Tag Archives: iraq

Stratfor explains: Has a Turkish military spearhead penetrated northern Iraq?

Summary: Here Stratfor examines rumors that Turkey’s army has entered the fighting in Iraq. If true, it’s a serious expansion of a conflict that already looks like the early stages of the Thirty Years War that devastated central Europe. This might not be an increase of Turkey’s involvement, but such a step might be coming. Watch this story.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Stratfor

The Routine Nature of Turkey’s Presence in Iraq

Stratfor, 4 December 2015

In keeping with the adage that things are seldom what they seem, reports from Dec. 4 that a Turkish military spearhead had penetrated northern Iraq were exaggerated. Local news media claimed that three Turkish regiments entered Iraqi territory on Dec. 3, deploying in the vicinity of the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in Nineveh province. As it turns out, this supposed Turkish intervention was simply a small rotation of forces, switching out troops assigned to a routine training mission across the border. Ankara reportedly has been training Kurdish peshmerga and other Sunni volunteer forces in the Kurdish-controlled regions of Iraq since November 2014.

The dispatch of 130 Turkish troops — described as a battalion but closer to the size of an infantry company — is much less remarkable than the commitment of three regiments. The presence of these soldiers will not alter the course of the operation to retake Mosul, nor affect its timeline, though formal military training may assist the overall fight against the Islamic State. It also is not an anomalous move by Ankara: In addition to ongoing training operations in Kurdish areas, there is a Turkish military presence in the Amedi district of Dohuk province to combat revolutionaries from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known by its Kurdish acronym, the PKK.

Initial reports from local news agencies alleged that Turkish troops entered Iraqi territory on Dec. 3, massing at the Nargizliya camp (also known as al-Shekhan camp), a militia base in Shekhan District. The Turkish military uses the location to train Sunni volunteer forces. The Nargizliya camp sits on the internal border between Dohuk and Nineveh provinces and has so far processed around 3,500 combatants that are now actively involved in operations against the Islamic State.

Media reports also suggested that an assault on Mosul was imminent. News agencies cited an anonymous peshmerga official as well as sources from a militia known as the National Crowd for Liberating Nineveh. The sources claimed that the three supposed Turkish regiments would help forces in the region assault and reclaim Mosul. Hours after the statement was released, however, several local leaders denied the report, including Nineveh Gov. Nawfal Humadi, Nineveh Operations Command chief Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jubouri and representatives of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

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Peter van Buren asks what the Middle East would look like if we hadn’t helped

Summary: Today Peter van Buren examines the madness that is the core of America’s foreign policy — our relationship to the Middle East. We have set the region afire, with consequences unknowable. Until we learn from our mistakes, we’ll continue to make them. Second of 2 posts today.

Destabilizing the Middle East

What If They Gave a War and Everyone Came?
What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (October 2015 Edition)

By Peter Van Buren
From TomDispatch, 22 October 2015
Reposted with their gracious permission

What if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq in 2003? How would things be different in the Middle East today? Was Iraq, in the words of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the “worst foreign policy blunder” in American history? Let’s take a big-picture tour of the Middle East and try to answer those questions. But first, a request: after each paragraph that follows, could you make sure to add the question “What could possibly go wrong?”

Let the History Begin

In March 2003, when the Bush administration launched its invasion of Iraq, the region, though simmering as ever, looked like this: Libya was stable, ruled by the same strongman for 42 years; in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak had been in power since 1983; Syria had been run by the Assad family since 1971; Saddam Hussein had essentially been in charge of Iraq since 1969, formally becoming president in 1979; the Turks and Kurds had an uneasy but functional ceasefire; and Yemen was quiet enough, other than the terror attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Relations between the U.S. and most of these nations were so warm that Washington was routinely rendering “terrorists” to their dungeons for some outsourced torture.

Soon after March 2003, when U.S. troops invaded Iraq, neighboring Iran faced two American armies at the peak of their strength. To the east, the U.S. military had effectively destroyed the Taliban and significantly weakened al-Qaeda, both enemies of Iran, but had replaced them as an occupying force. To the west, Iran’s decades-old enemy, Saddam, was gone, but similarly replaced by another massive occupying force. From this position of weakness, Iran’s leaders, no doubt terrified that the Americans would pour across its borders, sought real diplomatic rapprochement with Washington for the first time since 1979. The Iranian efforts were rebuffed by the Bush administration.

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Stratfor looks at Iraq, the Center of a Regional Power Struggle

Summary: Nothing shows the magnitude of our failure in Iraq as its transformation from foe to friend of Iran. More than an ally, Iran has become powerful in Iraq’s internal politics. Neither Iraq’s rulers nor its neighbors are happy with this, and now they push back. Stratfor seems optimistic about their odds of success. Color me skeptical about this analysis. However, Stratfor’s greatest value is as a window into the values, assumptions, and thinking of US elites. This shows how little we’ve learned after 14 years of FAILs in Iraq.

Stratfor

Iraq, the Center of a Regional Power Struggle

Lead Analyst: Omar Lamrani
Stratfor, 18 September 2015

Forecast

  • The Iraqi prime minister will continue to pursue reforms to loosen Iran’s grip on his country.
  • A growing number of regional rivals will seek to challenge Iran’s position as the dominant foreign influence in Iraq.
  • Iran’s powerful proxies and considerable clout in the Iraqi parliament will continue to cement its presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

Analysis

Iraq, a historical crossroad between major empires to the east and west, is once again caught in the middle of a battle among regional powers looking to protect their own interests. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iran has maintained its dominant foreign influence in Iraq, a status quo that was only reinforced after the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011.

Now, however, Iran’s standing may not be so assured. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has pushed through several reforms that have increasingly challenged Iran’s role in the country, creating an opening for other states in the region to make a play for greater leverage in Iraq. But Iran will not back down without a fight. Tehran will use every tool it has, including proxy forces, to guard its interests in Iraq.

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