Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Sadr-Communist Alliance And Iraq’s 2018 Elections Interview With Benedict Robin

The results of the 2018 parliamentary elections in Iraq were a shock to many. Seemingly out of nowhere the Sairoon list made of the Sadrists and the Iraqi Communist Party won the most seats. To have an Islamist religious figure align with a secular leftist was another twist. The two actually aligned several years beforehand during the annual protests that hit the country. To help explain Sairoon and its victory is University of Edinburgh PhD student Benedict Robin. He can be followed on Twitter @Benrobinz.

This Day In Iraqi History - May 22

1919 Sheikh Mohmoud Barzanji started rebellion against British in
1941 Iraq attempt to recapture Fallujah failed
(Musings On Iraq article on 1941 Battle of Fallujah)
1941 Regent of Iraq along with Nuri al-Said arrived at British base at Habaniya, Anbar
            Said sent letter to Iraqi commander in Ramadi who agreed to switch sides
1948 Iraqi army defeated in Battle of Gesher and retreated to West Bank in 1st Arab-
            Israeli War
1975 PUK formed when Maosit Komala led by Nirshurwan Mustafa social
            democratic Bezutnawa led by Ali Askari and KDP’s Talabani joined
1979 Start of 9 days of protests in Iraq led by Dawa
1982 Iran broke through Iraqi defenses around Khorramshahr Took 22,000 Iraqi
1984 Reagan briefed on study that said there should be a military embargo on both
            Iran and Iraq Reagan agreed to policy
1986 US Amb to Iraq asked Eximbank to open up new lines of credit to Iraq to help
            it through Iran-Iraq War
2003 UN Res 1483 made US and England occupying powers of Iraq and ended
sanctions on Iraq Also created Development Fund for Iraq to help pay for rebuilding using oil revenue
2003 Bremer told Bush Iraq needed new constitution then elections then sovereignty
2003 CPA and official from Sec Def Rumsfeld’s office drafted CPA Order 2 to
            disband Iraq’s military
2003 Bremer told Bush about CPA’s plan to disband Iraqi military
2003 Story CIA started internal review of its pre-war Iraq intelligence
2004 Neocon supporters of INC’s Chalabi told NatlSecAdv Rice that US needed to
stop harassing him Came after US forces raided Chalabi’s house claiming he had passed intel to Iran
2004 INC met with Nat Sec Adv Rice complaining US had abandoned Chalabi
2005 Joint US-Iraqi operation started to clear Abu Ghraib in west Baghdad
2005 Sadr sent delegation to meet Sunni clerics in an attempt to stop sectarian violence
2006 Bush said Iraq at a turning point and heading in right direction towards democracy
            Said Maliki govt turning point for Middle East
2006 Report US failure to adequately plan for Iraqi police led to militia and criminal
            take over 2004 US military took over police training and still inadequate
2006 Report audit found 5,000 Iraqi police had criminal records including taking part
            in insurgency
2006 Report pre-war Bush admin thought Iraqi police not an issue and rejected Justice
            Dept plan to use 1000s of police advisers
2006 US initially hoped Basra police would be early success because back on duty in 03
            and no insurgency but quickly taken over by gangs political parties militias
2006 Politicians appointed police chiefs in Basra who hired friends relatives tribesmen
            Came to be dominated by Badr and Mahdi Army
2006 Report Basra police carrying out sectarian violence and enforcing religious rules
            of militias Demanding kickbacks to join force Helping smugglers
2006 Summer 05 Basra police chief Gen Sawadi said he didn’t trust his own force and
            couldn’t control them
2006 Report Inter Min tried to reform Basra police but failed Started with Internal
            Affairs which turned into crime ring Trials failed against corrupt officers
2006 Mar 04 Gen Eaton put in charge of US military training program for Iraqi police
            Budget cut 20% Said showed not priority in Washington
2006 Gen Petraeus took over US military training program for Iraqi police in summer
            05 and claimed carried out meaningful reforms
2006 Gen Petraeus also militarized Iraqi police with combat training and military
2006 Report British Gen Mackay warned that unless Coalition regulated Iraqi police
            commandos would become personal army for Interior Minister
2006 Report Fmr Inter Min Nakib warned Rumsfeld in April 05 that Shiite parties
            were going to take over police commandos with their militias
2006 Report 2005 when ISCI Jabr made Interior Min had Badr take over police and
2006 Report US military played down sectarian killings and abuses by Iraqi police
2006 Report Inter Min Jabr denied any abuses by police and blamed other ministries
2006 Report corruption endemic in Iraq Transportation Min bought planes 2 for $3 mil
            each that should have been less than $1 mil
2006 Defense Min made $1 bil in questionable arms purchases Interior Min had at least
            1100 ghost employes costing $1.3 mil a month
2006 Report of 3000 corruption cases only 780 went to court only few dozen got
2006 Of 40 corruption cases against high ranking Iraqi officials only 1 got verdict for
            Interior Ministry official
2011 Red Cross interviewed people tortured by ISF at Camp Honor in Baghdad
2013 Pres Barzani attacked PYD for arresting KDP affiliated group in Syria
2014 KRG provincial election results released Gorran won most seats in Sulaymaniya
2014 Oil Ministry warned potential buyers not to buy 1st shipment of independent KRG
2014 Mutahidun and Sadrists rejected 3rd term for Maliki
2015 Joint Chiefs Head Gen Dempsey said would take 3 years or more to defeat IS
2016 Abadi announced start of attack upon Fallujah

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Breakdown Of The Iraq Election Results

Analyzing the returns from Iraq’s May 2018 parliamentary elections shows some interesting trends. First, the most well organized parties did the best. Some lists were focused upon the wrong themes, and there was widespread charges of fraud.

This Day In Iraqi History - May 21

1847 Treaty of Arzurum tried to set border between Ottoman Empire and Persia
            Gave Sulaymaniya to Ottomans Shatt al-Arab to Persia
1847 Treaty of Arzurum set up commission to demarcate border between Ottomans and
            Persia but never finished
1919 UK PM George abrogated Long-Berenger UK-French oil deal due to disagreement
with France over Iraq-Syrian border George wanted Iraq to extend to Mediterranean
1928 British official said Iraqi provincial administrators picked who would be elected to
1941 Iraqis launched counterattack attempting to retake Fallujah from British Entered
1941 German planes bombed UK air base at Habaniya for a second day
1970 Pres Bakr issued Agrarian Reform Law to increase living conditions
            for peasants and increase farm production
1974 UN Sec Gen said Iran and Iraq agreed to withdraw forces and open talks over
            border disputes
1987 2nd phase of campaign to destroy Kurdish villages started
1991 Kuwait asked for half of Iraq’s oil earnings as reparation for invasion
1999 UN Res 1242 renewed Oil For Food Program for 6th months
2002 Gen Franks lied to press saying he had no Iraq war plans and had not been
            asked to make any
2003 Dep Sec Def Wolfowitz ordered army to help CPA with staff and
            contracting because CPA undermanned
2003 Report CIA believed 3 trailers found in Iraq were mobile WMD labs Sec of
            State Powell talked about in UN speech
2003 Report that US showed picture of trailers to Iraqi in Germany known as
            CURVEBALL who confirmed they were WMD labs
2004 CPA set up group to integrate militias into ISF never happened
2006 Report Iran thought to have trained 40,000 militia in Iraq
2006 Report US failed to adequately plan to rebuild Iraqi police After invasion
            went through 3 failed plans By 2004 only sent 500 police advisers for all of Iraq
2008 CENTCOM commander Gen Dempsey said ISI at its weakest point in Iraq
2008 US commander for northern Iraq said attacks in Mosul down 85% after
            Mother of Two Springs op there
2008 Pres Talabani said Iraq would be able to handle its own security without help
            of US after 2008
2010 Reports that both Iran and US supported 2nd term for Maliki
2012 KRG announced energy deals with Turkey Baghdad warned KRG it could not sign
            independent oil deals with Turkey
2012 Oil Min Shahristani ordered ministry to stop petrol deliveries to KRG Would
            later deny he gave order
2013 Sheikh Hayes threatened to tear down protest tents in Ramadi if didn’t disperse
            after attacks on ISF and kidnappings
2013 KRG said it wanted to build a second independent oil pipeline to Turkey
2015 Asaib Ahl Al-Haq blamed US and Abadi for fall of Ramadi Claimed US had
            kept Hashd out

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Musings On Iraq In The News

I was quoted by Wladimir van Wilgenburg in "Experts: Low voter turnout shows disappointment of Iraqis in political system" for The Region, and by Paul Iddon in "Would a Kurdish speaker in Iraq's parliament change Kurd's fortunes in Baghdad?" for Rudaw.

Seat Allocation Announced For Iraq’s New Parliament

(Getty Images)
Iraq’s Election Commission announced the seat allocation amongst the winning lists. The previous results, which just covered which parties won in each province did not include the early votes case by the Iraqi Security Forces. Moqtada al-Sadr’s alliance with the Communists Sairoon remained in first place with 54 seats. It was followed by the pro-Iran Hashd Fatah with 47 seats, and Prime Minister Haidar Abadi’s Nasr with 42 seats. Vice President Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law moved up. Previously its best finish was 3rd in Baghdad. The extra votes moved it into fourth overall with 26 seats. The Kurdish vote was divide this year. The Kurdistan Democratic Party got the most seats with 25, followed by 18 for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, 5 for Gorran, 2 each for the Coalition for Democracy and Justice, the Kurdistan Islamic Union, the Kurdistan Islamic Group, and the New Generation. After the disastrous independence referendum, the KDP and PUK are attempting to rejoin national politics. The other major lists were Vice President Iyad Allawi’s Wataniya that got 21 seats, Ammar Hakim’s Hikma with 19, and Vice President Osama Nujafi’s Qarar with 13. The final results have still not been certified as there will likely be court cases against the results. The Kurdish opposition, Arabs and Turkmen are all accusing the PUK of cheating in Kirkuk for example. Some other parties are threatening lawsuits as well in other provinces.

This Day In Iraqi History - May 20

1941 German planes attacked British Habaniya air base in Anbar
1950 1st flight of Near East Air Transport Took Iraqi Jews to Israel Airline was
            owned by Jewish Agency who worked to get Jews to move to Israel
1950 When Israel created Iraqi govt banned immigration Mar 1950 govt allowed
temporary immigration for one year Stripped Jews of Iraqi citizenship and govt confiscated their property
1982 Iraq counterattacked against Iran’s Op Jerusalem in Khorramshahr
1984 Iraq sank Panamanian oil tanker in Persian Gulf in tanker war
1985 Iranian offensive into Iraqi southern marshes to seize Basra-Baghdad
            highway ended in failure
1985 Saudis offered peace deal while Prince Faisal visited Iran Rejected by Tehran
1987 Iraq ended 1st phase of attacks upon Kurdish villages
1991 Bush said he would oppose lifting sanctions on Iraq as long as Saddam
            was in power
1994 SCIRI claimed start of military campaign in Maysan marshes against Iraqi
            govt forces
1996 Iraq and UN signed memo allowing Oil for Food program
2002 Rumsfeld asked Gen Franks to plan for a fortress Baghdad scenario
2003 Iraqis met with British rep to Iraq and demanded an interim govt
2003 US forces arrested Saddam’s Min of Industry Hwaish and VP Marouf
2004 CIA and US military raided Chalabi’s home in Baghdad Accused him of
providing intel to Iran Chalabi claimed it was retaliation for his criticism of US
2004 US had arrest warrant for INC intelligence head Habib but he’d fled
2004 US called off assault on Mahdi Army in old city Karbala
2004 NSC meeting asked what would happen if new sovereign Iraq asked US to
2004 Report US interrogators told guards at Abu Ghraib prison to strip prisoners make
            them wear women’s close before questioning
2004 US army admitted lost Red Cross reports of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison due to
2005 US 1st Cav Div collected more than 100 abuse cases by ISF over 6 months
            including beatings, electrocutions, choking in Baghdad
2005 US 3rd Inf Div collected 28 cases of abuse by Iraqi units in Baghdad
2006 1st Maliki cabinet approved but with no Interior Defense or National
            Security Ministers
2006 Interior Min Jabr switched to Finance Min in new cabinet because he allowed Badr
            Brigade to take over ministry and police under Jaafari govt
2006 Maliki laid out 33 point program with terrorism fighting corruption and services
            top 3
2006 Defense Min adviser said violence so bad in Basra murderers were running free
2007 Hezbollah operative Daqduq captured Was liaison between Iran and militias
2008 Mother of Two Springs op ended in Mosul without success
2008 4,000-5,000 soldiers deployed to Sadr City after Sadr ceasefire finally took
2009 Report only 17,000 of 94,000 Sahwa given govt jobs so far
2010 Sadr said he was returning to Iraq after leaving for Iran in 07 over fear of US
assassination during Surge
2010 Sadr leader said that Sadrists opposed 2nd term for Maliki
2010 US said Iran training and arming militiamen to destabilize Iraq
2010 KRG said it would start oil exports the next day and Baghdad okayed it
            Demanded Baghdad pay oil companies in KRG
2011 5 Madhi Army commanders escaped Taji prison
2012 PUK and KDP Finance Ministries said they had merged
2012 KRG said it was building independent oil pipeline to Turkey Said it would reach 2
            mil/bar/day in production by 2014 Didn’t make that mark
2012 Meeting of political leaders decided to hold off on no confidence vote against
2013 ISIS launched 11 car bombs leaving 137 dead
2013 Maliki said some of the fake bomb detectors worked 20-50% of the time
2013 Anbar councilman said foreign companies were fleeing province due to
            increasing violence
2013 Cabinet announced provincial elections in Anbar and Ninewa would occur
            Jun 20
2014 Iraqi intel warned army that large ISIS attack on Mosul coming in June
2014 Iraqi army said it was surrounding Fallujah
2014 KRG parliament voted Qubad Talabani Dep PM
2014 Electricity and Municipality depts. in Sulaymaniya protested over not being
            paid salaries
2014 KRG oil started being loaded on tanker in Turkey for first time
2015 Gorran said it would support extending Pres Barzani’s term if KRG switched to
            parliamentary system
2016 Sadrists took over Green Zone for second time Led to clash with ISF 4 protesters

View the Iraq History Timelines 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Review Hamdi, Dr Walid, Rashid Ali al-Gailani, The Nationalist Movement in Iraq 1939-1941

Review Hamdi, Dr Walid, Rashid Ali al-Gailani, The Nationalist Movement in Iraq 1939-1941, London: Darf Publications Ltd., 1987

The government of Prime Minister Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and the Golden Square officers are an important, yet little known period of Iraqi and World War II History. At the very start of the war, a small group of pan-Arabist army officers backed Premier Gaylani who overthrew the monarchy, and aligned the country with the Axis powers of Germany and Italy. The draw wasn’t fascism, but rather the belief that the war offered their country a means to escape British hegemony, which remained after London created Iraq and ruled it as mandate from 1920-32. That led to a war with German and Italian intervention, which Iraq lost. While there are a few other books that cover this period, Rashid Ali al-Gailani, The Nationalist Movement in Iraq 1939-1941 is the most extensive and focuses upon the Iraqi rather than the British side of the conflict.

This Day In Iraqi History - May 19

1941 British took Fallujah from Iraqi forces after heavy bombing Was necessary
to cross Euphrates to move onto Baghdad 300 Iraqis captured
(Musings On Iraq article on 1941 Battle of Fallujah)
1941 Iraqi command found out about loss of Fallujah and decided to launch
1941 Iraq Def Min Shawkat returned from Turkey Was accused of being a traitor by
            Golden Square officers for talking about mediation with England Fled to Turkey
1941 Mullah Mustafa Barzani arrived in Sulaymaniya after escaping Baghdad
1958 Ahmad Baban became premier Was a Kurd
1992 Kurds held election for 105 seat regional parliament and leader 7 parties ran 4
            candidates for leader
1992 KDP won 51 seats PUK 49 in new Kurdish parliament Barzani gave 1 seat to PUK
            to maintain Kurdish unity
1997 KDP attacked PKK in Irbil with support of Turkey 53 KDP and 58 PKK killed
2003 ORHA head Garner told Congress ORHA was ad hoc and didn't have enough time
            to plan for postwar Iraq
2003 10,000 Sadrists protested in Baghdad against US occupation
2003 500 Iraqis protested outside Green Zone over pending disbandment of army
2003 CPA head Bremer sent Sec Def Rumsfeld final draft of order to disband Iraqi
2003 US intel paper to White House said captured Iraq trailers were mobile WMD
2004 Dep Sec of Defense Wolfowitz told Congress no timeline for U.S. withdrawal
            from Iraq
2004 US soldiers involved in Abu Ghraib prison abuse sentenced one year in prison
2005 Report that US attempt to push ISF into lead in war failing because Iraqi forces
            not ready yet
2007 US killed Asaibh Al Ahl-Haq’s Karbala commander Dulaimi in raid
2009 Pentagon said foreign fighters still coming to Iraq from Syria and Iranian
            weapons still being found
2009 US organized meeting between Sahwa and govt after 17 Sahwa leaders arrested
2010 Talks held between Hadbaa and Kurds over Ninewa provincial council which
            Kurds had boycotted since 09 elections
2011 Twin bombs in Kirkuk left 120 casualties
2012 Sadr called conference with Kurds Speaker Nujafi Ahmed Chalabi about
2012 Ayatollah Haeri called on Sadr to stop trying to divide Shiites showing Iran’s
            displeasure with moves against Maliki
2012 France’s Total announced talks with KRG about oil deals there over objections
            of Baghdad
2012 Protest in Basra against Turkey hosting wanted ex-VP Hashemi
2013 Provincial election results finalized State of Law won 112 seats Down from 126
            in 2009
2013 Maliki responded to protest movement Said provinces could become regions if
            followed constitution
2013 Sheikh Saadi religious leader in Anbar protests said he gave up on his initiative to
hold talks with Baghdad
2014 Election results announced with Maliki’s State of Law coming in first
2014 Sulaymaniya Educ dept went on strike over not getting paid and protests in 2
            towns over lack of services in KRG
2014 ISF went on rampage in Khalis, Diyala after checkpoint attacked burned mosque
            fields 2 houses
2015 State of Law MP said Iraq should rely on Iran not US for military aid Claimed
            fall of Ramadi proved US helping IS
2015 Hashd spokesman claimed retaking Ramadi would be easier than Tikrit
2016 ISF freed Rutba, Anbar from IS opening road from Baghdad to Jordan

View the Iraq History Timelines

Friday, May 18, 2018

Growing Crisis Over Elections In Kirkuk and Kurdistan

While the Shiite parties have started meeting in Baghdad to try to form a new government there is nothing but turmoil going on in Kirkuk and Kurdistan. Since the day of the election on May 12 there have been widespread claims of voting fraud. In Kurdistan, the complaints are being made by the opposition parties against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). In Kirkuk however, all the major communities are claiming irregularities again aimed at the PUK. If this doesn’t get resolved not only would the legitimacy of the balloting be undermined, but there could be widespread turmoil as well.
Bullet holes from PUK gunfire at Change office in Kirkuk City (Dr. Nussaibah Younis)