Monday, June 18, 2018

Review Vanguard of the Imam, Religion, Politics, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

Review Ostovar, Afshon, Vanguard of the Imam, Religion, Politics, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, New York: Oxford University Press, 2016

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is one of the bulwarks of the Iranian government. It was created during the 1979 Iranian Revolution out of a series of different militias to protect the new regime and its ideals. When the Iran-Iraq War started the next year the IRGC became an integral part of the fighting force. Its role quickly expanded in the following years, destroying factions within the government Ayatollah Khomeini disapproved of, gaining an economic empire rebuilding the country after the war, and putting down the protests following the 2009 election. Internationally it helped create Hezbollah in Lebanon, supported Hamas in Palestine and backed and created Iraqi opposition parties, and became major supporters of Syria and Iraq. Vanguard of the Imam, Religion, Politics, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards by Afhson Ostovar attempts to explain this history using Shiite religion, Iranian politics, and the conflicts that country has faced since the 1970s.

This Day In Iraqi History - Jun 18

1972 Iraq allowed French to keep their share of Iraq Petroleum Company in
            return for technical aid to run industry
1988 Iraq Op Fury Stars working with Mujahadeen e-Khalq started attacking Iranian
            forces using nerve gas to capture Mehran
1988 Iraq Op Fury Stars killed nearly 3500 Iranians and destroyed a Iranian
            Revolutionary Guard Division Hit 10 oil fields
1990 Intl Islamic Popular Conf backed Iraq against Zionist aggression and
            conspiracy led by US and England
1998 Inspectors report to UN Said Iraq not come clean on VX program 1st denied it
            worked with it Then said produced experimental amount that was destroyed
1998 UN inspector report said Iraq later admitted it produced 1.7 tons of VX but
            didn’t weaponize it
(Musings On Iraq article on UN weapons inspections)
2002 CIA Dir Tenet told Congress couldn’t find evidence for story 9/11 hijacker
            Atta met with Iraqi intel officer in Prague in 01
2003 Gen Odierno 4th Inf Div commander said US wasn’t facing an insurgency
in Iraq because wasn’t organized opposition Said there were attacks on US troops but were insignificant overall
2003 DepSecDef Wolfowitz told Congress US facing an insurgency in Iraq but U.S.
            could beat it
2003 Bremer talked with Bush about troop levels in Iraq Bremer didn’t object to
            drawdown plan but said they shouldn’t go too low
2003 Bush said plan was to rotate troops into and out of Iraq not to withdraw Said
            troops levels had to be maintained
2003 2,000 fired Iraqi soldiers protested outside of Green Zone demanding pensions
1 speaker said they would attack US forces for humiliating them Threw rocks US soldiers shot and killed 2
2003 Ex-ORHA head Garner met Rumsfeld in Washington complained about CPA
policies Garner told Rumsfeld deBaathifiaction disbanding military and Iraq leadership group all wrong but could be fixed
2003 Rumsfeld told ex-ORHA head Garner couldn't fix mistakes made by CPA could
            only move forward in Iraq
2003 Rumsfeld held press conference for ex-ORHA head Garner who said everything
            going well in Iraq Bremer doing good job
2003 Ex-ORHA head Garner met with Bush said that Iraq going well and Bremer doing
            good job
2003 David Kay new head of Iraq Survey Group looking for Iraq WMD left for Qatar
            to run search
2003 Kay switched Iraq Survey Group from search teams going to suspected WMD
            sites to intel op going through Iraqi docs
2003 CIA informed House and Senate Intel committees that it no longer believed Iraq-
            Niger uranium story
(Musings On Iraq article on Iraq-Niger uranium story)
2004 Al Qaeda in Iraq suicide car bombing Army recruitment center Baghdad killed 35
            wounded 145
2004 9/11 Commission spokesman said it found no evidence of cooperation between
            Iraq and Al Qaeda
2008 Los Angeles Times interview with CURVEBALL Iraqi defector in Germany who
claimed Iraq had mobile WMD labs Claimed everything he said was true and he should be treated like a king for helping overthrow Saddam
(Musings On Iraq article on CURVEBALL)
(Musings On Iraq article on mobile labs story)
2011 Shooting between Sadrists and Asaib Ahl Al-Haq in Sadr City
2012 Report Gov Nujafi and Hadbaa made deals with Kurds in Ninewa after two
            opposed each other
2012 2 suicide bombers hit Shiite funeral in Baquba killing 22
2014 Tal Afar, Ninewa declared cleared but wasn’t
2014 Maliki said he would not step down in return for U.S. military aid
2014 Joint Chiefs head Gen Dempsey and Sec of Def Hagel told congress Iraqi govt had
            to reach out to Sunnis to end insurgency
2014 Insurgents kidnapped 17 Shiites from Tuz Kharmato and executed them
2014 Insurgents began attack upon Baiji refinery
2014 New security operation in Jurf al-Sakhr, Babil began

View Iraq History Timelines 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

10 Year Anniversary Of Musings On Iraq

On September 11, 2001, I watched former CIA Director James Woolsey on CBS News say that the United States needed to attack Iraq even if it had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. This struck me as odd as everyone was already saying it was an Al Qaeda operation. By 2002 the White House began its public relations campaign to convince the American public of the necessity to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Those two events inspired me to look into why the U.S. was going to war with Iraq. In 2008, I started Musings On Iraq to publish my research. It’s not always been easy keeping up with all the reading and writing while working as a public high school teacher and having a family, but I’ve tried my best to explain current events in Iraq and increasingly its history as well. I’d like to thank all the people who have helped me out along the way, all the those that I’ve interviewed, and especially the readers who come to the blog.

Musings On Iraq In The News

My interview with Benedict Robin on the Sadr-Communist Party alliance was reprinted by the Iraqi Translation Project. I was mentioned by Paul iddon in "Turkey may finally act on threats against Pkk in Qandil" for Ahval. I was also cited by Benjamin Isakhan and Shamiran Mako in State and Society in Iraq: Citizenship under Occupation, Dictatorship and Democratsation and by Samuel Helfont in Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam, and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq.

This Day In Iraqi History - Jun 17

1927 Lord Cecil said British public opinion was overwhelmingly against staying in
1954 PM Umari resigned so he could go on annual vacation to Turkey to escape summer
            heat in Iraq
1981 Col Qaddafi announced he would go to Tehran and Baghdad to try to negotiate
            ceasefire in Iran-Iraq War Libya supported Iran  
1996 UN said Iraq smuggling oil through Iranian waters breaking sanctions
2003 CIA report to Dir Tenet said that Niger-Iraq uranium story was dropped because
            based upon fake docs
(Musings On Iraq article on Iraq-Niger uranium story)
2003 CIA report that it found docs at Iraqi scientist’s home that proved Saddam
            had nuke program Proved false
2004 PM Allawi promised reprisals against insurgents after suicide bombing of Iraqi
            army base
2004 Bush refuted 9/11 Comm saying Iraq-Al Qaeda had connections and that was why
            Iraq was a threat
2004 Cheney said 9/11 Comm didn’t look at the overwhelming evidence of Iraq-
Al Qaeda connections Claimed he had intel on Iraq-Al Qaeda ties that 9/11 Comm didn’t That intel later proved false
2008 Truck bomb by Mahdi Army or Special Group in Baghdad killed 63 wounded 70
US forces claimed bombing meant to stop return of displaced Sunnis and provoke sectarian fighting
(Musings On Iraq article on Hurriya bombing)
2009 US held talks with Syria to try to stop foreign fighters travelling through country
            to Iraq
2011 ISI took responsibility for killing deputy head of deBaathification Comm
2011 Anbar councilman said Syria still supporting insurgency
2011 Maliki organized second march for his government in Baghdad and Karbala
2011 Protests held in Baghdad and Dhi Qar against corruption Baghdad protesters
            attacked by Maliki supporters 2nd time
2012 Sadr said he would not accept a 3rd term for Maliki
2012 MP Othman said that KDP wanted Maliki out while PUK didn’t
2013 Kataib Hezbollah attacked Mujahedeen e-Khalq camp with rockets
2013 Badr said one of its men died fighting in Syria before its presence officially
2013 Exxon signed 3rd contract with KRG to explore for oil in Sulaymaniya
2013 Sadrists maintained control of Maysan governorship in new govt
2013 State of Law-SIIC-Sadr alliance formed new govt in Qadisiyah SIIC got
2014 Security operation to clear Qaim, Anbar began
2014 Tuz Kharmato declared freed
2014 Rawa Ana Saqlawiya Amiriya Fallujah Ramadi Khalidiya in Anbar all
            decalred freed half of them weren’t
2014 Insurgents attacked 3 neighborhoods in Baquba, Diyala along with Hit
            and Garma in Anbar
2014 Prisoner that was wounded when Hashd executed 43 prisoners in Baquba
            was taken from hospital by police and killed
2014 Maliki dismissed Gen Gharawi head of Ninewa Ops Command for fall of
2014 Hezbollah’s Nasrallah said that Shiite shrines in Iraq needed to be
            protected from insurgents Said that Hezbollah would send men to fight in Iraq
2015 Sadr blamed Maliki’s authoritarianism for return of insurgency
2016 PM Abadi prematurely announced liberation of Fallujah

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Security In Iraq, Jun 8-14, 2018

The second week of June 2018 saw a jump in incidents and casualties in Iraq due to a large spike in violence in Kirkuk and continued clashes between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Turkey in northern Kurdistan.

This Day In Iraqi History - Jun 16

1941 Another British brigade landed in Basra to help secure Iraq after
            Anglo-Iraq War
1979 Pres Assad arrived in Baghdad for more talks on unifying Iraq and Syria
            Came up with United Arab Republic but disagreed on details
1979 Assad became mad at Iraqi demands and left ending talks of unification Saddam
            was key in undermining talks Was afraid of lesser position within unified govt
1981 Iraq and Iran held 1st prisoner swap set up by Red Cross during Iran-Iraq War
1991 Barzani said deal made with Baghdad over Kurdish autonomy Talabani said not to
            trust Saddam
1992 Most of the Iraqi opposition met in Vienna Led to creation of Iraqi National
Congress as umbrella organization Used quotas 1st time to break up representatives by ideology and ethnosectarian identity
(Musings On Iraq article on 1992 Vienna conference)
(Musings On Iraq article on 1992 Vienna conference)
2003 Gen Abizaid CENTCOM commander said that US was facing classic insurgency in
            Iraq White House had been denying that
2003 Bremer said Development Fund for Iraq money could be used by military for local
            reconstruction projects
2003 Bremer said failure to capture Saddam was helping resistance and making Iraqis
            scared to help Coalition
2003 Head UN Inspector Blix said empty 122mm WMD artillery shells were from
            1980s after US said they could be part of stocks
(Musings On Iraq article on UN weapons inspections)
2003 Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance 1st US administration for
            Iraq officially closed
2004 Gen Accounting Office report Pentagon didn’t have good planning or oversight
            of reconstruction projects in Iraq leading to cost overruns
2004 CIA adv told 9/11 Comm 1998 indictment that charged Iraq and Al Qaeda agreed
            to cooperate in Sudan proved false
2004 CIA adv told 9/11 Comm that Al Qaeda was suspicious of Saddam’s secular govt
2004 CIA adv told 9/11 Comm in 90s Iraq and Al Qaeda tried to work out non-
            interference pact and talked about cooperation
2004 CIA adv told 9/11 Comm in 1999 report said if Saddam wanted to attack US he
            would probably use Al Qaeda
2004 9/11 Comm said no operational relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda
            Had contacts but no cooperation
2004 9/11 Comm said 1994 bin Laden asked for Iraq’s help with operations but never
            got response
2004 9/11 Comm said Iraq and Al Qaeda talked about cooperation in Sudan in 1996 but
            nothing came of it
2004 9/11 Comm didn’t believe story that 9/11 hijacker Atta met with Iraqi
            intel officer in Prague
2004 Powell said administration stuck by claim of Iraq-Al Qaeda relationship
2004 White House said 9/11 Comm didn’t contradict admin claims because it never
            said Iraq behind 9/11
2004 White House said Zarqawi being in Iraq before 03 invasion proved Saddam gave
            safe haven to Al Qaeda members
2005 Decision made to include Sunnis on constitutional committee under heavy
            US pressure
2005 Report Tehran cracking down on Zarqawi’s network in Iran
2005 US diplomat in Mosul documented abuses of Inter Min Wolf Brigade including
            torture beatings not releasing prisoners
2005 Report US declared Tal Afar cleared of insurgents in Oct 04 but had to return in
            May 05
2006 Mujahedeen Shura Council kidnapped 2 US soldiers in Baghdad in revenge for
            US troops raping Iraqi girl and killing her and her family
2006 Kidnapping of 2 US soldiers derailed Iraq’s Operation Together Forward to
            secure Baghdad
2006 Bush told Iraq Study Group Maliki was going to solve problems in Iraq and
            Gen Casey had situation under control
2006 Battle of Ramadi began with setting up 2 combat outposts in southern section of
2007 Operation Phantom Thunder which was overreaching name of a series of operations
2007 US deployed 4 brigades for operation going along Tigris River near Arab Jabour
in south Baghdad known for producing car bombs and had not had US forces in 3 years
2007 US cleared Salman Pak in Baghdad and tried to stop insurgents from moving to
            Baquba in Diyala
2007 US forces in Taji north Baghdad tried to stop insurgents fleeing Baghdad to
Salahaddin Also operations in Adhamiya Rasheed Mansour neighborhoods of Baghdad
2008 Maliki gave ultimatum to militiamen to hand over weapons in Amarah, Maysan
            aimed at Mahdi Army
2008 Sadrists said they would run in provincial elections but not as a party
2009 43 police had been arrested for abuse in prisons Done to placate Sadrists
            complaining about abuse of their followers
2010 Turkey sent troops into Kurdistan and bombed areas chasing PKK fighters
            after attack on Turkish army base
2010 State of Law and National Alliance in talks to try to limit powers of next
            PM in negotiations to form new govt
2010 Maliki met with Kurdish list claiming he would implement Article 140 on
            Kirkuk and disputed areas
2011 Maliki gave TV speech saying militias had infiltrated Interior Ministry and
            carried out assassinations
2011 Maliki said Baghdad protests were illegal and threatened security
2011 Maliki said ISF would not be ready to secure Iraq after US forces withdrew
            at end of year
2012 2 car bombs hit Shiite pilgrims heading for Kadhimiya, Baghdad 32 killed
            67 injured
2012 Sadr said that removing Maliki was God’s will but he was already backing off
            no confidence vote due to Iranian pressure
2012 Sadrists and State of Law in talks to try to end no confidence move against Maliki
2012 Kurdish list said their goal was still to remove Maliki
2013 Security op in Anbar to prepare for elections criticized for arbitrary arrests and
2013 Car bombs in Najaf and Wasit, IED in Basra
2013 KDP and PUK agreed to delay KRG presidential elections supposed to happen Sep
            2013 until issues of Barzani’s term resolved
2013 Sadr-SIIC alliance won governor and head of council in new Wasit govt
2013 State of Law-Solidarity alliance won governor and head of council in Dhi Qar
2014 All work at Baiji refinery shut down because of insurgency
2014 US and Iranian diplomats met to discuss Iraq and ISIS
2014 275 U.S. troops sent to Iraq to help with war vs ISIS
2014 ISIS issued orders to start destroying churches in Mosul
2014 12 insurgents killed in fighting between Naqshibandi and ISIS for control of Mosul
2014 Insurgent Military Council in charge of Mosul criticized ISIS for trying to
            establish control over city
2014 ISIS seized Hawija, Kirkuk
2014 Badr killed 51 prisoners in Tal Afar prison
2014 Hashd killed 50 prisoners at Baquba police station
2014 KRG asked for 25% of Iraqi budget claiming its population had grown
2014 Maliki loyalist MP Fatlawi blamed Kurds for helping insurgents take Mosul
2014 Liwa Abu Fadhl al-Abbas Iraqi militia in Syria sets up branch in Iraq and
            deployed 1500 fighters to Samarra
2014 KRG Premier Barzani went to Tehran to assure it about its seizure of Kirkuk
            and disputed areas
View the Iraq History Timelines 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Communist Anger At Sadr-Amiri Alliance

Moqtada al-Sadr’s new alliance with Badr’s Hadi Amiri has upset Sadr’s partner the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP). The ICP was weary of making any deal with the Fatah list that Amiri heads. Publicly, the Communists issued a statement saying they welcomed the new coalition. Behind the scenes however there were various reports of deep divisions, arguments, and insults being thrown around within the the party. The Communists see this latest move as a step backwards towards another sectarian Shiite alliance that would go on to form the new government. Sadr and the Communists campaigned together as Sairoon promoting reforming politics and ending the ethnosectarian quota system that divides up every new administration. Iranian pressure and status quo politics have seemingly won out over election promises.

This Day In Iraqi History - Jun 15

1920 War Min Churchill wrote UK Cabinet that he was ready to give up Mosul
            province to save costs
(Musings On Iraq article on how Mosul province became part of Iraq)
(Musings On Iraq article on Churchill’s views on Mesopotamia/Iraq)
1947 Mustafa Barzani revolt against govt put down and he fled to Soviet Union
1957 PM Nuri al-Said made cover of Time magazine
1966 KDP defeated govt forces near Hendrin
1966 PM Bazzaz made national speech saying Baghdad ready to recognize Kurdish
            nationalism and rights
1968 Amid growing anti-Arif govt activity PM Yahya resigned but was asked to stay
1994 Fighting broke out between PUK and KDP in Sulaymaniya during funeral
            leaving 12 dead more than 40 wounded
2003 Sadrist march in Basra against British occupation
2003 US scheduled elections for Najaf cancelled because worried Sadrists might win
2003 Report British looked at captured Iraq trailers and found not mobile WMD labs
(Musings On Iraq article on mobile labs story)
2003 Gen Sanchez became commander of Coalition forces in Iraq
2003 Sr British official said that the CPA was chaotic
2003 US started Op Desert Scorpion to hunt down insurgents from Baghdad to Kirkuk
2004 Bush said Zarqawi was best evidence that Saddam had connections to Al Qaeda
2004 Powell said White House stuck with claims of Iraq-Al Qaeda connections
2005 Report US recorded Peshmerga arresting hundreds of Arabs and Turkmen in
            Kirkuk and putting them in KRG prisons
2006 Marine report murder of Iraqi civilians was covered up by unit and commanders
            didn’t show any interest in investigating
2008 Report Sadr creating new militia units to attack US forces
2009 Gen Odierno said foreign fighters coming to Iraq down and Syria trying to
            regulate border
2010 1st session of new parliament held to meet deadline Was supposed to elect new
            speaker but didn’t because of political disputes
2011 KRG opposition parties welcomed Pres Barzani’s reform proposals Never
            followed through with
2011 Sadrists dared Maliki to try to form a majority govt
2012 Sadrist MP said movement now not for removing Maliki anymore after pressure
            from Iran
2013 ISIS’ Baghdadi said he would not follow Al Qaeda’s Zawahiri’s decision to break
with Al-Nusra Front in Syria
2013 New Baghdad govt announced State of Law shut out of major positions by    
            Sadrists Supreme Council Mutahidun State of Law won governorship of Babil
2014 Baghdadi issued audio message saying ISIS was going to create caliphate
2014 ISIS began posting pictures online of Camp Speicher massacre
2014 Insurgents attacked power plant that supplied electricity to most of Anbar Driven
2014 Insurgents attacked and turned back at Tal Afar, Ninewa 50 prisoners executed in
            Tal Afar by govt forces
2014 ISF fled Qara Tapa, Diyala and peshmerga moved in
2014 Yazidi leader in Sinjar district asked KRG for protection from insurgents
2014 Asaib Ahl Al-Haq leader Khazali blamed ISIS Baathists Kurds regional countries
            for security crisis in Iraq
2015 First displaced families returned to Tikrit after its liberation

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Iraq Moves Towards Another National Unity Government

(Baghdad Post)
Iraq’s leading lists have taken a major step towards creating a new government. Moqtada al-Sadr and Hadi Amiri of Badr announced an alliance between the two. Previously, Sadr’s Sairoon, Ammar Hakim’s Hikma and Vice President Iyad Allawi’s Wataniya agreed to cooperate. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said they supported the Sadr-Amiri deal. Sadr allegedly grew tired of talks with Prime Minister Haidar Abadi’s Nasr. Sadr wanted the premier to resign from his Dawa Party in return for a second term, but the PM would not budge. With those discussions going nowhere, and pressure from Iran, Sadr moved towards Amiri instead. This could be the basis for another national unity government like all the others since 2005 where al the major lists are included.