Tag: Iraq

Member Post

 

I have been regrettably absent from Ricochet for much of the past year, save for a post or two. While I still stay abreast of the happenings back home, it’s been a nice sabbatical having removed myself from the current political discussions. Since Spring of 2016, I have been living and working in northern Iraq; initially […]

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2 Cheers for NGOs

 

Skipsul’s recent post on the nefarious role that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) sometimes unwittingly play in the third world is an excellent read and echoes other recent articles critical of NGOs as a whole. (A Jerusalem Post piece called them the “new feudalism”). As an American expat working for an NGO in Iraq, I felt somewhat compelled to respond, not out of any desire to “defend the herd,” but simply to offer a little insight into their nature, both good and bad. I’ll restrict my commentary only to the areas I’ve worked in or observed personally. I would suspect some of what I say might not be relevant or applicable to NGO work outside of Iraq.

Important to note, NGO work is broadly divided into two often mutually exclusive parts; advocacy and humanitarian work. Most NGOs exist either to advocate and lobby for a particular issue or to provide a particular humanitarian service. You might assume they do both as a matter of course, but with rare exceptions, most NGOs stick to one or the other. The reasons for this are quite simple and each have their tradeoffs. Advocacy work is inherently political in nature. Either you’re lobbying for local/foreign governments do do something (give money, provide assistance, etc) or you’re lobbying for local/foreign governments to stop doing something (genocide, discrimination, neglect) Since local governments often bear some responsibility for the disaster being addressed in the first place (Iraq especially), advocacy NGOs can find themselves at loggerheads with local politicians. And believe me, you will never find a more petty and conniving politician than the ones this country produces. As such, advocacy groups are usually reluctant to delve into humanitarian work because these efforts would be hampered by their too-public profile.

Drums In The Deep

 

War drums are rumbling in ways strangely reminiscent of the world a century past. Nations with chips on their shoulders and something to prove have engaged in foreign adventurism. Would a second Clinton presidency succeed in quelling those drums, or have eight years of flailing foreign policy made us stumble towards some greater conflagration?

The 9/11 Attacks happened on George W. Bush’s watch, but it is clear the attack was planned and orchestrated in the years prior, during the presidency of Bill Clinton. One of my own first thoughts upon seeing the burning remains of the World Trade Center on TV was “Well, it finally happened.” After eight years of Clinton’s hamfisted foreign interventions, poor responses to repeated violations by Iraq and attacks on US troops and facilities (the USS Cole being the most prominent in my memory), I was expecting (at least) a serious bloody nose in some form from the Middle East. We had endured eight years of weakness in victory with a president who was overeager to spend a “peace dividend” he did not earn, and we have paid for that since with 15 years of war and misery (and the poor souls who inhabit Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan are paying a still higher price). A strong response to Iraq or to Islamic terrorism in 1996, or a strong spine even in 1994 might have spared us much.

The Battle for Mosul Begins

 

The offensive on Mosul is beginning. Over the weekend, US and French jets pounded ISIS positions east of Mosul and began shelling ISIS positions, paving the way for a ground offensive. This morning, Kurdish forces began advancing on villages east of the city.

Over the weekend, ISIS killed 53 people in three separate attacks in Iraq, including a suicide bombing in Baghdad. Conditions in Mosul are dire, and will no doubt get far worse; if Mosul is laid waste, another million and a half refugees will pour into the region and beyond. (It’s unclear what the population of Mosul is now; there were two million people there before it was captured by ISIS, but as many as a million have already fled.) 

Kurdistan, Yezidis, and the Strange Consensus: A Report from an Iraq Correspondent

 

I received this report from a correspondent who asked for anonymity. “Given Ricochet’s educated readership,” he wrote, “perhaps they might enjoy this more detailed perspective” on Kurdistan and the KRG’s lobbyists in the West. I thought it was fascinating. If you have questions about it, I’ll be happy to post his replies.

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Breaking: Iraqis Re-Capture Fallujah

 

Via the WSJ:

BAGHDAD—Iraqi security forces said they seized Fallujah’s central government compound, their first significant victory inside the city in a weekslong battle against Islamic State. Federal police forces flew the Iraqi flag over the city’s mayoral office Friday, the military said in a statement. The building is part of a large administrative compound that also houses the city’s police headquarters and courthouses. But the military stopped short of declaring full control over Fallujah, saying it was still battling a significant number of militant fighters in the city. The military said government forces had surrounded Fallujah General Teaching Hospital in the city’s downtown district, a building they said the terror group had used as a command center. Fallujah was the first major city seized by Islamic State in 2014 during a blitz that saw the Sunni Muslim extremists take over about one-third of Iraq. “We hope within the next few days to cleanse the whole of Fallujah from Daesh militants,” said Brig. Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the joint operations command in Baghdad, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Member Post

 

I heard a story on the news this morning, about a horrible atrocity; the sort of gut-churning brutality that normally gets splashy news coverage just because “it bleeds.”  I was listening to the radio on my way to work, so when I got there I did a quick internet search.  Sure enough, as I had […]

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The Battle of Telskuf, the Kurds, and the Shortcomings of America’s ISIS Strategy

 

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Drowned out in the excitement over the presidential primary yesterday was the fierce battle between coalition forces and the Islamic State in northern Iraq. With total figures still uncertain, the battle claimed the lives of dozens of Kurds and one American Navy SEAL. On May 3rd, in the majority Christian city of Telskuf, north of Mosul, ISIS launched a pre-dawn assault on unsuspecting Kurdish and Assyrian forces:

Mortar rounds and artillery began hitting front lines near Telskuf, the largely Christian town, about 4 a.m., according to Kurdish officers and members of the Christian militia that hold the ground there. After bombarding the area Tuesday, militants launched a multi-pronged attack on Telskuf at about 5:30 a.m. from three or four directions, using hundreds of fighters, commanders said. Maj. Gen. Azad Jalil, a peshmerga officer, said they breached Kurdish front lines with more than 10 car bombs, also using bulldozers to push through. The peshmerga then made a “tactical retreat” to reorganize their forces, he said. ISIS militants overran the village.

From the Editors’ Desk: Petraeus’ Advice for the “Long War” Against Islamism

 

384px-DCIA_David_PetraeusA few days ago in the Washington Post, David Patraeus published a list of lessons the United States should learn from the past fifteen years. What follows is a highly abridged version:

First, it is increasingly apparent that ungoverned spaces in a region stretching from West Africa through the Middle East and into Central Asia will be exploited by Islamic extremists who want to establish sanctuaries in which they can enforce their extremist version of Islam and from which they can conduct terrorist attacks. Second, it is also apparent that the attacks and other activities of such extremists will not be confined to the areas or regions in which they are located. […] Third, it is also increasingly clear that, in responding to these challenges, U.S. leadership is imperative. […] Churchill was right when he observed, “There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them.” And, if one of those partners wants to walk point — such as France in Mali — we should support it, while recognizing that we still may have to contribute substantially. Fourth, it is becoming clear that the path the United States and coalition partners pursue has to be comprehensive and not just a narrow counter-terrorism approach. It is increasingly apparent that more than precision strikes and special operations raids are needed. […] Fifth, and finally, it is clear that the U.S.-led effort will have to be sustained for what may be extended periods of time — and that reductions in our level of effort should be guided by conditions on the ground rather than fixed timetables.

Us Marine Killed in ISIS Attack in Iraq

 

A US Marine was killed and several other American service members were wounded today by indirect fire from enemy forces near Makhmur in northern Iraq, ABC News reports:

ISIS forces fired two rockets onto a base where American troops are advising and training the Iraqi military, according to a U.S. official. Only one of the rockets is responsible for the damage and loss of life.

An Open Letter to the Conservative Media Explaining Why I Have Left the Movement

 

Let me say up front that I am a life-long Republican and conservative. I have never voted for a Democrat in my life and have voted in every presidential and midterm election since 1988. I have never in my life considered myself anything but a conservative. I am pained to admit that the conservative media and many conservatives’ reaction to Donald Trump has caused me to no longer consider myself part of the movement. I would suggest to you that if you have lost people like me, and I am not alone, you might want to reconsider your reaction to Donald Trump. Let me explain why.

First, I spent the last 20 years watching the conservative media in Washington endorse and urge me to vote for one candidate after another who made a mockery of conservative principles and values. Everyone talks about how thankful we are for the Citizens’ United decision but seems to have forgotten how we were urged to vote for the coauthor of the law that the decision overturned. In 2012, we were told to vote for Mitt Romney, a Massachusetts liberal who proudly signed an individual insurance mandate into law and refused to repudiate the decision. Before that, there was George W. Bush, the man who decided it was America’s duty to bring democracy to the Middle East (more about him later). And before that, there was Bob Dole, the man who gave us the Americans with Disabilities Act. I, of course, voted for those candidates and do not regret doing so. I, however, am self-aware enough to realize I voted for them because I will vote for virtually anyone to keep the Left out of power and not because I thought them to be the best or even really a conservative choice. Given this history, the conservative media’s claims that the Republican party must reject Donald Trump because he is not a “conservative” are pathetic and ridiculous to those of us who are old enough to remember the last 25 years.

Seven Questions for the Next Commander-in-Chief

 

I just came across this item in the Huffington Post, suggesting that the target audience is left-leaning, but I think these questions should be asked — and asked often — of anyone running for the office of Commander-in-Chief. I don’t think I’ve heard any of the candidates offer any kind of specific response to these questions, alone or together, so I thought I’d reproduce them here. Maybe a Ricochet member will get a chance to ask them at a campaign event.

If you do, please share what you learn, because I genuinely don’t know how any of the candidates would answer. The seriousness and sobriety of a candidate’s answers to these questions would be very important to me in deciding for whom to vote: