Al Qaeda seizes partial control of 2 cities in western Iraq

post-33748-This-Map-Of-Al-Qaeda-In-Iraq-I-FqX3By BILL ROGGIO:

Over the past several days, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, has taken control of large sections of two western Iraqi cities that were once bastions for the terror group.

ISIS fighters entered the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, after the Iraqi military withdrew from them following clashes with tribes over a political standoff that resulted in the arrest of a Sunni member of parliament.

The ISIS has posted videos of its fighters entering the cities in force after clashing with Iraqi police and overrunning several checkpoints. In the videos, a large convoy of ISIS fighters driving technicals, or pickup trucks with heavy machine guns mounted on the back, is seen moving through Ramadi. The fighters are flying al Qaeda’s black banner while singing praises to al Qaeda and its “Islamic state.” [See more videos here.]

Officials from the Iraqi Interior Ministry acknowledged that parts of Fallujah and Ramadi are under al Qaeda control.

“Half of Fallujah is in the hands of ISIS (the Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham) group,” an anonymous interior ministry official told AFP.

“In Ramadi, it is similar – some areas are controlled by ISIS,” the official continued. The other parts of the city are controlled by “tribesmen,” likely a reference to the Sahwa (“the Awakening”), the tribal militia that with US backing ejected al Qaeda from control of large areas of Anbar between 2006 and 2009.

In Fallujah, ISIS fighters stormed the main police headquarters, freed more than 100 prisoners, and seized weapons and ammunition. “Other police stations in the city were torched by fighters as most police abandoned their posts,” Al Jazeera reported.

Iraqi special forces are said to be battling ISIS fighters in Fallujah and Ramadi. The status of nearby cities and towns is not known, but the ISIS has been active in cities such as Haditha, where in March 2012 a large force attacked police stations and executed policemen and their commanders. The ISIS has also staged raids in other cities such as Hit and Rawa.

Ramadi and Fallujah, sizeable cities with populations of several hundred thousand each, once served as the hubs for al Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of the ISIS. From 2004 to early 2007, large areas of the two cities were either controlled by al Qaeda or were contested. The Awakening and US and Iraqi forces waged a protracted counterinsurgency to clear al Qaeda from the two cities as well as from surrounding cities and towns along the Euphrates River Valley.

The ISIS has been targeting Iraqi security forces as well as the Awakening in a series of high-profile suicide assaults and bombings in Anbar. Just two weeks ago, the ISIS killed the commanding general of the 7th Division, one of the division’s brigade commanders, and 16 staff officers and soldiers in a suicide attack in Rutbah. The ISIS set a trap for the division commander as he toured an area thought to have been cleared of the terror group. The 7th Division is made up primarily of soldiers and officers from Anbar province.

Read more at Long War Journal with video

 

 

Also see:

Iraq’s Lessons on Political Will

by Patrick Knapp
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2014

 

 

 

Petraeus Betrayed His Country Before He Betrayed His Wife

Diana West

Was David Petraeus as great a general as the write-ups of his downfall routinely claim? This is a provocative question that I will begin to answer with another question: Did America prevail in the Iraq War? I suspect few would say “yes” and believe it, which is no reflection on the valor and sacrifice of the American and allied troops who fought there. On the contrary, it was the vaunted strategy of the two-step Petraeus “surge” that was the blueprint of failure.

While U.S. troops carried out Part One successfully by fighting to establish basic security, the “trust” and “political reconciliation” that such security was supposed to trigger within Iraqi society never materialized in Part Two. Meanwhile, the “Sunni awakening” lasted only as long as the U.S. payroll for Sunni fighters did.

Today, Iraq is more an ally of Iran than the United States (while dollars keep flowing to Baghdad). This failure is one of imagination as much as strategy. But having blocked rational analysis of Islam from entering into military plans for the Islamic world, the Bush administration effectively blinded itself and undermined its own war-making capacity. In this knowledge vacuum, David Petraeus’ see-no-Islam counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine would fill but not satisfy the void.

The basis of COIN is “population protection” — Iraqi populations, Afghan populations — over “force protection.” Or, as lead author David Petraeus wrote in the 2007 Counterinsurgency Field Manual: “Ultimate success in COIN is gained by protecting the populace, not the COIN force.” (“COIN force” families must have loved that.) Further, the Petraeus COIN manual tells us: “The more successful the counterinsurgency is, the less force can be used and the more risk can be accepted.” “Less force” and “more risk” translate into highly restrictive rules of engagement.

More risk accepted by whom? By U.S. forces. Thus we see how, at least in the eyes of senior commanders, we get the few, the proud, the sacrificial lambs. And sacrificed to what? A theory.

The Petraeus COIN manual continues: “Soldiers and Marines may also have to accept more risk to maintain involvement with the people.” As Petraeus wrote in a COIN “guidance” to troops in 2010 upon assuming command in Afghanistan: “The people are the center of gravity. Only by providing them security and earning their trust and confidence can the Afghan government and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) prevail.” That was a theory, too. Now, after two long COIN wars, we know it was wrong.

COIN doctrine approaches war from an ivory tower, a place where such theories thrive untested and without hurting anyone. On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, however, the results have been catastrophic. Tens of thousands of young Americans answered their country’s call and were told to accept more “risk” and less “protection.” Many lost lives, limbs and pieces of their brains as a result of serving under a military command structure and government in thrall to a leftist ideology that argues, in defiance of human history, that cultures, beliefs and peoples are all the same, or want to be.

Attributing such losses to Petraeus’ see-no-Islam COIN is no exaggeration. In his 2010 COIN guidance, Petraeus told troops: “Walk. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population.” As the Los Angeles Times reported last year, “The counterinsurgency tactic that is sending U.S. soldiers out on foot patrols among the Afghan people, rather than riding in armored vehicles, has contributed to a dramatic increase in arm and leg amputations, genital injuries and the loss of multiple limbs following blast injuries.”

Indeed, the military has had to devise a new category of injury — “dismounted complex blast injury” — while military medicine has had to pioneer, for example, new modes of “aggressive pain management at the POI (point of injury)” and “phallic reconstruction surgery.”

But not even such COIN sacrifices have won the “trust” of the Islamic world. On the contrary, we have seen spiraling rates of murder by our Muslim “partners” — camouflaged by the phrase “green on blue” killings. COIN commanders, ever mindful of winning (appeasing) “hearts and minds,” blame not the Islamic imperatives of jihad but rather summer heat, Ramadan fasting and the “cultural insensitivity” of the murder victims themselves. Such is the shameful paralysis induced by COIN, whose manual teaches: “Arguably, the decisive battle is for the people’s minds. … While security is essential to setting the stage for overall progress, lasting victory comes from a vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope.”

Notice the assumption that something called “overall progress” will just naturally follow “security.” Another theory. It didn’t happen in Iraq. It hasn’t happened in Afghanistan. Since nothing succeeds like failure, the doctrine’s leading general was rewarded with the directorship of the CIA.

There is more at work here than a foundationally flawed strategy. In its drive to win Islamic hearts and minds, COIN doctrine has become an engine of Islamization inside the U.S. military. To win a Muslim population’s “trust,” U.S. troops are taught deference to Islam — to revere the Quran; not to spit toward Mecca (thousands of miles away); and to condone such un- or anti-Western practices as religious supremacism, misogyny, polygamy, pederasty and cruelty to dogs. Our military has even permitted Islamic law to trump the First Amendment to further COIN goals, as when ISAF commander Petraeus publicly condemned an American citizen for exercising his lawful right to freedom of speech to burn a Quran.

This explains why the reports that CIA director David Petraeus went before the House Intelligence Committee in September and blamed a YouTube Muhammad video for the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, sounded so familiar. Whatever his motivation, it was all too easy for Petraeus to make free speech the scapegoat for Islamic violence. But so it goes in COIN-world, where jihad and Shariah (Islamic law) are off the table and the First Amendment is always to blame.

If there is a lesson here, it is simple: A leader who will betray the First Amendment will betray anything.