move.

Jim Hoagland's e-mail address is jimhoagland@washpost.com.

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www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/08/19/IN69RI00G.DTL

NEWS ARTICLE from The San Francisco Chronicle, 8-19-07, by David Bacon

``Iraqis oppose U.S.-backed oil law

Across the political spectrum in Washington, members of Congress are now demanding that the Iraqi government meet certain benchmarks, which presumably would show that it's really in charge. But there's a big problem with the most important benchmark: the oil law. It is extremely unpopular in Iraq.

Congress has been told the law is a way to share oil wealth among Iraq's regions and religious sects. Iraqis see it differently. They say the law will turn over the oil fields to foreign companies, giving them control over setting royalties, deciding production levels, and even determining whether Iraqis get to work in their own industry.

Under Washington's guidance, the Iraqi government wrote the oil law in secret deliberations. It needed secrecy to obscure the fact that it gives foreign corporations control over exploration and development in one of the world's largest oil reserves, through agreements called "production-sharing" contracts. Such deals are so disadvantageous that they have been rejected by most oil-producing countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and otherwise conservative regimes throughout the Middle East.

The leaders of the Iraqi opposition to the oil law are the industry's workers. In early June, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions shut pipelines from the Rumeila fields near Basra, in the south, to Baghdad and the rest of the country. Their main demand was that oil remain in public hands, although they also sought to force the government to improve conditions for workers.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki responded by calling out units of the 10th Division of the Iraqi army and surrounding the strikers at Sheiba, near Basra. U.S. aircraft buzzed the strikers as well, while al-Maliki issued arrest warrants for the union's leaders. Facing the possibility, however, that the strike would escalate into shutdowns on the rigs themselves, cutting off oil exports, al-Maliki blinked. He agreed to hold off implementation of the oil law until October, giving the union a chance to propose alternatives.

This undoubtedly increased al-Maliki's troubles in Washington, where failure to move on the oil law benchmark has been held as evidence of weakness and incompetence. In Iraq, however, al-Maliki faces a fact that U.S. policymakers refuse to recognize: The oil industry is a symbol of Iraqi nationhood ...

When Halliburton Corp. went into Iraq in the wake of the troops in 2003, the company tried to seize control of wells and rigs, withholding reconstruction aid to force workers to submit. The oil union struck for three days in August 2003, stopping exports and cutting off government revenue. Halliburton then closed its Basra offices and left the oil region.

The oil and port unions compelled other foreign corporations to give up agreements under which the U.S. occupation gave them control of Iraq's deepwater ports. Muhsin's electrical union is still battling to stop subcontracting in the power stations, a prelude to corporate takeover of a public resource.

Iraqi nationalists make sharp accusations that the occupation has an economic agenda, including the wholesale privatization of the Iraqi economy. Paul Bremer, formerly head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, published lists in Baghdad newspapers of Iraqi public enterprises he intended to auction off. Arab labor leader Hacene Djemam bitterly observed, "War makes privatization easy: First you destroy society, then you let the corporations rebuild it." ...''

David Bacon is author of "The Children of NAFTA" (University of California, 2004) and "Communities Without Borders" (Cornell University, 2006) and reported from Iraq in 2003 and 2005. He was the board chairman of the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights. Contact us at insight@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page E - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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http://www.pacificfreepress.com/content/view/1559/81/

Pacific Free Press was launched in March 2007 by Dutch-Canadian Richard Kastelein of V.O.F. Expathos, in the Netherlands as well as Chris Cook and Ingmar Lee - two fine editors based in British Columbia. The site is a sister to Atlantic Free Press and Brick Ogden, an American Expatriate in Amsterdam has been a key supporter of this project.

NEWS ARTICLE fron The Pacific Free Press, 8-19-07, by Dahr Jamail

``Partition Fears Begin to Rise

IRAQ -- Many Iraqis are now beginning to see the rising sectarian violence as part of a larger plan to partition the country.

"Americans want to alter the shape of our cities, dividing Iraqis into ethnic and sectarian groups living separately from each other," Khali Sadiq, a researcher in statistics at Baghdad University told IPS.

"They are not doing this directly, but they have obviously given room to militias and Iraqi forces to do the job," he said. "We are more than halfway towards a sectarian Iraq."

BAGHDAD, Jul 16 (IPS) - A recent report has raised further suspicions that there is a U.S.-backed plan to partition the capital city, and possibly the country along sectarian and ethnic lines.

According to the Initial Benchmark Assessment Report issued by the White House Jul. 12, "the government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress towards enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions."

The report also states that the U.S.-backed Iraqi overnment formulates "target lists" of Sunni Arabs. These lists are compiled by the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, which reports directly to U.S.-backed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The report says fabricated charges are brought to purge Sunnis from the Iraqi security forces.

Samara city, 100 km north of Baghdad, seems to be one of the current targets of this demographic change. The bombing of the shrine of al-Askari in February 2006 ignited a sectarian wave of violence that swept Iraq. Shia clerics in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces who are supportive of the occupation began to speak of a need to change the city from predominantly Sunni to predominantly Shia.

Shula and Hurriya in western Baghdad, and most areas on the eastern bank of Tigris River are now purely Shia after years of killings by death squads. It has been known for over a year now that Shia death squads have been operating out of the U.S.-backed Ministry of Interior, often in the guise of the Facilities Protection Service (FPS).

The FPS was created under extraordinary circumstances. The U.S. occupation authorities and the Iraqi leaders working with them set up several new army and police forces under the supervision of the Multi National Forces (MNF). It was decided that each ministry could establish its own protection force away from the control of the ministries of interior and defence.

The FPS was established Apr. 10, 2003, the day after the fall of Baghdad, under Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) order 27.

This document states: "The FPS may also consist of employees of private security firms who are engaged to perform services for the ministries or governorates through contracts, provided such private security firms and employees are licensed and authorised by the Ministry of Interior."

Global Security.Org, a U.S.-based security research group, says: "The Facilities Protection Service works for all ministries and governmental agencies, but its standards are set and enforced by the Ministry of the Interior. It can also be privately hired. The FPS is tasked with the fixed site protection of ministerial, governmental, or private buildings, facilities and personnel."

But evidence has emerged that this and other police forces have been taken over by Shia militia.

Capt. Alexander Shaw, head of the police transition team of the 372nd Military Police Battalion, a Washington-based unit charged with overseeing training of all Iraqi police in western Baghdad, has said: "To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure we're ever going to have police here that are free of the militia influence."

Shaw said about 70 percent of the Iraqi police force had been infiltrated, and that police officers are too afraid to patrol many areas of the capital.

Many Iraqis today believe this is part of an intentional plan to divide Iraq along sectarian lines. [Divide et Impera]

"They (death squads) evicted many of our good Sunni neighbours and killed many others," Abu Riyad of the predominantly Shia Shula area told IPS. "We protected them for a while, but then we could not face the militias with all the support they had from the Iraqi government and the Americans. It is a terrible shame that we have to live with, but what can we do?" ...''

Ali al-Fadhily our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region.

Think Dahr's work is vital? We need your help. It's easy!

dahrjamailiraq.com/donate/

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www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_6910364

COLUMN from The Mercury News, 9-16-07, By Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist.

``Bush ally's Kurdish oil deal proves the surge has failed

To understand what's really happening in Iraq, follow the oil money, which already knows that the surge has failed.

Back in January [2007], announcing his plan to send more troops to Iraq, President Bush declared that "America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced."

Near the top of his list was the promise that "to give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis."

There was a reason he placed such importance on oil: Oil is pretty much the only thing Iraq has going for it. Two-thirds of Iraq's GDP and almost all its government revenue come from the oil sector. Without an agreed system for sharing oil revenues, there is no Iraq, just a collection of armed gangs fighting for control of resources.

Well, the legislation Bush promised never materialized, and on Wednesday [9-12-07] attempts to arrive at a compromise oil law collapsed.

What's particularly revealing is the cause of the breakdown. Last month [8-07], the provincial government in Kurdistan, defying the central government, passed its own oil law; last week, a Kurdish Web site announced that the provincial government had signed a production-sharing deal with Hunt Oil of Dallas, and that seems to have been the last straw.

Now here's the thing: Ray L. Hunt, the chief executive and president of Hunt Oil, is a close political ally of Bush. More than that, Hunt is a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a key oversight body.

Some commentators have expressed surprise at the fact that a businessman with very close ties to the White House is undermining U.S. policy. But that isn't all that surprising, given this administration's history. Remember, Halliburton was still signing business deals with Iran years after Bush declared Iran a member of the "axis of evil."

No, what's interesting about this deal is the fact that Hunt, thanks to his policy position, is presumably as well-informed about the actual state of affairs in Iraq as anyone in the business world can be. By putting his money into a deal with the Kurds, despite Baghdad's disapproval, he's essentially betting that the Iraqi government - which hasn't met a single one of the major benchmarks Bush laid out in January - won't get its act together. Indeed, he's effectively betting against the survival of Iraq as a nation in any meaningful sense of the term.

The smart money, then, knows that the surge has failed, that the war is lost, and that Iraq is going the way of Yugoslavia. And I suspect that most people in the Bush administration - maybe even Bush himself - know this, too.

After all, if the administration had any real hope of retrieving the situation in Iraq, officials would be making an all-out effort to get the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to start delivering on some of those benchmarks, perhaps using the threat that Congress would cut off funds otherwise. Instead, the Bushies are making excuses, minimizing Iraqi failures, moving goal posts, and, in general, giving the Maliki government no incentive to do anything differently ...

Here's how I see it: At this point, Bush is looking forward to replaying the political aftermath of Vietnam, in which the right wing eventually achieved a rewriting of history that would have made George Orwell proud, convincing millions of Americans that our soldiers had victory in their grasp but were stabbed in the back by the peaceniks back home.

What all this means is that the next president, even as he or she tries to extricate us from Iraq - and prevent the country's breakup from turning into a regional war - will have to deal with constant sniping from the people who lied us into an unnecessary war, then lost the war they started, but will never, ever, take responsibility for their failures [including allowing 9-11 to happen -- See "Cheney's in the Bunker" ].''

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[The bottom line is that despite the waste of American lives and tax dollars, the owners of oil wells have made a killing.]

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