About this blog...

I am a former leader of a Human Terrain Team in Iraq. My intent with this blog was to identify relevant, open-source materials on Iraqi culture, society, politics, religion and economics - just about anything on or about the Iraqi population in general.

I am continuing the blog now only sporadically, as a means of information distribution in support of efforts to improve a vital program hamstrung by failures in execution.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunni and Shia engagement: effects of the surge

The lion's share of this article, as is clear in the title, is about the effect of the surge on engagement with and among the Shia. The most interesting analysis to me, though, is the first section discussing Sunni engagement, where the author points out that if nothing else, the Sunni leaders we've been dealing with since starting the surge have far more legitimacy among the Sunni than anyone who's been willing to deal with us previously. It kind of drives home the distinction between dealing with legitimate leaders on whatever terms we have to and trying to create leaders out of whatever shmoes are willing to deal with us on our terms...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tribal Engagement

This piece just came out on tribal engagement -- it's a great introduction to dealing with tribes in this environment. You can also check out this piece about factors unique to a tribal insurgency.

Friday, September 14, 2007

HTS in Afghanistan

CSM had an article last week on the HTS Team in Afghanistan...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

IDP Update

It's no big secret that IDPs have become a big issue in Iraq -- it's a big part of the sectarian stuff that's been going on (along with a general refugee problem...) This week, an organization that specifically addresses the issue of displaced persons in Iraq released its mid-2007 assessment. An assessment of the IDP camps (from July 07) and a report specific to Baghdad IDPs (May 07) are also worth a look. Reports on the other governorates can be found here. Meanwhile, a recent article describes the life of Iraq refugees elsewhere in the Arab world, while another claims that the surge has increased the number of displaced persons....

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Culture is complicated

Noah Schachtman, over at the Danger Room, has a great vignette that illustrates why understanding the culture is about more than simply "being nice" to the locals...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ramadan Prisoner Release

Coalition forces announced this week that 50 prisoners a day will be released during Ramadan, which begins on 13 September. It's something we've done in previous years, and it's a common practice in the Muslim world. It happens in nations as varied as Egypt, Israel, Western Sahara, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE, Afghanistan, Yemen, Morocco, Indonesia, Iran and in certain US States (on HBO, at least).