Military Review

Two Rivers as a prize

Two Rivers as a prize Iraq on the eve of the end of the occupation

The number of US military personnel in Iraq is declining, in line with promises by United States President Barack Obama. The country left the combat units of the US armed forces. Prisons transferred to the jurisdiction of local authorities. Most of the bases and strongholds of the Pentagon are eliminated: an 94 object remains from 608. Military property, including 40 thousands of vehicles and more than 1,2 million equipment and equipment, exported or sold.

By September 1, 50 of thousands of US soldiers and officers will remain on Iraqi territory. True, the number of employees of private security companies subordinated to the State Department may be increased to 7 thousand (there are about 3 thousand in Mesopotamia). The White House ignored the warning of the Iraqi General Staff chief that the security agencies of the current Baghdad regime would not be able to establish reliable control over the country until at least 2020. The statements of the commander of the American group in Iraq, General R. Odierno, on the state of the security sector emphasize: the decision to leave the United States troops is political and not related to the real state of affairs.


Over 4,4 thousands of dead and almost 32 thousands of wounded "GI" did not ensure the United States victory. The withdrawal of the American army from Iraq, regardless of the assessments of this step by Washington, is perceived by the Islamic world as the defeat of America. The “stability” of the situation in Iraq is a lull before the storm that awaits this country as the ambitions of local leaders come to fruition, who were constrained by the United States military presence.

Among the current Iraqi politicians there is no strong figure that could unite the country in the framework of the authoritarian model adopted in the Islamic world. Opposing Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs, and Kurds fear repressions traditional for Iraq if the national leader represents rivals. Despite the dominance of the Kurds in the north, which actually represents an independent enclave, and Shiites - in the southern regions of the country, none of the national-religious communities have the advantage to take a dominant position in Iraq. The split of the Shiites into pro-Iranian and nationalist groups, and the Sunnis into Islamists and secular state supporters, complicates the situation. Iraq’s neighbors are also not interested in the emergence of a new Saddam, realizing that the inevitable consequence of the strengthening of central authority in Mesopotamia, in addition to the suppression of the opposition, will be frontier military conflicts.

The existence of Iraq as a decentralized federal state, modeled after Canada or Germany, is a model that has no chance in the Middle East. Territorial disputes, the struggle for the distribution of oil revenues, the tradition of resolving any conflict by force turn this project into a utopia, since there is no external arbiter who controls the country by military means, be it Istanbul of the Ottoman Porte, London during the existence of the British Empire or the Washington coalition leading coalition.

The emergence of a theocratic state throughout Iraq on the Iranian or Saudi model is unlikely, including due to the fact that the Islamization of the Arab regions, accompanied by the suppression and suppression of Christians (whose number decreased from 1,4 million in 1987 year to 400 thousand today) and other minority religions , did not affect Kurdistan. The coming to power of Muslim radicals is not excluded in a number of Sunni and most Shiite enclaves at the end of the country's disintegration. In perspective, Iraq can play the role of a detonator for the explosive spread of Islamism in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Egypt.

Civil war is an inevitable consequence of the withdrawal from Iraq of troops of the US-led coalition, which played a deterrent role during the 7 years that have passed since the defeat of the Saddam regime and the elimination of its infrastructure. The presence of a large number of areas with a mixed population increases the danger of ethnic and confessional clashes by analogy with the processes taking place in India, Malaya and British Africa in 40-60, and in the Balkans in 90.

Judging by Baghdad’s relations with Ankara, Tehran and Riyadh, its neighbors benefit from maintaining a weak state in Iraq with a practically inefficient army divided into spheres of influence. Iran and Turkey are the main regional players, whose presence in Iraqi territory will increase with the weakening of US positions there.

The climax of the struggle of local political groups for power and control over resources will come after the withdrawal of the remaining American military contingent in the country in 2011. How long it will turn out, how it will end, what degree of independence the Kurds and Shiite separatists of the south will get, what level the Islamization of the country will reach is impossible to predict. In many ways, this will depend on how Tehran’s opposition to the world community develops on the Iranian nuclear program, since a war with Israel on any outcome of this conflict will weaken the Islamic Republic and most seriously affect Iran’s sphere of influence, including Iraqi Shiites.

Currently, the Shiites dominate in the state and law enforcement agencies of Iraq, ignoring the attempts of the American military to achieve integration into the power of the Sunnis. The death penalty is widely used in the country (according to Amnesty International, 5 has passed thousands of death sentences in 12 years). The Iraqi political system is in collapse. Having won 7 in March, the parliamentary elections with a margin of two mandates, supported by the US ex-Prime Minister A. Alawi, who heads the Shiite-Sunni bloc Al-Iraqiya, could not form a government. Authority in Baghdad and control of the army is held by the leader of the “State of Law” N. al-Maliki, balancing between Tehran and Washington. Imam al-Sadr's opposition pro-Iranian Mahdi Movement has many more resources than the Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council (WISI), which coordinates with al-Maliki, but refrains from actively interfering in the struggle, allowing opponents to weaken each other.


As the size of the American contingent in Mesopotamia decreases, the security situation worsens. The number of civilian and Iraqi civilian casualties in July-August reached the level of spring 2008 of the year - around 1,5 thousands of dead and wounded every month. Terrorist attacks and shelling are commonplace throughout the country outside of Kurdistan, including the “green zone” of Baghdad, which houses government offices, embassies, representative offices of foreign companies and international organizations.

The war of all against all is a consequence of the occupation of Iraq, during which at least one third of the population suffered from the actions of the coalition forces. By approximate calculations, from 655 thousands died (official UN data) to a million Iraqis, from 3,7 to 4 millions became refugees. At least 2 of millions of them (including about half of qualified specialists) left the country. Over 800 thousands of Iraqi citizens are in Syria, more than 700 thousands - in Jordan (21 one thousand received temporary UN registration and only 700 people acquired refugee status), 100 thousands - in Egypt, 50 thousands - in Iran, unidentified the number is in Turkey and Yemen. Like the Palestinian Arab fugitives in the 40-40-ies, the Iraqis do not enjoy in the states in which they find themselves no rights and do not have the possibility of integration. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait closed the borders with Iraq.

The US investment in the training of Iraqi security forces 22 billion dollars did not give the desired result. The low level of training and unreliability of the armed forces (248 thousand people) and units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (427 thousand) is a rule, the exception of which is made only by army special operational forces (1,7 thousand military personnel) and the federal police (46 thousand employees).

This contrasts sharply with the high combat capability, equipment and motivation of Kurdish militias - Peshmerga (127 thousands), who fight Arabs and Turkomans for Kirkuk (whose fields contain up to 40% of Iraqi oil) and 15 of disputed areas in the Ninawa and Diyala provinces, including The largest city of the Iraqi north is Mosul. The Kurdistan Workers Party, waging a terrorist war against Turkey and the Kurdistan Free Life Party, which opposes Iran, has about 6 thousands of militants.

Of the 95 thousands of Sunni "Awakening Councils" ("Sahwa") fighters, despite their merits in the fight against Al Qaeda, only about 13 thousands got jobs in government agencies, less than 9 thousands were accepted into the army and the police. The participation of others in the impending civil war is all the more inevitable since the Sunni areas of Iraq are deprived of oil resources. “The Iraqi Al-Qaeda stands for the inclusion of Mesopotamia in the future Islamic caliphate. The Iraqi Army of Resistance (IAS), which consists of former Ba'athists, supports the bloc A. Allawi in the confrontation of the Sunnis with the Shiites and the Kurds.

Among the Shiite paramilitary units are the Badr Brigades, al-Hakim, Mahdi Army, al-Sadr, and Al-Fadyl. The first represent the interests of VISI, which concluded an alliance with the Kurds on the basis of a common interest in the federalization of the country, advocating for the autonomy of 9 in the southern provinces of Iraq, where 85% of the country's oil fields are concentrated and the holy cities of Shiites Karbala and An-Najaf are located. The second (50-60 of thousands of representatives of the lower classes) opposes the Kurds in the struggle for Kirkuk, demanding the creation of a unitary Islamic state. The goal of the third is the autonomy of Basra, "Iraqi Dubai."

The internal political situation on the brink of an explosion corresponds to the state of the economy and the social sphere of Iraq. Only two thirds of the factories operate in the country and most of their production capacity is not used. There is a shortage of electricity, fuel, fresh water, transport functions intermittently, up to 50% of the working-age population is unemployed, and corruption has become comprehensive. Thus, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Economy, for the restoration of industry the country lacks 5-7 billion dollars. Meanwhile, in July 2010, the US Federal Supervisory Authority noted that in 2004-2007, 8,7 billion from 9 billion dollars allocated to the Pentagon for the reconstruction of Iraq “were not taken into account”.

The lack of water resources in Iraq is a strategic threat. Upon completion of the Turkish Southeast Anatolia project, by 2025, Mesopotamia will receive only 27% of the volume of water that is supplied today. Baghdad claims 65% Euphrates flow and 92,5% Tigris, Ankara claims 52% Euphrates and 14,1% Tigers. The states provided with fresh water have 8-10 thousand cubic meters per capita per year, in Turkey this indicator slightly exceeds 4, and in Iraq 6 thousand cubic meters.

Iraq’s economic outlook depends on hydrocarbon exports. There is no single legal space in the country, the legal framework for the protection of foreign investments has not been worked out, and the constitutional provisions on the exploitation of oil resources are extremely vague. The law does not define the procedure for the development of newly discovered fields and there is no regulatory framework for investing in oil projects. The country has not passed a law on hydrocarbons - its government can change the terms of the contracts, as it was under Saddam. All this calls into question projects, the possibility of participation in which, according to the results of the December 2009 tenders, were received by Russian oil companies.

The cost of developing the 2 phase of West Qurna by the LUKOIL consortium (56,25%) and the Norwegian Statoil ASA (18,75%) should be about 30 billion dollars. Work at the Badra field of the Gazprom Neft Consortium (30%), Korean Kogas (22,5%), Malaysian Petronas (15%) and Turkish Trao (7,5%) is approximately $ 2 billion. High risk, low profit margins and long-term investments worsen the export prospects of Iraqi "black gold".

The situation in Iraqi Kurdistan is somewhat different for the better. First of all, this refers to the export of natural gas, whose reserves in the region are estimated at 2,83 trillion cubic meters (89% of Iraq’s “blue fuel” storerooms). According to Crescent Petroleum (UAE), this gas will fill the Nabucco gas pipeline in a volume sufficient to launch it in the 2015 year. Participation in the project of local authorities is based on the 113 th article of the Iraqi constitution, according to which Kurdistan, in accordance with the status of the federal district, has the right to its own system of legislative, executive and judicial power, legislation, security forces and representative offices at Iraqi embassies abroad. 7 August 2007, the Kurdish government approved a regional law on hydrocarbons, opening up the possibility of foreign investment in their development in the provinces of Erbil, Suleymaniyah, Dohuk and Kirkuk's “disputed territories”, and in May 2010 signed an oil export agreement with Baghdad.


US withdrawal from Iraq raises the question of the balance of power in the Middle East in the event of an Iran-Israeli war. In addition to U.S. Army units stationed on the territory of the small monarchies of the Persian Gulf, an American presence in the region is provided by the 5th operational fleet based in Bahrain (Manama) under the command of Vice Admiral W. Courtney. The composition of this compound in peacetime includes up to 20 warships, protected by a modern air defense system, including an aircraft carrier at the head of an attack group, a landing group (amphibians), mine sweeping and auxiliary vessels. On board are up to 20 thousand people (about 3 thousand more are personnel of coastal services). A number of ships and submarines are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles. The 152nd and 158th operational units are in the territorial waters of Iraq fleetthe latter on an ongoing basis.

The armed forces (15,5 thousands of people), the National Guard (6,6 thousands) and the Coast Guard (500) of Kuwait in an impending conflict can perform only auxiliary functions in the territory of the emirate. Modern air defense systems, 53 combat aircraft and 32 Air Force helicopters facilitate this task.

The National Guard (100 thousand people) and the army (126,5 thousand, including ground forces - 75 thousand) of Saudi Arabia, having a surplus of modern weapons, including air defense on the basis of the Patriot air defense system of the PAC-2, practically do not have combat experience. In the Royal Air Force (20 thousand people) there are 286 combat aircraft and 79 helicopters. The border of the country with Iraq and Kuwait is covered by the military base “Hafr al-Batin”.

Experts recognize the armed forces of Jordan (90 thousand people) as one of the best in the Arab world. They have significant combat experience. They include ground troops (82 thousand people), the Air Force (7,5 thousand) and the Navy (500). Jordan military aviation has several dozen F-16 fighters.

Although in 2008-2009, Iraq was actively purchasing weapons and military equipment in the United States and Europe, including Ukraine, Italy, France and Serbia (the US reported plans to supply weapons and military equipment to Iraq for 7,2 billion, Ukraine for 2,4 million euro), for the reasons mentioned above, his army is weak, poorly trained and will not be able to resist the Iranian and Turkish troops, even in limited border conflicts. The political clash between Iraq and Iran, unlikely for political reasons, will in any case be resolved not in his favor.

The armed forces of Turkey, balancing between the United States and Iran, number 510,7 thousand people. This number does not include the gendarmerie (150 thousand) and the coast guard (3250). In the ground forces there are 4205 tanks and more than 1550 guns. The Air Force (60,1 thousand people) has 445 combat aircraft (including the F-16C / D and F-4E Phantom), 40 helicopters and up to 160 UAVs. In army aviation - 47 combat helicopters. The Navy (48,5 thousand people) - 99 warships, including 12 submarines and 25 frigates. On the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan periodically conducts hostilities, destroying the bases of the PKK, the 35th Turkish army group.

The armed forces of the allied Iran Syria stand apart in the region (however, it will most certainly remain neutral in the event of a conflict between Iran and the United States and Israel). Numerous ground forces (320 thousand people) include 10 commando regiments (about 30 thousand military). But before 80% of 4410 tanks and 2080 guns are outdated. The same applies to the Air Force and Air Defense (50 thousand people), in which there are 478 combat aircraft and 72 helicopter, including several Su-27 and Mig-29. The Navy (10 thousand people) - 10 combat and a number of auxiliary ships.

Iran has a military vehicle comparable to that of Turkey. The army (350 thousand people) consists of 1600 tanks and 2400 guns. The Navy (18 thousand) includes 32 warships, more 120 boats and 40 auxiliary vessels, naval aviation, 3 coastal missile brigades and 2 brigade marines (2,6 thousands). Air Forces (52 thousands) have approximately 300 combat aircraft and 110 helicopters. Modern are front-line bombers Su-24 (up to 30) and fighters MiG-29 (up to 25).

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) includes ground forces (100 thousand), missile units (5 thousand), Navy (20 thousand, including marines - 5 thousand) and resistance forces "Kods" (5 thousand). Basij formations (90 thousand permanent members and 300 thousands of reservists) perform guard and support functions.

Since the vast majority of Iranian military equipment is represented by obsolete models, Tehran relies on asymmetric methods of warfare using missiles, UAVs, light (up to 2000) and high-speed (up to 150) missile boats, launch boats, kamikaze planes, mines and saboteurs (1500 groups). The bombardment of Iraq in the event of war will be carried out by Shehab-1 missile systems (up to 600, flight range - up to 330 km) and Shehab-2 (up to 150, flight range - up to 700 km), tactical missiles "Naseat" and " Zelzal "(flight range - up to 300 km). The IRI also has Shekhab-3 medium range missiles (up to 90) with a range of up to 2000 km (10 launchers).

The fighting, which Iran and Iraq fought between themselves in 1980-1988, was accompanied not only by the “tanker war”, during which opponents attacked the oil tankers, making no exceptions for tankers belonging to neutral countries. Since March 1985, Iranians have fired rockets at Iraqi territory. The shelling was most intense in the spring of 1988 during the so-called war of the cities. Of the 77 fighters launched in Iraq, the P-17 missiles attacked Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk and Tikrit from 76. One fell in Kuwait. All this can happen again. Here are just to fight with Iran in Iraq no one else.
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