Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nineveh in November.

Remember when Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack spent a few days in Iraq last summer and came back with the news that the Iraq war could be won after all? Back then they wrote of their trip to Northern Iraq and commented on all the progress going on there:

"We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside."

Yes, the Iraqis sure stepped up to the plate. Mosul is now considered one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq. Supossedly, according to Nuri al-Maliki and his US "parteners" the city is where AQI has decided to make their last stand. (Where have we heard that before?) I think Fallujah was the place they made their last stand a couple of times a while back.

In any case, news of the war over there being pretty much over, is being greatly exaggerated. The media might be absolutly and unalterably transfixed with Obama, Hillary and John, but American soldiers are still fighting and dying in Iraq. In Diyala province, in Baghdad and in Mosul.

Last night on ATC Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported on her visit to Mosul and the 3rd Platoon, 3rd Squadron of the U.S. Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment who are getting blown up and shot up at an almost pre-surge rate. On one Sunday this past week she reports: "U.S. forces were hit with eight IEDs, eight rocket-propelled grenade and shooting attacks and the car bombing. It was considered a light day. "

In the case of Mosul, the tactic used in Baghdad and al-Anbar of buying off the insurgents and turning them into "concerned citizens" [CLCs] isn't going to work in Mosul. There are too many ethnic groups that would be vying for the money and weapons.

From Navarro's report:

"'No single tribe wields that kind of power in Mosul,' says Maj. John Oliver, the operations officer for the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. 'The city is too fractured, too disparate, for any one group of people to really wield that much authority.' Oliver says Mosul is a fairly well-integrated multi-ethnic city with Christians, Shia, Yazidis, Kurds and Sunni Arabs. 'So all we would get if we tried to arm CLCs . . . in Mosul is you'd empower one group versus another, and you'd probably make the problem worse rather than better,' he says. Instead, commanders say, the 1,400 U.S. soldiers in the city are being bolstered by 9,000 Iraqi army troops, many of them Kurds, who are expected to do most of the work of securing the city."

Right, leaving it to the the Peshmerga will work, unless that is, they suddenly decide to pack up and head north to where the Turks are still straffing and bombing Kurish villages on the border. The Kurds aren't exactly pure as the driven snow in Mosul. The Kurdish authorities in the autonomous region have their eyes some territory in the northern parts of Nineveh and Diyala province which they'd like to annex. Over the past few years, as well, the Sunni insurgents have been chasing Kurds out of Mosul in order to ethincally cleanse the city for the Sunnis.

A NYT article back in May of last year (at this blog) quoted the province's deputy governor, Kasro Goran, saying "I compare the Sunni Arabs to the Bosnian Serbs: Their behavior, their way of thinking, their way of acting. They are for killings, they are for mass graves. Not all of them, but a majority of them . . . We can kill every day 50 Arabs in the streets. Every day, everywhere, in Mosul and outside of Mosul. But we don't so that, because we know they want us to do that."

Well, now is their chance. I

Frankly, I don't think the US knows what the hell to do about Mosul and Nineveh. Due to the Sunnis sitting out the elections in 2005, the Kurds now hold on to a disporportunate amount of power, which all the other ethnic groups resent, so the best thing to do now is turn over the fight to the Kurd's militia the Pashmerga?

Loose thinking like that could threaten to upset Pax Patraeus right in time for the November elections. Now wouldn't that be a kick in the pants for John McCain?


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