Iraqis unready to take over

It was the New York Times through straightforward reporting, who first revealed the facts that “mission accomplished” in Iraq was the hollowest of claims. And it’s the NY Times again that casts serious doubt on the permanent effect of General Petraeus’s surge. Tomorrow (Tuesday) US troops hand over most combat duties to the Iraqis. And by the end of 2011, the Americans are due to have pulled out altogether. Rod Nordland gave a preview of his report on the Today programme. (07.30 slot). The report itself is remorselessly direct, unlike the reams of hopeful propaganda that has emerged from the Bush and Obama administrations alike. Nothing like a good reporter, guys, to cut through all the crap. “Were General Fadhil’s counterterrorism soldiers, among the country’s most elite, ready to take over from the Americans after they withdraw from all Iraqi cities and towns?

We need at least 10 to 20 years with the American Special Forces to get to that level,” he replied in Arabic, or so a United States military interpreter said.

At that, Lt. Col. Marshal Bridges of the Special Forces stepped in, bristling. “That’s not what he meant,” said the colonel, who does not speak Arabic. “Sometimes things get lost in translation. I’ve worked with him for the last 10 months so I know exactly what he meant. What he meant was his forces are ready now but he would like us to stay another 10 to 20 years.”

Were General Fadhil’s counterterrorism soldiers, among the country’s most elite, ready to take over from the Americans after they withdraw from all Iraqi cities and towns?

“We need at least 10 to 20 years with the American Special Forces to get to that level,” he replied in Arabic, or so a United States military interpreter said. At that, Lt. Col. Marshal Bridges of the Special Forces stepped in, bristling. “That’s not what he meant,” said the colonel, who does not speak Arabic. “Sometimes things get lost in translation. I’ve worked with him for the last 10 months so I know exactly what he meant. What he meant was his forces are ready now but he would like us to stay another 10 to 20 years.”

  • Scamallach

    They should send a delegation over to NI to see first hand the dangers of handing over control of a country to a group of people who are ill equipped, poorly trained, disorganised and out of their depth.

  • Greenflag

    BW

    ‘What he meant was his forces are ready now but he would like us to stay another 10 to 20 years.’

    If his forces are ready why the need for an extended stay ?

    Since Jan 1 this year just before President Obama’s inauguration approx 700 people have been killed in a mixture of suicide bomb attacks across Iraq . The Sunni (20% minority ) see themselves as being marginalised by the Shiite majority (60%) while the Kurds( 20% ) have virtual autonomy in the northern areas .

    The ‘truth’ is still being ‘whitewashed’ both in Iraq and Afghanistan . The so called ’embedded ‘ media were not just in bed with the military but they appear at the same time to have kept their heads covered , eyes closed , ears muffled , and their future career prospects mostly in mind when filing any reports for the mass media 🙁 .

  • latcheeco

    “Nothing like a good reporter”
    Agreed Brian,
    Wouldn’t it have been awesome if the press in NI throughout the troubles were as good?

  • “Nothing like a good reporter, guys, to cut through all the crap.”

    Are you joking Brian? A good report might have included some background on the difficulties in reaching the SOFA in the first place, it’s last minute signing to save face for the US and prevent even more blatantly illegal occupation.

    It might have noted that the vast majority of troops have always been from private security firms, and they are going nowhere. That the US refused the Iraqi request that they not be granted legal immunity. Even after the rapes and civilian murders they were involved in.

    It could have mentioned that the problems are related to the already profoundly undemocratic Iraqi Parliament’s wish to have control over the Oil Ministry, efforts refused by the US.

    It might have explicitly mentioned that the SOFA does not require the troops to leave at all, only to retreat to protecting the oil reserves and overseeing operations by the ‘sovereign’ Iraqi army and police, and that after 2011 they will be able to stay, indeed encouraged by the agreement, in the form of private security firms.

    It might have mentioned that America has a vested interest in security because the agreement requires Iraq to favour the US in deciding oil contracts, through its undemocratic Ministry, and 2020 – 2025 is the very shortest deadline to make RoI viable.

    It might have mentioned, in raising the false Iran
    spectre, the financial and military support lent to Saddam Hussein and both “Al-Qaeda and the Baath” by the US.

    It might have mentioned the obscene lack of progress and corruption in American ‘reconstruction’ efforts, which amount to little more than further theft from the US public purse.

    It mentioned none of those. How in the name of God is that good reporting?

  • 6countyprod

    The LA Times has a companion piece to the NYT report. Here are a couple of paragraphs that give the flavour of John Hannah’s take on the situation:

    ‘When Bush authorized the U.S. troop “surge” in Iraq, the psychological impact was arguably as important as the military one. Amid insurgent claims of victory and hemorrhaging U.S. domestic support, Bush’s decision to double-down rather than retreat sent friend and foe alike a powerful message that the U.S. had no intention of abandoning Iraq. Reassured, Iraqis were galvanized in their efforts to confront Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias, and recommitted themselves to building an independent, pluralist democracy.

    Obama risks fueling the reverse dynamic. Iraqis listen to his speeches and hear that withdrawal, not victory, is his highest priority. They see that America appears more concerned with engaging a hegemonic Iran than consolidating a democratic Iraq. …’

    After his Iranian fiasco, and now with an apparent premature withdrawal from Iraq, is Obama going to blow this one, too?

  • 6countyprod

    Sounds like the Iraqis are more optimistic than we are…

    AP report:

    ‘Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has declared a public holiday and proclaimed June 30 as “National Sovereignty Day.”

    A senior adviser to al-Maliki says “the withdrawal of American troops is completed now from all cities after everything they sacrificed for the sake of security.” Sadiq Al-Rikabi told The Associated Press on Tuesday that “we are now celebrating the restoration of sovereignty.”’

    Let’s hope and pray that it works!

  • Don’t get too much of a horn about the NYT. Their role before the invasion was shameful. They failed utterly to highlight the fact that this illegal act was based on a pack of lies and became cheer leaders for the early phase of Iraq’s destruction.

  • Harry Flashman

    NYT cheerleaders for the Bush invasion of Iraq?

    The US media were supportive of the US military?

    Greenlag, Red Avenger, dudes you be trippin’.

  • Wilde Rover

    Harry Flashman,

    “NYT cheerleaders for the Bush invasion of Iraq?

    The US media were supportive of the US military?

    Greenlag, Red Avenger, dudes you be trippin’.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/03/23/1079939624187.html

  • William

    Give some credit to the US forces in Iraq….the country is better now than it was under Saddam…..if the Shitties can be kept under control in order to stop their killing of fellow citizens.

    Perhaps they should make the Shittie leader Deputy First Minister like our Marty…who, of course never killed or ordered the killing of anyone during his years as a terrorist leader.

  • Wilde Rover

    William,

    “the country is better now than it was under Saddam…”

    Better in what way?

    Are you including the time under the Clinton administration, when strategic bombings led to the deaths of half a million children?

    Can we also assume that this includes the 80s, when puppet dictator Saddam was fighting Iran with the support of the west?

  • Brian Walker

    Damian and others, “How in the name of God is that good reporting?” Because not every dispatch is about every aspect of the story. The NYT deserves credit because it reported against the then consensus and its own editorial line, and then amended the editorial line. And finally, you can hardly expect well connected, well travelled, highly experienced journalists who follow changing events to have the the unique insight of a typical Slugger comment.

  • Barry

    This would be the same New York Times that refused to use the word torture when reporting on the recently released DoJ documents from the Bush administration. Very straightforward.

  • William

    When I read comments such as Wilde Rover’s and others, I can’t help thinking had these bloggers being around during WW2 they would have been quislings supporting Hitler and berating the Allies for bombing Dresden !!!

    Similarily, many of those condemning the US and UK were supporting the IRA not long ago….weren’t you????

    Wise up…..Iraq is now a better country….

  • Brian,

    That’s not every aspect of the story, far from it; it’s the relevant details. To say there are problems in Iraq and the US needs to stay is hardly a break with the editorial line – the line is follow the Pentagon. The consensus has ever been that the US would like to stay, but that they will need to stagee a publicity exercise in order to do so, because they will be staying against the wishes of the vast majority of Iraqis. And if they were so well connected, maybe they could have asked some Iraqis what they thought – of course, that’s impossible as they are only able to do what the US military facilitates. Great quality journalism.

  • Wilde Rover

    William,

    “When I read comments such as Wilde Rover’s and others, I can’t help thinking had these bloggers being around during WW2 they would have been quislings supporting Hitler and berating the Allies for bombing Dresden !!!”

    And there you have it: anyone the Anglo-American alliance attacks is a neo-Hitler. The death of half a million children in Iraq in the 1990s is OK because Hitler was a bollix.

    Anyone unlucky to get in the way is a terrorist.

    It’s only a war crime when someone else does it.

    “Wise up…..Iraq is now a better country….”

    I’m afraid you repeating the phrase that Iraq is a better country does not make me any wiser, nor does it make it true.

  • 6countyprod

    An interesting quote found buried in an AP article on four US soldiers killed in Baghdad yesterday:

    President Jalal Talabani said the day could not have happened without the help of the United States, which invaded Iraq in 2003 and ousted Saddam — who was later convicted by an Iraqi court and executed in December 2006.

    “While we celebrate this day, we express our thanks and gratitude to our friends in the coalition forces who faced risks and responsibilities and sustained casualties and damage while helping Iraq to get rid from the ugliest dictatorship and during the joint effort to impose security and stability,” Talabani said.

  • Dewi

    After centuries of oppression I feel a free Kurdistan is within sight at last.

  • Greenflag

    Meanwhile the ‘real’ news from Iraq just helps confirm Mr Greenspan’s admission earlier this year that the Iraq war was about ‘oil’ or more precisely control of it’s oil supply and preventing that supply from falling into the hands of those who might not favour western interests in the region.

    Was it worth half a million lives , 2 million refugees and a three way sectarian carve up of Iraq with possible genocide facing the former rulers i.e the Sunni minority ?

    From american national public radio here’s the story behind the story !

    Foreign companies could soon be pumping Iraqi oil for the first time in nearly 40 years.

    On Tuesday, the government of Iraq opened bids from oil companies interested in helping the country realize its oil production potential.

    The oil companies are so eager for a crack at Iraq’s vast oil wealth that they are willing to overlook some big negatives: It’s a country still at war. There’s a lot of political opposition to foreign oil companies. There’s no guarantee the contracts awarded at this auction will even be honored. And yet, more than 30 companies submitted bids.

    Big Oil has not had an opportunity like this for decades.

    No one knows for sure how much oil Iraq has. “It’s been poorly explored because of all the political turmoil there,” says Roger Diwan, a partner at the consulting firm PFC Energy. “With the Iraq-Iran war, the embargo, sanctions and the second gulf war here, we really haven’t had a good look at what’s in Iraq since the late 1960s.”

    Diwan says Iraq is probably just behind Saudi Arabia in its oil reserves. Plus, Iraqi oil can be extracted at a relatively low cost.

    “They’re large, shallow, relatively high-quality fields with relatively high pressure,” says Peter Zeihan, vice president for strategic intelligence at Stratfor, a global intelligence firm. “You don’t have to be an Exxon Mobil or a Royal Dutch Shell in order to work in Iraq.”

    But you may need good government contacts. When Saddam Hussein kicked the foreign oil companies out of Iraq in 1972, many Iraqis supported the move, and there is still strong opposition to any sharing of the country’s oil wealth with foreign companies. The withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns this week has only reinforced Iraqi nationalism. In the coming weeks or months, Iraqi parliamentarians may even move to overturn oil contracts awarded through Tuesday’s auction.

    “There’s still a lot of political risk involved in Iraq in the energy sector,” says David Gordon, head of global research at the Eurasia Group, a risk analysis firm. “On the other hand, it is this enormous opportunity. So companies want to get in the game without making a big investment, [while] Iraq as a country wants to force them to put some money on the table.”

    Oil is being pumped in Iraq right now, but production is far below its potential because the country has not invested in its oil infrastructure.

    For Tuesday’s auction, oil companies selected which fields interested them and specified how much they’d want to be paid for increasing production at the fields. The oil itself would still belong to the Iraqis, and the Iraqi government set a maximum on what fees it would pay.

    The opening round produced only one deal. The Iraqi offers generally fell short of the oil company bids, and additional bargaining seemed likely.

    Such deals won’t necessarily be highly profitable for the oil companies. In the next phase of the competition, however, the Iraqi government is expected to open fields that have not yet been explored or developed. The companies that win the right to search for oil might then be able to take a share of what they find. It’s that competition — not this one — that would mean big money for the companies.

    “This is just everybody kind of wanting to get their foot in the door for the bigger prizes that will be here in a year or two,” says Stratfor’s Zeihan. No one wants to be left out.

    “What makes Iraq special,” says Diwan, “is [that] there is room for all the big oil companies at the same time, and for all them to have sizable projects. Everybody will get something fairly large.”

    Iraq is currently pumping about 2.5 million barrels a day. With modern technology and foreign expertise, experts say, the country could produce four times as much. That would be a bonanza for Iraqis, even if they have to share the wealth with foreign companies.

  • 6countyprod

    ‘a bonanza for Iraqis’, Greenflag. So what’s your problem with that? It probably wont affect the cost of our fuel, but at least the Iraqis get a great positive benefit from their oil, hopefully using it for food, health and education, etc. instead of wars and weapons.

    President Talibani expressed his ‘thanks and gratitude’ to the friends of Iraq in the (small band of) coalition forces who bleed and died helping to provide ‘security and stability’. Those much maligned coalition forces have in the process created the possibility of a long-term peaceful, democratic Arab nation.

    I cannot fathom why lefties think that is such a bad thing! Bush is gone, so get over it, and wish the Iraqis well. If Iraq fails now, it will be Obama’s fault.

  • Wilde Rover

    6countyprod,

    Indeed, and we can expect that it won’t be long before the oilfields of Iran are liberated from oppression and allowed to live in peace and security, under the benevolent gaze of foreign benefactors, of course.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Wilde Rover: “Indeed, and we can expect that it won’t be long before the oilfields of Iran are liberated from oppression and allowed to live in peace and security, under the benevolent gaze of foreign benefactor…”

    Yeah, but those foreign benefactors will do so based on the high bid and at least some of them will be Chinese, or weren’t you paying attention.

    The US doesn’t run the oil business in Iraq, leftist fever dreams nothwithstanding.

  • foreign correspondent

    I remember watching footage of Vietnam thinking how could a supposedly enlightened country like the US do something so barbarous. Then they did the same bloody thing over again in Iraq. And in another generation there will probably be another Iraq/Vietnam.
    And there will be more useful idiots of the right egging them on, on the sidelines, and no matter how many die it will be ok because it´s all for a good cause. Funny, that mindset also caused quite a few problems a bit closer to home too didn´t it?

  • Wilde Rover

    Dread Cthulhu,

    “Yeah, but those foreign benefactors will do so based on the high bid and at least some of them will be Chinese, or weren’t you paying attention.”

    Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention. Are the Chinese going to set up a permanent military base in Iraq?

  • RepublicanStones

    “Indeed, and we can expect that it won’t be long before the oilfields of Iran are liberated from oppression and allowed to live in peace and security, under the benevolent gaze of foreign benefactor”

    Well Israel are pushing pretty hard for it, just like they did with Iraq…and they got their way there as we all know.

  • 6countyprod

    All those Bush-haters who were hoping that Operation Iraqi Freedom would be a failure have been sorely disappointed.

    A free and democratic Iraq is no longer a pipe dream of the so-called neocons, it is now a clear possibility. In spite of all the opposition to the Bush surge, including from Obama, OIF is, after all, proving to be a success.

    The Bush legacy of introducing freedom and democracy to the Arab world, just as the US did in Germany and Japan, is now secure.

    This excellent article in Commentary Magazine debunks three widely held fallacies about the Iraq war and obliterates the notion that “the effort to promote liberty in the Arab world was a fool’s errand”.

  • foreign correspondent

    6countyprod, hundreds of thousands of people have died since Operation War is Peace started.
    If that´s success I´d hate to see what failure looks like.
    NO a la guerra!

  • 6countyprod

    ‘hundreds of thousands of people have died’

    Maybe, but killed by whom?

    AQ made Iraq their main war front, and they have been defeated on the battlefield by coalition forces and those Sunni Iraqis who have come to their senses and realised who is really on their side.

    Mistakes were made, but the Butcher of Baghdad is gone, AQ and the Iranian-backed militias have been humiliated and Iraq now has a chance for lasting peace. Why do lefties continue to wish evil on Iraq? I suppose BDS is more insidious than first thought.

  • foreign correspondent

    Who wishes evil on Iraq? Not me. Where did you get that from?
    But for me war is always wrong. The Iraq war, especially, was and is a disgrace, inspired by arrogant self-interest, and defending it is disgraceful.
    End of story.

  • Greenflag

    UMH ,

    ‘a bonanza for Iraqis’, Greenflag. So what’s your problem with that? ‘

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

    And again while I had no problem with the USA going after AQ in Afghanistan and removing the Taliban from power the fact is that the neo conservative war mongers in the Bush administration took advantage over the AQ presence in Afghanistan to launch a war for the control of Iraqi oil via the excuse of ‘we are bringing ‘democracy’ to an Arab country and removing a tyrant i.e (former USA ally ) ?

    Greenspan got at least that right 🙁

  • 6countyprod

    ‘for the control of Iraqi oil’

    Broken record!

    US forces are withdrawing from Iraq, just like they have withdrawn from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait! That gives the lie to the claim that the US is there for the oil, as others claimed concerning the first Gulf War.

    Iraqi oil belongs to the Iraqi people and will be sold to the highest bidder.

    I hope they use the proceeds wisely.

  • 6countyprod

    Here’s a great quote from Tony Blankley:

    … “G.W.F. Hegel, a great philosopher of history, believed that history is ironic and that every historical circumstance contains the seeds of its own destruction.

    Consider that it was Obama’s central message during the presidential primary campaign that President Bush had made a strategic error by precipitously withdrawing troops from the war in Afghanistan — the good and necessary war — in order to provide troops for the unnecessary and ill-considered Iraq war. While the general election hinged on many issues, it was Obama’s early and consistent opposition to the Iraq war and support for the Afghan war that gave him traction and eventual victory over Hillary Clinton.

    Now President Obama is honoring his campaign pledge to systematically and promptly withdraw American troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan. But now it is the Iraq war and (until now) impending peace that looms large as a potential strategic advance for Western and peaceful interests in the Middle East. (Did the democratic Iraqi example encourage the Iranian democracy fighters?)

    And it is the Afghan war that seems without clear purpose or likelihood of success and that is draining currently needed troops from the Iraq theater of operations.

    I don’t know whether history is ironic. It would seem to have a “fearful symmetry.” It is certainly merciless.”

  • 6countyprod

    Wild Rover, sorry, I forgot about your reference to Iran.

    I don’t think you need to worry about US intervention, or indeed anyone’s intervention or help for that country. For the time being, at least, we are back to tolerating dictators. In fact, I reckon Obama quite admires them! -Honduras 🙁

    No, the people of Iran have been left to the nefarious devices of the mad mullahs and Madinajad by the current US administration and they have been betrayed by the so-called human groups rights around the world.

    Is it just me, or do human rights groups only get involved in helping people if they can, in the process, condemn western governments?

    Greg Sheridan addresses this very issue in a potent article entitled: West’s hypocrites betray Iranians

  • Wilde Rover

    6countyprod,

    “The Bush legacy of introducing freedom and democracy to the Arab world, just as the US did in Germany and Japan, is now secure.”

    Unless Hitler was a former puppet of the US I don’t follow the connection. But keep telling yourself the “freedom and democracy” line.

    “AQ made Iraq their main war front, and they have been defeated on the battlefield by coalition forces and those Sunni Iraqis who have come to their senses and realised who is really on their side.”

    Bringing your contention to its logical conclusion, Iraq was a safer place under Saddam because there were no “AQ” there at that time. That sort of defeats your argument.

    “Mistakes were made,”

    A blood stained euphemism, if ever there was one.

    “US forces are withdrawing from Iraq, just like they have withdrawn from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait!”

    So you are trying to say there will be no US military bases in Iraq? Are you trying to say that the recent withdrawal was not just combat troops?

    “I don’t think you need to worry about US intervention, or indeed anyone’s intervention or help for that country.”

    Funny that, but my understanding was that Iran used to have a democratically elected government before it was overthrown by a US coup, and their puppet dictator the Shah was installed. Which of course lead to the revolution and the current system.

    “No, the people of Iran have been left to the nefarious devices of the mad mullahs and Madinajad by the current US administration and they have been betrayed by the so-called human groups rights around the world.”

    You seem very concerned about a potential rigged election, but you are eager to defend the record of a US president that was elected in a rigged election. Ironic, isn’t it?

  • 6countyprod

    Wow, WR, you’re incorrigible. Have a nice life!

  • 6countyprod

    Hey, greenflag, you just gotta read this Time article!

    First sentence: Any notion that the invasion of Iraq was simply an oil grab took another hit on Tuesday when Baghdad opened the bidding on the rights to develop its massive energy reserves.

    I dare you to read the whole thing!

  • Brian MacAodh

    “It might have noted that the vast majority of troops have always been from private security firms, and they are going nowhere”

    Bullshit. Not even close.

  • Secret Squirrel

    “US forces are withdrawing from Iraq, just like they have withdrawn from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait!”

    Hi 6countyprod :o)
    Will the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq be a complete withdrawal or have the US been building permanent bases in Iraq ?
    Is it true that the recent withdrawal was just combat troops ?
    TIA

  • 6countyprod

    SS, are you implying that Mr Obama is deceiving us all when he says that he is going to withdraw US troops from Iraq? Tut tut tut!

  • 6cp,

    You’d do better to actually read the article you linked to. It says only that the oil companies want more favorable terms. It is a step in a very young negotiation process. It also mentions the Iraqi parliament’s opposition to the process, though not its opposition to the powers held by, and absence of accountability around, that oil ministry.

    The US maintains bases in SA and Kuwait. In 2003 most of its troops left SA because they were able to move them to Iraq, and because the vast majority of the Muslim world vehemently opposed, as it still does, the invasion of Iraq, making their dictatorship less stable. You will note that those troops left behind were, just like now in Iraq, for ‘training purposes’.

    All of this is relevant because these issues are so closely related to the falsely-termed ‘withdrawal’ that to discuss it without reference to them is shoddy journalism. Not something that cuts through the crap.

    Try the US ‘withdrawal’ method on your girlfriend and you’ll get an idea of how effective it is.

    Regarding human rights groups and Iran, you’ll note the huge efforts involved in seeking abolisment of the death penalty for homosexuality, for example, that remains in seven countries, Iran included. That has to be balanced with the wariness in much of the world that human rights concerns are used as a fig leaf for imperial motivations. One that can be understood when you consider that the complicit Saudi regime also imposes the death penalty for the same ‘crime’.

  • Secret Squirrel

    Apologies,
    I was under the impression that you were presenting your own beliefs when you neglected to attribute the quote to someone else.

  • 6countyprod

    Damien, apart from the first sentence there were others which indicated that Iraq was free to do whatever it wished with its oil.

    Para 1. Any notion that the invasion of Iraq was simply an oil grab took another hit on Tuesday when Baghdad opened the bidding on the rights to develop its massive energy reserves.

    Para 2. Despite the rich deposits on offer, energy companies were put off by the prices demanded by the Iraqi government

    Para 3. Iraq plans to retain ownership of its oil, but make long-term agreements with foreign companies

    Para 3. Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani demanded that oil companies lower their profit expectations

    Etc, etc

    The point is, Iraqi oil belongs to the Iraqi people and they can do whatever they want with it. With agreement, some US troops may remain in Iraq for the long term, just as there are small numbers of US troops stationed in many other countries around the world.

    But we may be getting away ahead of ourselves here, as the title of the thread suggests. It might have been a huge mistake to withdraw troops so soon. We’ll see.

  • Brian MacAodh

    I think Iraq, and its handling, has proved to be a disastrious mistake to even its most ardent supporters. That said, some of the rumours/myths being spewed about the war are a little overboard.

    I personally don’t think Islamic countries are capable of having a functioning democracy or respecting human rights (as we westerners perceive them). To most middle eastern countries, the 3500 killed during the 30 years of NI’s troubles are a miniscule compared to the killings that take place there.