The Battle of Diyala

Strykers engage in heavy urban combat in Baqubah s the Diyala front becomes very hot

Map of southern Diyala. Click map to view.

Baquba, the capital of the violence wracked province of Diyala, has emerged as the latest battlefield in Iraq. Earlier this week, Multinational Forces Iraq began to redeploy a battalion of Strykers – about 700 soldiers and 100 of their Stryker combat vehicles from the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division – from Baghdad to Baqubah to chase down the 2,000 plus estimated al Qaeda fighters who have fled the capital in anticipation of the Baghdad Security Plan. Upon the first day of their arrival in Baquba, the Strykers of the 5-20 have engaged in heavy combat in the streets of the city.

Al Qaeda in Iraq was prepared for the arrival of the Strykers, and set up defensive and ambush positions throughout the city. The Strykers arriving in Baqubah ncountered mortars, snipers, RPGs, a host of Improvised Explosive Devices and possibly anti-tank weapons. “They threw everything at us – RPGs, mortars – and a guy even tossed a grenade just in front of my vehicle,” Captain Huber Parsons, the 28-year-old commander of the 5-20’s Attack company told the Associated Press. “But the most devastating was the IEDs.”

Soldiers from the 5-20 Strykers engaging anti-Iraqi forces in Baqubah Iraq, March 14. (Photo by USAF Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall). Click photo to view.

“Dozens” of insurgents have been reported as killed, but no exact number was given. Two Stryker vehicles were lost – one in a sophisticated IED attack and follow on ambush. One soldier was killed and another 11 were wounded in the fight. Six of the wounded subsequently returned to duty. A Multinational Forces Iraq press release indicated that two soldiers were killed in Diyala today, but in separate engagements. Last weekend, Iraqi Army and U.S. soldiers killed 16 insurgents and captured 11 during operations in As Sadiyah in Diyala.

We noted in mid February that Diyala will be one of the major areas of engagement as the Baghdad Security Plan takes shape. Both General David Petraeus, the MNF-I commander, and Major General William Caldwell, the MNF-I spokesman, have been making repeated references to problems in Diyala.

The Iraqi government indicated last week it must reconsider the security situation in the violence plagued province, however it is difficult to see where the Army or police will be drawn from to resolve the problem. Over half of the Iraqi Army units are now stations inside Baghdad or in the “belts” immediately surrounding the city. Only 2 of the 5 additional U.S. combat brigades assigned to the ‘surge’ are currently in Iraq. Expect one or more of the brigades to move to Diyala.

Al Qaeda in Iraq is currently using Diyala to train, arm and sortie suicide and car bombers into Baghdad and the surrounding areas. One American military intelligence officer described this to me as “launching human artillery” from the province. The spirited defense against the Strykers in Baqubah ndicates al Qaeda in Iraq has been preparing for battle in the city for some time.

The up tick in violence in Diyala is also reflected by al Qaeda in Iraq’s attempt to establish its rump Islamic State of Iraq, and the resistance from some local Sunni and Shia tribes. Recently, al Qaeda in Iraq torched the homes of Sunni and Shia tribesmen in Muqdadiya who oppose them. Al Qaeda also kidnapped and subsequently murdered 14 Iraqi police who were traveling on leave from Baquba. The murders were videotaped. “Their throats had been cut and their hands were bound,” said the mayor of the nearby town of Khalis.

Al Qaeda’s activities in Diyala are causing the local tribes to organize resistance against the terrorists. Last week, <em>Al Sabaah reported the local sheikhs in Diyala are organizing against al Qaeda and its Islamic State of Iraq, “which [is] spreading corruption in the province districts.” Tribal leaders in Diyala are beginning to form up along the lines of the Anbar Salvation Council in Anbar province.

The recent recognition of the Anbar Salvation Council, a grouping of Sunni tribes and former insurgents opposed to al Qaeda’s imposition of an Islamic State and all of its trappings, may encourage the Diyala tribal leaders. The Anbar Salvation Council received official backing from the central government, and Prime Minister Maliki visited Ramadi. With the official backing comes the subsequent money, weapons, political power and other incentives needed to fight al Qaeda and its Islamic State.

The recent tape released by Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda’s political front the Islamic State of Iraq, reflects concern within the terror group. Baghdadi implored tribal leaders and insurgent groups to fight under the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq, and threatened those who will not with death and damnation. Al Qaeda has seen its power decline in Anbar province the past few months and Baghdadi will want to stem this trend in Diyala, Salahadin and elsewhere.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.



  • ECH says:

    PM fires general in charge of Baghdad operation
    The Iraqi general who commanded the joint U.S.-Iraqi military operation to subdue Baghdad has been fired. Lt. General Abdoud Qanbar Hashem was forced to retire at a lower rank. His name was included in a list of 1,189 former army officers who were put on pension. General Qanbar was a senior officer in the former army under former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. There were reports that U.S. commanders were not pleased with Qanbar at the head of the operation.

  • ECH says:

    “it is difficult to see where the Army or police will be drawn from to resolve the problem.”
    How about the US and Iraqi government quickly stand up 8 battalions of ERUs for Dyala made up of Peshmerga or if all else fails Shia militias as an emergency stop gap measure for 6 to 9 months.
    Otherwise we are talking about having to send 10 thousand plus troops to Diyala otherwise the Baghdad plan will continue to be gravely underminded by al-Qaeda’s suicide bombers.
    We are being punished big time for our slow development of the Iraqi Army.

  • cjr says:

    Any task seems easy for the man that doesnt have to do it himself. On the other hand, the people that actually do it know there is no way around the fact that building an effective fighting force is a difficult and time consuming process.

  • ECH says:

    “the people that actually do it know there is no way around the fact that building an effective fighting force is a difficult and time consuming process.”
    These so called people in the know didn’t believe Iraq really needed an Army until late 2004.
    The plan by Bremer and the Pentagon was to build a small National Guard for Iraq instead of an Army, because he didn’t believe Iraq needed one.
    We lost nearly two years because these so called people in the know were blind to something that was totally obvious to anyone who read the news and had an IQ over 100 and that was that Iraq needed a real Army to return order to the country.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Tone it down, ECH. Complaining about what did and did not happen in 2003 won’t change the situation on the ground today. Show me a mistake free war and I’ll show you a miracle.
    We effectively began building the IA in the spring/summer of 2004. We’re less than 3 years into building the Iraqi Army. As DJ and CJR have stated repeatedly, building an army – an effective one – is a process, and not an event. It’s still being built and developed.
    The ERUs for Diyala will come – wait for the ‘Diyala Salvation Council’ or whatever it decides to call itself, forms. The ERUs in Anbar are the arm of the Anbar Salvation Council… Why do you think I’ve been comparing the two provinces?

  • ECH says:

    Sorry to get emotional Bill, I just read that five more US troops were killed in Baghdad today in one attack and added to that several other deaths from elsewhere.
    Back in 2003 and 2004 I was yelling that the Pentagon start building a real Iraqi Army. Everytime I see large numbers of Iraqi or US deaths I can’t help but think that that if we just did a few tiny things differently the vast majority of Americans wouldn’t think the war is lost and lots of good people Iraqi and American wouldn’t be dying.

  • ECH says:

    Suicide bomber kills 8, among them 5 US troops in Baghdad
    They are implying now it wasn’t one attack, but several.

  • ECH says:

    Could we possibily bring the Peshmerga into Diyala for 6-9 months?
    From what I hear the tribes in Diyala are not as strong as the tribes in Anbar.

  • wb says:

    We need a General willing to parking lot the city if that’s where they are. Why are we fighting their war when we can take them all out? I’m sorry for the civilians but that’s the fault of the scum that they allow to hide amoung them. Let’s finish it.

  • Brett says:

    Most of the continuing problems we have relate to the RoE we have, which need to be loosened. We also need to insist that the captured terrorists are NOT released (a common and continuing problem) back into the field. These are NOT honorable men.

  • Gerry says:

    Hey , the battle has just started , lets give these guys a chance. The Generals are not going to send them on a suicide mission. They have lots of support and I’m sure buidings will be flattened when needed. The Pesh are fine in Mosal but are not trained for urban warfare. My hope is they can catch or kill all the enemy before they can escape to another location.

  • ECH says:

    Gerry, Diyala is a decient sized province if we did recieve the Peshmerga’s help it wouldn’t just be for urban warfare.
    I would estimate about 10-15 thousand more troops is about what is needed to secure Diyala.

  • Amy says:

    Bill your post really upset me. I don’t like that we are talking troops from our mission in Baghdad to Diyala. Is there anywhere else troops can come from?
    Is the rules of engagement really hampering our mission big time like Brett and WB are saying? If that is true I would be very mad.

  • Michael says:

    Hard not to get emotional. As a civilian I do not pretend to understand the difficult moments during or after war for our soldiers or family. I’ve had Uncles in WWII and Korea. They rarely talked of their service, nor did their wives.
    I’m speculating on the following…
    I think large systemic corruption was encountered by our leaders in building a new Iraqi Army and civilian government. Worse than anticipated. The war started spring of 2003. They defeated Saddam, capture him, killed his two sons and many cronies, brought them to trial. Then started building a new Iraqi Army along with government structures and police within a year by spring of 2004. Even with some mistakes, this is remarkable imho.
    Should the Iraqis conscripted all males in certain age groups? I’m not sure. Might have caused more problems if connected to militia.
    I’ve noticed thru Bills reporting, as the tribes grow tired of Al Qaeda’s violence, blackmail, intimidation, the Shieks turn against AQ. Then large groups of men begin to volunteer. The Shieks had to learn AQ are oppressors of all people, including the Shieks that support them.
    Since its not a homogenous community in Iraq for our forces to deal with, there is no one answer of defeat. And each tribe has had to learn AQ is ruthless and oppressive. Saddam was a tyrant over tribal areas concocted out of past WWII alignments. These tribes have existed in paranoid realities. Indescriminate bombing methods are out, there is no bigfoot approach to this war. And unfortunately our guys have to act as referees getting the locals to trust Iraqi Army.
    Whereas in Germany, it was one people, one leader, a clear surrender. If I remember correctly it took 5 years to rebuild, but without the insurgency.
    Maybe they should’ve added more training back in 2004. But did our military have the capacity? Gates has asked for 92,000 more to expand. Bush 1 and Clinton scaled down the forces during the 90s after Cold War.
    I’m amazed at how well our soldiers have fought this war with discipline and resolve to perservere and win. And I am humbled by people like Bill, Michael Yon, and others who travel to Iraq, or the Blue Star Mom’s and Gold Star families traveling to DC this weekend for Gathering of Eagles.

  • Michael says:

    If we did what you said, the entire world would be up in arms against us, not just the rants by anti-war people and a slow stream of suicide bombers. Thing are already difficult politically and your suggestion would make us look like the terrorist we abhor.
    Impeachment process would begin, guaranteed against our President. Not to mention, World Court proceedings.

  • greg says:

    It’s a hard fight and there have been mistakes made but that’s to be expected. The past does not matter now, only the present and future do. One great consequence of this war has been the drubbing AQ is taking. Instead of uniting the middle east against us, they are doing the opposite. Noone but the real diehards wants them in charge. They do more damage to themselves than we can hope to do to them. Historians will look back at this war and describe it as the beginning of the end for AQ and their like. Another bennefit we are gaining is the Democrats are going to look weak and defeatist to more Americans next year and lose the presidential race big time because of it. Dont give up yet..

  • crosspatch says:

    “I don’t like that we are talking troops from our mission in Baghdad to Diyala.”
    You have to go where the bad guys are. They had plenty of notice that we were coming for them in Baghdad so they moved. We need to move with them if we are going to end it. We can drive them out of Baghdad but if we just drive them into other towns to carry out their grim deeds, we haven’t really done anything.
    Having said that, if Diyala follows the model of Anbar, then Al Qaida in Iraq and other groups’ days are numbers.

  • Killshot says:

    Read the linked account carefully and the antiwar bias is evident. Though daunting, the story in USA Today makes it sound like our elite Stryker grps are incompetent, in over their heads, and losing the day. Notice the sneaky, “someone shot the dog” comment as well. Lauren Whatever, the reporter, needs to be replaced with someone who understands a war. Poor little Lauren was observing some line-of-fire and writes an account that demeans the Stryker brigades. Bill, please find some other links.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    “I don’t like that we are talking troops from our mission in Baghdad to Diyala.”

  • ECH says:

    “Right now we don’t need green IA troops or Peshmerga for any extra operations in Diyala. They need US troops that can do counterinsurgency.”
    What we need in Diyala is tribal ERUs to be stood up quickly as well as a quick infusion of 5 to 7 thousand US or 10 – 12 thousand Iraqi troops or non-sectarian fighters like Peshmerga. Given the barbaric way the Iraqi Army has treated loyals the past few months in Diyala the Peshmerga would be a big improvement.
    We also need to get rid of the idiot Sadrist Iraqi general in Diyala General Shakar.

  • ECH says:

    Bah, I meant to say locals.
    The U.S. military’s handover of security to Iraqi forces in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, has resulted in near anarchy and a return of U.S. soldiers. Soon after the handover, U.S. drone aircraft recorded images of Shiite families being dragged from their homes and executed in the streets, The Los Angeles Times reported.
    Last month, U.S. Army Col. David Sutherland, commander of the 3rd Brigade, scolded his Iraqi counterpart, Brig. Gen. Shakir Hulail Hussein Kaabi. “Six weeks ago, the people of Diyala and Baqubah were disgusted with the disrespect and disregard the Iraqi army had shown them,” Sutherland told Shakir through an Arabic interpreter. “We are soldiers, not barbarians.”

  • Neo-andertal says:

    “What we need in Diyala is tribal ERUs to be stood up quickly as well as a quick infusion of 5 to 7 thousand US or 10 – 12 thousand Iraqi troops or non-sectarian fighters like Peshmerga.”

  • ECH says:

    Petraeus is going to ask for around 3000 more troops mostly support according to this article. That is going to enrage the dems. Since we are going to anger them we might as well add another 6-9 thousand US troops to that number. Diyala could badly use 6 to 9 thousand extra troops. Since this is already going to anger the opposition we might as well go all out.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I know I’ve said this a million times, why not once more?
    Can we keep the political slights & attacks off of this blog? Is this just too much to ask?
    There are thousands of websites where you can rail against the political parties. It really cheapens the conversation. Do I have to turn comment moderation back on or turn them off completely?

  • ECH says:

    I just repeated what the article states that Petraeus’s new request is going to anger the democratic opposition and if you are going to anger the opposition I don’t think a few thousand more troops for Diyala then the 3 thousand extra he is asking for isn’t going to anger them much more.
    Its hard to not bring up US politics at all considering how interlinked the policy and US politics are right now.
    News that Petraeus wants several thousand more troops is bound to further frustrate the new Democratic majority in Congress, which is intent on pressuring President Bush to start bringing US troops home within months.

  • Michael says:

    Why don’t we wait for Petraeus to make his moves.
    The Senate is taking care of business and the President has his rights. Here is short article about what is happening right now. It paints a different picture as you will see. It does not mention Diyala Province, but it mentions expanded cooperation with Iraqi authorities.
    Consider the source how you will.

  • Michael says:

    The link to above talks about the confusion on ROE. Petraeus addressed this directly to the troops to clarify current ROE.
    Here’s the quote:

    I am concerned about the unintended consequences of our efforts over the past two years to reduce injury and death to innocents within the framework of escalation of force (EOF) situations. The intentions of these efforts have been absolutely correct; however, it appears that the results, in some cases, have led to establishment of procedures that have, in effect, changed the rules of engagement for our troopers. Let me be clear: (1) No one may issue supplementary guidance> that forecloses the judgment of an individual facing a split-second and independent decision whether to engage a threat. Persons committing hostile acts or exhibiting hostile intent may be engaged with all necessary force without progress through EOF measures — though, of course, progressing though EOF measures should be the case when the situation allows. (2) Leaders should strive to shape situations so that coalition forces are not pressed into making snap judgments under questionable circumstances. Warning equipment, barrier materials, and nonlethal weapons, as well as signs — well-lighted at night and understandable to Iraqis — must continue to be issued to our troops. This is easier written than done, I recognize, but we must strive to minimize the situations that result in split-second decisions when we can. (3) To remain true to our nations’ values and maintain our discipline, commanders will investigate engagements resulting in death, injury requiring hospitalization, or substantial property loss to a civilian. Other incidents will be reported according to unit standards and may be investigated at local commanders’ discretion. Despite our best efforts to minimize them — efforts that are very important-there will be EOF incidents. Learn from them, conduct the AARs that are the hallmark of a professional force, train on the lessons brought to light, and share these lessons. Your chain of command will stand with you.

  • Tony says:

    This talk of building up the Iraqi army is reminiscent of the Israelis claiming for 20 years that their proxy South Lebanon Army somehow had the support of the people and just needed more training.
    When the Israelis withdrew, the SLA collapsed.
    It was a completely wasted effort after 20 years.

  • pedestrian says:

    If the enemy was prepared and knew the coalition force was on their way to Baqubah, I am concerned the operation was somehow detected in advance, either by HUMINT or by scouts of enemy near or in Baghdad watching the strykers leaving the capitol heading to Baqubah. That allows to give enemy leaders leaving the area before.

  • pedestrian says:

    >Could we possibily bring the Peshmerga into >Diyala for 6-9 months?
    Some already went to Baghdad, but many Kurds do not speak Arabic. They may be given roles such as patrolling outskirts of the city, and embedded as additional fire power, but not as those to communicate (collect information about enemy activity, etc.) with local Iraqis (in Arabic) as they go in buildings for searching enemy entities.

  • pedestrian says:

    >You have to go where the bad guys are. They had plenty of notice that we were coming for
    >them in Baghdad so they moved.
    There were two options in my mind: either to clean out the surrounding cities and towns around capitol first, or begin from Baghdad then spread out to the surrounding cities. It was either to squeeze the enemy into Baghdad or spread the security from Baghdad. I rather prefered the coalition force to squeeze the enemy from out side, such as Baqubah, Balad, triangle of Death and Ramadi and then into Baghdad, but the coalition force seems to have selected plan B, starting from Baghdad and then striking the surrounding areas.

  • RJ says:

    Here’s what’s really funny. Our little friend down there in Gitmo who is suppposed to be the leader of 911 and other attacks offers up his idea of Osama Bin Laden being the arab’s George Washington (implying we are the British). Take that view and what would AQ do when the American troops come hunting? Go into the woods, or in this case, leave the village and go to another. What with the sadistic nature of Sadamm’s leadership, one could sense his old military leaders are experts in applying pain to all who come in contact, therefore, if one places into power one of the old officers of Sadamm trouble might be just around the next village. Major destablization, perhaps never ending relative to America’s military commitment…is this a “cluster-….” or what? Time is what we need, along with more troops and Iraqi citizens finding new and effective believers in democracy who are willing to move up into a leadership role. Chasing the bad guys and leaving secure areas behind is this game. Nothing new here. If you can pull it off, it works, if not…you lose. Rules of the game. Are we willing to take the time, employ the manpower, and spend our monies? Really funny how simple some of this stuff is. Kill more bad guys! Sounds like Sadamm, doesn’t it? Even Bin Laden. The language of war.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 03/16/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

  • Mark Buehner says:

    Sending the Kurds into a Sunni city at this point would be beyond disasterous. It would ignite a full scale civil war (as opposed to whatever we have at the moment). In the months following the invasion i advocated using the Pershmerga as a threat to restive Sunni cities- do it once and you never have to do it again- but that ship has long sailed. Now we are vying with AQ for allies amongst Sunni tribes (forget hearts and minds this is pure self-interest) and sending Kurds to take a Sunni city would push every last Sunni into their camp, not to mention set the entire Sunni Middle East to funding them. Plus its a one trick pony. The Kurds have no interest any Sunni towns that dont have either major Kurdish populations or control oil fields. They arent going to march into Diyala just for kicks.
    This operation just once again showcases how our lack of troops has hamstrung us all these years. The surge is an absolute necesity, the only questions are will it be enough and is it too late? Our poor military has been playing wack-a-mole with insurgents between towns and cities for years, its absurd. Even now we’ve left Mosul uncovered (again) and AQ managed that big jailbreak, hence more bloody handed terrorists back on the street. We should have been shipping containers full of captured terrorists to Guantanimo- how we’ve dealt with captured enemies is a scandal as big as anything.
    But enough negativity- the troops are fighting superbly and cleverly as always. If the Iraqis can hold up their end for once, this could work.

  • Luc says:

    “There were two options . rather prefered the coalition force to squeeze the enemy from out side “

  • DJ Elliott says:

    “I don’t like that we are talking troops from our mission in Baghdad to Diyala. Is there anywhere else troops can come from?”
    Amy: 5-20 Inf came from Rasheed area of Baghdad. Where the 4th Bde-1ID took over last week. Net gain in Baghdad’s Radheed area of 3 US Bns.
    I expect the rest of the 3-2 Strikers to go to Diyala when 3BCT-3ID moves out from Kuwait. Within two weeks…

  • crosspatch says:

    “Petraeus is going to ask for around 3000 more troops mostly support according to this article. ”
    As I understand it, this request is for an aviation battalion. That seems reasonable if the fight has shifted from Baghdad from the open countryside. They need fast transport to get troops to where the bad guys are. We have also been training the IA on air assault operations so this request appears to be mainly for the helicopters and gunships. I suspect the majority of the troops they will be transporting are already in the country.
    In another note, another blogger noted the other day that his son’s unit is actually rotating back to the states EARLY. They are coming home at the end of this month instead of August as they were scheduled so there may be some realignment taking place as the force is adapted to the threat we are facing.
    The realities change from week to week and we are adapting to those changes. It is a good thing.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Apples and Oranges!
    I’m not sure what your getting out of your comparison with the Southern Lebanese Army. The SLA was never designed to be an independently operating entity it was strictly a military and political buffer. It had absolutely none of the trappings of statehood. In the end it was negotiated away and collapsed with the Israeli withdrawl.
    If you want negative examples at least go for the obvious like Vietnam or Algeria.

  • Patrick says:

    Diyala is split 1/3 of each group of Iraq. Baquba is the “Sunni” capital,so to speak. Buhriz is another bad place.
    Anbar is all Sunni. So,Diyala should present less a problem than Anbar has.
    While many see this combat as evidence of defeat for us,I see it as evidence of defeat for the bad guys.
    Anytime we can arrange combat,it is to our benefit,period. It is naive to think all the anti Americans are now peaceful,so it is best we can bring our military force to bear on them openly like this as opposed to the daily IED without someone to kill in response.
    Bill will disagree,but sometimes I think it is wise we allow them to build up enough to defend,then fix them in place and kill them like the cockroaches they’ve chosen to be in life.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    “Bill will disagree,but sometimes I think it is wise we allow them to build up enough to defend,then fix them in place and kill them like the cockroaches they’ve chosen to be in life.”

  • wb says:

    Does it really matter what we do? Ultimately, the people of Iraq have to take control of their destiny. We liberated them, it’s up to them to cease the day as it were. If we are to be there, then let us lay down the law. 40 years of one strong man will not change without at least some type of transition. What would happen if a dictator were re-installed and then gradually ceeded power? I know the answer to that is absolute power absolutely corrupts but if there were a trigger there to ensure the process wouldn’t that ensure compliance? I don’t want to see another American drop of blood spilled there for a people that aren’t ready to live in peace. I mean if we must lose our finest, let it be killing as many terrorists as we have the ammo for. Please make full note that I said nothing about withdrawing, I would only go along wih that in 2 cases, full and total victory or as a precurser to redaicating the entire region. God have mercy on me for what I think must be done to so many innocents.

  • The Battle of Diyala

    Courtesy of The Fourth Rail:
    Strykers engage in heavy urban combat in Baquba as the Diyala front becomes very hot
    Baquba, the capital of the violence wracked province of Diyala, has emerged as the latest battlefield in Iraq. Earlier this week, Multi…

  • Tony says:

    I find the similarities between Iraq and Lebanon far more striking than any comparison between Iraq and Vietnam. Algeria of course is another matter and much closer to the mark.
    But step back a bit. In 1982 a democratic Lebanon was going to be a beacon of democracy that would inspire the Arab world in its glory. The Israeli installed leader Gemayel would lead the way. Lebanon, like Iraq, had warring Islamic factions (and others) at each others throats.
    After the Israelis withdrew from Beirut, they tried for 20 years to equip and train a local fighting force loyal to them, the South Lebanese Army. They tried the Iron Fist. They tried pacification. They all backfired.
    After 20 years it all came to nothing. I have no Israeli friends (and I have many Likud friends) who describes their hasty retreat back into Israel fleeing hails of bullets after 20 years in Lebanon trying every known strategy as a glorious moment.
    And the chaos that was supposed to immediately result in Lebanon after their withdrawal never happened. The recent events in Lebanon have far different and more recent causes than the mere withdrawal of Israeli troops several years ago.
    Many other factors came into the mix causing their current strife.
    So I think there is much for the US to learn from the Israeli’s tragic experience in Lebanon.
    It is far more instructive than Viet Nam in my view. I think the similarities between Viet Nam and Iraq are barely useful, if any.
    Again, Algeria is also a reasonable basis for discussion and comparison. But I would also include the recent Civil War in Algeria during the 1990s which killed hundreds of thousands after elections were cancelled in my analysis as well.

  • hamidreza says:

    Its good that people are realizing that it was a mistake to disband the Baathist network and not invest heavily in an Iraqi army until 2 years too late after the fact.
    Now I wonder if the same people realize it was and still is a gargantuan mistake not to develop a first class 3rd world style Intelligence Service – or do we have to go through several more years of tragedy only to find out that a national army and a national police is quite impotent without a proper intelligence service, in these parts of the world?
    An Iraqi army (without massive US backup) cannot stop a Muqtada Sadr. But an intelligence service can freeze him in the tracks.
    If the US plans to pull out, then you need an effective intelligence service in Iraq. No way around this tautology IMO.

  • crosspatch says:

    hamidreza, Re: third world style intelligence service … from the latest article (at the time of this post) on this site.

  • hamidreza says:

    crosspatch, this is most probably sectarian or political rivalry by Mahdi Army and a host of other players vying for power. It may even be Sunni on Mahdi revenge.
    A modern intelligence service will pick the guy up and get information out of him and then go on a propaganda offensive to discredit him and Sadr, in the eyes of the population.

  • RJ says:

    I am sure one of the goals wished for in the attack on Sadamm was to create a democracy that would lite a fire throughout the middle east. Great idea! OK, so the execution of this plan has not gone the way wished. So, here we are thinking that if a “new dictatorial type leader” can come in to control these idiots (Iraqis) we might have a chance going elsewhere to fight this war (it is global, right?): Is that what I am now reading? This war mirrors fighting a cancer that intends to move throughout the entire body the minute it gets the chance and has the capabilities. Kill the bad guys whenever and wherever we come across them. I like this ROE a lot!


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram