Monday, June 02, 2008

Mosul operation: The comic framework

What follows is a summary of the last part of an essay by Ali Al-Hamdani published on the Sunni-resistance website, in which he provides a step-by-step guide for those of us who are still scratching our heads trying to figure out what the whole Mosul operation was supposed to be about in the first place. I haven't picked this because it is the best overall account, or because it is the most convincing overall account. I have picked it because it is the only overall account (that I have seen). In particular, the writer tries to answer the question what was the primary purpose(s) of the Mosul operation, and what was merely embarrassing fallout (thus perhaps helping put the stories told in the previous two posts into better perspective).

In a nutshell, he concludes first of all that we can't assume there is any truth to the idea of "wiping out the last bastion of AlQaeda in Iraq", given that against an enemy like AQ the first element is surprise, and in this case they were given over six-months advance warning. We're talking about professional military people, after all. So that hypothesis is out. In fact, he writes
There remains only one possible reasonable justification for all of that [media] storm, and it is that it was an attempt to draw the Iraqi resistance from a variety of places in Iraq, to draw them out and to cram them together in the area of Mosul, and that throughout all of those months preceding the start of the operations, convinced that would happen, and that the resistance, including those already present in Ninawa province, would come together in defense and to confront the Iraqi forces and the American forces allied with them, and enter into an organized war with them, repeating for a second time the experience of Falluja. This time they would suffer a decisive blow, and they would be completely crippled!

But it didn't happen, and the leaders of the resistance didn't fall into the trap, because the game was apparent. And so it was that Falluja again offered its lessons to Mosul and to other regions throughout occupied Iraq.
Just to make the rest of his account crystal clear, his point is that what followed was more along the lines of trying to over up the embarrassment of having declared a decisive battle without an enemy, than any expression of actual strategic aims. He continues:
When the American and the Iraqi armies entered Mosul, and with them the Peshmerga forces within the city, there was not a single shot fired! And what happened then to cover this scandalous situation? They arrested former Baath officers on the pretext of conducting investigations, and government sources said they arrested up to 1500 people! And they wanted to show some kind of victory so they talked about saboteurs and gangs and so on, and all those expressions that Iraqis have grown so fed-up with.

And then Maliki came to Mosul, with his Ministers of Defence and the Interior, and his national security adviser and others from the "leadership". And the only thing he could do was to utter that miserable explanation where he announced that he, after examining the situation, regretted that Mosul had been left for five years under the control of the Peshmerga... What we don't understand is what is the role of the Prime Minister of Iraq if it is not to have a grasp of what is going on in one of the provinces of Iraq. And after that we heard news of [Maliki's] meeting with local tribal leaders and recruiting 11,000 of their members into the army--and the flight of Khosro Goran to Irbil--and Maliki's communications with Barzani--and suspending Dureid Kashmula the governor of Mosul--and the firing of Mataa Al-Khazraji, commander of the Second [Iraqi Army] division in Mosul, and subjecting him to investigation...

And then--Maliki returned to Baghdad!!!
And now, says Ali Al-Hamdani, the Americans are starting to build a dirt wall around Mosul, cutting off the three roads to the outside world, one to the Syrian border, the other to Baghdad and the third to Irbil. He mockingly compares this to the Maginot line, and to the Barlif (Bar Lev; thank you Helena) Line in the Sinai in 1967, and to sum up he says they are calling this the Riyadh project, after the first name of the Iraqi army officer who led the Mosul operation. You an see pictures of it on the website of Stars and Stripes, he says.

His final point is that bottling up the resistance and destroying it was only the first part of the Maliki/US strategy. The second part was to allow the Kurds to exploit the situation of war and chaos to implement their plans for control of Mosul and the entire Ninawa region, for incorporation into the Kurdish region.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I almost fell out of my chair when I read the latest analysis by Immanuel Wallerstein about Iraq. I am curious to learn your opinion, Badger:

Currently, the United States is trying to get Iraq to sign a long-term military accord that would guarantee U.S. bases indefinitely. The current prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, is trying to maneuver this without a vote even by parliament. Muqtada al-Sadr is calling for a referendum. And so, it seems, is al-Sistani. A referendum, of course, guarantees a defeat for the accord.

So, in 2009, it would seem logical that al-Sadr, al-Sistani, the Sunni, and even the Kurds will come together on a plank of national unity and U.S. total withdrawal without long-term bases. Muqtada al-Sadr will implement this as Prime Minister. Al-Hakim will be unhappy, but kept in line by al-Sistani. The Iranians will be ambivalent. The U.S. public and pundits will be amazed at the relative calm in Iraq. And President Obama and the Pentagon won't have too much choice. They will graciously assent. They may even proclaim "victory."

3:47 PM  
Blogger Archimedes39 said...

And so it was that Falluja again offered its lessons to Mosul and to other regions throughout occupied Iraq.

Perhaps the Mosul operation needed this presidential inspiration, in modo Falluja:

Among the anecdotes in "Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story" is an arresting portrait of Bush after four contractors were killed in Fallujah in 2004, triggering a fierce U.S. response that was reportedly egged on by the president.

During a videoconference with his national security team and generals, Sanchez writes, Bush launched into what he described as a "confused" pep talk:

"Kick ass!" he quotes the president as saying. "If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal."

"There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!"

Leaves one breathless, what.

5:02 PM  
Blogger badger said...

It is the strategy idea he picked up while drunk on the barstools of Yale and never went beyond...

pitirre, I think with something as remote as that people will say what they would like to see, being really unable to sort out all the things that could happen. So the milblog people will say Sadr is weakened and the current US allies will still really and truly want them to stay, because it gives them meaning. In that sort of wishful thinking vein, what I see is a Sadr/Sunni coalition of hard-line rejectionists with vast popular support for getting rid of the stench and shame of the occupation once and for all. (As far as Sistani is conerned, I think recent events have shown you can rock his boat). But as I say, a lot of things can happen, and Iran is a wild-card.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Helena Cobban said...

Great work as always, Badger. I think, though, he was referring to the Bar Lev Line in Sinai?

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since when has Sadr been a hard-line rejectionist? Didn't he have ministers in the puppet government, including the murderous so-called minister of health? He talks tough, but his actions have never matched his words.

4:36 AM  
Blogger Dancewater said...

thanks for all your hard work

9:43 AM  
Blogger Bruno said...

badger "what I see is a Sadr/Sunni coalition of hard-line rejectionists with vast popular support for getting rid of the stench and shame of the occupation once and for all."

I'm also hoping for this. And there DOES seem to be a drawing together of nationalists at this time. Let's hope it holds.

anonymous "Since when has Sadr been a hard-line rejectionist? Didn't he have ministers in the puppet government"

That's true. But then, it is also true that the Sunni resistance has used the Occupation when it has seen the opportunity. Let's not forget that at this very moment Anbaris and other resistance minded people are milking the Americans for 800 million $ a year in exchange for not killing their troops. I think Sadr also saw the opportunity to get his hand in the cookie jar, when he could.

However, the crunch time is coming.

The Security agreement is nothing less than a treaty to formalise US ownership of Iraq. It's time to put the considerable (and often US-instigated) differences between Iraqi nationalists behind them and concentrate on booting out the Occupation once and for all.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that Al is having a good laugh and boy do they deserve some humour!

"What we don't understand is what is the role of the Prime Minister of Iraq if it is not to have a grasp of what is going on in one of the provinces of Iraq."

I remember reading somewhere or words similar:

the head of a company/org comes to pay a visit.
he says: who is that man doing nothing drinkig cups of tea/coffee
Reply: Sir he is there to take the blame for you when you make mistake

thanks for showing the role of US puppet/s

1:52 AM  

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