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The Iran Cables: Secret Documents Show How Tehran Wields Power in Iraq - The New York Times
By Tim Arango, James Risen, Farnaz Fassihi, Ronen Bergman and Murtaza Hussain

Nov. 18, 2019

An unprecedented leak exposes Tehran’s vast influence in Iraq, detailing years of painstaking work by Iranian spies to co-opt the country’s leaders, pay Iraqi agents working for the Americans to switch sides and infiltrate every aspect of Iraq’s political, economic and religious life.

Many of the cables describe real-life espionage capers that feel torn from the pages of a spy thriller. Meetings are arranged in dark alleyways and shopping malls or under the cover of a hunting excursion or a birthday party. Informants lurk at the Baghdad airport, snapping pictures of American soldiers and keeping tabs on coalition military flights. Agents drive meandering routes to meetings to evade surveillance. Sources are plied with gifts of pistachios, cologne and saffron. Iraqi officials, if necessary, are offered bribes. The archive even contains expense reports from intelligence ministry officers in Iraq, including one totaling 87.5 euros spent on gifts for a Kurdish commander.
CIA  counterintelligence  covert_operations  espionage  influence  informants  Iran  Iraq  leaks  political_power  Qassim_Suleimani  Quds_Force  security_&_intelligence  Tehran 
november 2019 by jerryking
The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru - The New York Times

Ben Rhodes walks through the room, a half-beat behind a woman in leopard-print heels. He is holding a phone to his ear, repeating his mantra: “I’m not important. You’re important.”....As the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, Rhodes writes the president’s speeches, plans his trips abroad and runs communications strategy across the White House, tasks that, taken individually, give little sense of the importance of his role. ...Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. ...Like Obama, Rhodes is a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal. He is adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials. He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press. His ability to navigate and shape this new environment makes him a more effective and powerful extension of the president’s will than any number of policy advisers or diplomats or spies. ....Price turns to his computer and begins tapping away at the administration’s well-cultivated network of officials, talking heads, columnists and newspaper reporters, web jockeys and outside advocates who can tweet at critics and tweak their stories backed up by quotations from “senior White House officials” and “spokespeople.....Watching Rhodes work, I remember that he is still, chiefly, a writer, who is using a new set of tools — along with the traditional arts of narrative and spin — to create stories of great consequence on the biggest page imaginable. The narratives he frames, the voices of senior officials, the columnists and reporters whose work he skillfully shapes and ventriloquizes, and even the president’s own speeches and talking points, are the only dots of color in a much larger vision about who Americans are and where we are going that Rhodes and the president have been formulating together over the past seven years. When I asked Jon Favreau, Obama’s lead speechwriter in the 2008 campaign, and a close friend of Rhodes’s, whether he or Rhodes or the president had ever thought of their individual speeches and bits of policy making as part of some larger restructuring of the American narrative, he replied, “We saw that as our entire job.”...The job he was hired to do, namely to help the president of the United States communicate with the public, was changing in equally significant ways, thanks to the impact of digital technologies that people in Washington were just beginning to wrap their minds around.....
Ben_Rhodes  U.S.foreign_policy  Communicating_&_Connecting  policy_tools  White_House  writers  strategic_thinking  storytelling  narratives  speechwriters  Obama  PDB  messaging  Syria  Iraq  Middle_East  novelists 
may 2016 by jerryking
Islamic State’s Gains Reveal New Prowess on Battlefield - WSJ
May 25, 2015 6:18 p.m.]]

Long War Journal....Long before Islamic State declared a caliphate last summer, its supporters fought in Iraq’s Anbar province, piggybacking on local Iraqi Sunni grievances against the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
ISIS  Iraq  Ramadi 
may 2015 by jerryking
Ten maps that explain Iran's power play in the Middle East - The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Apr. 15 2015,
geopolitics  Iran  Iraq  Lebanon  mapping  Middle_East  power_plays  Saudi_Arabia  Syria  Syrians  Yemen 
april 2015 by jerryking
Can we defeat the Islamic State? | Fareed Zakaria
September 11, 2014 | | By Fareed Zakaria.

Here are a few lessons to think about.
* Don’t always take the bait. In one of his videotaped speeches to his followers, Osama bin Laden outlined his strategy. “All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda,” he said, “in order to make [American] generals race there.”
The purpose of the gruesome execution videos was to provoke the United States. And it worked. We have to act against this terror group. But let’s do it at a time and manner of our choosing, rather than jumping when it wants us to jump.
* Don’t overestimate the enemy. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is a formidable foe, but the counterforces to it have only just begun. And if these forces — the Iraqi army, the Kurdish pesh merga, U.S. air power — work in a coordinated fashion, it will start losing ground.
* Remember the politics. Military action must be coupled with smart political strategy.
Fareed_Zakaria  Middle_East  lessons_learned  ISIS  Iraq  provocations  overestimation  politics 
september 2014 by jerryking
With Islamic State, the chickens come home to roost - The Globe and Mail
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Sep. 03 2014
al-Qaeda  ISIS  Iraq  Libya  Syria  unintended_consequences 
september 2014 by jerryking
Now, Who Are The Smart Guys? -
Robert L. Bartley Robert L. Bartley
Updated April 14, 2003
Iraq  Dick_Cheney 
december 2013 by jerryking
Neutrality doesn't cut it any more
March 24, 2003 | Globe & mail | Lysiane Gagnon
If there were 200,000 antiwar demonstrators in Montreal on Saturday, as the organizers claim, well then, there are 20 persons camping in my living room...
anti-war  Montreal  Iraq  Saddam_Hussein  neutrality 
march 2013 by jerryking
The sound and fury of two debates
Jan. 28 2003| The Globe and Mail | JEFFREY SIMPSON.
Jeffrey_Simpson  Saddam_Hussein  Iraq 
march 2013 by jerryking
The Difference Between Them and Us
March 19, 2003 | G&M Page A23 | By JEFFREY SIMPSON
Jeffrey_Simpson  Jean_Chrétien  Iraq 
march 2013 by jerryking
Who's killing the children of Iraq?
October 8, 2002 | The Globe and Mail | MARGARET WENTE
Margaret_Wente  Iraq  Saddam_Hussein 
march 2013 by jerryking
Mulroney rakes Liberals for war stand
March 23, 2003 | Globe & Mail | Shawn McCarthy
Brian_Mulroney  Iraq  Liberals 
march 2013 by jerryking
I know whom to be mad at - The Globe and Mail

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Published Saturday, May. 15 200
atrocities  Iraq  Christie_Blatchford 
march 2013 by jerryking
Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s Master of Iraq Chaos, Still Vexes the U.S. -
Published: October 2, 2012

A soft-spoken, gray-haired operative who carries himself with the confidence that comes from having the backing of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, General Suleimani is the antithesis of the bombastic Iranian president. Now a major general — the highest rank in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — after a promotion last year, he has been the mastermind behind two central Iranian foreign policy initiatives, exerting and expanding Tehran’s influence in the internal politics of Iraq and providing military support for the rule of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.... General Suleimani first came to the attention of Iraqis during Iran’s bloody eight-year war with Iraq. As commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ 41st Division, he gained a reputation for leading reconnaissance missions behind Iraqi lines — so much so that the Iraqi military would single him out in its radio broadcasts, according to Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who has made a career out of studying General Suleimani.

The war shaped his attitude toward Iraq, according to Ryan C. Crocker, the former American ambassador to Baghdad. “For Qassim Suleimani, the Iran-Iraq war never really ended,” Mr. Crocker said in an interview. “No human being could have come through such a World War I-style conflict and not have been forever affected. His strategic goal was an outright victory over Iraq, and if that was not possible, to create and influence a weak Iraq.”

In the late 1990s, General Suleimani was picked to lead the Quds Force, a Revolutionary Guards special operations unit. The Revolutionary Guards was formed to support revolutionary movements abroad, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.
Afghanistan  Iran  Iraq  Lebanon  Revolutionary_Guards  Qassim_Suleimani  Quds_Force 
october 2012 by jerryking
The Power of One
The Power of One
Apr. 21, 2003 | TIME | By Michael Kinsley Monday,
leadership  leaders  Iraq  G.W.Bush 
september 2012 by jerryking
A family’s candid friend -
December 8 | FT | By Edward Luce. A look at uber lawyer Jim Baker
Iraq  éminence_grise  lawyers  dealmakers  Edward_Luce 
august 2012 by jerryking
Hostage to Fortune -
September 6, 2006 | WSJ |By ROBERT D. KAPLAN
Robert_Kaplan  Middle_East  Iraq 
july 2012 by jerryking
Now It's Political Shock and Awe -
April 17, 2003 | WSJ | By JAMES SCHLESINGER
july 2012 by jerryking
Babylon Revisited -
March 14, 2003 | WSJ | By DAVID KLINGHOFFER.
With America headed for war, and led by the most Bible-believing White House in modern times, it's no longer an eccentricity to follow the news with a Bible open on your desk. What then are we to make of some odd parallels between current events and biblical history?
Iraq  Bible  history  biblical  scriptures 
july 2012 by jerryking
'It Didn't Happen' -
July 26, 2007 | WSJ| By JAMES TARANTO.

"Well, look, if that's the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now -- where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife -- which we haven't done," Mr. Obama told the AP. "We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven't done. Those of us who care about Darfur don't think it would be a good idea."

Mr. Obama is engaging in sophistry. By his logic, if America lacks the capacity to intervene everywhere there is ethnic killing, it has no obligation to intervene anywhere -- and perhaps an obligation to intervene nowhere. His reasoning elevates consistency into the cardinal virtue, making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Further, he elides the distinction between an act of omission (refraining from intervention in Congo and Darfur) and an act of commission (withdrawing from Iraq). The implication is that although the U.S. has had a military presence in Iraq since 1991, the fate of Iraqis is not America's problem.

Unlike his main rivals for the Democratic nomination, Mr. Obama has been consistent in opposing the liberation of Iraq.
Obama  Iraq  Vietnam  Laos  consistency  virtues  U.S.foreign_policy  national_interests  sophistry  values 
july 2012 by jerryking
U.S. Goals in Middle East Force Syria to a Crossroads -
April 28, 2003 | WSJ | By HUGH POPE | Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Syria  Iraq 
july 2012 by jerryking
The Weekend Interview with H.R. McMaster: The Warrior's-Eye View of Afghanistan -
May 11, 2012 | WSJ | By DAVID FEITH

H.R. McMaster: The Warrior's-Eye View of Afghanistan
The two-star general wrote the book on Vietnam and showed the way for the surge in Iraq. Now he's back from 20 months in Afghanistan—and says the war can be won.

Author: "Dereliction of Duty,"
Afghanistan  books  counterinsurgency  iraq  Colombia  FARC  Taliban  H.R._McMaster  APNSA 
may 2012 by jerryking
The Company Way -
privately_held_companies  Iraq  Middle_East 
may 2012 by jerryking
Iraq Is Angered by U.S. Drones Patrolling Its Skies -
Published: January 29, 2012
drones  Iraq 
january 2012 by jerryking
Bush, Iraq and Sister Souljah -
December 08, 2002 | NYT| By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN.
Iraq  truth-telling  George_W._Bush 
january 2012 by jerryking
The New Cold War
May 14, 2008 | New York Times | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN.

The next president is going to be a cold-war president — but this cold war is with Iran...As the May 11 editorial in the Iranian daily Kayhan put it, “In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides: Iran and the U.S.”

For now, Team America is losing on just about every front. How come? The short answer is that Iran is smart and ruthless, America is dumb and weak, and the Sunni Arab world is feckless and divided...Ehud Yaari, one of Israel’s best Middle East watchers, calls “Pax Iranica.” In his April 28 column in The Jerusalem Report, Mr. Yaari pointed out the web of influence that Iran has built around the Middle East — from the sway it has over Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, to its ability to manipulate virtually all the Shiite militias in Iraq, to its building up of Hezbollah into a force — with 40,000 rockets — that can control Lebanon and threaten Israel should it think of striking Tehran, to its ability to strengthen Hamas in Gaza and block any U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“Simply put,” noted Mr. Yaari, “Tehran has created a situation in which anyone who wants to attack its atomic facilities will have to take into account that this will lead to bitter fighting” on the Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi and Persian Gulf fronts. That is a sophisticated strategy of deterrence...Alas, the right question for the next president isn’t whether we talk or don’t talk. It’s whether we have leverage or don’t have leverage.

When you have leverage, talk. When you don’t have leverage, get some — by creating economic, diplomatic or military incentives and pressures that the other side finds too tempting or frightening to ignore.
Lebanon  Iran  U.S.foreign_policy  Tom_Friedman  nuclear  Hezbollah  incentives  deterrence  Middle_East  Mideast_Peace  Cold_War  leverage  ruthlessness  influence  Palestinian  Iraq  Persian_Gulf  multiple_stressors  grand_strategy 
january 2012 by jerryking
Changed by Iraq, Military Asks What Will Stick -

Ten years ago, the U.S. military was firmly under the control of the generals. It was steeply hierarchical, slow to evolve and squarely focused on "big wars" between armies of opposing nations.

A decade of painstaking, often painful lessons resulted in a military that is in many way fleeter and more adaptable. It is also flatter: The generals are still in charge, but Iraq and Afghanistan showed that independent thinking by low-level captains and lieutenants is also critical to success. .......But the two wars have also helped push the military strategy from a playbook of offense and defense, to one that includes a third class of operations—strategies that include so-called counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, aimed at maintaining stability for populations in often-hostile zones and turning potential enemies into allies........some officers to fear some of the counterinsurgency skills honed in Iraq will be lost—including running detainee operations, conducting interrogations and collecting intelligence with aerial drones, areas of high expertise that support efforts to cripple insurgent networks and head off spectacular attacks.

Others worry that the skills learned through hard years of fighting—how to react quickly to ambushes and spot IEDs before they explode—will fade. The military remade its training centers to teach such skills, but instilling the knowledge into the next generation of soldiers will require retaining senior non-commissioned officers who spent the most time hunting insurgents in Iraq.
lessons_learned  U.S._military  Iraq  Afghanistan  counterterrorism  counterinsurgency  playbooks 
january 2012 by jerryking
Review & Outlook: Islam's Christians -
DECEMBER 14, 2010 | WSJ | Editorial. Persecution of Iraq's
Christian minorities...raises questions about contemporary Islam's
ability to coexist with non-Islamic peoples—in Iraq and elsewhere...A
spate of anti-Christian bombings and assassinations in Iraq culminated
recently in the siege of a church, Our Lady of Salvation, which resulted
in the death of 51 worshipers and two priests. Afterward, Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke with force and eloquence about the
deaths: "The Christian is an Iraqi. He is the son of Iraq and from the
depths of a civilization that we are proud of."

This is an important and accurate description of the Iraqi past. Some of
these Christian minorities have coexisted with Islam in Iraq and
elsewhere in the Middle East since the time of Jesus. Some still speak
Aramaic, the ancient language of Christ....With the rise of radical
Islam, this tradition of peaceful and productive coexistence has been
displaced by a practice of religious cleansing.
christianity  persecution  intolerance  anti-Christian  Iraq  Egypt  coexistence  islam  religious_intolerance  religious_freedom  pluralism  editorials 
december 2010 by jerryking
Rummy's war
Apr 5, 2003 | The Globe & Mail. pg. F.1 | Barrie McKenna & Doug Saunders. "In the highest reaches of power, the people who have
influence are the ones who bring the president solutions, not problems,"
the former White House insider explained. "When Rumsfeld says we are
going to overthrow the Taliban and I don't need 100,000 troops to do it,
and it happens, that adds to your influence."
Donald_Rumsfeld  profile  rules_of_the_game  Doug_Saunders  Iraq  indispensable  influence  problem_solving  generating_strategic_options  solutions  solution-finders 
december 2009 by jerryking
Turning the Tide Of Battle -
JULY 7, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | BRENDAN SIMMS reviews The Surge
By Kimberly Kagan
(Encounter, 282 pages, $25.95)
Iraq  The_Surge  book_reviews  counterinsurgency  root_cause 
july 2009 by jerryking
Our New National Divide
Wednesday, September 12, 2007 12:01 A.M. EDT WSJ op-ed by OWEN
WEST America's soldiers are committed to the war. But they're not going
to lie about its progress.
security_&_intelligence  Iraq  inspiration  leadership  war  polarization  USMC 
march 2009 by jerryking
Will We Persevere? -
FEBRUARY 24, 2006 WSJ op-ed by ELIOT A. COHEN on the progress in Iraq pre-surge.
Iraq  op-ed  resolve  nation_building  perseverance  Eliot_Cohen  resolutions 
february 2009 by jerryking

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