Saturday, April 26, 2008

Preparations for the Mosul campaign stalled; Supreme Council wants to reinstate the draft

An Iraqi military official said the preparations for the big campaign in Mosul--described by Maliki as the final and decisive campaign in the pacification of Iraq--are stalled, because the number of police and army troops assembled is insufficient, and they are inadequately equipped. They need at least two more brigades, he said, adding he was hopeful that two brigades currently deployed in Basra and elsewhere in the south would join the Mosul operation. Azzaman, which reports these remarks without naming the official, reminds readers that the Ninawa tribal council has asked that the "protection of Mosul" be put in the hands of local people, and that the army accept local volunteers for this. Otherwise, the provincial council warns, the operation will be a failure.

Meanwhile, says Azzaman, a delegation from Mosul led by provincial governor Duraid Mashmula and including tribal leaders and others, is in Baghdad and has told President Talabani that the situation in Mosul is deteriorating as the security operation is delayed. The reporter puts it like this: "Tension prevails in Mosul, the result of raids being carried out by the government forces, and control of neighborhoods by armed groups, amid delays in the start of the security operation, which was supposed to restore order, and [amid] demands by the locals that the security file be handed over to them".

So the picture is of insufficient government troops, demands by local people to be permitted to handle the situation themselves, and a deteriorating situation as the existing government troops conduct raids and the armed groups control neighborhoods. (This Azzaman piece doesn't take up the Peshmerga issue. Earlier reports have said that one of the ominous features of this standoff is that Sunni Arabs, who are in the majority locally, fear the government's use of Peshmerga troops could make this more of a Kurdish-control issue than a bona fide law-enforcement operation. The Red Crescent has warned of another wave of catastrophic internal migration if the situation deteriorates).

The same Azzaman piece reports remarks by the chairman of the parliamentary committee on security and defence, a Supreme Council deputy by the name of Hadi al-Amari, apparently posted on a Supreme Council website, to the effect that "the state" has decided to revive the Compulsory Military Service Law that was in effect under Saddam and before, with some modifications. The reporter doesn't seem to have gotten the opportunity to question al-Amari about this, so the only elaboration is by way of background: In-principle mandatory service by males over age 18 for a period of 18 months. In particular, there isn't any discussion of the little matter of getting something like this past the legislature. (The journalist does note that the current Iraqi constitution calls for a voluntary army, so presumably a compulsory draft would be unconstitutional. He notes that al-Amari failed to mention that).

The reporter doesn't link these two points together in the text of his article, but the headline makes the connection clear: "Return of compulsory military service in Iraq, and the Mosul campaign is stalled for insufficient forces".

(Lest you think it is only the Arabic sources that make your head spin, consider this: A Pentagon report now says Iraq needs 646,000 troops to cope with what it calls "the insurgency", up from an estimate of only 390,000 troops in a Pentagon report only seven months ago. Moreover, they're not sure what portion of the current payroll is for the dead and AWOL).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hadi al-Amiri also is the leader of Badr, so if he said that, then it would be a very serious issue - he´s one of the top ranks and cannot make random declarations on such a sensitive topic.

Please could you make a clarification, you said "the state" HAS DECIDED to reinstate the draft as if the decision was already taken, but i had heard nothing of it?The government could simply decree it ignoring parliament and the formal process?Please could you provide the link or explain more.

9:41 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Yes. The statement attributed to al-Amiri is at the beginning of that Azzaman article that I linked to at the beginning of this post. His reported use of the term "the state" struck me too, and that's why I put it in quotation marks. (Right now there is something funny with access to Azzaman, or I would quote you those sentences, but anyway that's where it is.) The Azzaman journalist says the statement originally appeared on a news-site of the Supreme Council. So far I haven't found anything like that on Maybe you can suggest somewhere else to look? (Once the Azzaman site is back I'll quote you those sentences)

10:01 AM  
Blogger badger said...

The Azzaman site is still funny. All I'm getting is the lead chunk of text, where the journalist says:

"Iraq [sic] announced that it will re-institute a law on Compulsory Military Service, which was in effect...[and repealed by Bremer]...

The new decision [sic] is contrary to the Iraqi constitution which calls for a voluntary armed forces..."

Then later on in the piece, he attributes this, not to anyone speaking on behalf of the state, but to Al-Amiri.

Funny the site should be acting up right now. I've never seen that happen before, it's always been fully available.

10:27 AM  
Blogger badger said...

They're back!

The next sentence talks about Al-Amari having described "the state" as "determined" to bring back a Draft Law, and the following sentence refers to his statement as having originally been on a Supreme Council news-site. As I said, I haven't found the Supreme Council site for that.

11:34 AM  

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