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Jul 18th, 2009

Iraq Restricts U.S. Forces

American officials see link between limits, spate of attacks

Iraqi police stand guard over two men alleged to have links to an attack on a U.S. military base that killed three soldiers in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 18, 2009. (Photo credit: The Associated Press / Nabil Jurani)

By Ernesto Londoño and Karen DeYoung
The Washington Post
July 18, 2009


BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government has moved to sharply restrict the movement and activities of U.S. forces in a new reading of a six-month-old U.S.-Iraqi security agreement that has startled American commanders and raised concerns about the safety of their troops.

In a curt missive issued by the Baghdad Operations Command on July 2 — the day after Iraqis celebrated the withdrawal of U.S. troops to bases outside city centers — Iraq’s top commanders told their U.S. counterparts to “stop all joint patrols” in Baghdad. It said U.S. resupply convoys could travel only at night and ordered the Americans to “notify us immediately of any violations of the agreement.”

The strict application of the agreement coincides with what U.S. military officials in Washington say has been an escalation of attacks against their forces by Iranian-backed Shiite extremist groups, to which they have been unable to fully respond. …

The new guidelines are a reflection of rising tensions between the two governments. Iraqi leaders increasingly see the agreement as an opportunity to show their citizens that they are now unequivocally in charge and that their dependence on the U.S. military is minimal and waning. …

U.S. commanders have described the pullout from cities as a transition from combat to stability operations. But they have kept several combat battalions assigned to urban areas and hoped those troops would remain deeply engaged in training Iraqi security forces, meeting with paid informants, attending local council meetings and supervising U.S.-funded civic and reconstruction projects.

The Americans have been taken aback by the new restrictions on their activities. The Iraqi order runs “contrary to the spirit and practice of our last several months of operations,” Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, commander of the Baghdad division, wrote in an e-mail obtained by The Washington Post.

“Maybe something was ‘lost in translation,'” Bolger wrote. “We are not going to hide our support role in the city. I’m sorry the Iraqi politicians lied/dissembled/spun, but we are not invisible nor should we be.” He said U.S. troops intend to engage in combat operations in urban areas to avert or respond to threats, with or without help from the Iraqis.” …

A spate of high-casualty suicide bombings in Shiite neighborhoods, attributed to al-Qaeda in Iraq and related Sunni insurgent groups, has overshadowed the increase of attacks by Iran-backed Shiite extremists, U.S. official say. …

The three primary groups — Asaib al-Haq, Khataib Hezbollah and the Promised Day Brigades — emerged from the “special groups” of the Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) militia of radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which terrorized Baghdad and southern Iraq beginning in 2006. All receive training, funding and direction from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force. …

As U.S. forces tried to pursue the alleged leaders of the groups and planned missions against them, their efforts were hindered by the complicated warrant process and other Iraqi delays, officials said.

Last month, U.S. commanders acquiesced to an Iraqi government request to release one of their most high-profile detainees, Laith Khazali. He was arrested in March 2007 with his brother, Qais, who is thought to be the senior operational leader of Asaib al-Haq. The United States thinks they were responsible for the deaths of five American soldiers in Karbala that year.

Maliki has occasionally criticized interference by Shiite Iran’s Islamic government in Iraqi affairs. But he has also maintained close ties to Iran and has played down U.S. insistence that Iran is deeply involved, through the Quds Force, in training and controlling the Iraqi Shiite extremists. …

After a brief lull, the attacks have continued this month, including a rocket strike on a U.S. base in Basra on Thursday night that killed three soldiers. …

“Our [Iraqi] partners burn our fuel, drive roads cleared by our Engineers, live in bases built with our money, operate vehicles fixed with our parts, eat food paid for by our contracts, watch our [surveillance] video feeds, serve citizens with our [funds], and benefit from our air cover,” Bolger noted in the e-mail. …

One U.S. military official here said both Iraqi and American leaders on the ground remain confused about the guidelines. The official said he worries that the lack of clarity could trigger stalemates and confrontations between Iraqis and Americans. …


Related report

Kurds in troubled Iraqi province threaten to secede (Reuters, July 19, 2009) — A row between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh threatens to split the province in two and inflame tensions that could threaten the country’s long-term stability. … Full story


7/20/09 Update

Iraqi Forces Restricting U.S. Military

Iraq Security
Iraqi policemen stand guard at a checkpoint in Baghdad on Monday, July 20, 2009. An Iraqi military commander says U.S. troops may feel frustrated because Iraqis are now responsible for urban security. (Photo credit: Karim Kadim / AP)

July 20, 2009

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi military has turned down several requests from American forces to move unescorted through Baghdad and conduct a raid since it took over responsibility for urban security at the end of last month, an Iraqi military commander said Monday.

U.S. combat troops withdrew from urban areas on June 30 under a security agreement with Iraq that requires all U.S. troops to be out of the country by the end of 2011.

Col. Ali Fadhil, a brigade commander in Baghdad, said the transfer had occurred with minor friction in the capital where violence has dropped dramatically since the sectarian bloodletting and insurgent attacks that swept much of the country in past years. …

“They are now more passive than before,” he said of U.S. troops. “I also feel that the Americans soldiers are frustrated because they used to have many patrols, but now they cannot. Now, the American soldiers are in prison-like bases as if they are under house-arrest.” …

Full story



U.S. jet crashes in Afghanistan, crew killed (AP, July 18, 2009) – A U.S. military F-15E fighter jet crashed in Afghanistan early Saturday, killing two crew members, a U.S. military spokesman said. … Elsewhere, bombs killed a dozen people, including a British soldier and five children, in southern Afghanistan, authorities said Friday. … Full story

Can the war in Afghanistan be won?
(Newsweek, July 17, 2009)

Could Afghanistan be Obama’s Vietnam?
(Newsweek, Jan. 31, 2009)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago Today — July 18, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day Four

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on the fourth day of my 2008 campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I responded to a challenge by Eric Zaetsch of the “Developers are Crabgrass” blog to define what I mean by “traditional conservative values.”

What is a Traditional Conservative?

Commenting on my campaign slogan, Eric Zaetsch of the blog Developers are Crabgrass challenged me to define what I mean by “Restoring Traditional Conservative Values” [see footnote] and how I feel the incumbent [Rep. Michele Bachmann] has strayed from those values:

Clearly Immelman must speak for himself in this, but in this post I will mention “The Speech” and Reagan and Goldwater, as a start to where I would hope the GOP debate in the Sixth District might focus — what are traditional conservative values and how in coming days Bachmann and Immelman may, for voters, define their differing and overlapping views on that question. That is how we must expect them to define themselves in comparison to each other.

To start that debate, I present three excerpts from W. J. Wilczek’s exposition on “Traditional Conservative vs. Neoconservative.”

A traditional conservative is for limited government: “That government is best that governs least.” Under the neoconservatives, there has been the greatest increase in the size of the federal government … in the history of the nation. …

A traditional conservative is for a balanced budget. Under the neoconservatives, we have gone from surpluses to the largest deficits in our history. …

A traditional conservative is against engaging in foreign entanglements [except] in defense of the nation from attack by our enemies. …

To conclude, my notion of traditional conservative values fundamentally involves small government, fiscal restraint, and a strong military focused primarily on national defense, not nation-building or preemptive war.


After the primary campaign, I modified my campaign slogan from “Restoring Traditional Conservative Values” to “Leading the Charge Against Neocon Ideology.”

The underlying sentiment remains the same. I made the change purely because many constituents did not fully appreciate distinctions among traditional conservatism, social conservatism, and neoconservatism.

Traditional conservatives are always fiscally conservative and may or may not be socially conservative, but they are never neoconservatives.

3 Responses to “Iraq Imposes New Limits on U.S.”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Mayhem in Baghdad Says:

    […] Iraq Imposes New Limits on U.S. […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Iraq: ‘Declare Victory’ and Get Out Says:

    […] Iraq Imposes New Limits on U.S. (July 18, 2009) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Nelson Mandela at 93 Says:

    […] Iraq Imposes New Limits on U.S. […]

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