I SAID WHEN THE ALLIES WOULD PULL OUT OF IRAQ, THE COUNTRY OF IRAQ WOULD GO BACK TO SECTARIANISM ..... AND INDEED BE A MESS.
I DON'T CLAIM ANY FANCY PROPHETIC INSIGHT AS SUCH FROM GOD, I SAW WHAT HISTORY TELLS YOU ABOUT IRAQ, AND WITH NO HITLER TYPE MAN RULING WITH A ROD OF IRON, COMMON SENSE TELLS YOU WHAT THE STATE OF THE IRAQ NATION WOULD BE, WHEN THE ALLIES WOULD LEAVE [I GUESS IN A SENSE THEY HAVE NOT YET LEFT FULLY].
THE FOLLOWING IS FROM "THE ECONOMIST" - OCTOBER 2015
One step back, two steps forward
America and Iran are competing to show which is the stronger ally in the fight against Islamic State. That should be good news for Iraq
SYRIA gets the lion's share of the world's attention, but in Iraq, after months of stalemate, the battle against Islamic State (IS) is at last hotting up. On October 7th the Iraqi army, local police and some tribal fighters, supported by both coalition and Iraqi air strikes, launched a big push to encircle and eventually retake Ramadi, the capital city of mainly Sunni Anbar province west of Baghdad which fell to is in May. As The Economist went to press, the effort to cut Ramadi off appeared nearly complete, with the 10,000-strong Iraqi force in control of the critical Albu Farraj bridge over the Euphrates and preparing to take on the 1,000 or so is fighters still left inside the city.
On October 15th around 5,000 Iraqi soldiers and armed national police working alongside 10,000 Iranian-supported Shia militia fighters (known as Hashid al-Shabi or Popular Mobilisation Units), with some help from coalition air strikes, began an assault to recapture the Baiji oil refinery. After months of inconclusive fighting, victory was declared on October 24th. The refinery, once the country's biggest, is damaged beyond repair. But since it sits halfway between Baghdad and is-occupied Mosul in the north, holding it and the nearby town is strategically vital. Control of the road south will make it harder for is to threaten Tikrit, retaken by the government in April, or to funnel reinforcements into Anbar.
These twin offensives came after several months of drift. The delay was caused by the intense summer heat and the time it is taking to reconstitute the Iraqi army after two of its divisions collapsed 18 months ago when is rampaged through northern and western Iraq, seizing Mosul, the country's second city (with a population of nearly 2m), and coming close to Baghdad.
The new push involves new tactics: big simultaneous attacks in places nearly 250km apart will stretch IS. And the deliberate division of labour between the Hashid al-Shabi militias and the government-controlled Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) may be even more significant.
Since late May, the Iranian-backed militias have been concentrating their efforts on Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad, in a more or less independent operation that keeps them away from Anbar to the west, where the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, under pressure from the Americans, is trying to limit their role. Some Sunni tribes have linked up with the Hashid al-Shabi there, but too often when Shia fighters drive is out of Sunni areas, their main interest is in carrying out reprisals against locals suspected of collaboration.
The Americans are keen to chalk up a military success that owes nothing to Iran, and have consequently been upping the tempo of air sorties in Anbar. (The Pentagon claims about 150 in the past three weeks, mostly around Ramadi.) The Americans are also supplying armoured bulldozers to carve a path through booby-trapped defences.
In a separate operation on October 22nd American special forces joined with Kurdish peshmerga units in a daring raid to help free 69 prisoners held by is near the northern town of Hawija. The Pentagon said that the mission, which cost the life of an American soldier, was a response to intelligence received by the Kurds that the captives were about to be murdered. America's defence secretary, Ashton Carter, in testimony to Congress this week, suggested that Barack Obama's "no boots on the ground" promise was under revision. He said that American forces "won't hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against IS....or conducting such missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground".
The stakes have become much higher since the unwelcome arrival of the Russians in Baghdad last month to establish a military intelligence "co-ordination cell" with Iran and Syria. Such is the concern in Washington about what Russia may be up to in Syria that America's most senior officer, Marine General Joe Dunford, was dispatched to Iraq on October 20th. In meetings with Mr Abadi4 and the defence minister, Khaled al-Obeidi, he warned that America could not continue its present level of military support if the Russians start carrying out air strikes of their own.
Remember who your friends are
It was a reminder to the Abadi government that the American-led coalition is the essential ally against IS. But to show Iraqis that he is wise to prefer an alliance with the Americans, what Mr Abadi most needs is a speedy and conclusive victory in Ramadi. Patrick Martin of the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think-tank, notes that the more the Iranian proxy militias succeed in Baiji without an ISF breakthrough in Ramadi "the more pressure there is on Abadi".
General Dunford appears to have been heeded. Yet many Iraqis are still disappointed about the level of America's commitment. When Mr Obama declared just over a year ago that his strategy was to "degrade and ultimately destroy" IS, the expectation in Baghdad was that he would attack the so-called caliphate far more energetically than he has.
Mr Obama accepted that it would take time "to eradicate the cancer" of IS. But he was wrong about much else, in particular his assertion that is "is a terrorist organisation, pure and simple". That IS is spectacularly brutal is not in doubt, but it also holds territory, administers it and is prepared to defend it. About 10m people live in the areas is controls, the vast majority of them in the relatively populous towns of the Sunni-majority parts of Iraq. Although is rules by fear, it also attempts to provide basic administration and rudimentary services, which some may find preferable to the malign neglect of the previous Shiadominated government in Baghdad.
Militarily, although IS uses terrorist tactics, such as suicide bombs, these are only one aspect of its formidable combat power. Mr Obama misjudged the nature of an adaptable enemy and the environment in which it operates.
The initial objective of halting the advance of IS and pushing it out of mainly Shia areas, such as Samarra, Karbala and the outskirts of Baghdad, was fairly swiftly achieved. The increasingly autonomous territory controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government, based in Erbil, looks secure too. Its peshmerga fighters have established strong defensive lines that extend across most of the multi-ethnic, oil-rich province of Kirkuk. The liberation of Jurf al-Sakhar and Tikrit also showed that Sunni towns could be retaken from IS, albeit at huge cost to the inhabitants.
But since those early gains, which saw is lose about 15% of the territory it had captured earlier in the year, an uneasy stalemate ensued. This was interrupted by the shocking loss of Ramadi in May, which scuppered over-optimistic plans, drawn up by American military advisers and the government in Baghdad, for an assault on IS in Mosul later this year.
There are now signs that the Iraqi forces are improving after their earlier woeful performance. But the government in Baghdad remains over-reliant on the Hashid al-Shabi, over which it exercises only patchy control and which have little inclination to work with Iraqi Sunnis. Attempts to create a national guard based on Sunni tribal militias in Anbar, something the Americans have been urging in the hope of establishing a second "Sunni Awakening", have collapsed. For this, blame lies with Shia power-brokers, close to the Iranians, who are undermining the efforts of the well-meaning Mr Abadi to be more inclusive. Unless the Sunni tribes can be organised into an effective fighting force, the prospect of freeing all of Anbar province from the grip of is will remain remote.
Too soft on Iran
America has not only failed to push Baghdad to engage constructively with the An-bari tribes. Some say it has also ceded too much sway to Iran, which has provided military assistance more rapidly and wholeheartedly than the coalition. Many people suspect that Mr Obama was reluctant to push back hard against Iranian influence in Iraq for fear of derailing his nuclear negotiations with Tehran.
That may now be changing, if only gradually. Yet without a less risk-averse American train-and-assist mission to improve Iraq's security forces and a much more aggressive air campaign, there is still a danger that people will accept the status quo. That implies accepting that Iraq has no future as a unitary state—an outcome that would suit both Iran and IS.
There are about 3,500 American military trainers in Iraq but, under Mr Obama's orders, they have been largely confined to their own bases. Among critics of America's tentative strategy for defeating is, Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic arid International Studies in Washington observes: "Generating or rebuilding forces in the rear is not enough and is an almost certain recipe for failure. New or weak forces need forward deployed teams of advisers to help them actually fight."
The Iraqis are also frustrated by restrictive rules of engagement laid down by the White House aimed at minimising the risk to civilians. Ahmed Ali, an analyst based in Iraqi Kurdistan, argues that "the current rules have...hampered ground forces from being more effective". Mr Martin says it is vital to have American forward air controllers to direct strikes on IS targets. Mr Cordesman describes the air campaign so far as "weak". A more aggressive one could boost Iraqi morale, destroy key is units in Iraq and Syria and give Iraqi forces time to rebuild their strength, he argues. This may at last be happening. General Dunford said this week he was now open to embedding American troops with Iraqi combat forces to help provide them with intelligence and to direct air strikes and artillery fire.
Doubts will linger about whether Mr Obama has the will to succeed in Iraq. But something is shifting and it is not too late. A less cautious coalition effort would also bolster Mr Abadi, who needs all the help he can get. Convincing Iraq's Sunnis that Baghdad genuinely cares about their fate and wants them to remain part of Iraq is the only way to defeat is in the long term. Iraq is still a mess, but unlike, Syria, it is not yet beyond salvation. ■