Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to lose a war - Iraq again in flames 11 years after US Invasion


This is not Obama's year for foreign policy successes nor is it the legacy former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted as the top Obama official when policy decisions were made to leave Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet today, with lightning speed, the Sunni Al-Qaeda's uprising as it sweeps across Iraq and recaptures the very areas lost in the war presents the dark dilemma that everything America did from spending $2 trillion over 11 years and having almost 4,400 Americans die in Iraq and over 32,000 wounded, was for naught.

Two and one half years after American troops left, the current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, a member of the Shia Muslim faction, wants the Americans to come back as his country crumbles around him.

The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war's death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.

The report, the work of about 30 academics and experts, was published in advance of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

What can we expect if Iraq falls to the Sunni Al-Qaeda uprising?  Mass murders, even genocide as the Sunni take revenge from the Shia.  A return to strict human rights violations as women will be stripped of all rights and children will be raised to be terrorists if the past is any indication.

The radical Sunni and Al-Qaeda coalition will be forming the largest geographic Sunni controlled area in the Mideast to include Syria, Iran and Iraq, and will be a direct threat to destroy the remaining American allies in the Middle East.  The Sunni can also be expected to wage war on the Christians remaining in the region and to threaten to obliterate Israel.

Newspaper headlines from around the world say it all.

U.S. aid 'spawning new breed of jihadists'

Fighting in North Iraq to Delay Return of Region Oil Exports

Timeline - How al-Qaeda regained its hold in Iraq

A spent force five years ago, the Sunni militant group is now stronger than ever

After Mosul - If jihadists control Iraq, blame Nouri al-Maliki, not the United States.

Iraq: Al-Qaida-inspired militants capture Tikrit; 500,000 flee Mosul

Al-Qaeda's uprising in northern Iraq comes five years after had been all but defeated as a result of the US troop "surge". Former Telegraph Iraq correspondent charts the key points in its rebirth

After two years of Sunni-Shia civil war, US troops mount a "surge" designed to quell the violence. Among its strategies is turning Iraq's Sunni community against their former allies in al-Qaeda, with whom they had united to fight the US occupation and the US-backed, Shia-dominated Iraqi government. The strategy succeeds and al-Qaeda finds itself largely defeated in Iraq.

New elections in Iraq sow the seeds of future disconent. Iraqiyya, a secular and religiously mixed bloc led by Ayad Allawi, a former British exile, win a narrow majority votes, but the Shia bloc run by current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, wins power after forming a governing coalitiion with Iranian help. Rather than handing key security positions to his opponents as promised, Mr Maliki concentrates power in his own hands, alienating the Sunni community.

December 2011

Mr Maliki issues an arrest warrant for Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq's Sunni vice-president, who flees abroad. The government claims Mr Hashemi has been using his bodyguards for terrorism campaigns, but Iraq's Sunnis see it as a sectarian smear campaign against his political rivals. Mr Maliki is also accused of replacing competent military leaders who had worked with the Americans with political cronies, undermining the military's strength at the very time when the US is pulling out its forces.

Autumn 2012
Belatedly inspired by the Arab Spring movements in neighbouring countries, Sunnis around Iraq begin a series of mass civil rights demonstrations, alleging that they are treated as second-class citizens by Mr Maliki's government. While their complaints get limited sympathy in the wider world - Sunnis, after all, enjoyed privileged lives during the reign of Saddam Hussein - Western diplomats in Baghdad concede that they have some grounds for complaint. In particular, the protesters allege harassment by the security forces and discrimination in getting government jobs.

December 2012
The arrest of Rafaie al-Esawi, a finance minister who is one of the last prominent Sunnis in government, galvanises the protests further. The growing sense of alienation with the government provides a ready source of new recruits to al-Qaeda, which has re-energised in western Iraq thanks to its campaign against President Bashar al-Assad in neighbouring Syria. While many Sunnis do not share al-Qaeda's extreme religious vision, they are willing to help it fight Mr Maliki's government.

April 2013
Iraqi government forces antagonise the Sunni community further when they attack a protest camp in the town of Hawijah in northern Iraq, killing 53 people. While the Iraqi government claims that the camp had become a haven for al-Qaeda militants, who had fired on them first, the raid on the camp prompts fighting that spills across northern Iraq. Gunmen briefly sieze one town from police and declare it to be "liberated" from government rule.

July 2013
The new joint Syrian-Iraqi al-Qaeda offshoot, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al Shams (ISIS), gains a major coup when it breaks nearly 500 fellow militants from Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad, supposedly the most secure jail in the country. Many rejoin their comrades' campaign.

December 2013
Human Rights Watch issues a report criticising the Iraqi government over the scale of its use of the death penalty, often in cases where confessions have been extracted by torture. A disproportionate number of those on death row appear to be Sunni insurgents.

January 2014
ISIS sends gunmen into the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, west of Baghdad. The Iraqi army surrounds both cities but does not go for an all-out assault for fear of large civilian casaulties that would alienate locals still further. Five months later, both cities remain outside of Iraqi security forces' control.

June 2014
ISIS takes over the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, also threatening Baghdad. Five years from being all but vanquished, al-Qaeda's writ in Iraq is as strong, if not stronger, as it was before.

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