January 30, 2007

200, 250, 350, 400, 470, and Counting...

Hatched by Sachi

Before the "surge" has even begun, Iraqi and the US troops are taking it up a notch, engaging in fierce battles near Baghdad. The battles reveal Iranian influences on both Sunni insurgents and Shiia militia -- and show that under the right circumstances, the two groups can work hand in hand to oppose peace and democracy.

We have long suspected that the long arm of Iran was behind much of the violence in Iraq; but until last fall, the American military downplayed their influence, possibly in the vain hope that the threat of exposure might be a lever to use against Iran. But starting sometime between July and September, we became more willing to expose the Iranian connection... which probably means that we have given up the idea that Iran cares what the world thinks of it.

So let's start with some good news over the weekend in Baghdad. (As usual, AP larded up the story of a huge victory against a murderous cult with a maze of irrelevant and unrelated bad news; the New York Times did the same today -- we'll get to it in a minute -- but so amusingly, you almost want to let them get away with it.)

U.S.-backed Iraqi troops on Sunday attacked insurgents allegedly plotting to kill pilgrims at a major Shiite Muslim religious festival, and Iraqi officials estimated some 250 militants died in the daylong battle near Najaf.... [That estimate has been superceded by several higher counts.]

Authorities said Iraqi soldiers supported by U.S. aircraft [and ground troops] fought all day with a large group of insurgents in the Zaraq area, about 12 miles northeast of the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

Col. Ali Nomas, spokesman for Iraqi security forces in Najaf, said more than 250 corpses had been found. Iraqi army Maj. Gen. Othman al-Ghanemi also spoke of 250 dead but said an exact number would not be released until Monday. He said 10 gunmen had been captured, including one Sudanese.

Provincial Gov. Assad Sultan Abu Kilel said the assault was launched because the insurgents planned to attack Shiite pilgrims and clerics during ceremonies marking Ashoura, the holiest day in the Shiite calendar commemorating the 7th century death of Imam Hussein. The celebration culminates Tuesday in huge public processions in Karbala and other Shiite cities.

Officials were unclear about the religious affiliation of the militants.

"Unclear" means that the group, Soldiers of Paradise (or Heaven), seems to have had both Shia and Sunni members; all were willing to butcher thousands of Shia pilgrims, if they could.

On Monday, Bill Roggio reported that the total number of insurgents killed was actually 350; they appear to be a mix of Sunni and Shia and included some foreign fighters. They were remarkably well-equipped and organzied, having at least two anti-aircraft Stinger-type missiles and some heavy machine guns.

Early reports indicated there were both Sunni terrorists and Shia cultist involved in the fighting. "Governor Asaad Abu Gilel as saying that the militants, who included foreign fighters, had arrived in the city disguised as pilgrims in recent days and based themselves in the orchards, which he said had been bought three or four months ago by supporters of Saddam Hussain."

Today, the New York Times has more information. This stupendous victory -- as many as 470 terrorists slain (!), ten captured, and only 25 Iraqi security forces killed, for a kill ratio of nearly 19 to 1 -- is of course presented by the Times as raising "troubling questions" about the Iraqi forces. (Perhaps the Times is disappointed that we just missed a 20 to 1 kill ratio):

Iraqi forces were surprised and nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity of an obscure renegade militia in a weekend battle near the holy city of Najaf and needed far more help from American forces than previously disclosed, American and Iraqi officials said Monday.

They said American ground troops -- and not just air support as reported Sunday -- were mobilized to help the Iraqi soldiers, who appeared to have dangerously underestimated the strength of the militia, which calls itself the Soldiers of Heaven and had amassed hundreds of heavily armed fighters.

Iraqi government officials said the group apparently was preparing to storm Najaf, a holy city dear to Shiite Islam, occupy the sacred Imam Ali mosque and assassinate the religious hierarchy there, including the revered leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, during a Shiite holiday when many pilgrims visit....

The Iraqis and Americans eventually prevailed in the battle. But the Iraqi security forces’ miscalculations about the group’s strength and intentions raised troubling questions about their ability to recognize and deal with a threat.

I'd hate to see what the Times would write if we had lost the battle! Maybe if we wait long enough, it will turn out that we killed more terrorists in Najaf than the total number of protesters who showed up for the D.C. anti-war rally.

In any event, surely the Times and Congress are at cross-purposes: Congress says we should pull our troops out and leave the war to the Iraqis; but the Times says they're all a bunch of miserable incompetents who can't do anything without American help. I wish the anti-war Left would just pick one story and stick to it; these goalposts are walking around on chicken-legs, like Baba Yaga's hut.

This battle reminds me of ealier incident in Kabala, where terrorists disguised as American troops managed to fool Iraqi security forces. They got close enough to the Americans, who were conducting a meeting with locals, that twelve terrorists killed one American and kidnapped four, all of whom were later found dead.

The sophisticated nature of these attacks suggests highly trained and deadly terrorist forces; and that in turn suggests Iran's infamous "Qod's Force."

In fact, Iran has been operating in Iraq for years. They have aided, armed, and trained both Sunni jihadis and Shiite militias. A recent document we found during a raid of Iranian forces lays out their plan to cause absolute chaos in Iraq. So much for the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Survey Group's charming notion that Iran did not want to see civil war in Iraq.

An American intelligence official said the new material, which has been authenticated within the intelligence community, confirms "that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups." The source was careful to stress that the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, and said the documents rather show how the Quds Force -- the arm of Iran's revolutionary guard that supports Shiite Hezbollah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads -- is working with individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna. [And so much for the equally charming notion that Shia and Sunni terrorists would never work together.]

Another American official who has seen the summaries of the reporting affiliated with the arrests said it comprised a "smoking gun." "We found plans for attacks, phone numbers affiliated with Sunni bad guys, a lot of things that filled in the blanks on what these guys are up to," the official said.

It turns out Iran had its own "Iraqi Study Group" which came up with this "recommendation" to foment a civil war, if possible, in Iraq. Ironically, on Monday, Iran announced a plan to "help" Iraq:

The ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qumi, said Iran was prepared to offer Iraq government forces training, equipment and advisers for what he called “the security fight.” In the economic area, Mr. Qumi said, Iran was ready to assume major responsibility for Iraq reconstruction, an area of failure on the part of the United States since American-led forces overthrew Saddam Hussein nearly four years ago. [Here, the Times uses "failure" in its little-known alternate definition to mean "wild success."

“We have experience of reconstruction after war,” Mr. Qumi said, referring to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. “We are ready to transfer this experience in terms of reconstruction to the Iraqis.”

Mr. Qumi also acknowledged, for the first time, that two Iranians seized and later released by American forces last month were security officials, as the United States had claimed. But he said that they were engaged in legitimate discussions with the Iraqi government and should not have been detained.

So Iran has very kindly offered to supplant the United States and Coalition forces to provide both security and reconstruction in Iraq. How selfless of them; we cannot imagine any ulterior motive on the part of the ruling mullahs.

Here is an alternative take: Because Americans are now blatantly accusing Iran of meddling in Iraq's affairs, Iran is feeling the pressure. They know that once Americans level an accusation (as with our we--founded accusation that Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated by Syria), we will not just back down, like the Europeans do. Thus, Iran must come up with some plausible explanation why their intelligence officers are in Iran.

Since they cannot do so, this is the best they can manage.

This tells me that Iran will never negotiate in good faith. The Baker-Hamilton recommendation is revealed as the idiocy the blogosphere has called it from the very beginning.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, January 30, 2007, at the time of 5:02 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Rod

"...starting sometime between July and September, we became more willing to expose the Iranian connection... which probably means that we have given up the idea that Iran cares what the world thinks of it."
Who are the cement heads you include in "we"?
What "we" only figured out last Summer most rational, open minded folk figured out 28 years ago! Name these morons! Have they lived on Mars since Jimmy double crossed the Shah? Iran care about world opinion!?#@

The above hissed in response by: Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2007 12:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I wonder what the Iranians must think of all this? They have an earthquake in that country and 50,000 people die because the housing is so substandard, but Iran can "manage" Iraq. They can not even feed and employ their own people.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2007 1:08 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Actually, there are a lot of Iranians who care what the world thinks about them; the two previous post-Khomeini presidents cared, at least to some extent: Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammed Khatami.

What we figured out was that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad represented a break with the past. He really is a Twelver; he isn't just using it as a convenience to gain power. Thus, he literally does not care about Iran's future because he does not believe they have one.

He believe the Mahdi (the Hidden 12th Imam) will be broken out of cold storage any minute now, and then Allah will rule over all the world. He's a millennarian... that's what it took us a year or so to parse.

And I don't know about you, but I did not start reading anything like that even in the blogosphere until around the same time the Bush administration started changing its approach, or perhaps two or three months earlier: there was not such a great lag time as you imply.

From the seizure of the embassy in 1979 to the election of Ahmadinejad, Iran acted really no different from a Communist thugocracy -- and Communist thugocracies have proven very amenable to attacks on their world prestige. Even Iran released the hostages when Reagan was elected, not because of any overt threat -- he hadn't yet made any -- but because they thought it would improve their image in the world.

Back then, they actually cared about that stuff. That's why they continually went to the UN and the World Court and such seeking international support for this or that demand... something Ahmadinejad has completely foregone.

Ahmadinejad represents a very significant (and very sinister) change for the worse in Iran... which is why the mullahs are (belatedly) trying to undermine him: I think they fear him... he's a Frankenstein's monster who has got out of control (with Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi playing the Dr. Frankenstein role... though he himself has not turned against his creation).


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2007 2:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: Binder

A 19-1 kill ratio sure does help the Times make its case that the Iraqi security forces were "nearly overwhelmed"...

The above hissed in response by: Binder [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2007 5:14 PM

The following hissed in response by: Rod


I remember Ronnie saying during the campaign and after he won that if Iran did not free the Americans Iran would regret it forever. On of the lines he said in 11/80 was that if the Americans were not free by 2/81 “Iran will glow in the dark”

MSNBC is a member in good standing of the MSM/DNC so theyh may not be totally reliable - but in this article they explain the hostage release the way I remember it – not as you remember it.

The following paragraph is about 0.66 of the way through the article,
“The Iranians who had seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran later said they released the hostages only because they feared that Reagan might deal with them “like a cowboy.””
A Louie l’Moour type cowboy who “shot first and asked questions later”!
They did not worry about world opinion. They did worry about being killed!
BTW I do not thing ignoring “world opinion” is wrong. I thing worrying about “world opinion” is wrong.
An old exJarhead

The above hissed in response by: Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2007 5:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: Rod

Typo alert
On should be one

I did say I was old

The above hissed in response by: Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2007 5:45 PM

The following hissed in response by: RattlerGator

Sachi / Dafydd: I don't think it should be overlooked that "x" amount of time was required to build relationships in Iraq and better determine those who were reliable and those who weren't.

Iran's problem is that we have reached the tipping point on that issue -- note their offer to help, now, and the curious stories beginning to appear imploring America to just let the U.N. finish the job of toppling the mullahs. That cowboy Dubya, of course, is the problem and he's scaring the Iranians into keeping the mullahs. What a cotton-pickin' shame!

Iran, at some level, has begun to understand that the big monstrous attacks are -- from here on out, going to cost much, much more and far more of their agents in Iraq are about to die if they remain in country.

I, though I may be in the distinct minority, still maintain that it would have been virtually impossible to prosecute this war any better than it has been prosecuted. And it has been prosecuted (including "winning the peace") quite well.

The above hissed in response by: RattlerGator [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2007 6:12 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


The Iranians who had seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran later said they released the hostages only because they feared that Reagan might deal with them "like a cowboy."

There is a serious problem with this urban legend: by the time the hostages were released, they were no longer held by "the Iranians who had seized the U.S. Embassy."

They had been shifted to Teheran and were being held by the government. Thus, whatever was said to MSNBC by the Teheran University students who seized the embassy, it has nothing to do with the actual reason for their release.

Nobody has ever shown me a specific, concrete threat that Reagan made to the Iranians. I am quite certain he never publicly said anything like "Iran will glow in the dark"; if you can cite a source for that, I will read it attentively.

In this potential source, e.g., the phrase, though in quotation marks, is clearly not intended to be a literal quotation (there is no time, place, or source included). And I can find no case where anyone has claimed that Reagan literally said those words.

The devil is in the details, Rod; specificity and exactitude matter. Reagan made no specific threat to the Iranians... certainly nothing so immediate and catastrophic that they would be frightened into releasing the hostages.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2007 9:30 PM

The following hissed in response by: Rod


:You are absolutely right! “The devil is in the details, Rod; specificity and exactitude matter. Reagan made no specific threat to the Iranians...”

I *may* have believed something not because it was in fact true but because *I wanted it to be true*! I come from a very long line of Democrats and sometimes I backslide. If I have not posted a source for Ronnie saying what I believe he said by Sat consider this an admission of error. (If he did not say it I still wish he had. Yes I am stubborn. My surname in Gaelic means Stony place but my wife of 41 years says “stone head” I may infact be the cement head here.)

Rod Stanton
An old exJarhead

The above hissed in response by: Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2007 7:25 AM

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