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Posts Tagged Iraq
One significant trend is the expansion of al Qaeda’s global network. The leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Shabaab in Somalia, al Qaeda in Iraq, and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (in North Africa) have sworn bayat, or loyalty, to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and provided him with funding, global influence, and a cadre of trained fighters. None of these affiliate organizations existed a decade ago. But, over the past several years, attacks by these affiliates have increased.
“Defining al Qaeda is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By Scott Stewart
The Obama administration’s efforts to counter the threat posed by al Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement have been a contentious topic in the U.S. presidential race. Political rhetoric abounds on both sides; administration officials claim that al Qaeda has been seriously crippled, while some critics of the administration allege that the group is stronger than ever. As with most political rhetoric, both claims bear elements of truth, but the truth depends largely on how al Qaeda and jihadism are defined. Unfortunately, politicians and the media tend to define al Qaeda loosely and incorrectly.
The jihadist threat will persist regardless of who is elected president, so understanding the actors involved is critical. But a true understanding of those actors requires taxonomical acuity. It seems worthwhile, then, to revisit Stratfor’s definitions of al Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement. Read the rest of this entry »
“The Emerging Doctrine of the United States is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By George Friedman
Over the past weekend, rumors began to emerge that the Syrian opposition would allow elements of the al Assad regime to remain in Syria and participate in the new government. Rumors have become Syria’s prime export, and as such they should not be taken too seriously. Nevertheless, what is happening in Syria is significant for a new foreign doctrine emerging in the United States — a doctrine in which the United States does not take primary responsibility for events, but which allows regional crises to play out until a new regional balance is reached. Whether a good or bad policy — and that is partly what the U.S. presidential race is about — it is real, and it flows from lessons learned.
Threats against the United States are many and complex, but Washington’s main priority is ensuring that none of those threats challenge its fundamental interests. Somewhat simplistically, this boils down to mitigating threats against U.S. control of the seas by preventing the emergence of a Eurasian power able to marshal resources toward that end. It also includes preventing the development of a substantial intercontinental nuclear capability that could threaten the United States if a country is undeterred by U.S. military power for whatever reason. There are obviously other interests, but certainly these interests are fundamental. Read the rest of this entry »
“Targeting Tribal Leaders: A New Militant Tactic in Sinai is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By Ashley Lindsey
Militants killed Egyptian tribal leader Khalaf al-Menahy and his son Aug. 13 as the two were returning from a conference in east Sinai organized and attended by tribal leaders to denounce militancy, according to Sinai security forces. The senior al-Menahy was a prominent proponent of bolstering the Sinai Peninsula’s representation in Egypt’s parliament and of improving security in the region. He also was a prominent sheikh in the Sawarka tribe, said to be the largest in Sinai. Following his burial Aug. 13, the tribe vowed to seek vengeance.
This is the first reported case of militants attacking tribal leaders in Sinai. It comes soon after an attack on Egyptian security forces Aug. 5 and an attack on military checkpoints in northern Sinai on Aug. 8.
Although the militant tactic of targeting tribal leaders is new to Sinai, the tactic has been common in conflict zones in the Middle East and South Asia, such as in Yemen, Iraq and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Though it can offer many benefits to these militants — including weakening the targeted tribe and possibly leading to its co-option — these kinds of attacks tend to only succeed in zones with little government control and against tribes that cannot effectively retaliate. Examining similar instances of this tactic thus provides a helpful tool for assessing the consequences of attacks against tribal elements in the Sinai Peninsula. Read the rest of this entry »
By George Friedman
We have entered the endgame in Syria. That doesn’t mean that we have reached the end by any means, but it does mean that the precondition has been met for the fall of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. We have argued that so long as the military and security apparatus remain intact and effective, the regime could endure. Although they continue to function, neither appears intact any longer; their control of key areas such as Damascus and Aleppo is in doubt, and the reliability of their personnel, given defections, is no longer certain. We had thought that there was a reasonable chance of the al Assad regime surviving completely. That is no longer the case. At a certain point — in our view, after the defection of a Syrian pilot June 21 and then the defection of the Tlass clan – key members of the regime began to recalculate the probability of survival and their interests. The regime has not unraveled, but it is unraveling.
The speculation over al Assad’s whereabouts and heavy fighting in Damascus is simply part of the regime’s problems. Rumors, whether true or not, create uncertainty that the regime cannot afford right now. The outcome is unclear. On the one hand, a new regime might emerge that could exercise control. On the other hand, Syria could collapse into a Lebanon situation in which it disintegrates into regions held by various factions, with no effective central government. Read the rest of this entry »
The military has decided to cancel any additional purchases of the IED resistant MRAPs. Military.com reports on why the military no longer needs the MRAP:
President Obama’s military strategy, announced in January, envisions a lighter, more agile military focused on action in the Pacific. The heavy, lumbering Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) truck — the principal troop carrier in combat for the last five years — is a poor fit for that future.
…the military no longer intends to fight long-term occupations that it was designed for after the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan ends in 2014.
In a prime example of not learning from history, these are the things people were saying before 9/11 and the invasion of both those countries. Our military was supposed to be fast, nimble, and overwhelming, then we got bogged down in two countries and had to develop an ad hoc program to up-armor humvees and develop new vehicles. A chain is only as strong as the weakest link.
Republished from STRATFOR:
By Scott Stewart
U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman announced April 3 that the U.S. government’s “Rewards for Justice” (RFJ) program was offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). In other Rewards for Justice cases involving Pakistan, suspects such as Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abdel Basit and Mir Amal Kansi have hidden in Pakistan and maintained relatively low profiles. In this case, Saeed is a very public figure in Pakistan. He even held a news conference April 4 in Rawalpindi announcing his location and taunting the United States by saying he was willing to share his schedule with U.S. officials.
While the Saeed case is clearly a political matter rather than a pure law enforcement or intelligence issue, the case has focused a great deal of attention on Rewards for Justice, and it seems an opportune time to examine the history and mechanics of the program. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most iconic images of the American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — as well as global U.S. counterterrorism efforts — has been the armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), specifically the MQ-1 “Predator” and the MQ-9 “Reaper.” Unarmed RQ-1 Predators (which first flew in 1994) were flying over Afghanistan well before the 9/11 attacks. Less than a month after the attacks, an armed variant already in development was deployed for the first time.
In the decade since, the Predator has clocked more than a million flight hours. And while U.S. Air Force procurement ceased in early 2011 — with more than 250 airframes purchased — the follow-on MQ-9 Reaper has already been procured in numbers and production continues. Predators and Reapers continue to be employed in a broad spectrum of roles, including close air support (CAS), when forward air controllers communicate with UAV operators to release ordnance with friendly troops in the vicinity (CAS is one of the more challenging missions even for manned aircraft because of the heightened risk of friendly casualties). Officially designated “armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long endurance, remotely piloted aircraft,” the second to last distinction is the Predator and Reaper’s principal value: the ability to loiter for extended periods, in some cases for more than 24 hours. Read the rest of this entry »
U.S. Diplomatic Security in Iraq After the Withdrawal is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
By Scott Stewart
The completion of the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq on Dec. 16 opens a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and Iraq. One of this chapter’s key features will be the efforts of the United States and its regional allies to limit Iranian influence inside Iraq during the post-Saddam, post-U.S. occupation era.
From the 1970s until the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iranian power in the Persian Gulf was balanced by Iraq’s powerful military. With Iraqi military might weakened in 1991 and shattered in 2003, the responsibility for countering Iranian power fell to the U.S. military. With that military now gone from Iraq, the task of countering Iranian power falls to diplomatic, foreign-aid and intelligence functions conducted by a host of U.S. agencies stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and consulates in Basra, Kirkuk and Arbil. Read the rest of this entry »
The Iraq War: Recollections is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
By George Friedman
The war in Iraq is officially over. Whether it is actually over remains to be seen. All that we know is that U.S. forces have been withdrawn. There is much to be said about the future of Iraq, but it is hard to think of anything that has been left unsaid about the past years of war in Iraq, and true perspective requires the passage of time. It seemed appropriate, therefore, to hear from those at STRATFOR who fought in the war and survived. STRATFOR is graced with seven veterans of the war and one Iraqi who lived through it. It is interesting to me that all of our Iraq veterans were enlisted personnel. I don’t know what that means, but it pleases me for some reason. Their short recollections are what STRATFOR has to contribute to the end of the war. It is, I think, far more valuable than anything I could possibly say.
Staff Sgt. Kendra Vessels, U.S. Air Force
Iraq 2003, 2005
STRATFOR Vice President of International Projects
Six words capture my experience during the invasion of Iraq: Russian linguist turned security forces “augmentee.” I initially volunteered for a 45-day tour of the theater — one of those unique opportunities for those in the intelligence field who don’t see much beyond their building with no windows. My field trip of the “operational Air Force” turned into a seven-month stint far beyond my original job description. But in the end I wouldn’t trade anything for that experience. Read the rest of this entry »
From Military Times:
“The American departure represents a joyous event, but our concerns are about the time after the departure,” the Tikrit schoolteacher said. “Absolutely, after the American withdrawal the divisions between Sunnis and Shiites will get worse and worse.”
Toward the end of the occupation, many Sunnis came to feel that the American military was treating them fairly, or at least was more fair than the Shiite-led government. They fear that the U.S. departure means the loss of a protector.
GREENSBORO — “As the last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq on Sunday, friends and family of the first and last American fighters killed in combat cherished their memories rather than dwelling on whether the war and their sacrifice was worth it.
Nearly 4,500 American fighters died before the last U.S. troops crossed the border into Kuwait. David Hickman, 23, of Greensboro was the last of those war casualties, killed in November by the kind of improvised bomb that was a signature weapon of this war.”
From the Army Times:
The Defense Department anticipates fewer warzone deployments for guardsmen as deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan slow down, but the skills those troops have learned over a decade at war must stay sharp, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told top National Guard leaders Tuesday.
Libya and Iraq: The Price of Success is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
By George Friedman
In a week when the European crisis continued building, the White House chose publicly to focus on announcements about the end of wars. The death of Moammar Gadhafi was said to mark the end of the war in Libya, and excitement about a new democratic Libya abounded. Regarding Iraq, the White House transformed the refusal of the Iraqi government to permit U.S. troops to remain into a decision by Washington instead of an Iraqi rebuff.
Though in both cases there was an identical sense of “mission accomplished,” the matter was not nearly as clear-cut. The withdrawal from Iraq creates enormous strategic complexities rather than closure. While the complexities in Libya are real but hardly strategic, the two events share certain characteristics and are instructive. Read the rest of this entry »
Major Jane Blair talked about her memoir Hesitation Kills: A Female Marine Officer’s Combat Experience in Iraq. She kept a journal of her and her fellow Marine officers’ experiences in the Iraq war. The guest interviewer was Representative Loretta Sanches (D-CA).