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June 11, 2014



Needs MOAR Kurdish response talk. Especially the oil export through Turkey situation.

Paul Mutter

A penny for the Old Guy?


Via the BBC, comment from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, yesterday ("Battle for Mosul: Critical test ahead for Iraq").

Governor Atheel Nujaifi made a desperate appeal on the night of 9 June for citizens to use their personal weapons to form self-defence militias in their neighbourhoods in an effort to limit ISIS gains. The next step will be the regrouping of the disintegrated units, including those where policemen and soldiers stripped off their uniforms and abandoned vehicles, weapons and outposts.

Because that's what usually happens, isn't it? OK, people take off their uniforms, drop their guns and run away and hide initially, but then they get the call to regroup, and...

New armoured, artillery and aerial forces will be brought up to Mosul for the operation

("The operation" appears to refer to "regrouping", above.)

, though scraping together such forces is getting increasingly difficult due to the growing number of major ISIS assaults in the Baghdad suburbs and cities like Ramadi, Samarra, Tuz Khurmatu, Sharqat and Mosul. The only source of fresh forces available in Iraq is the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga, an infantry force with some artillery and light armoured vehicles.

"See? We've got plenty of people in the region! No problem!

Peshmerga forces have recently moved forwards along the line of disputed territories claimed by both the federal government and the KRG, including securing the areas of Mosul city east of the Tigris River. Gaining the KRG's active support to take part in the clearance of western Mosul may only be possible if Baghdad is willing to make concessions to the Kurds on issues such as the international marketing of KRG oil and revenue-sharing between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan.

And we're back indoors ("Mr Al-Malkki? Your ten o'clock's here...") Not that I get off on this 'facts on the ground' stuff or anything, but I think the way things are going, the making of concessions might be a bit more concrete - & might be a done deal before 'Baghdad' has much to say about it.

For the Baghdad government of caretaker Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the recovery of Mosul is a test of leadership at a critical moment when he is seeking reappointment.

Could we lay off the "who's up, who's down" just for a moment? I mean, there's this war...

Iraq's Kurds need stability in Mosul, which is just one hour's drive from the KRG capital of Irbil. Many Kurds live in or around eastern Mosul and ISIS control of the city could pose a grave security threat to the Iraqi Kurdish region, which prides itself on providing a safe environment for investors.

Unless either (a) KRG talk to ISIS and ISIS say "you can have that bit, we'll leave you to it"; (b) KRG don't trust ISIS an inch but decide to capitalise on the partial power-vacuum created by the collapse of central government control anyway; or (c) both of the above.

Iraq's Sunni political, tribal and religious leaders have the most to lose from ISIS's growth ... Taking an optimistic view, these overlapping interests could create the potential for political dialogue and speedier government formation, potentially lessening tensions between Baghdad and the KRG. Alternatively, ongoing discord between the Maliki government and its Kurdish and Arab opponents could disrupt the government's counter-offensive, allowing ISIS to consolidate its hold on western Mosul.

Ooh, speedier government formation. Call me an incorrigible optimist, but I do like to take a few minutes out of a busy day to think about political dialogue and speedier government formation. They may say I'm a dreamer...

Again, this weird urge to turn the actual civil war into a sand-table exercise whose success or failure will have implications for real politics. It strikes me that the 'optimistic view' isn't looking terribly good at the moment - and that it's only optimistic if we put the interests of the al-Malkki government at the top of the list, rather than (say) the interests of all the people who live in Iraq. (Which might coincide, but I don't think it's been shown.) For the KRG, in particular, standing the guys down and getting dragged back into endless horse-trading with 'Baghdad' might not be the 'optimistic' outcome at all.


Well, that growed. I'll use it for a quick post on my own rather neglected blog, I think.

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