5 years ago
Iraq’s defense minister has weighed in with some interesting insights concerning the future of Iraq.
Iraq’s defence minister warned on Saturday that the Gulf would be infested by pirates and Iraq left at risk of attack by its neighbours if US forces leave the country too soon.
“Coalition forces are currently protecting the Gulf, and our navy will not receive its first ships until April 2009,” Abdel Qader Jassem Mohammed al-Obeidi told a press conference in Baghdad.
If those forces “withdraw precipitously, our gulf will become like the Gulf of Aden, where there have been 95 acts of piracy,” he said.
Obeidi was addressing journalists on his support for the controversial military pact that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq until the end of 2011, a deal now being considered by the Iraqi parliament.
The minister did not enlarge on his remarks or explain how the Gulf would become prey to pirates when one of its littoral states, Bahrain, is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
The Gulf, which supplies the bulk of world oil imports, is also bordered by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Iran, all of whose navies patrol the waterway.
Somali-based pirates have in recent months been plaguing shipping in the Gulf of Aden and in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa.
Obeidi also said Iraqi territory risks being attacked by neighbouring states, referring to Turkey’s bombing of Turkish Kurdish PKK rebels in their mountain hideaways of northern Iraq.
“Today, Iraq is the target of bombing from abroad but it is limited because the (US-led) coalition represents a dissuasion force,” he said.
“If it not there any more, the whole country risks being the target of shooting, even (the southern port of) Basra, and they will justify their actions by referring to information on a PKK base there,” the minister said.
Obeidi also said his country has turned into “a battleground for different foreign intelligence services,” without naming any countries.
“Iraqi security forces, backed by the coalition, must impose a limit on their activities, of which Iraqis are the victims,” the defence minister added.
Iranian Quds, Syrian intelligence, and so on, are in Iraq battling for preeminence – and the Iraqi Defense Minister knows it and makes it clear that there is more that must be done in Iraq. The roles filled by U.S. forces going forward will be fundamentally different that before, with focus on border security (e.g., the Marines in Anbar have their eyes trained on the Syrian border), training, backup of ISF, sea and air space security.
But there is a very real need to continue the high value target campaign that has been going on for months now in Iraq. Whereas in Afghanistan we have incorrectly attempted to employ a strategy of high value targets rather than counterinsurgency, in Iraq the counterinsurgency campaign has now given way to a campaign against high value targets, which is the right order.
This campaign won’t simply employ the U.S. military. The Captain’s Journal has made it clear that U.S. intelligence will engage Iranian intelligence or we will lose the region regardless of what happens in Iraq. Iraq is the primary battleground at the moment as noted by the Iraqi Defense Minister. But the covert war has been going on for years, and we must be willing to play “hard ball” in order to be in the same league with the Iranians.
And what would such U.S. engagement look like? We mustn’t forget Iranian General Qassem Suleimani, who is the primary commander of the Iranian covert war with the U.S., and to whom General Petraeus had to turn to request that the summer 2008 artillery shelling of the green zone be halted.
Bullying, arrests, much better human intelligence and targeting of people like General Suleimani must be employed or the covert war will be lost. The Israeli Mossad understands that they are engaged in a deadly serious effort for self-preservation and behaves accordingly. Thus far in Iraq, the effort has also been deadly for U.S. warriors. The full engagement of all U.S. resources is necessary to finalize the gains in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and this means actions that make some squeamish. But the squeamish should find other things to occupy their attention, and we must do what needs to be done.