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Tilting at Windmills

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January 30, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE BATTLE FOR NAJAF....The New York Times reports on the recent battle between Iraqi government forces and the previously obscure "Soldiers of Heaven" that took place in Najaf over the weekend:

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.

....Only a month ago, in an elaborate handover ceremony, the American command transferred security authority over Najaf to the Iraqis.

....Among the troubling questions raised is how hundreds of armed men were able to set up such an elaborate encampment, which Iraqi officials said included tunnels, trenches and a series of blockades, only 10 miles northeast of Najaf. After the fight was over, Iraqi officials said they discovered at least two antiaircraft weapons as well as 40 heavy machine guns.

Over at Outside the Beltway, Dave Schuler comments, "Aren't large pitched battles like this characteristic of insurgencies that believe they are on the upswing? Not particularly good news." I don't know if we can really draw that conclusion from this single action, but it's a thought worth pondering.

Kevin Drum 1:57 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (84)

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Comments

Either way, it's a tactical mistake for guerillas to go head to head with regular forces. Glad they did; 2-300 less of them. But, yes, it does show extraordinary confidence on their side and lack of competence on the Iraqi security force side. Glad they were right on top of securing the route of the pilgrims.

Who does actually believe that the Iraqi forces are competent to lead the nation's security?

Oh, yes. One. GW!

Posted by: notthere on January 30, 2007 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

Damn those liberal media for building tunnels in Iraq! Traitors!

(say, is that where Cheney's undisclosed location is?)

Posted by: craigie on January 30, 2007 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

Damn those liberal media for building tunnels in Iraq! Traitors!

Tunnels? Quite obviously the work of Commie-Islamo-Faxcist media moles

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 30, 2007 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

I think the most interesting part of the battle is the group of enemies America was fighting there because it proves how wrong liberals are about Iraq. Liberals often claim no one group, Sunni or Shiite, can take over Iraq because they're enemies of each other fighting each other. But it was reported the group America was fighting was made up of "diverse cadre of Sunni, Shiite, Afghan and other foreign gunmen".

It's becoming increasingly clear that all people who hate America - Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Baathists, and the Shiites - are ganging up together to attack American troops and our Iraqi allies. This Islamofascist alliance just gives us more reason to stay in Iraq because if we leave Iraq such a alliance would only flourish and spread throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

Posted by: Al on January 30, 2007 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

"This Islamofascist alliance just gives us more reason to stay in Iraq..."

Yes, now that we've made a catastrophe, they really need us!
Well, I'm in the last throes... of throwing up.

Posted by: Kenji on January 30, 2007 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

Al has assumed wrong. This was a sect, Shite led and based on Shite beliefs. A sect, so it could have a broader and more diverse base than a clan or tribe. These people were up to something regardless of US presence, but when we were called in, we killed everybody without even knowing who they were. Yeah, that's our partnership in Iraq. Killing somebody for a fair weather friend. Killing for someone else.
A badass thug without understanding.

Posted by: Richard W. Crews on January 30, 2007 at 3:21 AM | PERMALINK

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Baathists, and the Shiites - are ganging up together to attack American troops and our Iraqi allies.

If that's true, then it's another example of the "Uniter" at work. GW has managed, through his bungling and blustering, to overcome a 1200 year schism to unite all muslims against us.

Posted by: Orion on January 30, 2007 at 4:01 AM | PERMALINK

The story is confusing and confused in Western media. Plus, all Iraqi political & news sites & blogs have conflicting accounts. If you want to be confused, go to:

http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/

and read Zeyad's January 29 and 30th posts.

I couldn't begin to sum up what Z thinks was going on.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on January 30, 2007 at 4:05 AM | PERMALINK

OT: Holy shit!

Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 — President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.
In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.
This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats....
...The directive issued by Mr. Bush says that, in deciding whether to issue regulations, federal agencies must identify “the specific market failure” or problem that justifies government intervention....
...Besides placing political appointees in charge of rule making, Mr. Bush said agencies must give the White House an opportunity to review “any significant guidance documents” before they are issued....
Fascism is on the march!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 30, 2007 at 4:36 AM | PERMALINK

2-300 dead? I kind of doubt it, but then, I doubt everything that the Republican'ts say and claim. It was probably a troop of iraqi girlscouts on a picnic.

Posted by: merlallen on January 30, 2007 at 5:34 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

I think the thought worth pondering from the Najaf incident is whether the so-called "Iraqi security forces" could provide security at a church ice cream social.

Al:

Actually, what the cadre of fighters at Najaf proves is that the vast majority of Iraqis hate our ass and want us out of their country. We should oblige them toot sweet and launch a crash program to become energy-independent, making barbaric oil fiefdoms like Iraq irrelevant. Then, let them try to attack us in their canoes or kayaks or with their non-existent air force that conservatives like you are so afraid of.

Apollo 13:

Scary isn't it? I read about this executive order on another website. As I have said on this blog numerous times, this guy is not gonna play by the rules or make nice, despite all this blather about bipartisanship. There is one and only one Constitutional remedy for an out-of-control Executive branch and that is impeachment. And the Democrats should have begun that process the moment they held the majority in Congress. Peace,

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 30, 2007 at 5:44 AM | PERMALINK

"There is one and only one Constitutional remedy for an out-of-control Executive branch and that is impeachment."

Somebody needs to give Bush a blow job so he can be impeached. I know it would be icky, but are there any female patriots out there who will swallow their pride, so to speak, and put their country ahead of their sense of revulsion?

Posted by: 2.7182818 on January 30, 2007 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK

Juan Cole spends some quality moments sussing out and then elaborating on the fragmentary reports about this battle. Click here Juan Cole’s Informed Comment it’s a quick read.

Posted by: Keith G on January 30, 2007 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Next year the insurgency learns about Tet, and we get to re-learn its lessons.

Posted by: bobbyp on January 30, 2007 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Looks to me like we've provided devastating air & armor support in another battle in Iraq's civil war. Whose side are we on? I'm not sure we know.

Posted by: Apelike on January 30, 2007 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

The Najaf op sounds like a good day of work. It's unusual to catch so many of the enemy together. It sounds like sombody found a base camp. I don't know what to make of the mention of insurgents being chained together. We haven't heard of that happening before. Insurgent conscripts, now? Not unheard of in other wars, but a first here. It'd be a pretty crappy way to fight, one would think. I suppose it could have been a penal unit - even insurgents have disciplinary problems from time to time.

Re the Presidential directive for a political policy office in each agency, as a middling bureaucrat, I'm not in favor of it. Unfortunately, it sounds like just the kind of "improvement" that might continue after this Administration is gone. Any substantial policy matter already had to go through the OMB, but establishing yet another policy office to brief is just going to add to the hassle of getting things done. That's all we need - another Mother-may-I office to please.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 30, 2007 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't it splendid. Not content with having politically alienated their core supporters within the trades unions via policy, image and the eternally abrassive John Prescott, New Labour are now very quietly promoting Hilary Benn (no connection in any way to Ms Clinton of the same name!)to be the next Deputy Leader. Strokes against him? The little creep is betraying everything his very much admired father has stood for all his life. That should go down well with the unions....not that they have any influence anymore. Disagree? What more proof do you want that New Labour considers they have de-balled the unions. Given their obvious support of Hilary, I would think even Andrew Marr of the BBC would be brave enough to confront Labour with that point!

Posted by: Amber on January 30, 2007 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee

Right out of the politburo playbook.

Posted by: subparsnip on January 30, 2007 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

No trashauler. You need to read the reports. These were not insurgents, as we nomally use the term. These were basically (end of time) cultists. They were not AQ or others of that ilk.

Think Branch Davidians.

Every day someone claims he's the Mahdi....

...the leader of the hitherto unknown Heaven's Army had told followers that he was a missing son of the Imam Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad. Ali's remains are entombed in Najaf.

They believe that the Mahdi has called them to fight in Najaf,...fighters had converged on the Najaf area from other predominantly Shiite cities in Iraq. (from LAT)


They were massing to attack on today's relgious holiday. Their target was to be religoius leaders and pilgrims who they viewed as apostates.

Posted by: Keith G on January 30, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

One thing is certain, the story as currently reported will turn out to be misleading and incomplete. The truth will be more embarrassing to the US and/or Iraqi govts. It's a pattern I've noticed.

Posted by: david on January 30, 2007 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

"Right out of the politburo playbook."
____________________

More like right out of the rules governing high ranking civil service personnel. There is a limit to the number of permanent Senior Executive Service (SES) slots available to any agency. Less so for political appointees. This will probably lead to a requirement for more Congressional confirmation actions. Of course, any President will want these people to be political appointees in any case.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 30, 2007 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

What no one wants to mention is the fact that the people fighting the US and the government show a lot more motivation than the ones who are (nominally) fighting on behalf of the government. That is because the one is fighting on behalf of his country (which was the victim of an illegitimate invasion / occupation) or his tribe. The other one is fighting for a paycheck. The former considers the latter to be a traitor, and understandably so.

Who do you think is going to fight harder? Who has the greater incentive?

Also, let's cut all this shit out about "the Iraqi government." That government exists on paper only. That's demonstrated day after day and the billions of dollars we throw at them is not going to make a whit of difference. Most of the money ends up in the hands of "insurgents" anyway.

Time to leave. Our ability to positively influence events on the ground is LONG past. Face reality, people (Congress is meant here).

Posted by: chuck on January 30, 2007 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

think the most interesting part of the battle is the group of enemies America was fighting there because it proves how wrong liberals are about Iraq.

As an American, I can say unequivocally that no Iraqi, no matter what side he's fighting on, is my "enemy." Speak for yourself.

Posted by: chuck on January 30, 2007 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Keith G wrote:

"These were basically (end of time) cultists. They were not AQ or others of that ilk.

Think Branch Davidians."
__________________

Ugh. As if things weren't nasty enough. (And that might explain the chains.) Hope they got 'em all.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 30, 2007 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody needs to give Bush a blow job so he can be impeached. I know it would be icky, but are there any female patriots out there who will swallow their pride, so to speak, and put their country ahead of their sense of revulsion?

I don't know about *females*, but I can say there is a certain guy (albeit not a very patriotic one) named "Al" who dreams every day about just such an occasion. Rhetorically, Al is the sticky, enthusiastic star of his own GOP bukakke flick.

Posted by: chuck on January 30, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, Kevin. The renegade militia that had 250 of their soldiers killed is on the upswing. They are fired up about their chances to win the next battle. I bet their morale is sky-high right now. They're regrouping to mount another brilliant offensive against the Iraqi and USA forces.

(Only a moron Liberal would say the USA and Iraqi forces "lost" this battle.)

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on January 30, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Talk is cheap and this administration will say one thing but "do" another. In my local paper it is reported today that an executive order issued last week imposes in EVERY federal agency a regulatory policy office under a political appointee. AND rules for all agencies dictating how regulations and laws are implemented primarily looking at economic impact on the business community. Now, how are cafe standards going to be changed?

Posted by: lara on January 30, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Only a moron Liberal would say the USA and Iraqi forces "lost" this battle

The Iraqi forces were well on their way to losing this battle, dope, which is why they needed to call in US reinforcements including fast movers.

I note with interest the varying reports that the US helicopter "crashed" (which is usually the term used in reportage) versus "was shot down."

Posted by: Gregory on January 30, 2007 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

hey 2.7182818,

I am male and while the thought disgusts me beyond all recognition, if young men and women can die for this asshole, I am willing to swallow to prevent it.

I will then kill myself. However, it will have been worth it.

Posted by: northzax on January 30, 2007 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

This was a fringe group of religious cultists.

Imagine what happens when the big militias decide its time to cut American supply lines.

I don't think many people appreciate just how vulnerable American forces in Iraq really are. I know Bush doesn't...

Posted by: A Hermit on January 30, 2007 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

"What no one wants to mention is the fact that the people fighting the US and the government show a lot more motivation than the ones who are (nominally) fighting on behalf of the government." Remind you of anything? Like, a past war in a country whose name starts with "V", perhaps?

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 30, 2007 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Let's see if I can get censored again, not for any ad hominem attacks or nasty name calling, but for correctly identifying the real nature of the struggle now taking place in Iraq, which is not only the geographic center of the Middle East, but has become the real center of a real war on terror, not on an abstraction that Sen. Kerry says is really somewhere else that he would fight sometime else, maybe, sorta, check with me next year.

My major point in the deleted post was this--the majority of Iraqis would probably prefer that no American forces were in their country at the moment, but they certainly don't want them to just leave overnight either, for the reason that there will be severe consequences to such a withdrawal including basically everyone who stuck their neck out for democracy being brutalized or murdered.

It all depends on how you ask the question. The Americans were not fond of the French army coming to Virginia to help beat the British, but without the French the cause of 1776 was lost and George Washington and John Hancock would have been hanged, Hancock for putting his name so boldly on a treasonous document.

I may have been quite wrong in signing on to the right wing supposition that the enemy concentration in the date grove near Najaf were official members of Qod, which would be Iranian military, or that they were the ones who pulled off the great impersonation of Americans raid of last week.

Too much fog of battle at the moment, which may in modern terms mean fog of intelligence and the necessity of our government rightly not wanting to tell all it truly knows of an intelligence nature every breathless moment in a war.

So let's talk about my ancient history, in Vietnam. The history books show photos of Russian tanks crashing through government gates in Saigon in 1975. When I left in 1972 the so-called "popular insurgency" portion of the war had dwindled down to almost nothing, due to the fact that the local Viet Cong had been decimated by its suicidal Tet Offensive and had never recovered.

So, the only way the communists could win was with a conventional NVA army armored attack right down the highways from the north. This would slice through the South Vietnamese army which was deployed all over the place to prevent the Viet Cong from resurging. If Americans had not been completely demoralized and mentally defeated by Tet, we would have bombed the 1975 armored invasion to pieces in a week.

So, every since the stalemate of 1972 was thrown away in 1975, the leftist media in America has been completely dedicated to putting lipstick on the pig of the communist party rule of unified Vietnam. Vietnam is such a peaceful, lovely place now, don't you know. We can recover our dead, tourists can visit, all is sunshine and roses.

When Castro dies there will be celebrations, even some in Cuba itself. The communist regime of Hanoi is finally tossed out, there will be celebrations. When Hugo Chavez is tossed out, many people will rejoice (unless he reinvents himself like Daniel Ortega.)

And, when the present nutty regime in Iran is booted out by its own people after its own desperate policy of trying to provoke trouble everywhere fails to equate to domestic support in Iran, there will be great celebration. But this will only happen if someone stands up to Iran. By geographical chance, Iraq is a great place to do that.

Posted by: mike cook on January 30, 2007 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

get in line, northzax

Posted by: jeff gannon on January 30, 2007 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Great. So now, some obscure radical Muslim cult living in the sands of Iraq is America's enemy. At this rate, we'll be battling this shit forever. How is this previously unknown "endtimes" group a threat to US security again? This group was about as big a threat to the US as the Branch Davidians were to Iraq.
Jesus, what a nightmare.

Posted by: ckelly on January 30, 2007 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

The dangerous lunatics who are a real threat to America are the ones who "think" like Mike Cook.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 30, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Mike Cook,

They'll also be HUGE celebrations when the out-of-touch, mendacious, arrogant, incompetent, NeoCons get booted out of Washington DC.

Posted by: Robert on January 30, 2007 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps your posts are deleted because you're completely unhinged. Just a guess.

When Hugo Chavez is tossed out, many people will rejoice

When Bush and Cheney FINALLY leave office - the entire world will celebrate. And it can't be soon enough. What's your point?

But this will only happen if someone stands up to Iran.

The US meddling is the reason for Iran's newfound strength in the Middle East. You know, creating vacuums in Afghanistan and Iraq while simultaneously weakening ourselves.

Posted by: ckelly on January 30, 2007 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"When Bush and Cheney FINALLY leave office - the entire world will celebrate."

The biggest party since VE and VJ Day. For those of us lucky to survive until then, that is.

Posted by: Jim J on January 30, 2007 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

you read idiotic blather like that of mike cook and you just shake your head: such an ill-informed little child with no actual knowledge of history at all. according to mike, see, because of the tet offensive in 1968 we didn't simply wipe out somebody or other in 1975.

meanwhile, shithead, vietnam in fact is a perfectly fine country that is doing perfectly well: sadly, the entire exercise was a complete and total waste of blood and money.

how do people so stupid learn to type?

Posted by: howard on January 30, 2007 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

The NYT article says Iraqi government estimates of the dead range from 120 to 400. That's a pretty wide range. There were "hundreds" of fighters. There wasn't one word about whether there were any prisoners taken, much less how many.

This whole operation sounds so confused, I'd be inclined to think a lot of the cultists escaped. But who knows? Actual data seems to be scarce.

I'd expect an encampment of this size to show up as a site of interest on satellite photos. I wonder if U.S. intelligence was aware of their activity, but stayed out of it to test the Iraqi army? Or did we not notice either?

Posted by: cowalker on January 30, 2007 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Please people go educate yourself on the history of the Arab world.They have done this hundreds of time and have beaten larger armies many many times.You Neocons have no Idea what you got us into.Please Al just take at least one hour to read up on a liitle Persian-Arab history PLEASE!!

Posted by: john john on January 30, 2007 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Most of the people killed at Najaf were probably religious pilgrims. Many Americans will be "Glad" that there are "2-300 less of them" and "Hope they got 'em all," but they have no idea who these people were nor what the fighting was about. I am more than just saddened that the military that represents my nation was involved. I am ashamed.


Posted by: Brojo on January 30, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like what Saddam was up to.Maybe his way is the only way to calm this country.

Posted by: john john on January 30, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

You are a defeatist, Kevin!

Posted by: Bushnapolean on January 30, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Only a moron would say the US lost in Vietnam.

Darn, you are so right Kenneth, we won!

We won (well sort of) because the US Congress wrestled control of unworkable policy away from an exectuive branch that was not operating in our best interests.

Kenny Boy, I am so glad you have seen the light. Welcome home.

Posted by: Keith G on January 30, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

brojo and ckelly make excellent points - Rest assured that the body count from this Najaf skirmish was vastly exaggerated and that many in the body count were innocent bystanders or pilgrims. That's the way the Bush disinformation machine works. Also, is anyone else concerned that the so-called "enemy" in Iraq is constantly shifting? First it was the Baathists, then it was al-Qaeda, then it was Sunni insurgents, then it was Shiite militias and now it is something about Soldiers of Heaven?? WTF?

When you can't even identify your target, how do you know when you have hit it?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 30, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK


trash: Of course, any President will want these people to be political appointees in any case.


it only took bush 6-years...

and gop loss of control of congress...

go figure..

Posted by: mr. irony on January 30, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Frequency Kenneth: The renegade militia that had 250 of their soldiers killed is on the upswing. They are fired up about their chances to win the next battle.


finally something f-k is qualified to speak on...

a fringe group of religious cultists.

Posted by: mr. irony on January 30, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G: Kenny Boy, I am so glad you have seen the light. Welcome home.

You obviously don't understand victory as well as I do.

We killed more of them than they did of us.

That is the definition of victory.

I know, because I heard that definition being used by our glorious president George Bush, our even more glorious vice president Dick Cheney, and a host of conservative commentators from renowned, journalistic excellents NewsMax, Wall Street Journal, Insight, Washington Times, Fox News, NRO, and Rush Limbaugh.

No other definition is meaningful.

Posted by: Frequently Kenneth on January 30, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

f-k: We killed more of them than they did of us.


U.S. fatalities in war exceed those from Sept. 11

Military deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan reach 2,974

Sept 22, 2006

Posted by: mr. irony on January 30, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

mr. ironic: U.S. fatalities in war exceed those from Sept. 11

But they do not exceed the number of fatalities to the enemy in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the number of "innocent" Muslims we've managed to do away with through the art of collateral damage.

Posted by: Frequently Kenneth on January 30, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

You obviously don't understand victory as well as I do.

We killed more of them than they did of us.

That is the definition of victory.

I'm glad to know that the South beat the North in the Civil War and that the Nazis beat Uncle Joe's team in WWII.

Kenny, you are one dumb f*ck.

Posted by: Keith G on January 30, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

And again:

You obviously don't understand victory as well as I do.We killed more of them than they did of us. That is the definition of victory.

Well Ken Doll, let's learn some more history.

American Revolutionary War

British Deaths in Combat = 1,200

Hessian Deaths in Combat = 1,240

American Deaths in Combat = 8,000


So, what's your definition of being a dumb ass?

Posted by: Keith G on January 30, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Kenny?

Posted by: Keith G on January 30, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G >"Kenny?"

Looks like his mom came into his room & told him it was past time to pickup his toys

"The future will be a struggle between huge competing systems of psychopathology." - J. G. Ballard

Posted by: daCascadian on January 30, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Uh guys. the more recent F-K posts are parody. I know it's getting hard to tell with these zealots.

Posted by: ckelly on January 30, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G: So, what's your definition of being a dumb ass?

A guy who splatters semen all over a blue dress that he has no control over.

Question: Is a parody of a parody still a parody?

Posted by: Frequently Kenneth on January 30, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

It's a bizarre story, but generally speaking, from a military point of view, easily identifiable groups of insurgents (whomever we're fighting this week) are good news when you've got the firepower we do.

These fights will be few and far between, any big battles will be of the more confused urban variety.

Posted by: American Citizen on January 30, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kenneth,

Stipulated: WJC was a dumb-ass for shagging a company cow then lying when caught.

But why are you trying to change the subject?

WJC was dumb and you are ignorant. Get over it!

Posted by: Keith G on January 30, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

There was a battle it may have been Basra(Not sure)In around 540 bc 4,000 Arabs battled 120,000 invaders,The Arabs won the battle.What chance do we have with the likes of Bush and Cheney to win with a 132,000 troops to, oh, 20 million Iraqi's.Swatting at flies yes indeedy.

Posted by: john john on January 30, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

A mourning procession of 200 pilgrims from the Hawatim tribe, which inhabits the area between Najaf and Diwaniya, arrived at the Zarga area at 6 a.m. Sunday. Hajj Sa’ad Nayif Al-Hatemi and his wife were accompanying the procession in their 1982 Super Toyota sedan because they could not walk. They reached an Iraqi Army checkpoint, which suddenly opened fire against the vehicle, killing Hajj Al-Hatemi, his wife and his driver Jabir Ridha Al-Hatemi. The Hawatim tribesmen in the procession, which was fully armed to protect itself in its journey at night, attacked the checkpoint to avenge their slain chief. Members of the Khaza’il tribe, who live in the area, attempted to interfere to stop the fire exchange. About 20 tribesmen were killed. The checkpoint called the Iraqi army and police command calling for backup, saying it was under fire from Al-Qaeda groups and that they have advanced weapons. Minutes later, reinforcements arrived and the tribesmen were surrounded in the orchards and were sustaining heavy fire from all directions. They tried to shout out to the attacking security forces to cease fire but with no success. Suddenly, American helicopters arrived and they dropped fliers saying, “To the terrorists, Surrender before we bomb the area.” The tribesmen continued to fire in all directions and in the air, but they said they didn’t know if the helicopter crash was a result of their fire or friendly fire from the attackers. By 4 a.m., over 120 tribesmen as well as residents of the area had been killed in the U.S. aerial bombardment.

from here

Posted by: Brojo on January 30, 2007 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070130/wl_mideast_afp/iraqunrestshiitetoll_070130115031

263 dead? 500 captured? 200 wounded? trucks with MGs mounted on them? Mortars and automatic weapons?

Brojo, of all the millions of Shia Moslems, the government chanced to attack one group that was heavily armed. I guess we'll never know. it's reminiscent of all those innocent cattle herders that the US shot in the border region between Kenya and Somalia, where all the ICU troops fled to after their defeat by the (US supported) Ethiopian army.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 30, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

it's reminiscent of all those innocent cattle herders that the US shot in the border region between Kenya and Somalia, where all the ICU troops fled to after their defeat by the (US supported) Ethiopian army.

If by that you mean that innocents keep getting killed in the so-called War on Terror and its offshoots while zero progress is made making the world safer - then yes, it is reminiscent.

Posted by: Windhorse on January 30, 2007 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

brojo,

I meant to thank you for that site that you linked. It was an interesting read.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 30, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

No, terrorists getting slaughtered in a battle is not a sign of an insurgency on the upswing. Kevin remains clueless on anything military.

Posted by: brian on January 30, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Also, is anyone else concerned that the so-called "enemy" in Iraq is constantly shifting?

This has frequently been mentioned.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 30, 2007 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

No, terrorists getting slaughtered in a battle is not a sign of an insurgency on the upswing. Kevin remains clueless on anything military.

Brian, let's not mince words: you're the one who's a dipshit.

First of all, the claim wasn't that militants being killed in a firefight was the sign of a growing insurgency it was the fact that they were so well armed and organized. If in fact the people killed in this firefight were insurgents then that would be a true statement according to the U.S. Army Manual on Counterinsurgency, as the arms, location, posture and organization of this group would fit the requirements for a Phase III insurgency, which is a guerilla movement that is fully developed and has moved beyond the earlier phases of stealth and propaganda.

Of course you haven't read the Counterinsurgency manual or you wouldn't have made such an idiotic statement. Clearly you're the one who is clueless on things military.

If that's too advanced for your peabrain, and I'm guessing it is, then the monthly attack and casualty rates for Iraq clearly show a growing insurgenc(ies) in Iraq. Can't you tell bigger numbers from smaller ones? Or which end of a graph is trending upward? The death rates recently became so high the Pentagon was forced to classify them in order to save Bush from embarassment.

Also, there is no proof the people that were killed in Najaf were terrorists, or had even started the firefight, and there is ample reason to believe they didn't. Firstly, they were Shia -- not Sunni -- not that you'd know the difference, but clearly that means they were not members of the insurgency that's been going on for three years. Also, they were not Al Qaeda so they were not terrorists either. What were they? Their big sin seems to be that they were a milita that opposes Iranian influence in the SCIRI dominated government of Iraq.

Wait a second; don't we oppose Iranian influence on the Iraqi government? Why yes we do. It's becoming clear that our forces were duped by pro-Iranian Shias in the Iraqi government to do their dirty work for them. Nice. I'll wager the only reason this attack on a Shia militia was allowed was because Muqtada al-Sadr gave it his blessing. The pressure was on Maliki from Bush to show that he was going after Shia militias, he pleaded to Sadr for help, Sadr would never allow attacks on his own Mahdi Army, so they picked out a militia with no history of violence and that was a little fringe to make a big show of it for the boys in the Pentagon.

Also, for Marler/Calibantwo, who eagerly jumped on this firefight as an example of the "plan working" without knowing anything that had transpired: how does it feel to be Iran's dupe?

Further, it's now become clear that the Iraqi Army was getting its ass kicked and was in danger of being completely overpowered in this fight. So not only did we start dropping daisycutters on the "enemy," American ground forces were necessary to save the day.

In other words: this was a complete and total failure of the Iraqi Army in battle. So much for the training of Iraqi security forces being the salvatation of Bush's legacy.

I await your admission that once again you had no idea of what you were talking about and were just trying to use this board to spread propaganda.

Posted by: Windhorse on January 30, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

windhorse wrote:

"Further, it's now become clear that the Iraqi Army was getting its ass kicked and was in danger of being completely overpowered in this fight. So not only did we start dropping daisycutters on the 'enemy,' American ground forces were necessary to save the day.

In other words: this was a complete and total failure of the Iraqi Army in battle."
_________________________

Windhorse, this is an interesting departure from most recent fights, but I'm still trying to piece things together about it. I'd heard the initial Iraqi unit assigned was about in battalion strength, but given typical Iraqi manpower counts, that could have been as low as 200 men. Strong enough to clean up most targets, but, not surprisingly, too weak to take on this bunch. They also took police with them, an indication that they weren't certain of what kind of reception they'd get.

It's not surprising that they asked for help, including airpower, though I have to ask what your definition of "daisy cutter" is. Tasked F-16s and UK jets carried 500 lb bombs, which has become the standard load out. A continuing weakness (one that will continue after we withdraq our ground troops) is the Iraqi's lack of organic air support. I wonder if CENTAF is working on that.

I suppose we might take some encouragement from the fact that once the initial battalion got in trouble, the first reinforcements were more Iraqis. I haven't seen any accounts that showed American ground troops to be necessary to save the day, though they did participate in the latter stages of the fight.

I cannot speak to any of your speculations about the militants in question, though I wonder why they had gathered in such strength. You don't mass like that to fight "Iranian influence." They were staging for something, I know not what.

It might be that they were targeted to serve as a suitable example to other militias or it might be exactly as you wrote.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 31, 2007 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

brian: Kevin remains clueless on anything military.

brian again proving he's clueless as the result of trying to prove Kevin is clueless.

brian claps his hands nightly, gazes longingly at an 8x10 of Dick(less) Cheney, and recites "increased insurgent violence is a sign of desperation and that the insurgency is on its last legs, not a sign that the insurgency is gaining momentum" over and over and over . . .

. . . despite that meme having been proven wrong more than a dozen times now over the course of four years.

Posted by: anti-brian on January 31, 2007 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

windhorse: it's now become clear that the Iraqi Army was getting its ass kicked and was in danger of being completely overpowered in this fight. So not only did we start dropping daisycutters on the "enemy,"

The initial Iraqi Army force was much smaller than the force that they were attacking, and they called first for Iraqi reinforcements, and then for Americans.

When did 500 lb bombs become daisycutters?

This was a small victory by the Iraqi army and US forces, in support of the elected government, over a group of about 1,000 armed men aiming for some sort of violence over other Iraqis. It goes with the 600 or so Mahdi army militia rounded up in recent months, and the reported evacuation of Baghdad by some numbers of armed Sunni, al Qaeda, and Shi'ite armed men. The war in support of the central government, if it is to be won, won't be won by a "Battle of Atlanta" encounter of tens of thousands in ranks arrayed against each other, but by many, many more of these encounters.

At the present time, the war in Iraq is mostly a stalemate with many of these encounters going against the central government, or against unprotected Iraqis (which also undercuts the elected government), and many going in its favor. Who will win in the long run hasn't been decided.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 31, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I used to ride my bike around the graveyard at D-M and get as close as I could to watch the A-10's blow shit up on the proving ground. Never saw one discharge any ordinance other than the machine guns. Learn something new every day, I guess. But then, memory might be fogging up, too - the last Titan came out of the ground at Davis-Monthan in June (iirc) 1984, and we went to McConnell to do it all over again in August.

Trashhauler - did you ever see a Sierra Movement when they brought the Titans to base? Pretty impressive.

They get downright anal when they move a ten megaton warhead on public roads.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 31, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

This was a small victory by the Iraqi army and US forces, in support of the elected government, over a group of about 1,000 armed men aiming for some sort of violence over other Iraqis.

Utterly false. There wasn't 1000 men and there is no proof they were planning any kind of violence. At first local officials claimed they were Al Qaeda, then that they were Sunni -- and now it turns out they were local Shia on one of the pilgrimages you pretend to give a shit about.

Local farmers have attested to their identity as pilgrims and to the fact that American helicopters ended up firing on pilgrims who'd taken refuge in date groves.

The war in support of the central government, if it is to be won, won't be won by a "Battle of Atlanta" encounter of tens of thousands in ranks arrayed against each other, but by many, many more of these encounters.

The war in support of the central government won't be won -- period. Even if it were possible with the current level of internecine violence, which it is not (there are currently over forty different groups vying for power, which always escape your puerile analyses) the government is rife with corruption and is part of the problem. The fact that you can't understand that various officials and ministries have their own death squads and participate in inter-militia fighting is baffling. Not only have members of the government embezzled billions they don't even show up for work, and many live in other countries.

This slaughter in Najaf will be seen as at best a terrible case of mistaken identity by the Iraqi army and at worst one of the most egregious examples of the factions in the government killing people to boost its own power base.

Posted by: Windhorse on January 31, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

windhorse: (there are currently over forty different groups vying for power, which always escape your puerile analyses) the government is rife with corruption and is part of the problem. The fact that you can't understand that various officials and ministries have their own death squads and participate in inter-militia fighting is baffling.

That's a pair of topics deserving their own threads. What I said about the numerous groups vying for power is that the elected government can defeat them piecemeal, because each group has less power than the elected government, and they do not cooperate very much. It may not defeat them, but the possibility still exists. Some of the ministries have their own militia, and some of those militia members have been captured/arrested by the government, though not all of them.

You're not going to defend, are you, your use of the term "daisycutter"?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 31, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

I expect we'll have to live with conflicting accounts. Here is from the LATimes: Witnesses and security officials said Sunday that Iraqi forces were being defeated by the enigmatic, well-organized fighters until U.S. air support and U.S.-Iraqi ground troops arrived.
...
Shaky footage recorded by mobile telephone, broadcast on Iraqi television, showed Iraqi soldiers hunkered behind a berm as intense gunfire erupted and smoke rose in the distance.

Agence-France-Press had a listing of captured weaponry. Unfortunately, all the press reports seem to be second-hand.

For pilgrims, they certainly had a lot of firepower and well-formed defensive positions.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 31, 2007 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

this one supports your view:

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines07/0131-02.htm

This account has its own inconsistencies.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 31, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

this site isinteresting:

http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news\2007-01-29\kurd.htm

It's hard to tell whether that story represents progress or not. According to other reports, the lower levels of Sadr's militia are not actually controlled by him any more.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 31, 2007 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Matt, spare me the links, I've read a great deal on this story from various sources which is why I was able to pinpoint it as bogus from the beginning while you were still uncritically touting it as an example of the Iraqi Army defeating terrorists.

Let us recap:

The Iraqi Army did not win -- it was about to get crushed and the Americans and British swooped in with awesome firepower and saved the day.

The victims were neither terrorists nor insurgents. They were a local group comprised of two tribes that are unpopular with the government because the opppose Iranian influence in Iraq.

"Initiated by Iraqis and supported by Americans" is just nonsensical. The Iraqi Army picked a fight they couldn't handle and were saved by the Americans, not "supported" by them. There is no measure of progress in that. It was a failed mission.

What's worse, it just fuels more sectarian violence. Because the official stor(ies) don't hold water and because they conflict with the eyewitness accounts, fewer Iraqis will trust the "government" such as it is, as a result.

And to reiterate: if our concern is Iranian meddling in Iraq, then mowing down putative allies in date palm groves is hardly the way to make progress there.

Posted by: Windhorse on January 31, 2007 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Over at Counterpunch, Patrick Cockburn, who is reporting from Baghdad, is reporting the Healing Iraq story I linked to above along with the story only twenty-five Iraqis soldiers were killed. Cockburn is calling it Iraq's Waco.

"The messianic group led by Ahmad al-Hassani, which was already at odds with the Iraqi authorities in Najaf, was drawn into the fighting because it was based in Zarga and its presence provided a convenient excuse for what was in effect a massacre. The Hawatim and Khaza'il tribes are opposed to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Dawa Party, who both control Najaf and make up the core of the Baghdad government.
This account cannot be substantiated and is drawn from the Healing Iraq website and the authoritative Baghdad daily Azzaman. But it would explain the disparity between the government casualties - less than 25 by one account - and the great number of their opponents killed and wounded. The Iraqi authorities have sealed the site and are not letting reporters talk to the wounded."

Posted by: Brojo on January 31, 2007 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

windhorse, I don't know whether you'll check back here, but I think you'll like this weblog:

http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_healingiraq_archive.html#3725419623766495231

Oh, I just read this: Matt, spare me the links

OK, I'll spare you more links. Myself, I read almost all links posted here. The alternative stories make less sense than the "official" story.

Uncritical? I? does this mean that you are indeed dropping your claim that the Americans dropped "daisycutters"? It's bad enough without those transient aberrations.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 31, 2007 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

brojo, you did indeed link to Healing Iraq, and I did read what was there when you linked. today I came to Healing Iraq via a different route.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 1, 2007 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

GC wrote:

"Trashhauler - did you ever see a Sierra Movement when they brought the Titans to base? Pretty impressive."
__________________

No, GC, I never did, but I'll bet it was impressive. And, yeah, I'll bet they get anal. I remember once when the 401TFW from Spain was deployed at Incirlik (this was back in the days of MUNS sites all over Turkey and nuke surety exercises all the time) and actually lost a cooky in the command post and somehow a simulated nuke actually fell off the wing of an aircraft and dropped to the ramp. Jeez, did folks go batshit! There was a reason why we used to call that outfit the Four Oh Worst.

Actually, though, I've always been rather alergic to nukes. I hated having them on my airplane and I hated thinking about them being used. I don't think I could have passed the PRP and was glad I didn't have to.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 1, 2007 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

The Four-ho-Worst. There were still tales of infamy circulating in the early ninety's.

I was glad that the mission was to deactivate and I was glad he went to intel when SAC morphed to Strategic Command.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

Did you see that I acknowledged I learned something new about the A-10's after all these years?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 1, 2007 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

From today's Asia Times On-Line:

"American helicopters participated in the slaughter," Jassim Abbas, a farmer from the area, told IPS. "They were soon there to kill those pilgrims without hesitation, but they were never there for helping Iraqis in anything they need. We just watched them getting killed group by group while trapped in those plantations."

Posted by: Brojo on February 1, 2007 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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