Sunday, March 18, 2018

Review Earle, Robert, Nights in the Pink Motel, An American Strategist’s Pursuit of Peace in Iraq

Earle, Robert, Nights in the Pink Motel, An American Strategist’s Pursuit of Peace in Iraq, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2008

Robert Earle was a veteran State Department official who was in retirement writing books when he was called back into service by John Negroponte who was just appointed the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq in the summer of 2004. Negroponte wanted Earle to be his “thinker.” His book Nights in the Pink Motel is divided into four sections. Three of those focus upon Earle writing strategy papers for Negroponte and U.S. commander in Iraq General George Casey. The middle section is when Earle got a blood clot in Baghdad, which forced him leave Iraq, and head to Germany for medical treatment. Earle writes in an easy and informal style, and reads like a journal rather than a formal account of events. The main take away from The Pink Motel was that the U.S. dug itself into a hole the first year in Iraq, and even when it tried to come up with a strategy to pull itself out, it fell short.

This Day In Iraqi History - Mar 18

1933 British official warned King Faisal was attempting to make himself dictator
            of Iraq
1948 Railway strike against Anglo-Iraq Treaty
1981 US senator told press Iraq was trying to build a nuclear bomb
1985 Iraq bombed Tehran in retaliation for Iran bombing Baghdad War of Cities
1985 Iran claimed it controlled all the marshes south of Amarah Maysan Iraq
            launched counterattack
1991 Sec of State Baker after tour of Middle East and Soviet Union said most
            leaders thought Saddam would be gone by end of year
1991 Kurdish leader Rahman called for international help with food and medicine
            during uprising None came
2002 UK Amb Meyer met with Dep Sec of Def Wolfowitz who said he was against
            going to UN against Iraq
2003 UN weapons inspectors ended work in Iraq Did 731 inspections at 411 sites and
            found no WMD or nuclear programs
2003 UN suspended Oil for Food program for Iraq due to impending war
2003 US military official told CNN Iraqi troops had VX and mustard gas munitions
2003 UK military given official order to prepare for Iraq invasion
2003 Joint Chief of Staff met to discuss withdrawal plans for post-invasion Iraq
2003 UK Gen Cross warned Blair that there wasn’t enough post-war planning for Iraq
2003 2 British ministers and legal adv to Foreign Office resigned in protest against the
2003 British parliament voted 412 to 149 to endorse Iraq invasion
2003 US named 30 countries willing to join Iraq war Became known as Coalition of
            the Willing
2003 CIA source claimed he saw Saddam and his family at Dora farm south of Baghdad
            CIA Dir Tenet told Bush
2003 Khalizad went to Turkey offering to allow Turkish troops to enter Kurdistan buffer
            zone disarming Peshmerga ops vs PKK if US could use Turkey for invasion 
2004 Fmr OHRA head Garner said he was replaced in Iraq because wanted early
            elections to return power to Iraqis
2006 NSC report Iraqi army largely rebuilt but attacks not decreasing War stalemated
            PM Jaafari incompetent
2009 Sadr issued statement calling on his followers to give up on violence
2011 KRG said that it would form committee to deal with protests in Sulaymaniya
2013 Kurdish MPs meet with Pres Barzani and agreed on boycotting Iraqi parliament
            over disputes with Maliki
2016 Sadr started protests in Baghdad demanding cabinet reforms

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Review Hiro, Dilip, Iraq, In the Eye of the Storm

Review Hiro, Dilip, Iraq, In the Eye of the Storm, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002

This is the second book by Dilip Hiro that I’ve read on Iraq and I enjoyed both. Iraq In The Eye of the Storm covers Iraq from the Gulf War right up to before the 2003 invasion. Each chapter has a theme such as life for ordinary Iraqis under sanctions, the Iraqi opposition, the Kurds, the impact of 9/11, etc. The three most interesting parts were on the mid-1990s plots against Saddam, the coup proofing of the regime by Saddam, and the U.N. weapons inspections.

This Day In Iraqi History - Mar 17

1917 British forces captured Baquba from Ottomans
1935 PM Midfai forced to resign due to tribal revolt Yasin al-Hashemi became PM of
            Iraq 2nd time with National Brotherhood Party in cabinet
1941 After consulting with UK For Min Suwaidi convinced PM Hashemi and Regent to
            move against Golden Square officers
1941 Golden Square officers called on army to overthrow Hashemi
1975 Iraq and Iran Foreign Ministers signed agreement to create three committees to
            resolve outstanding issues
1975 US Sec State Kissinger responded to Barzani saying that US understood struggle
            Kurds were facing
1984 Belgian labs confirmed mustard gas used by Iraq from samples taken from two
            wounded Iranians
1985 Iran captured section of Basra-Baghdad highway for first time
1991 Iraqi army began assault to retake Karbala from Shiite rebels
1991 Refugee claimed govt killed 250-300 people of Najaf after Shiite uprising
1991 Kurds began fleeing Tuz Kharmato in face of govt offensive to retake it
1991 Baghdad held 1st tribal loyalty ceremony to shore up support during uprising
1991 Saddam said he would introduce democracy and create a new constitution
1992 Report in 91 Bush admin tried to block release of information about White House
            support for Iraq before Kuwait invasion
1994 English scientists est 57% of southern marshes had been drained by Saddam to
            drive out displaced and rebels
1996 UN inspectors said work was moving forward and Iraq was not hiding WMD
            as some suggested
1999 uprising in Basra after Saddam killed Ayatollah Sadiq al-Sadr
2002 Dep Sec Def Wolfowitz and Blair’s adv Manning talked about building intl
support for military action vs Iraq
2002 UK Amb to US Meyer told Dep Sec Def Wolowitz that if US wanted military
            action against Iraq it needed to go through UN
2002 Dep Sec of Def Wolfowitz told UK Amb to US Meyer that Iraq was linked
            with terrorism and harboring member of 1993 World Trade Center bombing
2002 Times of London article quoted Iraqi defector provided by INC that Iraq
            had WMD programs
2002 Bahrain Foreign Minister Salamn ibn Hamda al-Khalifa told press Arab world did
            not see Iraq as the threat but Israel for its actions against Palestinians
2003 UN Draft resolution saying Iraq in non compliance and open to military action
            withdrawn by US because couldn’t be passed
2003 Bush met with Congressional leaders telling them UN route with Iraq was dead
            Blamed France Sen Byrd only one who said he opposed war
2003 Bush in TV speech said Iraq had WMD and was hiding them Gave Saddam
            and sons 48 hours to leave office or face invasion
2003 Blair gave Saddam ultimatum to comply with UN resolutions
2003 UN Sec Gen Annan announced he would order withdrawal of weapons
            inspectors due to impending war
2003 UK Attny Gen Lord Goldsmith gave legal advice that war with Iraq was legal
2003 ORHA staff that was to run postwar Iraq began leaving US for Kuwait
2003 ORHA head Garner met with his oil team Said concerned Rumsfeld picked ex-
            Shell CEO Carroll to join group
2003 ORHA oil team told Garner if Iraq oil sector destroyed by war would need
            someone with standing of Carroll to deal with situation
2004 Bombing of Mount Lebanon hotel in Baghdad killed 27 wounded 40 
2004 Iraqi Governing Council asked UN to return to Baghdad and advise the creation
            of interim govt
2012 Baghdad claimed KRG-Exxon oil deal was frozen but wasn’t

View the Iraq History Timelines

Friday, March 16, 2018

Security In Iraq, Mar 8-14, 2018

After witnessing a jump in security incidents at the start of March, things went back to the mean in the second week of the month in Iraq. Security incidents and casualties were both down, but the Islamic State still appeared to be rebuilding and getting bolder in its fifth month of transitioning to an insurgency.

This Day in Iraqi History - Mar 16

1917 UK War Cabinet created Mesopotamia administration committee to decide
            on form of govt in captured areas
1959 Gen Qasim signed economic agreement with Soviet Union to move away from
            England and west
1975 Iraqi forces launched new offensive against Kurds after Iran stopped supporting
            them as part of Algiers agreement
1982 Iraq’s Dep PM Yassin Ramadan said Iraq ready to withdraw from Iran and would
            accept ceasefire Iran-Iraq War
1984 Iran fought off Iraqi effort to free Majnoon Islands Iran-Iraq War
1988 Iraqi forces dropped mustard and nerve gas on Halabja killing 5,000 Kurds to
            recapture town from Peshmerga and Iranian Revolutionary Guard
(Musings On Iraq article on the attack upon Halabja)
1991 Saddam made 1st address since Gulf War Blamed southern uprising on Iran Said
            Kurds worked with foreigners and always defeated
1992 Saddam govt set off car bomb in Irbil after warning Kurds not to ally with
            foreign powers
2003 Azores summit with Bush Blair Portuguese Premier Barroso Bush said that Iraq
            war would start in days not weeks
2003 Blair got transcript of 60 Minutes interview with Pres Chirac who said he wanted
            30 more days for UN inspections
2003 Blair Bush Barroso agreed to give 2nd UN resolution 24 more hours and pull it if
            didn’t have enough votes
2003 Bush and Blair gave UN 24 hour ultimatum to enforce its own resolutions
            on Iraq disarming or they would invade
2003 Blair complained that US screwed up a 2nd UN resolution on Iraq
2003 VP Cheney told NBC that if world didn’t deal with Iraq it would go back to
            producing WMD
2003 VP Cheney refuted IAEA claim that Iraq had not reconstituted its nuclear weapons
2003 VP Cheney on NBC IAEA wrong about aluminum tubes Iraq tried to buy and
            were wrong on Iraq in general
(Musings On Iraq article on the aluminum tubes story)
2003 Cheney on NBC said that Iraq had long standing relationship with Al Qaeda
2003 Cheney said that Army Chief of Staff Gen Shinseki wrong that US would need
            more troops to occupy Iraq than invade
2003 VP Cheney told NBC that Americans would be greeted as liberators in Iraq
2004 UK Parliament report said British forces had bad intel on Iraq and govt limited them
            due to fears of anti-war sentiment
2004 DepDefSec Wolfowitz said Iraq invasion proved US view on Iraq’s links
            to terrorism
2006 New Iraqi parliament seated after Dec 05 elections
2007 ISI set off chlorine bomb in Anbar Killed 2 shiekhs in Fallujah and Ramadi that
            opposed ISI
2008 Maliki said he was going to take on security in Basra and that he was going to lead
            effort personally
2015 Abadi asked US for airstrikes to help Tikrit operation that was stalled

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Hashd To Get Equal Pay-Benefits To Army As Further Integrated Into Iraqi State

At the start of March 2018 Prime Minister Haidar Abadi issued a decree giving the Hashd al-Shaabi the same pay and benefits as the Iraqi army. Previously, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki created the Commission for the Popular Mobilization Forces in June 2014 to give the Hashd formal backing. Then in February 2016, Abadi passed Executive Order 91 making them an independent group within the Iraqi Security Forces under the Commander In Chief. These were all meant to bring this paramilitary force into the Iraqi state.

This Day In Iraqi History – Mar 15

1935 National Brotherhood Party started revolt in Daghahara Led King Faisal to
            create new cabinet with Brotherhood Party
1981 Saddam said unless Iran agreed to ceasefire he would aid Iranian opposition
1985 Iraq carried out air raid on Tehran Iran fired SCUDs at Baghdad in War of Cities
1988 First detention center for Kurds displaced during Anfal campaign set up
(Musings On Iraq article on Anfal campaign)
1990 Iraq executed UK Observer journalist Batoft for reporting on missile program
            Condemned in West
1991 Rebels in Diwanaiya attempted and failed to take Hillah
1991 Saddam declared southern revolt over
1991 Iraqi govt forces began operation to retake Tuz Kharmato from Peshmerga
1991 U.S. shot down Iraqi fighter after warned it no flights allowed during uprisings
2003 Special Republican Guard withdrew $1 bil from Central Bank of Iraq under
            Uday Hussein to pay off sheikhs to put down expected rebellions
2003 Iraqi security forces tried to stamp out signs of Kurdish opposition in Kirkuk City
2003 ORHA head Garner told Sec Def Rumsfeld plan was only to dismiss top two
officials from each Iraqi ministry and not carry out any deBaathification policy
2003 Rumsfeld okayed Garner’s plan to not have deBaathification policy
2003 Rumsfeld complained Garner picked non-Pentagon people to run some Iraqi
            ministries Wanted them all from Defense
2003 CIA gave explosive to Kurdish team which blew up Mosul-Baghdad railway starting
            covert action campaign before invasion
2004 Bush told Blair Chalabi up to no good using deBaathification committee for
            his own ends
2005 Mahdi Army attacked college engineering students in Basra for having mixed male-
            female party in park Led to protests vs Sadrists
2005 Report leaked that Halliburton overcharged US for fuel imports to Iraq by more
            than $108 mil
2005 Italy announced it would withdraw its approximate 3,000 troops from Iraq
2005 Ukraine withdrew 130 of its soldiers from Iraq
2006 Iraq Study Group began creating alternative Iraq strategy for Bush admin
2012 One of Hashemi’s guards who had accused him of terrorism died in custody
            Authorities claimed kidney failure but pictures showed torture

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

IMF, World Bank and Pres Masum Object To Iraq’s 2018 Budget

On March 3 Iraq’s parliament passed the 2018 budget, which was immediately criticized by the Kurds and pro-Iran Hashd groups. The Kurds had their traditional 17% allocation eliminated, while the Hashd did not get the same pay and pensions as the Iraqi forces as promised for the last two years. Now those dissenting voices have been joined by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and Iraq’s President Fuad Masum.

This Day In Iraqi History – Mar 14

1925 Iraq deal gave Turkish Petroleum Company right to explore for oil in
            entire country
1951 Grenade hit American Cultural Center in Baghdad wounding some Jewish visitors 5th
            of 8 such attacks on Jews 1950-51
1981 Cuba’s foreign minister arrived in Lebanon as head of Non-Aligned Movement
            attempt to negotiate ceasefire in Iran-Iraq War
1983 Sec of State Shultz ordered US diplomat in Baghdad to discuss US financing
            trade deals with Iraq
1985 Iran fired SCUD missiles at Kirkuk War of Cities
1986 UN mission found that Iraq had used chemical weapons several times in Iran-Iraq
1988 Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Peshmerga launched Wa al-Fajr 10 capturing
            Halabja district
1991 Pres Bush warned Iran not to take advantage of Iraq uprisings to try to annex
            any territory
2002 Blair Adv Manning said Natl Sec Adv Rice committed to regime change in Iraq
2002 Blair Adv Manning said US working on strategic decisions on how to remove
2003 Rumsfeld told ORHA head Garner he was going to pick all the advisers
            that were going to run Iraqi ministries
2003 Iran’s national security adviser said US would not have a happy ending in Iraq
2003 French Pres Chirac told Blair he would not accept a UN resolution that set
            an ultimatum for Iraq disarmament
2003 NSC decided on language for ultimatum to Saddam Included 48 hour deadline to
            leave power pushed by Rumsfeld
2005 Netherlands withdrew its 160 troops from Iraq
2006 Iraqi police found 87 bodies dumped in Baghdad
2006 Report May-Jun 03 British worried of strategic failure in Iraq due to US mistakes
2011 Justice Min said it would close Camp Honor secret prison in Baghdad run
            by Maliki that used torture on prisoners Was not closed
2012 Ninewa council voted to freeze Article 140 that was to determine future
            of disputed areas
2012 Baghdad police held Russia Today reporters for 3 hrs because were doing story
            on emo killings in capital
2013 5 suicide bombers attacked Justice and Foreign Ministries, Communications
            Institute in central Baghdad
2015 operation to free Tikrit stalled due to high Hashd casualties
2016 State of Law MPs probably pro-Maliki said Sadr’s protests in Baghdad could
            be infiltrated by terrorists