Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Iraqi "politics"

Update 2: And there are the bombs. Of course that was easier to predict than determining when the Mariners will be mathmatically eliminated from the playoffs (a baseball joke where I'm not mocking the Cubs? Shocking!).

Update: And here we have the pressure by Maliki to have the Kurds turn over the Vice President.

Less than 72 hours after US forces leave Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki issued an arrest warrant for the Vice President, Tareq al-Hashemi, for suspected ties to assassinations and other attacks. Maliki has also asked the Iraqi Parliament to have a no confidence vote against Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq. Both Hashemi and Mutlaq are Sunnis who belong to the Iraqi National Movement political party led by Iyad Allawi, a major rival to Maliki. Hashemi has managed to flee to Kurdistan to avoid arrest but how long will it be before Maliki pressures the Kurds to turn him over?

Is this just standard Iraqi politics or a sign of something more sinister? After Maliki returned from his recent trip the United States, member of the National Movement began a series of political attacks and challenges against the Prime Minister. Mutlaq even called Maliki the worst dictator in Iraqi history, so the arrest orders were likely in response to these attacks.

However, this may be the beginning of a Shiite dictatorship where political disagreement by a rival party leads to accusations and arrests. It could also mean that Maliki and his political allies fear a coup attempt or a Sunni uprising. These political moves may be an attempt to mitigate that threat.

How long before AQI and JRTN take advantage of the situation? I give it a week tops before there is another major carbomb attack in Baghdad.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tell me how this really ends...

This ceremony I did not expect to see for a long, long time.

US military involvment in the Iraq conflict is officially over. It is a bitter-sweet moment for me.

Like I've mentioned a few times in this blog, I spent a majority of my Army career either preparing for or deploying to Iraq. There are a lot of memories; some good, some bad.

The conflict is not over for Iraq, however. There are still remnants of AQI and ISI running around causing problems. Can't forget about JRTN either who most likely will start making news shortly. And what about the Kirkuk issue? That likely won't get answered without violence.

I would like to go back one day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Did Iran really shoot down "The Beast"?

Look out! It's an albino stealth bomber!

Did Iran shoot down and capture a US UAV in the beginning of December? The US government is admitting that a ultra-super-double-secret-probation drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, aka "the Beast of Kandahar", did go down inside of Iran.

Having no knowledge or experience with this UAV and with access to nothing more than Google these days I can't with any certainty say that what Iran is saying is true or not. Iran did show off video of what appears to be the drone, but Iran has been known to fake military equipment in the past (fake missiles anyone?). The UAV in the video also looks remarkably undamaged for something that was either shot down and/or crashed.

The thing in the video also looks really fake, but then Hunter, Shadow, and Gray Eagle UAVs also appear kind of flimsy looking when up close.

Even if the Iranians captured part or whole of the UAV, some experts are saying it doesn't really matter anyway. Reverse engineering will be difficult at best and the RQ-170 may not even have the latest technology in terms of its sensor package.

The best part of all this? Iran is trying to play the victim. This amuses me since Iran gave Hezbollah UAVs to fly over Israel; had their own UAV shot down in Iraq in 2006; have been smuggling weapons, including EFP IEDs, to insurgent and militia groups in Iraq; AND (I find this the worst part) likely befundled the hell out of me for a several week period in 2009.

My guess? The RQ-170 crashed in Iran but the Iranians didn't get much from the pieces scattered about but are trotting out this mock up to make the US look bad. Although...the RQ-170 is Tweeting from Iran.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Kabul attack analysis

I don't usually write anything about Afghanistan and the insurgency there mostly because I am completely in the dark about much of what is going on in that country. Having spent a majority of my Army career either preparing for, or deploying to, Iraq I had enough on my plate to study, train for, and worry over. Unless I was going to be sent to Afghanistan, I wasn't about study it indepth unless I could gleam some good lessons learned.

Having said that, the suicide attacks in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif today both interest and worry the hell out of me. Close to 60 people died in the attack in Kabul which occured when a suicide bomber detonated himself outside a Shia shrine. Another 4 people were killed in Mazar-e-Sharif when a bicycle bomb went off outside the city's main mosque.

The reason for my concern is that while terrorist/insurgent groups in Afghanistan have targeted civilians in the past, attacks in Kabul have primarily targeted US/ISAF/NATO forces and the government. Mullah Omar, the Taliban emir, has even stated recently that he is concerned over the the perception that the Taliban were killing civilians. A Taliban spokesman today condemned the bombings and claimed the group was not behind either of the attacks.

In February 2006, an attack at the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Iraq kicked off a wave of sectarian bloodshed throughout the country which led to civil war in Baghdad and caused US forces to lose virtually complete control in the capital.

Were the attacks against the Shia in Afghanistan today an attempt by an insurgent organization...most likely Al Qaida...to create a repeat of what occured in Iraq?

Shia Muslims only make up about 10-20% of Afghanistan's population as opposed to Iraq's 60-65% so an attempt at sectarian civil war is most likely not what is going on here. An expansion of the conflict by Al Qaida and other groups to attack not just NATO and the Afghan government but minority religious sects as well is more likely.

Expand the conflict, create more chaos, instill fear and lack of faith in the government. Those are the ways of the insurgent. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, anger leads to more recruits and more water for the insurgent fish to swim in.