Best Defense

Former FP roundtable participant tapped to lead Iraqi offensive to re-take Mosul — but will he ask for U.S. ground forces?

It was interesting to see that Maj. Gen. Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri has been asked by the Iraqi government to lead the offensive against ISIS aimed at re-capturing Mosul.

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It was interesting to see that Maj. Gen. Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri has been asked by the Iraqi government to lead the offensive against ISIS aimed at re-capturing Mosul.

The downside is that he said fairly recently that he thought American forces would be needed to re-take that city.

Al-Jubouri, a former mayor of Tel Afar, participated two years ago in a roundtable discussion held by Susan Glasser, then the editor of Foreign Policy, and me. He commented then that the Americans tended in Iraq at the beginning to rely too much on Iraqi yes-men. He also was critical of the American focus, saying that: “I think American forces focus just on the enemy, on al Qaeda, and they forget about the people. I think if you want to win the war against al Qaeda, you should protect the people first. The American forces always, in the beginning, in Iraq, they put their eyes on al Qaeda, and they don’t care about the people.”

More recently, he spoke at New America’s conference on the Future of War, and offered his thoughts about how to counter ISIS. To have Sunnis on your side in Iraq, he said, the de-Baathifcation law has to go: “As long as this law is used against the Sunni people there will not be true reconciliation in Iraq and Mosul… And every other Sunni area will not be safe from ISIS.” He noted that the people of Mosul don’t trust Peshmerga fighters, and that any effort to recapture the city will need to include tribal fighters—presumably Sunni. Here is a video of his whole talk. “If we win the people, we win the battle.”

He also says (at 9:34 on the video) that, “I think it would be very difficult to defeat ISIS in Nineweh without American forces.”

Here’s a link to the entire FP discussion in which he participated.

(HT to Peter Bergen)

YouTube

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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