|Southwest Asia News Digest
Iraq: "We Lost And We Don't Know It Yet"
"We lost, and we don't know it yet," were the words of Ivan Eland, referring to Iraq. Eland, a former Congressional staffer and head of the Defense Study Institute at the Cato Institute was one of four speakers at a June 17 forum at the U.S. Senate, sponsored by the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), one of the few competent thinktanks in Washington, dealing with Southwest Asia.
MEPC President Chas Freeman, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, assembled a distinguished panel of former and current military officers and area specialists to deliver a diagnosis of the situation on the ground in Iraq. In effect, all the speakers concurred that the insurgency has not been crushed, that the United States has no clear objectives and exit strategy, and that the country is coming unglued. The two military speakers were Col. Patrick Lang (USA-ret.), former Defense Intelligence Officer for the Mideast, and Col. John Newman (USA), an active duty officer, who returned from Iraq in March 2005, after serving as liaison between the Coalition forces and the Iraqi Army and security services. A third speaker, Jeff White, retired in October 2002, after a 34-year career as a Mideast specialist with the Defense Intelligence Agency. A transcript of the proceedings can be found on www.mepc.org.
The initial presentations centered on profiles of the three major "insurgent" groupings in Iraqthe Kurds, the Sunni, and the Shi'ites. Each of these groupings, in turn, are factionally divided, and among the Sunni insurgents, there are "home-grown" nationalists and foreign Jihadi fighters. Ambassador Freeman emphasized throughout the seminar, that the situation in Iraq is extremely complex, and the situation is slipping further and further out of American control.
In response to Jeff White's argument that the U.S. had to significantly expand the number of troops on the ground, to ever have a chance of defeating the insurgency, Lang asked: "Where do we get more troops?" He argued that you cannot fight a counterinsurgency war with reservists and national guardsmen, but that is exactly what the United States is doing, because the level of military force required for such operations does not exist. Furthermore, he pointed out that, if there were to be a reconstituting of the military draft, it would still take a two-year wind-up to get even a battalion of new troops onto the ground in Iraq. And by then, the insurgency would have overrun the country.
Lang also pointed out, from the experiences in Vietnam, that those people who sided with the foreign occupiers suffered horribly, after the foreign troops withdrew. So, don't expect many Sunnis to shift sides and back the government.
Ambassador Freeman, in the discussion period, described the Bush White House as suffering from political autism, which is why every attempt by intelligence and diplomatic professionals to bang some sense into their heads has failed absolutely. Ivan Eland, who commented that we have already lost, but just don't know it yet, said that he favors a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and a devolution of the country into a loose confederation, or even three separate entitiesKurdish, Shi'ite, and Sunni.
Syrian Ambassador Exposes Source Of Alleged Hit List As a Fabricator
In an interview on CNN's Late Edition, June 12, Syria's Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Imad Moustafa, said that "it's a shame that the world's unique superpower, the United States of America, will degrade itself to this level," referring to last week's allegations by George Bush, Condi Rice, and the comment by White House spokesman June 10, claiming Syria has a hit list against Lebanese leaders.
"The same person who created or fabricated the story about the hit list, used to create and fabricate wild stories about [the U.S.] itself two years ago to a degree that the United States revoked his U.S. visa. Now this same person ... has created the story about Syria compiling a hit list." Though Moustafa did not name this individual, he indicated that he is well-known to people familiar with the region, and is involved today in Lebanese politics. He also ridiculed Bush for quoting the New York Times and Washington Post as his intelligence sources. "Do you instigate against a whole country based on unsubstantiated wild stories? I think this really ... exceeded all limits of wisdom and logic." He also compared this disinformation to "the story of Iraq's WMDs before the war."
Moustafa refused to be goaded by CNN's John King about Syrian threats to Lebanon currently. "No, forget about the American accusations," he said. "Let me tell you this. In the past 20, 30 days, the Lebanese have had fair and free elections. And even the Lebanese opposition, who used to criticize Syria's presence in Lebanon, now are saying we only want the best possible relations with Syria. This is what Syria wants from Lebanon. What worries us a lot is that there are third parties who will be very unhappy if an emerging government ... and new parliamentary majority in Lebanon is saying we want the best possible relations with Syria." Moustafa also exposed that when the United Nations had determined that all Syrian troops had left Lebanon, as stated in UN Resolution 1559, the U.S. put pressure on the UN and on Kofi Annan to change its assessment.
Kurdish Regional Inauguration Hit By Terror
Washington's neo-conservatives, inside and outside the Bush Administration, have often pointed to the Kurdish region in north Iraq, as an example of the successful American "liberation" of Iraq. Reality is quite the contrary.
Thirty died and 88 were wounded in bomb attacks on June 14, as Massoud Barzani, was sworn in as the first regional president of the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq's north. The worst of several attacks killed at least 20 people outside a bank in Kirkuk, police said. Kirkuk police chief Major General Turhan Yusif said a suicide bomber blew himself up in a line outside the Al-Rafidain bank. "Most of the casualties were civil servants lining up outside the bank to receive their monthly pay," said Colonel Shirzad Abdullah, chief of Rahimao police station.
Barzani, son of the Kurdish nationalist Mullah Mustafa Barzani, took the oath of office before the 111-member Kurdish parliament after being formally selected as President of Iraqi Kurdistan. "The choice of Barzani as regional president crowns hundreds of years of struggle, strewn with the bodies of martyrs," Parliament Speaker Adnan al-Mufti said.
Amnesty Discussions Between U.S. And Iraq Insurgents
American and Iraqi officials are discussing an amnesty policy in hope of ending the Iraqi resistance, reported dailydemocrat.com, on June 14. But, any agreement would exclude the "foreign" fighters such as the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi group.
Iraq's minister for national security, Abdul Karim al-Inizi, said that an amnesty policy is being drawn up, but the insurgent groups first must do more to convince authorities they are serious about making peace. "Those who had committed homicides and caused blood shedding for the innocents will be excluded from this amnesty. this depends on whether the insurgents want to take a step forward."
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Venable said the Iraqi government has raised the amnesty issue, and "we look forward to working closely with the Iraqi government as this idea develops."
"Any successful counterinsurgency strategy requires the U.S. and Iraqi authorities to do everything possible to split the insurgency and persuade as many Sunni elements as possible to join the peaceful political process," said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who says he has been involved in informal talks.
If this report is true, it would confirm the reading EIR received from several Arab sources, indicating that negotiations are already going on between government and resistance forces, and that the al-Zarqawi element would be eliminated in the process.
Growing Majority Of Americans Want Troops Out Of Iraq
In a front-page article June 13, USA Today summarized a number of polls that show a growing majority of Americans want U.S. troops out of Iraq. An ABC/Washington Post poll two weeks earlier showed that two-thirds of those polled said the U.S. was bogged down in Iraq, and that "nearly three-quarters" said that the casualty level is unacceptable. In a just released Gallup poll, 56% of Americans believe the Iraq war is not "worth it," in terms of the cost in Americans lives.
AIPAC Spy Case Goes To Top Of Jewish Lobby Group
The Jewish Telegraph Agency reports that there are intense discussions inside well-known U.S. lobby groups, that the Larry Franklin/AIPAC spy case will inhibit the functioning of Jewish organizations and other lobbyists that deal with the executive branch. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said, "Not just Jewish organizations, but lobbyists in general. "Lawyers will be telling their clients, 'Let's look at practices,' " reported the Jerusalem Post, June 19.
The Post article covers the fact that the JTA has revealed the Howard Kohr, the executive director of AIPAC, one of the largest lobby groups in the United States, and the most militant and right wing of the major Jewish lobby groups, had received e-mails containing classified information that had been pilfered by Defense Department analyst, Larry Franklin, and passed along to two of Kohr's key operatives in AIPAC, Steve Rosen and Keith Wiessman. JTA claims that Kohr did not know the information was classified.
The AIPAC/Franklin spy case is "bigger than the Pollard affair," reports Jeff Steinberg in this week's EIR Online InDepth.