Archive for the 'Quds Force' Category



Basra and Anbar Reverse Roles

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 3 months ago

In Operation Alljah and the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 6th Regiment, we interviewed Lt. Col. William F. Mullen who gave us a realistic but positive report on the accomplishments of the Marines in Fallujah.  As expected, we received e-mail from detractors (is Fallujah really this much better off?).  There are also reports that take the same facts and turn them into a completely different interpretation than the one we published.

We have also published extensively on the calamity in Basra, the British having essentially lost the military struggle for Basra and surrounding areas.  True to form, this assessment has also been questioned by detractors.  But even the British are finally managing to turn their gaze towards just how bad the situation is in Basra.

Like Donald Rumsfeld, the man British commentators love to hate, we never sent enough troops to Iraq. At first we were pretty condescending to the Americans, insisting that our light touch, learned in Northern Ireland, was far more effective than their alleged heavy-handedness. We were wrong. Basra is not Londonderry. Our ever-lower profile was seen by local militias — and the public — as weakness. As a result the militia grewstronger and stronger, and now Basra is a town of warring gangs. We never committed enough — and we reduced our numbers much too soon. We now have only 5,000 men and women in Basra. That small force must protect itself, must continue training the 10th Iraqi Division.

The U.S. has also begun to divulge the sensitivity of the situation.

“This is less an insurgency issue than it is criminal, a borderline Mafia kind of situation. You’ve got competing criminal interests looking for territory down there,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon’s press secretary.

“So that has certainly complicated matters for the Brits down there, and it certainly remains a concern for us,” he told reporters.

Britain has 5,500 troops in Basra but almost all have been pulled back to the airport where they are training Iraqi forces.

This admission may be gratuitous. Beyond criminal activity, three strong, competing Shi’a factions are at war with one another and openly demanding protection money from the population: Jaish al Mahdi, the Fadhila Party, and SIIC (Badr).

So what is the relationship between Basra and Anbar, and is there any acendotal evidence to back up these analyses?  The best on-the-scene evidence comes from Omar Fadhil of Iraq the Model, who assesses the reversal of roles between the Shi’a south and the Sunni West in Crossing Anbar.

We’ve been getting some reports about the improvement in security in Anbar in the last few months but little was said about the highway that runs across the province.

The several hundred kilometer western section of the international highway is technically Iraq’s second “port” in a way as it connects Iraq with Syria and Jordan and was for years the only window to the world when all airports and the southern ports in Basra were closed to traffic in the 1990s.

For most of the time between 2004 and 2007 taking this road was considered suicidal behavior as the chance someone would be robbed or killed was too high.

But with the tribal awakening in Anbar that cleared large parts of the province from al-Qaeda the highway is expected to be safer, but how much safer?

My family returned yesterday from a vacation in Syria and they have used this road twice in six weeks. I had tried hard to convince them not to do that and take a flight instead but now after hearing their story I’m convinced that my fear was not justified; the road is safe…

This is good not only for Iraq’s economy and traveling but also for the American troops who can use this road as an alternative supply route in case the British troops withdraw and leave the strategic southern highway between Kuwait and Baghdad unguarded.

Back to the story; there are two travel plans for passenger SUV’s and buses from Damascus to Baghdad; one includes leaving Damascus between 10 pm and midnight, reaching the Syrian border control before dawn, entering the Iraqi border control at 8 am and arriving in Baghdad around sunset. A total of approximately 20 hours with 6 to 7 hours lost in waiting and passport control.

The second plan includes leaving Damascus at noon and here convoys carrying the passengers continue to move all the way until a short distance northwest of Ramadi. At this point the time would be between midnight and 2 am and since that’s within curfew hours in Baghdad, the drivers park their vehicles and everyone gets to sleep 3 or 4 hours and wait for the sun to rise and then the journey would continue.

Now the first plan sounds predictable, safe and well planned given the distance and necessary stops. But look at the second one carefully and try to picture the scene; dozens of passenger SUV’s (GMC trucks mostly) and buses parking in he middle of nowhere in a zone that was until recently the heart of al-Qaeda’s Islamic state! Obviously the drivers and families feel safe enough that they know they won’t be robbed and slaughtered by cold-blooded terrorists. Even more interesting, this parking and resting zone was not designated nor protected by the Iraqi or American forces but simply an arrangement the drivers managed on their own perhaps with cooperation from the local tribes.

I still laugh every time I think of this incredible change and I honestly wouldn’t have believed it if the story teller wasn’t my father.

This sign of positive progress brings to my mind a sad irony. Back in 2004 when taking the Anbar highway was out of question for me, the Sunni dentist, I made the trip back and fourth between Baghdad and Basra countless times without any fear.

Now, I’m ready to try the trip through the west, but going south through the militia infested land is something I’d never dare do at this stage.

The reports on the pacification of Anbar are indeed correct, and sadly, the British failure in Basra has made Operation Iraqi Freedom much more complicated.

Prior:

The British Flight from Basra

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 4 months ago

In Calamity in Basra and British Rules of Engagement, we pointed out that the British had essentially been militarily defeated in Basra.

Richard Beeston, diplomatic editor of The Times of London recently returned from a visit to Basra, his first since 2003. He says in 2003, British soldiers were on foot patrol, drove through town in unarmored vehicles and fished in the waters of the Shaat al Arab on their days off. He says the changes he saw four years later are enormous.

“Nowadays all troop movement in and out of the city are conducted at night by helicopter because it’s been deemed too dangerous to go on the road and its dangerous to fly choppers during the day,? he says.

Beeston says during his latest visit, he noticed a map of the city in one of the military briefing rooms. About half of the city was marked as no-go areas.

British headquarters are mortared and rocketed almost everynight.

In this article we cited Anthony Cordesman (Center for Strategic and International Studies) who began openly discussing the situation by calling it a defeat in a white paper entitled The British Defeat in the South and the Uncertain Bush Strategy in Iraq.  In response to Cordesman there is a row in Britian over the idea that there has been a defeat.  On August 12, the Scotsman published an article containing responses to Cordesman.

STRAINED relations between Washington and London were stretched still further over Iraq last night, as a senior American official condemned Britain’s “failure” in its mission to bring peace to the south of the war-torn country.

Defence chiefs reacted with fury after right-wing commentator and adviser Anthony Cordesman weighed into the row over the UK’s contribution to the post-Saddam operation with a withering claim that Britain had effectively handed control of its zone to local “mafiosi”.

More significantly, Cordesman claimed the British “failure” had allowed Iran to gain a toehold, which it was using to increase its influence over its neighbour. The damning accusations, made after a fact-finding visit to Iraq, increase the pressure over the continuing dilemma confronting coalition leaders, amid expectations that Gordon Brown is poised to pull British troops out within the next few months.

In a report completed following his return from Iraq last week, Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said: “British weakness and failure in the south has both encouraged Shi’ite extremism and partially opened the door to Iran.

“The struggle for each major shrine city has become messy and local in the south, and the British defeat in the four provinces in the south-east – particularly Basra – has created the equivalent of rival Shi’ite mafias, whose religious pretensions in no way mean they are not the equivalent of the kind of rival gangs that dominated many American cities during prohibition. Young street thugs wander much of the area, stealing and bullying in the name of God.”

But the dismal assessment of the security situation in the British-controlled zone was angrily refuted by British officials and military experts.

“This bears no resemblance to what we know to be the case,” a senior source at the Ministry of Defence said last night. “If Mr Cordesman had actually been to Basra during his visit, he would have seen that the British forces have a lot more control than he suggests. We have never suggested that every-thing was perfectly peaceful, but this is terribly unfair on the hard work that our armed forces are doing every day.”

The indignation seems genuine enough and the notion of British success seems to be believed.  But subsequent reports of the calamity in Basra surface, betraying the British claims and re-telling the story of three competing Shi’a militias in Southern Iraq: the Fadhila Party, the SIIC (i.e., Badr organization) and the JAM.

Then in a stark admission of the reality of Basra, senior U.S. and British military analysts and officers weigh in on just how bad the British pullout from Basra could get.

An adviser to the U.S. military said that British troops face an “ugly and embarrassing” withdrawal from southern Iraq in the coming months, a British newspaper reported.

Stephen Biddle, a member of a group that advised U.S. Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq last year, told the Sunday Times that insurgents and militia groups were likely to target British soldiers with ambushes, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades as they leave.

“It will be a hard withdrawal. They want the image of a British defeat,” Biddle told the paper. “It will be ugly and embarrassing.”

The Sunday Times also quoted a senior British officer as saying that British troops have lost control of the main southern city of Basra.

“I regret to say that the Basra experience is set to become a major blunder in terms of military history,” the officer was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “The insurgents are calling the shots … and in a worst-case scenario will chase us out of southern Iraq.”

As we have pointed out before, alignment with the Badr organization simply because they have joined the government is a deal with the devil because it empowers Iran, and failing to confront the JAM leaves arrogant, violent teenagers in charge of the richest city in Iraq.  And the British failure might have left the U.S. in the situation of cleaning up the mess.

The British Flight from Basra

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 4 months ago

In Calamity in Basra and British Rules of Engagement, we pointed out that the British had essentially been militarily defeated in Basra.

Richard Beeston, diplomatic editor of The Times of London recently returned from a visit to Basra, his first since 2003. He says in 2003, British soldiers were on foot patrol, drove through town in unarmored vehicles and fished in the waters of the Shaat al Arab on their days off. He says the changes he saw four years later are enormous.

“Nowadays all troop movement in and out of the city are conducted at night by helicopter because it’s been deemed too dangerous to go on the road and its dangerous to fly choppers during the day,? he says.

Beeston says during his latest visit, he noticed a map of the city in one of the military briefing rooms. About half of the city was marked as no-go areas.

British headquarters are mortared and rocketed almost everynight.

In this article we cited Anthony Cordesman (Center for Strategic and International Studies) who began openly discussing the situation by calling it a defeat in a white paper entitled The British Defeat in the South and the Uncertain Bush Strategy in Iraq.  In response to Cordesman there is a row in Britian over the idea that there has been a defeat.  On August 12, the Scotsman published an article containing responses to Cordesman.

STRAINED relations between Washington and London were stretched still further over Iraq last night, as a senior American official condemned Britain’s “failure” in its mission to bring peace to the south of the war-torn country.

Defence chiefs reacted with fury after right-wing commentator and adviser Anthony Cordesman weighed into the row over the UK’s contribution to the post-Saddam operation with a withering claim that Britain had effectively handed control of its zone to local “mafiosi”.

More significantly, Cordesman claimed the British “failure” had allowed Iran to gain a toehold, which it was using to increase its influence over its neighbour. The damning accusations, made after a fact-finding visit to Iraq, increase the pressure over the continuing dilemma confronting coalition leaders, amid expectations that Gordon Brown is poised to pull British troops out within the next few months.

In a report completed following his return from Iraq last week, Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said: “British weakness and failure in the south has both encouraged Shi’ite extremism and partially opened the door to Iran.

“The struggle for each major shrine city has become messy and local in the south, and the British defeat in the four provinces in the south-east – particularly Basra – has created the equivalent of rival Shi’ite mafias, whose religious pretensions in no way mean they are not the equivalent of the kind of rival gangs that dominated many American cities during prohibition. Young street thugs wander much of the area, stealing and bullying in the name of God.”

But the dismal assessment of the security situation in the British-controlled zone was angrily refuted by British officials and military experts.

“This bears no resemblance to what we know to be the case,” a senior source at the Ministry of Defence said last night. “If Mr Cordesman had actually been to Basra during his visit, he would have seen that the British forces have a lot more control than he suggests. We have never suggested that every-thing was perfectly peaceful, but this is terribly unfair on the hard work that our armed forces are doing every day.”

The indignation seems genuine enough and the notion of British success seems to be believed.  But subsequent reports of the calamity in Basra surface, betraying the British claims and re-telling the story of three competing Shi’a militias in Southern Iraq: the Fadhila Party, the SIIC (i.e., Badr organization) and the JAM.

Then in a stark admission of the reality of Basra, senior U.S. and British military analysts and officers weigh in on just how bad the British pullout from Basra could get.

An adviser to the U.S. military said that British troops face an “ugly and embarrassing” withdrawal from southern Iraq in the coming months, a British newspaper reported.

Stephen Biddle, a member of a group that advised U.S. Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq last year, told the Sunday Times that insurgents and militia groups were likely to target British soldiers with ambushes, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades as they leave.

“It will be a hard withdrawal. They want the image of a British defeat,” Biddle told the paper. “It will be ugly and embarrassing.”

The Sunday Times also quoted a senior British officer as saying that British troops have lost control of the main southern city of Basra.

“I regret to say that the Basra experience is set to become a major blunder in terms of military history,” the officer was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “The insurgents are calling the shots … and in a worst-case scenario will chase us out of southern Iraq.”

As we have pointed out before, alignment with the Badr organization simply because they have joined the government is a deal with the devil because it empowers Iran, and failing to confront the JAM leaves arrogant, violent teenagers in charge of the richest city in Iraq.  And the British failure might have left the U.S. in the situation of cleaning up the mess.


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