Archive for the ‘Iraqi’ Category

Former UK Army Chief Attacks US Failures in Iraq

December 20, 2008

A former head of the British Army has accused the Americans of “appalling” decision making during the Iraq war.

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Telegraph (UK)
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Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, General Sir Mike Jackson, the former chief of the general staff, said that the violence in post-war Iraq was “much exacerbated by the security vacuum created by Washington’s appalling decisions” to disband the Iraqi security forces.

Gen Sir Mike, who was head of the British Army at the time of the war, added that the US policy to “de-Baathify” Iraq doubled the time taken to reach the point where the coalition could consider a withdrawal from the country.

Former Army chief General Sir Mike Jackson attacks US failures in Iraq

Former Army chief General Sir Mike Jackson decribed American decision making as ‘appalling’ Photo: PA

The general also added that Iranian backing for Shia militants, a development which led to hundreds of British casualties, further complicated the post-war environment.

The former defence chief, who said that he believed the campaign had been successful, was also critical of the US and British governments for failing to “understand fully” the complexity of the situation in Iraq and to create a proper reconstruction plan.

The general said that the euphoria which followed the toppling of Saddam was short lived because of various factions inside Iraq began to use violence in pursuit of political objectives.

But he added that the coalition, which suffered from political and military infighting, achieved “tremendous successes” including a referendum on a new Iraqi constitution and the subsequent elections, the creation of a new Iraqi security force and the avoidance of outright civil war.

Of the 136 troops who died in Iraq and the thousands injured, the general said that their deaths and wounds “were not in vain but rather suffered in the noble cause of a better future for Iraq and the region as a whole.”

Up to 25 Iraq government officials accused in coup plot

December 18, 2008

More than 20 employees of Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior have been arrested on allegations that they were plotting to revive Saddam Hussein‘s outlawed Baath party, government officials said Thursday.

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA and SINAN SALAHEDDIN, Associated Press Writers

Provincial election posters advertising Prime Minister Nuri ... 
Provincial election posters advertising Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s political list are plastered on a wall in central Baghdad. Iraq has arrested about 50 interior ministry officials for plotting a coup against the Shiite-led government, a senior Iraqi security official said on Thursday.(AFP/File/Sabah Arar)

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf told reporters that 23 people, most employees of the ministry’s traffic department, have been arrested over the past five days but he dismissed suggestions they were plotting a coup.

A security official put the figure at 25 and said a brigadier general in the traffic police was the highest-ranking figure. Most of the others are low-level ministry employees, he said.

The official, who has access to the investigative file, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the matter to the media.

Another security official said those in custody were believed to have links to al-Awda, or “Return,” a Sunni underground organization founded in 2003 to try to restore Saddam and the Baath party to power.

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i_ea/ml_iraq;_ylt=AkD0AMXDtiQZIdi0Yee9MFlvaA8F

Iraqi generals arrested in ‘coup plot’

December 18, 2008

Up to 35 officials in Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior, including four generals, have been arrested for plotting a coup to reinstate Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, according to reports.

The plotters who were senior officials in the Ministry of the Interior were arrested over a period of three days by an elite counter-terrorisim force reporting directly to the office of Nuri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister of Iraq, the New York Times reports.

By The Times (London)

Officials from the Ministries of the Interior and National Security told the newspaper those arrested were a mixture of Sunni and Shiite moslems. Most members of the Baath party, including Saddam, were Sunni moslems.

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article5362944.ece

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Up to 35 officials in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior ranking as high as general have been arrested over the past three days with some of them accused of quietly working to reconstitute Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, according to senior security officials in Baghdad.

The arrests, confirmed by officials from the Ministries of the Interior and National Security as well as the prime minister’s office, included four generals, one of whom, Gen. Ahmed Abu Raqeef, is the ministry’s director of internal affairs. The officials also said that the arrests had come at the hand of an elite counterterrorism force that reports directly to the office of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown (L) meets Iraqi Prime ... 
Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown (L) meets Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, in Iraq December 17, 2008. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool (IRAQ)

The involvement of the counterterrorism unit speaks to the seriousness of the accusations, and several officials from the Ministries of the Interior and National Security said that some of those arrested were in the early stages of planning a coup.

None of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the subject, provided details about that allegation.

But the arrests reflect a new set of political challenges for Iraq. Mr. Maliki, who has gained popularity as a strong leader but has few reliable political allies, has scrambled to protect himself from domestic rivals as the domineering influence of the United States, his leading backer, begins to fade.

Rumors of coups, conspiracies and new alliances abound in the Iraqi capital a month before provincial elections. Critics of Mr. Maliki say he has been using arrests to consolidate power.

By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON and TARIQ MAHER
The New York Times

But senior security officials said there was significant evidence tying those arrested to a wide array of political corruption charges, including affiliation with Al Awda, or the Return, a descendant of the Baath Party, which ruled the country as a dictatorship for 35 years, mostly under Mr. Hussein. Tens of thousands of Iraqis died or were persecuted, including Mr. Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, by the Baath Party. It was outlawed after the American invasion in 2003.

While most members of the Baath Party were Sunni Muslims, as Mr. Hussein was, those arrested were a mix of Sunnis and Shiites, several officials said. It was unclear precisely how many Interior Ministry officials were detained.

A high-ranking Interior Ministry official said that those affiliated with Al Awda had paid bribes to other officers to recruit them and that huge amounts of money had been found in raids.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/18/w
orld/middleeast/18iraq.html?_r=1&hp

Bush: Iraq Has Hope Due To Difficult, Sustained U.S. Effort

December 14, 2008

His legacy forever linked to an unpopular war, President George W. Bush flew under intense security to Iraq on Sunday and called the nearly six-year conflict hard but necessary to protect the United States and give Iraqis hope.

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent

President George W. Bush, right, walks with Iraqi President ... 
President George W. Bush, right, walks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008, in Baghdad.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Bush visited the Iraqi capital just 37 days before he hands the war off to President-elect Barack Obama, who has pledged to end it. At the end of nearly two hours of meetings at an ornate, marble-floored Salam Palace along the shores of the Tigris River, Bush defended the 2003 invasion and occupation.

“The work hasn’t been easy, but it has been necessary for American security, Iraqi hope and world peace,” the president said. “I’m just so grateful I had the chance to come back to Iraq before my presidency ends.”

The president wanted to highlight a drop in violence in a nation still riven by ethnic strife and to celebrate a recent U.S.-Iraq security agreement, which calls for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011.

But in many ways, the unannounced trip was a victory lap without a clear victory. Nearly 150,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq fighting a war that is intensely disliked across the globe. More than 4,209 members of the U.S. military have died in the conflict, which has cost U.S. taxpayers $576 billion since it began five years and nine months ago.

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Bush makes surprise Iraq visit

December 14, 2008

President George W. Bush on Sunday made a farewell visit to Iraq, a place that defines his presidency, just 37 days before he hands the war off to a successor who has pledged to end it.

Air Force One, Bush’s distinctive powder blue-and-white jetliner, landed at Baghdad International Airport in the afternoon local time, after a secretive Saturday night departure from Washington and an 11-hour flight. In a sign of modest security gains in this war zone, Bush was welcomed with a formal arrival ceremony — a flourish that was not part of his previous three trips to Iraq.

U.S. President George W. Bush waves as he walks on the South ... 

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent

Bush planned a rapid-fire series of meetings with top Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He and Bush were marking the recent security agreement between the two nations.

Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said the agreement was “a remarkable document — unique in the Arab world because it was publicly debated, discussed and adopted by an elected parliament.”

Hadley said the trip “shows that we are moving into a different relationship … with Iraqis rightfully exercising greater sovereignty, we in an increasingly subordinate role.”

It was Bush’s last trip to the war zone before President-elect Barack Obama takes office Jan. 20. Bush’s most recent Iraq stop was over 15 months ago, in September 2007.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081214/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush

Report Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Disaster

December 14, 2008

An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.
The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.

By By JAMES GLANZ and T. CHRISTIAN MILLER
The New York Times

In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ ”

Mr. Powell’s assertion that the Pentagon inflated the number of competent Iraqi security forces is backed up by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former commander of ground troops in Iraq, and L. Paul Bremer III, the top civilian administrator until an Iraqi government took over in June 2004.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends. The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/world/mi
ddleeast/14reconstruct.html?_r=1&hp

Gates visits Iraq to help prepare for troop cuts

December 13, 2008

Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Middle East nations to support the fight against terror Saturday then traveled to Iraq to meet with commanders as the U.S. prepares to cut its troops levels and begin to pull forces out of the cities.

The unannounced visit to Iraq on Saturday comes as President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office and begin to implement what many expect will be an accelerated withdrawal of troops. During Obama’s presidential campaign, he said he wanted combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months, but he has also said he would listen to the advice of his commanders on the ground.

A security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq mandates that combat forces leave the cities by next June, and leave Iraq in three years.

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrives at the Ritz-Carlton ... 
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrives at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Spa in Manama, Bahrain, where the International Institute for Strategic Studies is opening a regional security summit, Friday, Dec. 12, 2008. Gates met briefly with other senior officials participating in the Manama Dialogue, where Gulf Arab states’ concerns about Persian Iran as well as piracy and maritime security are expected to be among concerns addressed.(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Earlier in Bahrain, Gates urged Middle East nations to help fight the spread of violent extremism by funding and training Afghan security forces and reaching out more aggressively to the fledgling government in Iraq.

Gates also assured the gathering of Persian Gulf leaders in Bahrain that Obama will continue the U.S. commitment to the Middle East, including efforts to fight terrorism and develop a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

And as the lone Republican holdover from the Bush Cabinet to the Obama team, Gates issued a public warning that any effort by terrorists to test the new administration would be a mistake because there has been extensive planning to ensure a smooth transition.

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ates;_ylt=Av9nEIMziGOP8QLvNNlQ1CFvaA8F

Iraq Stopped Shipping Most Dangerous Weapons into Iraq — General

December 11, 2008

Iran is no longer actively supplying Iraqi militias with a particularly lethal kind of roadside bomb, a decision that suggests a strategic shift by Iranian leadership, U.S. and Iranian authorities said Thursday.

Use of the armor-piercing explosives — known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs — has dwindled sharply in recent months, said Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, head of the Pentagon office created to counter roadside bombs in Iran and Afghanistan.

Metz estimated that U.S. forces find between 12 and 20 of the devices in Iraq each month, down from 60 to 80 earlier this year.

“Someone … has made the decision to bring them down,” Metz told reporters.

By ANNE GEARAN, AP Military Writer

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Thomas Metz at an army compound ... 
U.S. Army Lieutenant General Thomas Metz at an army compound on the outskirts of Arbil, October 1, 2004.REUTERS/Sasa Kralj/Files

Asked if the elite Iranian Republican Guard Corps has made a deliberate choice to limit use of EFPs, Metz nodded: “I think you could draw that inference from the data.”

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh agreed Iran has curtailed its activity inside Iraq. He said he thinks Iran has concluded that a new security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq poses no threat to Iran. Iran opposed the agreement as a blessing for foreign forces to remain in Iraq, and encouraged Iraq’s democratic government to reject it.

The United States has long claimed that Iran or Iranian-backed groups are using Iraqi Shiite militias as proxies to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. Iran denies the Bush administration allegations that it supplies money and weapons, but independent analysts have said U.S. evidence is strong, if circumstantial.

The U.S. cites the spread of powerful EFP roadside bombs as the clearest Iranian fingerprint. U.S. military officers say they know the EFPs come from Iran because they bear Iranian markings and because captured militants have told them so. The workmanship is so precise they could only come from a modern factory with machine tools available in Iran but not Iraq.

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