“They All Look Alike”

"The offensive in Tal Afar is especially delicate because of the tangle of ethnic sensitivities in the region.

About 90 percent of the city’s population — most of which fled to the countryside before the fighting began — is Sunni Turkmen, who have complained about their treatment from the Shiite-dominated government and police force put in place after the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Addressing that complaint, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr announced Saturday that another 1,000 police officers would be hired in Tal Afar after the offensive, and they would be chosen from the Turkmen population.

The Turkmen have a vocal ally in their Turkish brethren to the north, where Turkey’s government is a vital U.S. ally and has fought against its own Kurdish insurgency for decades. Tal Afar is next to land controlled by Iraqi Kurds.

Turkey voiced disapproval of U.S. tactics when American forces ran insurgents out of Tal Afar a year ago. The Turkmen residents complained that Iraqi Kurds were fighting alongside the Americans.

U.S. and Kurdish officials denied the allegation, but the Turkish government threatened to stop cooperating with the Americans. The siege was lifted the next day and insurgents began returning when the Americans quickly pulled out, leaving behind only a skeleton force of 500 soldiers.

For those reasons, U.S. forces have stood back during the new sweep through Tal Afar, allowing Iraqi forces to break down doors in the search for insurgents."  Yahoo News

All right…  Now, how many of the 5000 Iraqi troops in this operation are Turkmen? How many do you suppose are former Kurdish Pesh Merga militia recruited from among the ancestral enemies of the Turkmen?  How many are Shia Arabs who used to belong to SCIRI and Dawa Party militias?

We generally don’t have a clue in dealing with ethnic issues, mush less regional issues.  When I was stationed in Saudi Arabia, as Defense Attache in the embassy, I used to go to the field to observe exercises of the Saudi National Guard.  This is an all Beduin force separate from the Saudi Army.  Why did I do that?  It was my job to keep track of the state of training of all Saudi forces.

On one of these trips, I noticed a Lieutenant in a motorized full time unit (second tier) who looked different.  In talking to him it became clear that by his accent he was something different. I asked him what tribe he was from. He said "Beni Sakhr."  This was interesting because this is a tribe in Jordan.

"Yes," he said.   "I am a Jordanian Army officer seconded to the Saudi Guard."

"Do they know that?"  I asked him of the Americans conducting the exercise.

"No," he said with a laugh.  "They never asked in the month we have been together.  They think they are teaching me something.  I am a Sandhurst graduate."

We often don’t understand what we are dealing with.

Pat Lang


This entry was posted in Current Affairs. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to “They All Look Alike”

  1. J says:

    I wonder just how many in D.C. or at DOD are aware that last month, Sandhurst just had its first Iraqi graduate since 1989.

  2. J says:

    Forgot to mention, last month’s Sandhurst’s first Iraqi graduate since 1989, received the coveted ‘Overseas Sword’,its awarded to the overseas cadet considered to be ‘the best’ in his course.

  3. RJJ says:

    “We often don’t understand what we are dealing with.”
    Why is this? Our cultural tech fetishism might have something to do with it. [??]
    Are the British better prepared?

  4. Alvord says:

    We are in a heck of a mess in Iraq. Is there really anything significant we can do to fix it? Have we set events into motion that will work against our interests and the best we can do now is cut our losses and start to withdraw?

  5. Pat Lang says:

    I don’t see any way out for a while. This is truly a case of “unintended consequences.” The people who started this still do not admit that anything is going wrong. That’s a problem.
    We have created a government tht now has the trappings of sovereign independence. Very tough to deal with if we want to “scale back” the level of Shia power, for example.
    There is a big problem in what we are going to do about people who associated with us.
    I don’t know. pl

  6. Pat Lang says:

    The British used to be better prepared. Their society used to produce the kind of “outdoor eccentrics” who were good at this. So did the French.
    That’s pretty much gone now. I don’t meet a lot of Brits any more who look like th type. Sorry.
    Us? Part of it is the tech thing. Part of it is our commitment to our idea of the “melting pot.” We don’t think it is even proper to ask someone who he is, where he comes from, who his people are, etc.

  7. RJJ says:

    “There is a big problem in what we are going to do about people who associated with us.”
    Tish! premillennial values and anti-exceptionalist thinking. Stuff happens. Concern for associates is for superpowers, not unbalanced megapowers.

  8. Pat Lang says:

    You do that. pl

  9. Pat Lang says:

    Too many questions.
    No. I don’t fear the king of Jordan. pl

  10. Mr.Murder says:

    He’s the most likely hingepin. Royal bloodline, speaks great English. perfect face for an Arab coalition.
    As for the idea of propping up these mutliple monarchies, such is anathma to democracy.
    Nice to see our double standard inspire more resentment in the Arab world.
    SOme of us saw the Arab world unite in the Iraq war from the start. So did the neocons. Two bottles of perfume were missung from the Niger embassy along with the supposed Niger document.
    Perfume gets its name from Persia. Traditional wedding gift, still followed in Iran. The use of the Niger forgery enabled a wedding of the old persian empire.
    Iran and Iraq wed as one, flowers at Khomeni’s grave show so. Saudis placed Al Faisal as our ambassador. The first King of iraq was King Faisal. No coincidence.
    Others noted Faisal was of Jordaian lineage. See the circle complete?
    Pat you share much history and background with people. Can you perhaps confirm whether Michael Sheldon Cheney is related to Dick Cheney?
    Michael Sheldon Cheney was trhe first ever PR director for ARAMCO, the Arabian-American Oil CO. which formed from SOCAL(Standard of Cali.) and Arab interests to attract venture capital and develop infrastructure of the Trans-Arabian pipeline and the industry as a whole in the OPEC regions.
    Exxon was formerly known as Standard of New Jersey?
    Seems we see who is in charge after all. Cheney and Condi, not AWOL the deserter.
    Pat can you confirm whther or not Michael Sheldon Cheney and Dick Cheney share any relation?
    How about their business connections?
    Cheney’s move to Montana was the Teapot Dome revisited. The uber-wealthy knew what he symbolized. A return to robber baron gilded age excess.
    The Hague awaits him in eitrher instance. The sooner someone develops the balls to verify the fact of Cheney’s background to Sauds the sooner we can create the media momentum to see change made in Democracy for the better by the will of an informed electorate consituency.
    Otherwise these posts are just —– in the wind…

  11. Pat Lang says:

    JT (Jerry?)
    I get it.
    I’m not too worries about him. Jordanians aregood at both police work and VIP security.
    I like him too. I liked his father even more. pat

  12. Pat Lang says:

    Abdullah of Jordan? The Arabs don’t unite they divide. Nearly all the Arab countries are the result of colonial boundary decisions. The Saudis hate the Hashemites.
    The kings and the presidents are functionally the same.
    Faisal is a common Arab name. The two men are un-related and of mutually hostile families.
    No idea who the other Cheney is.
    The media? Let’s see, whch direction do they think the wind is blowing in today?

  13. Mr.Murder says:

    So you can’t confirm MSC?
    Thanks for the Faisal reference. A seperate blog lists the Saud Faisal as a key for Saudi INTEL going back to Bush Sr’s days.
    He’s also considered the set-up man for the Taliban’s emergence in Afghanisatan? Or is he overstating such a connection, and instead confusing it with the earlier Mujahadeen? Or was there a series of uniform connections with that that did indeed help establish ‘the base’ as we know it today?
    So the Iraqi Faisal is of any family relevant today? The Saudi Al-Faisal had the other point mentioned. It came from a cross-reference on Larry’s link to Booman. Faisal is not to be taken lightly.
    “Who is the New Saudi Ambassador and Why Don’t We Care?”
    That thread title, bottom of this page:
    As for Michael Sheldon Cheney…the book “Big Oil Man from Arabia” New York, (1958) may shed more light on him.
    He heldped set up the infrastructure of their oil industry and his background references to cultural differences is interesting and something you could best appreciate.
    Trans-Islamic interests will soon unite. Pax Americana redone, via oil and trade interests the arc of muslim culture currently covers, and applied to an antiwestern model.
    Is Iraq and attempt to hedge them and hope these fissures rift the unity, or has our presence there simply helped unify their competing interests?
    Leaving would change this?
    As for Abdullah, he is still the best face to unite groups and work with the West. Too bad it is in the realm of Monarchy, one gets the feeling he’d make an adequate leader in any sense for both business and political interests.
    Thanks on the Faisal comments, that’s two sources now and outside a parallel reference at the library there was nothing to confirm or dispel that.
    Similar to the name of perhaps a “Johnson” in English… a common surname.
    Thanks again, Pat.

  14. Pat Lang says:

    Arabs don’t have surnames unless they live in a place so acculturated toward the West that they have adopted our usage, As in Egypt where Gamal Mubarak is the president’s son and they follow the Western custom by using Mubarak as a surname.
    The man in Saudi Arabia is often called Turki Faisal. Faisal was his father’s name.
    Turki’s full name is Turki bin Faisal bin Abd al-Aziz al-Saud.
    Turki Faisal was for many years the head of Saudi intelligence and responsible for their liaison with CIA.
    Taliban? Just another worrisome problem for Turki Faisal. Heads of intelligence services end up having to deal with complex issues. When these issues go sour, their governments find it convenient to blame them.
    The “bin” means son of and the “Saud” is a descriptive of the clan.
    King Faisal I of Iraq was a cousin of the Hashemite family who are kings of Jordan. The Iraq branch of the family was deposed in 1958.
    I have no idea who CSM is/was. pl

  15. Mr.Murder says:

    Not knowing Michael Sheldon Cheney when talking of oil and the mideast would be comparable to talking about cars and not knowing who Henry Ford or Lee Iacocca were…
    Does not pass the smell test. Teapot Dome redux.

Comments are closed.