How Obama Abandoned Iraq

al-qaeda-in-iraq-announces-merger-with-notorious-syrian-rebel-groupPresident Obama’s facility for lying has taken center stage once again, as Americans grapple with the reality that they in fact can’t keep their health insurance if they like it. Yet while they remain focused on that debacle, another series of declarations made by the president, namely that al Qaeda was “on the run” and near “defeat,” is looking equally deceitful. Last Friday, Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met in an effort to deal with what is being characterized as a “bloody resurgence” of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). “Unfortunately, al Qaeda has still been active and has grown more active recently,” Obama was forced to admit to reporters.

Active is an understatement. More than 6,000 people have been slaughtered in 2013 alone, according to UN estimates. Eight days ago, a series of nine bombs placed in parked cars were detonated over a half hour period at markets and police checkpoints in Baghdad. The blasts killed at least 42 and wounded more than 100 in mostly Shi’ite neighborhoods. On the same day, 14 people were killed and at least 30 more were wounded when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into a group of soldiers sealing off a street near the al-Rafidain Bank, where their fellow soldiers were getting paid.

Those attacks and others drove the October death toll to 964, including 855 civilians, 65 policemen and 44 soldiers, marking the highest monthly death toll since 2008. The number of wounded totaled 1,600  including 1,445 civilians, 88 policemen and 67 soldiers. By contrast, only 33 insurgent fighters were killed, and 167 were arrested.

Thus, Maliki was making his first visit to Washington, D.C. in two years, seeking help to stop the carnage. His first meeting took place Wednesday with Vice President Joe Biden. In the two hour session, the Iraqi leader asked Biden to help him overcome congressional opposition to the sale of Apache attack helicopters to his government. Maliki considers the Apache’s ability to fire precise ordinance and track enemy movements with powerful cameras critical to defeating AQI.

Congressional skeptics from both political parties are highly suspicious of Maliki’s motives, believing that he might use such weaponry against political opponents unaffiliated with AQI, or other terrorist organizations. They further contend that Iraq continues to allow Iran to enter its airspace, facilitating that nation’s efforts to send Syria President Bashar Assad military supplies and fighters. Six senators — Carl Levin (D-MI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), John McCain (R-AZ), James M. Inhofe (R-OK), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — hammered Maliki’s government, saying it remained beholden to Iran’s “malign influence.” They further condemned Maliki’s “mismanagement of Iraqi politics” that threatens to reignite a civil war.

There is little doubt the senators’ objections have merit, but Maliki’s machinations did not occur in a vacuum. When U.S. troops “surged” into Iraq in 2007, the sectarian tensions between the Sunni minority and the nation’s Shi’ite majority had largely dissipated. By 2011, al Qaeda’s ability to exploit that divisiveness had been significantly degraded. And while most of the American media blame the Maliki government for the withdrawal of all but a few hundred troops from Iraq, due to Baghdad’s refusal to renegotiate a Status of Forces Agreement, Max Boot, senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, paints a decidedly different picture:

Boot notes that in 2011, the Iraqis expressed the exact same reservations about granting U.S. troops legal immunity for breaking Iraqi laws they had voiced when the previous Status of Forces Agreement was negotiated in 2008. The difference? “President Bush really wanted to get a deal done, whereas Mr. Obama did not,” Boot explained.

Boot reveals the stark differences in strategies, explaining that while Bush spoke weekly with Maliki by video teleconference, Obama didn’t call Maliki for months prior to a call in late October 2011 to end negotiations. Bush negotiated with Maliki for a year. Obama waited until only a few months before U.S. troops were scheduled to withdraw in December of 2011.

Obama further complicated the issue by allowing State Department and Pentagon lawyers to insist the Iraqi parliament approve the agreement. Bush did not make a similar demand, relying on the Memorandum of Understanding that allows U.S. personnel to operate throughout the Arab world.

Boot further explained that Obama constantly undermined his own negotiating position by bragging about ending the war in Iraq, and making a decision in August of 2011 to commit as few as 3000-5000 troops to remain in country. Obama stuck to his guns, despite military advisers requesting 20,000 troops, and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, contending that 10,000 would be the absolute minimum required to engage in counter-terrorism operations, provide support for American diplomatic personnel, and bring Iraqi security forces up to capable levels.

Once Iraqi officials realized Obama wasn’t serious, they weren’t willing to risk alienating the Iraqi public to support a grossly inadequate force level. “So the end of the U.S. military mission in Iraq is a tragedy, not a triumph–and a self-inflicted one at that,” Boot concluded.

It is a tragedy with all the elements of a farce. Maliki has alienated large swaths of his nation’s people, with crackdowns undertaken against Sunni and Kurdish leaders, and other opposition forces. Those crackdowns reached a critical point last April 23, when government forces killed dozens of Sunni protesters in the city of al-Hawijah, igniting an expanding backlash against Baghdad. That backlash was amply facilitated by a jailbreak, freeing 500 men from Abu Ghraib prison, many of whom were leaders of AQI. As a result, the terrorist organization is now building camps, training facilities and staging areas in western Iraq, where they are being equipped with heavy weaponry from Syria. “It is a fact now that al-Qaeda has a presence in western Iraq, and it has a presence in terms of camps and training facilities and staging areas that the Iraqi forces are unable to target effectively,” said a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Complicating the issue even further is the reality that the Obama administration is ignoring the very real possibility that Maliki’s government is responsible for, or at the very least complicit in, a deadly attack against the Iranian refugee group, Mujahedin e-Khalq (M.E.K.), that occurred September 1 at Camp Hurriya. That attack, in which 46 men and six women were killed, and another seven were taken hostage, made a complete mockery of a promise by U.S. officials in 2003 to protect the group in exchange for their agreement to disarm.

Although the Obama administration refuses to blame the Maliki government, 45 House members from both parties vehemently disagree. They have written the president a letter asking him to withhold arms shipments until Iraqi officials work to get the hostages released, and take “clear and verifiable steps to protect the remaining residents of Camp Hurriya.” “This is a matter of American honor at stake,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the Wall Street Journal. “If Maliki is not prepared to be an honest partner, then there’s no reason for the United States to prop him up–if in fact he’s going to be an Iranian agent.”

An honest partner on either side of this equation remains difficult to discern. Following his meeting with Maliki, Obama contended “the strategic partnership between our two countries remains very strong,” and that he was “encouraged” by Maliki’s efforts “to ensure that all people inside of Iraq–Sunni, Shia and Kurd–feel that they have a voice in their government…so people understand that when they have differences they can express them politically as opposed to through violence.”

Emma Sky, a policy adviser for U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno when he was the top American military commander in Iraq, explains why that viewpoint is calculatingly naive. First she notes the consequences of the Obama administration’s premature troop withdrawal, and the boost it has given a “resurgent” AQI. “During the surge, we helped build up the immune system of Iraq to deter these attacks,” she contended. “Now that immune system has been taken away.” Sky then gets to the meat of the current issue. “Before you had the U.S. there to protect the political space and help move the country forward.”

Now, you don’t.

Once again, as it did in Syria, the Obama administration has engineered a lose-lose scenario. By prematurely withdrawing American troops, Obama gave Maliki free reign to realize the power-consolidating ambitions that ignited the animosity of Sunni insurgents, who were fueled by the belief they have been marginalized by the Shi’ite-led government. AQI, absent any interference from U.S. forces, has been able to exploit this rift with impunity. Furthermore, despite the ostensibly cordial meeting between Obama and Maliki, Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., warned that if the Obama administration won’t commit to providing weapons and other aid in a timely manner, “we will go elsewhere.” “Elsewhere” would undoubtedly mean reaching out to Russia and/or China, further diminishing the United States’ already diminished role in the region.

If the Obama administration does provide aid, and Maliki is truly the “Iranian agent” that Newt Gingrich and other members of Congress apparently believe he is, we end up further abetting the Iranian regime’s hegemonic ambitions. Ambitions that are already being abetted by the administration’s fecklessness in dealing with Syria. In both Iraq and Syria (with Afghanistan undoubtedly to follow) the Obama administration has demonstrated an uncanny ability to pursue short-term political interests, even as it remains oblivious to their long-term implications.

When he may have been able to work with legitimate Syrian opposition, Obama chose to ignore the ever-increasing carnage in that nation for almost two years. As a result, we are now arming Syrian rebels affiliated with al Qaeda. In Iraq, Obama chose to “end” the war and declare al Qaeda “on the run,” to shore up his leftist base for the 2012 election. As a result, we have re-energized the AQI terrorist movement that poses a threat not just in Iraq, but in coordination with its terrorist allies in Syria, the entire Middle East–while we negotiate with a government that has likely made a mockery of our promise to protect Iranian refugees.

“Some of these Al Qaeda networks that are coming in from Syria and that are based in Iraq now really have heavy weapons,” a senior administration official told reporters in a conference call last Wednesday. Sadly, they have a reckless Obama administration to thank for their largesse.

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  • Chezwick

    The Shia-Sunni doctrinal schism is a permanent feature of Islam. Arnold Ahlert would have Americans trying to police this ancient rivalry….and in the process, having our boys killed and maimed in Iraq for perpetuity.

    No thanks.

  • Ed FDNYRetiree

    Obumble didn’t just abandon Iraq. He is the world’s leading enemy of freedom and the greatest danger to America and Americans in history.

    • gerry

      Well said.That’s why no one wants to be associated with him.

    • Northstar

      Helping Muslim terrorists win gets Obama all fired up

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Someone please tell Obama, GWB, the Republican Party, the Democrat Party, the so-called MSM media, and very apparently this writer too that victory in Iraq was always impossible since they have all been operating under a completely false and very fantasy-based narrative of Islam that predetermined our defeat even before the war was ever instigated. I’m sorry but Islam is not a so-called “religion of peace” and the vast overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world, which are universally morally equated by all of the above with being civilized people, are not so-called “moderate” Muslims. As that very false premise is a fraud sold to the American people just as much as the lies Obama sold to the American people about his Obamacare is also a fraud.

    First of all, Islam is not even a faith-based religion, much less a “religion of peace”, as the first and foremost prerequisite of Islam is the total, complete, and unconditional “submission” to the “will of Allah” under the penalty of death for blasphemy and apostasy. Faith-based religions presume the freedom of conscience so each individual can freely choose to believe or not to believe. In Islam, on the other hand, the freedom of conscience is effectively blocked via the penalty of death for blasphemy and apostasy. Thus, in Islam a Muslim is either a Muslim or otherwise a blasphemous apostate, in which case, per the texts and tenets of Islam, he or she must be executed. Therefore, since there is no freedom of conscience in Islam allowed, Islam is not a faith-based religion, much less a so-called “religion of peace”.

    Second of all, what is the “will of Allah” that all Muslims must totally, completely, and unconditionally submit to under the penalty of death for blasphemy and apostasy? In essence it is Sharia, which is Islamic totalitarian law. Thus, Islam is a very totalitarian cult as opposed to being a faith-based religion.

    In addition, because Islam’s first and foremost prerequisite is the total, complete, and unconditional submission to the “will of Allah” under the penalty of death for blasphemy and apostasy, a Muslim is either a Muslim or otherwise a blasphemous apostate in which case, again, he or she must be executed. Hence, a so-called “moderate” Muslim, i.e., a person of Islamic persuasion that is moderate according to our civilized standards of conduct, is by definition in Islam a blasphemous apostate that according to the texts and tenets of Islam must be executed. Therefore, the premise that the vast overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world are so-called “moderate” Muslims is a total and complete utter farce.

    The reality instead is that all Muslims are jihadists, i.e., mujahideen (holy warriors), in one form or another. As a matter of fact, a tiny minority of them are violent jihadists and the vast overwhelming majority of them are non-violent stealth and deceptive jihadists, as waging jihad in one form or another, which is holy war in the cause of Allah, is a fundamental holy obligation incumbent upon all Muslims in one form or another. Thus, all Muslims are jihadists in one form or another or otherwise blasphemous apostates that must be executed according to the texts and tenets of Islam.

    As a matter of fact, according to the universally accepted throughout Islam “doctrine of abrogation” that holds that when two verses of the Koran conflict with each other, that is contradict each other, the latter issued verse, or, in other words, the one issued by Muhammad later on in his career, abrogates, supersedes, and replaces the earlier issued verse, and also according to the infamous “sword verses” of the Koran, which were some of the very last verses of the Koran issued by Muhammad shortly before his death and thus, per the “doctrine of abrogation”, abrogate, supersede, and replace all earlier issued peaceful verses of the Koran in which they conflict with, the sole fundamental purpose of Islam is the subjugation into Islamic totalitarianism of all religions and all infidels through both violent and non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad and the eventual imposition of Sharia (Islamic totalitarian law) in order to make Islam supreme throughout the world.

    Hence, since all Muslims in the world are our eternal mortal enemies as opposed to being civilized people according to the dictates of multiculturalism, then Muslim on Muslim violence anywhere in the world is very advantageous for us and therefore should always be encouraged and facilitated. Likewise, mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage to the infidel world is really non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad for the strategic purpose of demographic conquest and therefore should be outlawed, banned, and reversed ASAP. Indeed, the very acts of assimilation and integration in Islam constitute blasphemy, which is a capital offense. Thus, Muslims never ever migrate to the infidel world to assimilate and integrate, but to one day eventually subjugate and dominate via the eventual imposition of Sharia (Islamic totalitarian law) to ultimately make Islam supreme.

    • Northstar

      You were the one who said Islam was a religion of peace.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        And you are the Canadian whose mind was destroyed by the Canadian public school system.

  • Walt Craig

    Obami is accomplishing everything he has set out to do! Undermining American influence abroad, alienating our allies, undermining the American economy, weakening the American Military, destroying the Healthcare System, abandoning the American Constitution……etc etc etc…..

  • Ken Kelso

    Obama is a big fraud not supporting a Kurdish state.
    The Kurds support America and Obama betrays them, but telling the Kurds they have to live under these psycho Sunni and Shiite Arabs in Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • Ken Kelso

    America should only have small troops in Iraqi Kurdistan.

    • Drakken

      The Kurds have northern Iraq and are basically running their own govt there, much to the chagrin of the Shiites and sunni ragheads. The Russians through various arms dealers are arming them up and there isn’t anything the so called shite govt of Iraq can do about it.

    • Drakken

      The Kurds are taking care of themselves just fine and are keeping Iraqi troops out of the north, the Russians are supplying them quietly and everyone is ignoring it. If we were smart and it is obvious that obumbles and his minions aren’t, we would encourage the Kurds to declare themselves independent and be a nice wonderful pain in the azz to Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

  • Hiding in Plain Sight

    Screw Iraq. They can now sink or swim. They had TWELVE effing years to get their krap together and govern themselves and if they can’t by now – then they don’t deserve to be a sovereign entity in the first place.
    We sunk TRILLIONS in treasure and wasted THOUSANDS of the lives of our Finest in that kraphole for WHAT? A bunch of primitive barbaric ingrates who will NEVER know democracy, NEVER implement it and will NEVER get out of the sixth century.
    They kicked us out. Now they have to live with their choice. Tsk tsk.

  • bronze28

    Barak HUSSEIN Obama, a clear and present danger to Americans AND Western world-wide interests.

  • Gloria Stewart

    I have no brief for President Obama in any arena that he operates. However, when discussing the situation in Iraq we must put most of the blame on former President Bush. He wasted countless American military lives and countless dollars for an impossible dream: that Iraq could be made into a democracy and serve as a template for the other Muslim nations.

    I do not know who his religious adviser was, but he must have been smoking the pure stuff. No nation with a Muslim majority or a percentage of Muslims that permit that group to control can have a free country. Islam and freedom are incompatible.

    His rules of engagement – while not as draconian as President Obama’s – put a needless burden on our military. His acquiescence to an Iraqi constitution that made Sharia it’s basis put the lid on the coffin, if one was needed.

    President Bush was no doubt a better President than Obama, but that is a low benchmark.

    Gloria Stewart