Thursday, February 08, 2007

Iraqi-US surge, ISG Report, Congress & "benchmarks"

Baghdad - Joint US-Iraqi forces seized Deputy Health Minister Hazem al-Zamli at the ministry on Thursday in a politically- charged raid aimed at terrorists and militias operating in Baghdad.

The Health Ministry is regarded as a haven for Shiite militias, with both al-Zamli and his boss, Health Minister Ali al-Shemari, members of the movement of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

In a statement, the US military alleged that al-Zamli was involved in the murder of seven ministry officials.

It also said he had taken bribe money and funnelled millions of dollars to Sadr's militias, known as the Mahdi army, which is suspected of having entered state clinics and killed Sunni patients and their relatives and intimidated doctors.

Al-Shemari reacted to the raid and seizure of his deputy by demanding his immediate release.

'Al-Zamli was detained in an uncivilized way,' he charged.

snip - continue reading at link above

Now let's refer to the ISG Report. And for those of you who don't have the book, here's a link to the ISG Report online, and searchable via PDF.

Pg 14 of this PDF version addresses not only the Health Ministry, but also the Agricultural and Transportation Ministries. All with loyalties to, and a veritable bank and employment agency of, the radical Shiite cleric, al-Sadr.

Facilities Protection Services
The Facilities Protection Service poses additional problems. Each Iraqi ministry has an armed unit, ostensibly to guard the ministry’s infrastructure. All together, these units total roughly 145,000 uniformed Iraqis under arms. However, these units have questionable loyalties and capabilities. In the ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Transportation controlled by Moqtada al-Sadr the Facilities Protection Service is a source of funding and jobs for the Mahdi Army. One senior U.S. official described the Facilities Protection Service as “incompetent, dysfunctional, or subversive.” Several Iraqis simply referred to them as militias. The Iraqi government has begun to bring the Facilities Protection Service under the control of the Interior Ministry. The intention is to identify and register Facilities Protection personnel, standardize their treatment, and provide some training. Though the approach is reasonable, this effort may exceed the current capability of the Interior Ministry.

To point out the obvious, the Iraqi gov't is indeed doing what they promised. And that is going after Shia militias as well as Sunni, the foreign fighters as well, and their own internal corruption.

Burning question here... is Congress still so wrapped up in their self-serving word games and non-binding BS to prevent them from keeping abreast of the latest news and efforts in Iraq? Point being, the Iraqis are - without pointless Congressional "resolutions" mandating such - working on their own benchmarks and goals to hold together a unified gov't.

Attn: Congress... are you still ready to abandon Iraq so quickly merely to cater to your own popularity poll numbers? Are you interested in daily results in Baghdad? Or just meaningless actions that may help your re-election status?

While we're dicussing the extreme displeasure of "the surge" by Congress, let's go to the following paragraphs in the ISG Report - Operation Together Forward II that commenced in August of 2006, and the ISG's comments on it's lack of success... and WHY. It's on page 15 of this online version.

Operation Together Forward II

In a major effort to quell the violence in Iraq, U.S. military forces joined with Iraqi forces to establish security in Baghdad with an operation called “Operation Together Forward
II,” which began in August 2006. Under Operation Together Forward II, U.S. forces are
working with members of the Iraqi Army and police to “clear, hold, and build” in
Baghdad, moving neighborhood by neighborhood. There are roughly 15,000 U.S. troops
in Baghdad.

This operation—and the security of Baghdad—is crucial to security in Iraq more
A capital city of more than 6 million, Baghdad contains some 25 percent of the country’s population. It is the largest Sunni and Shia city in Iraq. It has high
concentrations of both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias. Both Iraqi and American
leaders told us that as Baghdad goes, so goes Iraq.

The results of Operation Together Forward II are disheartening. Violence in
Baghdad—already at high levels—jumped more than 43 percent between the summer and October 2006. U.S. forces continue to suffer high casualties. Perpetrators of violence leave neighborhoods in advance of security sweeps, only to filter back later. Iraqi police have been unable or unwilling to stop such infiltration and continuing violence. The Iraqi Army has provided only two out of the six battalions that it promised in August would join American forces in Baghdad. The Iraqi government has rejected sustained security operations in Sadr City.

Security efforts will fail unless the Iraqis have both the capability to hold areas that have been cleared and the will to clear neighborhoods that are home to Shiite militias. U.S. forces can “clear” any neighborhood, but there are neither enough U.S. troops present nor enough support from Iraqi security forces to “hold” neighborhoods so cleared. The same holds true for the rest of Iraq. Because none of the operations conducted by U.S. and Iraqi military forces are fundamentally changing the conditions encouraging the sectarian violence, U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end.

The emphasis (mine), most specifically the underlined "will to clear neighborhoods" is an issue the anti's in Congress have been focused on. If the attitude that "they aren't doing enough" can be construed as true in the past, one can examine this report today, and the activities since January of 2007, as a demonstration of a new will to do what it takes to help this new gov't unify and succeed. And that includes going after al-Sadr.

Also (emphasized) in the paragraph - not enough troops to help Iraqis clear and hold. Ringing any bells for the proposed/implemented "surge"? Is not the ISG Report actually pointing out exactly the problem, and is not the "surge" an attempt to correct that problem? What is it about Congress that they can say, with a straight face, that the WH admin is not paying attention to the ISG Report? Is lying and denying that embedded in their daily rhetoric?

Based on the recent efforts of the Iraqi gov't since January, the US Congress should table their worthless profiling about resolutions and start lending some "atta boys" to the Iraqis for rising to the challenge.... despite the high probability of death.

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