USA, Maliki, ISIS and Iraq’s Sunni – It’s a long story. #100daysofblogging #Day15

ISIS - Made in the USASince I posted about the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Shams (ISIS) ‘seizing’ Mosul a few days ago, my understanding of the situation has progressed.

While it is true Mosul has fallen out of control of the Iraqi government and that ISIS flags have been raised, it is not clear that a Jihadist element is “in control’ of Mosul.

I have had conversations with Iraqi friends and they all certainly confirm the ‘fall’ of Mosul.

However, suggestions about who is ‘in control’ of Mosul vary. There are rumours of “Saddam’s men” being involved. Equally there are reports of foreign Jihadi’s and local sectarian militias. The reality is likely to be all three are involved.

They have been since the early days of the occupation of Iraq in 2003.

When I see reports suggesting Jihadist ISIS has $2.5bn worth of assets after ‘taking’ Mosul, I’m sceptical. There are a lot of things I’m sceptical about with the reporting of the situation, actually (read Juan Cole’s 7 myths).

I do not believe Baghdad is under any ‘threat’ of being captured by ISIS. They have no support base there. There is no way they could hold it. Continue reading USA, Maliki, ISIS and Iraq’s Sunni – It’s a long story. #100daysofblogging #Day15

Iraq update, Avaaz and Ed Miliband

Since the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, Iraqi civilians have suffered through many tragedies; but perhaps none is so great as the poor state of their general services.

Electricity supply in Baghdad, like many of the other major cities in Iraq is unreliable and comes at most a few hours a day; though this is not the most pressing issue for Iraqi’s who have lived with similar electrical conditions for more than a decade. Medical supplies are few and far between even the most rudimentary kinds such a gauze and anaesthetics.  These are in high demand due to the security situation and short supply due to the unwillingness of international actors to supply the Iraqi population.

Those who suffer from conditions such as diabetes and cancer are left with no hope for treatment even during emergencies. Aid groups have established channels for the transportation of basic medicaments for treating these illnesses but are unable to supply the huge demand. NGOs simply cannot fill the void created by the dysfunctional nature of Iraq’s government.

Even those who suffer from highly treatable conditions such asthma are left in shortage of supply; a death sentence for many in Iraq’s dusty, hot and highly polluted conditions.

In a few days the new chief of staff at UK foreign ministry, David Miliband, will be giving his first major speech and has agreed to take questions and suggestions from the online international community via Avaaz.org; the suggestions and questions will be both put forward to him at his speech and also compiled into a book which will be kept on Mr Miliband’s own desk for reference after the speech.

I have taken this opportunity to pass my own suggestions to Mr Miliband; suggestions as to how he might change his Iraq policy to be focused towards stocking the shelves of libraries in Iraqi schools, stocking the medicament cabinets of Iraqi doctors and sending in electricians, supported by companies like Powertec Electric Inc., to local Iraqi neighbourhoods to help them set up their neighbourhood-run generator systems in a safe and reliable way for maximum efficiency.

Perhaps you should consider putting in your own suggestions and questions also.

 

Kevin Rudd’s Iraq Policy ‘at risk’

The news today presents an article entitled “Labor Iraq Policy at risk as US considers downsizing Jordan base”. The meat of the article is says US training bases in Jordan could be downsized or closed, endangering the Labor party’s plan to pull Australian forced out of Iraq and send them to training Iraqi security forces in Jordan instead.

Unfortunately there are many complications in this policy anyway. Travelling to Jordan from Iraq is not as easy as it sounds with new Visa restrictions – even if it is to train to become a security guard  More importantly there are already several hundred thousands Iraqi’s displaced in Jordan; many of whom are there under expired visas.

I have a suggestion for Mr Rudd and I say this not as an opponent to his policy but merely as someone who truly wishes for a successful policy for easing the strain on the already stressed Middle East. Especially the Iraqis.

I believe some Australian forces should pull out in exchange for a humanitarian mission like those we have sent to our own neighbours, like Indonesia after the Tsunami for instance. But even these shouldn’t go to to Iraq. They should go to Jordan to process and transfer displaced Iraqi’s into secure living circumstances, where THEY can plan how to bring some political solutions to Iraq’s problems.

This would also bring some relief to Jordan’s over-worked immigration and policing ministries and to the dedicated UNHCR staff there. The mission could quite easily obtain UN approval and as such possibly get emergency workers for UNHCR brought to Jordan.

On the other hand the Australian troops could be placed along the Jordanian border, where they could build high-quality temporary accommodation to host those refugee’s who are refused entry, or deported from Jordan (they could possibly set a few of these up at other borders too?)

There are many low-risk jobs that need to be done. What we need is for the international community to step up and start taking responsibility for not preventing the US invasion in the first place, and the only way to do that is to become part of the solution to this huge problem.

Israeli Airforce Corridor and the US Occupation of Iraq

If the American administration truly planned to quell the violence in Iraq they would openly and publicly declare opposition to the recent Israeli request for a “corridor” through US-occupied Iraqi airspace in case of a decision to bomb Tehran.

The February 25 telegraph.co.uk article by Con Coughlin anonymously sites a “Senior Israeli defence official” who commented that negotiations had begun to prevent the possibility of “American and Israeli war planes [start] shooting at each other”, should the Israeli Defence Force decide to bomb Iran.

This proposition puts the US mission in Iraq entirely at risk; sending such significant signals to Iran could heat things up in Iraq. There is great potential for the Badr Forces, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq- to take offence to the US colluding with Israel in the bombing of Iran. Such an event could cause a catastrophic strain on the already tense relations between the Iraqi populace and the US presence there.

With the new US-Iraqi security plan coming into effect now is the wrong time to send mixed signals to the Iraqi populace. The combined Coalition forces need to take strong leadership roles and set the record straight as to their intentions regarding Iraq and it’s neighbours.

Are they going to allow Iran to be bombed and deal with the repercussions in Iraq? Or will they going cut and run? Could they even stabilize the country if Iran was bombed, if they are struggling to do so now?

These are questions which need to be cleared up before they actualise themselves.

More troops for Anbar and Baghdad

I heard on the news today that US President Bush is going to officially announce his plan to send an additional 20,000 US troops to Iraq. The news report said the troops were going to Baghdad with the mission of confronting the Shiite militia’s and Sunni insurgency to quell the violent sectarian war which has been plaguing Baghdad of late.

A later report on the news said the new Iraqi Government had also decided to increase troop levels in Baghdad to match the US surge- this article suggested a door-to-door search would be conducted by joint US-Iraqi forces. The aim is to root out militias and insurgents in hope of stabilizing Baghdad before a gradual US withdrawal. There have been rumours Democrats in the new congress would not provide funds for these troops- yet the most senior Democrats insist they will not cut off funding for US troops in Iraq.

Assuming this all goes ahead and the Iraqi army can equal the US troop deployment (unlikely, they will probably match at least half however). I would assume at least 25% of these forces will not be present in Baghdad and will likely go to Anbar as suggested. Continue reading More troops for Anbar and Baghdad