Small Wars Journal

Iraq

As Protests Continue in the Street, Iraq Reaches a Crossroads

ImageTens of thousands of Iraqis have been protesting in Baghdad and southern provinces against the failure of the Iraqi government and the political class in delivering basic services, providing jobs, fighting corruption, and more. Iraqi security forces and armed groups reportedly linked to Iran have used lethal force in response to the protests, leaving over 260 dead and over 10,000 injured. As the protests have progressed, demands have expanded to include calls for regime change, the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, early elections, pushing back against Iranian influence, and accountability for killing peaceful protesters.

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Arab Cultural Manifestations in the Iraqi Army

Underpinnings of ethnic, religious, tribal, and demographic factors as well as their associated social identities remain a recurrent player in Iraqi politics and has affected the building of the Iraqi Army over the past 16 years. Researching Iraqi culture, social identities and their historical context is paramount to understanding the challenges the U.S. has faced in its efforts to train, equip, and advise the Iraqi Army. Independent thinking, creative ideas, information sharing, individual initiative, decentralized control, delegation of responsibility, and personal merit are all keys to success in U.S. military doctrine but contradict Iraqi sociocultural norms of centralized power, groupthink, and avoiding shame, embarrassment, and admission of mistakes. Training, equipping, and advising Arab militaries to follow Western military doctrine has had a history of at best mediocre results and rarely outlives the departure of Western advisors. U.S. capacity building doctrine in Iraq did not adjust to take into account Iraqi culture, instead it expected the Iraqi military to adapt to American military doctrine.

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On the Verge of Civil War-Iraq Post Protests

Protests in Iraq continue despite the harsh measures against those participating. Starting Thursday night, October 24th, crowds of protesters in Baghdad, Babel and Nasiriyah gathered to prepare for more protests. The vast majority of those participating according to the field reports, were males between 15-35 years old. Then Friday morning protests started again in earnest, renewing calls for reform and action. This time both men and women and high school aged boys and girls, joined the protests.

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“American Spy” Chapter Excerpt: Iraq Intelligence Failure

This story could have been included in the previous chapter [“Ignore My Intelligence at Your Peril (I Am Not As Stupid As I Look)”], but as you will read, this premeditated intelligence failure in Iraq is so mind-boggling in nature that it deserves a chapter all its own. Technically it was not an intelligence failure; it was a spectacular tactical intelligence success story, followed by an unconscionable bureaucratic failure to properly manage an invaluable ongoing counterterrorism intelligence operation.

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MacArthur, Eisenhower, and the Lost Lessons of Building Partnership Capacity

Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower justifiably have become legends for their accomplishments while commander World War II’s Pacific and Northern European campaigns. Yet even with renewed focus on great power conflicts, future commanders are more likely to face missions similar to what these officers faced in the Philippines prior to the war than the continent-wide conventional campaigns they are better known far.

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Levantistan and The Confederacy of Afghanistan: How Redrawing the Map Can End America’s Wars

Nation-state borders are not sacrosanct. Exchanging land for peace is always a viable option, and this could provide a solution to America’s involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Although multiple solutions are available, we will focus on two: merging nations and fragmenting nations. Merging nations would entail merging Iraq with Syria, and merging Afghanistan with Pakistan. Fragmenting nations would break up the two nations into numerous smaller nations, as happened to Yugoslavia, albeit peacefully.

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Iraq’s Power Vacuum: A Counterfactual Analysis of Saddam Hussein’s Authoritarian Rule

If Saddam Hussein had remained in power, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as Daesh, may not have been able to secure a foothold and establish dominance in the region. This counterfactual approach specifically assesses Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship as a stabilizing factor in the state of Iraq, effectively opposing transnational terrorist networks like Daesh.

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How the 2011 US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq Led to the Rise of ISIS

The United States was on the verge of achieving a lasting victory in the Iraq War after a costly seven-year occupation and the deaths of nearly 4,500 U.S. troops. In 2006, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had lost its charismatic leader and chief strategist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Over the next few years, the organization lost its base of support as Iraq’s Sunni tribes turned against it and began fighting beside US and Iraqi troops to eject the terrorists from their communities. By 2010, Iraq had emerged from its civil war and AQI had become irrelevant. Then, President Barack Obama made two strategic mistakes that reversed that progress and sent Iraq spiraling back down the path of sectarian violence.

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