Iraqi Army Birthday

_36101156_armyap150 "The Iraqi soldiers broke into chants to commemorate the 86th anniversary of the creation of their army.

"Muhammad, Haider, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn!" shouted a group of dancing soldiers, bellowing the names of the prophet and other long-dead Islamic icons revered by Shiite Muslims.

A second later, the name of a living Shiite figure came out of the din. "Moqtada! Moqtada!" one soldier exclaimed, invoking the name of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric and leader of the Mahdi Army militia that American officials blame for many of the worst acts of violence in Baghdad.

Standing quietly in the crowd were four U.S. Army officers, there to represent the team of American soldiers advising the Iraqis. "Sounds like the Mahdi militia is in the tent," said their interpreter, Mohammed Noshi."  WAPO


86 Years.  86 years.  Let’s see… That would mean that the "New" Iraqi Army calculates its origin as having occurred in 1920.  Hmmm.

That would mean that this Iraqi Army thinks itself a continuation of all the other, earlier versions of the Iraqi National Army.  That means that these Iraqi soldiers think that Saddam’s Army is their ancestor, that the Hashemite king’s army is their ancestral force.  I guess that means that 2003 wasn’t "the year zero" after all.  I guess that means that the army that was said by the CPA not to exist any longer still has a ghostly presence abroad in the land.

1920.  That was the year in which the British occupation government began to form a specifically Iraqi army.   In much the same way that the British created local forces in all the former Ottoman lands, the new formations were built on a foundation of former Ottoman Army officers of local birth and culture.  these professional soldiers were looking for employment after the disappearance of the Empire, and were eager to take up military service again.  They brought with them the traditions and schooling of that other, disbanded, army.  These were traditions developed throughout the 19th Century under first French and later German instructors and advisers.

Was this new army in Iraq, a Sunni Army.  Exile propaganda, neocon propaganda and "Information Operations" have portrayed it as such, implying that the only Shia Arab soldiers in the now 86 year old Iraqi Army were slave-like conscripts.  That was never true.  If it were true, these Shia soldiers would not be celebrating the 86th Birthday of their army.  Moqtada’s Army soon.  pl

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14 Responses to Iraqi Army Birthday

  1. JJ says:

    you hit the nail on the head when you said – ‘Moqtada’s Army soon’.

  2. VietnamVet says:

    Zbigniew Brzezinski nails the basic fallacy of the Bush fantasy wars:
    “There is such a thing as historical relevance.
    The fact is, the American effort in Iraq is essentially a colonial effort. We’re waging a colonial war. We live in the post-colonial era. This war cannot be won because it is simply out of sync with historical times.”

  3. Got A Watch says:

    It may have been a mixed-sect army once, but now it seems it is largely Shiite. They seem to organise units along local and Shiite lines, which in practise makes all units Shiite, or Kurd.
    Are there any actual Sunni Army units any more? I doubt it, what Shiite government would pay or equip such. Have any Kurdish units actually arrived in Baghdad, or will they? Kurdish politicians don’t sound as enthusiastic about the “Surge” as Condi does, that’s certain, they seem rather luke-warm on the whole idea, understandably. We will soon see who will fight for what and when.
    When you figure in sect, local, tribal and political loyalites, how many of these soldiers, when the hard choice confronts them, are really Iraq Army serving the Iraqi nation? Or are they just serving their local political, tribal and sectarian interests while being paid to be in the Iraqi Army? I suspect loyalty to a nebulous idea of the Irai state comes last behind the other obligations. In which case America is really just training and equipping men who they will have to combat in the future. Moqtada’s Army indeed.
    An even more important question is how many of these Iraqi Army men also serve now in a militia at nights or on weekends, or act as agents within the Army, passing any information of value to their militia commanders?
    For an inside view of the Sunni insurgents, see: “The jihad now is against the Shias, not the Americans”,,1989397,00.html
    The Sunni’s are feeling great pressure from the Shiites and America, and are getting more desperate. I predict they will have to escalate to try to regain the upper hand over the Shiites, so we can expect even bloodier battles and more carnage in and around Baghdad, even without the “Surge” added to the mix.
    The Mahdi Army seem to have vast numbers of men, equipped reasonably with small-arms, giving them the numerical superiority in almost any clash. If every male between 15 and 45 has been conscripted in Sadr City, as has been reported, that would add another 500K or so (guessing) to their ranks. The Independent Republic of Moqtada’s Death Squads may be founded any day now.
    The new “Surge” does not seem able to change any of these “facts on the ground”, or as you put it, in RealWorld. In BushWorld of course, all these factors will be ignored in the rush to claim a great victory over the forces of darkness, never mind the thousands who will lose their lives (on all sides) to achieve nothing of lasting consequence. I feel sorry for the ordinary soldiers thrust into Baghdad on such a pointless mission. Say a prayer for them, Bush, Cheney, Condi, Kagan and Kristol etc. won’t.

  4. Frank Durkee says:

    If those at the AEI who propsed the surge excluced Sadr City from US involvement, what is the justification for changing that? what is the likely outcome of moving on It?

  5. Chris Marlowe says:

    According to the Arab narrative, Israel is also a western colonial creation, or one of the Crusader kingdoms which rose out of the Crusades. Except this time, the Crusader kingdom is Jewish.
    The very strong ties which bind Israel and the US reinforce this colonial, Crusader kingdom narrative in the Arab mind. This is why the memory of the Crusades is so strong among Arab countries and is taught in their history books.
    According to this narrative, a strong leader will arise just as Saladin drove out the Crusaders to drive out the new occupiers.
    This is why it is so important for Israel to make peace with its neighbors and be accepted as a part of the ME, and not be overly dependent on the US as it has up until now.
    The Knights Templar were the main military force which drove the Crusades. When they lost, they were no longer useful to the European monarchies, and King Philip of France disbanded them, killing their leaders.
    I suspect the same fate will await the neocons.
    Who has any use for people who start wars, then proceed to lose?

  6. Will says:

    the native mesopotamian army has a tradition that goes back thousands of years when it was the class of the world. one has only to read the Bible.
    It’s northern branch based in Nineveh and Asshur, and it’s southern branch based around Babylon. Both speaking a language not too far removed from modern Arabic. Speaking Akkadian, or perhaps Aramaic. Semitic languages based on the triconsonantal roots.

  7. Leila says:

    I heard Zbig say the above quote via radio rebroadcast of the News Hour. I didn’t know who it was, since it was radio (I’d recognize Zbiggie on sight, but I haven’t heard him speak in years). I thought – quite an old guy to be such a post-colonialist straight-shooter. I had him pegged for a confrere of As’ad Abu-Khalil.
    Was I surprised when the announcer read off his name. I remember the days when Zbiggie was a reactionary (in the view of many left-liberals). How come he sounds just like any garden-variety Arab post-colonialist theorist I’ve ever met? Maybe because the concept is the truth???

  8. Michael Singer says:

    Dear Pat,
    King George has fashioned a plan that hinges on the obedience of Al Maliki and of the Iraqi army to do what America wants them to do; be good compromisers and democrats and, I almost forgot, kill their own. As you have said many times, “Ain’t gonna happen.” So what does happen after the two months he is giving the Shite government to turns its back on tribal ties and 1400 years of blood soaked history? What is King George’s Plan B?
    Blame it on Al Malaki? Blame it on the Iranians and Syrians? But then what? Part of me thinks the US troops in Bagdad should redeploy to the city’s perimeter and just let the slaughter begin. Let them fight it out. Create some outlets for innocents who want to flee.Then the rest of the American troops could redeploy on the Syrian and Iranian borders and try to stop the flow of jihadis coming into the country. But the US Army and Marine Corps. can’t stand by and do nothing while the slaugther takes place and they can’t staunch the flow of fighters into Iraq. So what is their plan B? Does anyone know? They say to lose would be a catastrophe but what is their plan when Al Malaki doesn’t obey?
    That isn’t the Democrats responsibility alone is it? Doesn’t King George have to step up to the plate then?
    Michael Singer

  9. MinorRipper says:

    Not sure if everyone has seen these videos of the US military in Iraq or not, but they are pretty amazing: Hopefully our ‘surge’ will not include too many of these types…

  10. Will says:

    The guardian article was very informative. The Sunnis provodked the Shiites, or allowed the Salafits to do so, and now they have a tiger by the tail.
    Just drawing on my christian heritage, trying to fathom the idiocy of Muslim on Muslim violence. We have the Arian-Catholic schism. The Catholic-Orthodox Schism. The Pope and Eastern Emperor once proposed a union but the emperor feared for his life if he implemented even though the Turks were pounding at the door. Then of course, the great Protestant-Catholic divide. Heck, I got an email from my English brother-in-law in November how they were still lighting bonfires in November celebrating Guy Fawkes day. Guy was the Catholic gunpowder “terrorist” who was caught red handed trying to blow the Protestant Parliament to kingdom come back in the early 17th century. Boy, they have a long memory.
    It seems that all the efforts of reconciliation come from the Shiite side. From Khomeini when he was living. From Lebanese Hasan Nasrallah. The Salafis are not into inclusiveness saints or relics. I read somewhere they destroyed Muhammeds’s gravesite and scattered the stones lest anywhere come there and worship and detract from the pure worship of Allah. In that case the whole Mecca industry and Hajj is a diversion. Especially the Kabaa stone.
    The whole Shiite (Shia Ali- the party of Ali) religion is based on intermediaries. Ahl l’bayt (The people of (Muhammed’s) House) are given prominence. That would be his daughter Fatima, son-in-law and cousin Ali and their children Hasan and especially Husain.
    Some argue that Arab secularism was a substitue for Sunni hegemony.
    It is not a good day to be a Sunni Arab in Irak. A Sunni Kurd would be O.K. Turkomen is not clear.

  11. db says:

    Echoes of the ghosts of 86 years?
    I suppose that is one of the reasons for many of our failures. We as a people tend to reject the importance of history, others live it.
    The common places druving perceptions are so different and we despite our vast stores of knowledge and minds, are unable to see or even imagine the existence of what they are seeing.
    So the ghosts arise, the shadow platys are acted out in the bodies of the Iraqis or other unknown people and we travel about, oblivious to it all.
    It isn’t a new perception. Bernard Fall wrote he knew when the French would lose. An officer was playing tennis, a non com came to get leave papers signed and patiently waited game after after game. I believe it was in Cambodia.
    I remember chills as a teenager hearing of khmer rouge calls to angkor, a term which seemed used not as an old inspiring civilization, but as a mystical force behind it all on which responsibility fell as Pol Pot and others tried to claim they were only vehicles.
    I don’t understand any of it, but I don’t understand us most of all, because after all our experience we should know about such things. At least have some general sense of them.
    But now there is just a general ache in my gut. This thing is bad, bad for everybody. And every course of action seems to lead to tragedy.
    The possibility of tragedy is another thing we Americans seem to edit out.

  12. blowback says:

    So what if they end up as Moqtada’s Army, he is probably the most popular Shi’ite politician in Iraq and also appears to be the only one that the Sunni might talk to. If Bush had any sense he would start getting out now while he physically can get “his” army out.
    Michael Singer said:
    Then the rest of the American troops could redeploy on the Syrian and Iranian borders and try to stop the flow of jihadis coming into the country.
    To stop the jihadist, it might be better for the US Army to deploy to the Saudi and Jordanian borders. Most of the foreign jihadist are Sunni and would not be allowed to transit through Iran to Iraq so that they can fight the Shi’ites.
    As for Syria, I suspect that the same applies but it is a bit harder for the Allawites (a minority) to enforce the blockade in a country with a Sunni majority.
    As King Abdullah made clear in his recent demands to Cheney, it is the Saudis who are largely funding the insurgency in Iraq and Jordan is probably the gateway for most jihadists to arrive in Iraq. But they are America’s “allies” so they are left free to continue.

  13. jonst says:

    Vietnam Vet,
    Completely agree with ZB’s view here. However, I think the hallucinogenic drug, belief in American Exceptionalism, blinds most to the reality of the situation. We mean the natives well. So to speak.
    ZB joins a growing group of seniors speaking their minds. i.e. Baker, Scocrowft et al.

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You are generally correct.
    The Salafis in Arabia destroyed several cemeteries in which were buried many of the Prophet’s comapnions.
    Their crimes against Musim history had been extensive.

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