is a thoughtful note from an Army officer from the 1st Infantry Division who
recently returned from Baghdad and is wondering just what he saw:
got back from a year in western Baghdad (by the way, we met briefly back
in April at CNAS...). My battalion
covered down on Kadamiya, Hurriya, Shulla, Karkh, and Ghazaliyah. Over the last
month or so, our trouble spot became the western neighborhood of
as you may know, is mainly Shia in the northern half and Sunni in the southern
half. We closed the last JSS in Ghaz on Sept. 7 (it had been allowed to stay
open past the 30 June deadline) and the day after it was closed the Iraqi army
battalion in south Ghaz raided the South Ghaz (Sunni) SOI headquarters,
confiscating weapons and equipment a US unit had supplied them back in
2007-2008. The JSS, which straddled the Shia-Sunni fault line across the
middle of Ghaz, was basically the buffer for the Sunni in the south. SOI
and local council leaders were reported to have fled the neighborhood, citing
Shia militia threats. Keep in mind, directly to Ghaz's north is the Shia
enclave of Shulla, a mini-Sadr City that is basically controlled by JAM remnant
groups (and a heavily complicit Iraqi Army battalion). This Shia influence
spills into north Ghaz and has been encroaching upon south Ghaz over the past
brings me to today's news from Baghdad [about a spate of bombings]... It is
unsurprising and confirms a steady and growing Shia influence throughout
I was in Iraq, I read a bunch of books to include Robert Baer's The
Devil We Know, which is about Iran's growing influence in the Mideast.
Baer's first two sentences in Chapter 2, "How Iran Beat America,"
are: "Iraq is lost. Iran won it." Given what we've seen in classified
reports and in the revolving door of Iraqi army commanders in select Baghdad
neighborhoods, his thesis is spot on. Plus, Shia militiamen have melted into
the army and police over the past few years making it much easier for them to
create Shia havens throughout the city. It'll be interesting to see where
Baghdad is in about 5 years.
your book, The Gamble, you cite Ryan
Crocker's comment that the most important events in Iraq have yet to happen.
This is quite true and the troubling fact is that these events are going on
right now and we don't even know what to do about them. Probably the better
question is if can we do anything about them, especially given the constraints
of the Security Agreement. It's especially tough to influence our ISF and
council member counterparts via cell phone from Camp Liberty.
forgive my rambling thoughts. Just thought I'd add to your Iraq "the
unraveling" series. I must say, though, I am quite conflicted about our
unit's efforts and sacrifices over the past year and the real reality on the
ground right now. I mean how much of it is out of our control? How much can
Chris Hill really influence Maliki and the Iraqi politicians? Do US interests
line up with Iraqi interests? And how much of Iraq's interests are really
Iran's? Much to think about...
other things, his note makes me wonder just how much is going on in Baghdad
that we aren't seeing or noticing right now.