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Et il ne le vit plus. Voir 1 Samuel 17 E. Les anges gardiens vus par P. Et non de quelle religion faisait-elle partie. Le vrai ne peut venir que du ciel! Des ovnis en France: Pas plus que celle-ci: Ce qui rejoint le commandement biblique: Dites-moi si je me trompe, car je ne suis pas experte sur la question….

Ils semblent par contre vivre dans une autre dimension. Pourquoi donc ceux qui ont vu les ovnis en aurait un? Ne venait-elle pas des Nephilim? Deux principes qui semblent exister du temps des pyramides: Pas de vie morale, pas de vie sociale. Amour et connaissance sont tout.

Et le chercheur A. Et lorsque les anges, les enfants des cieux, les eurent vues, ils en devinrent amoureux ; et ils se dirent les uns aux autres: Alors Samyaza, leur chef, leur dit: Et que je supporte seul la peine de votre crime. Voici le nom de leurs chefs: Akibeel enseigna les signes. Et Asaradel enseigna les mouvements de la lune. Odierno relentlessly in a way that no one else would have dared—and he returned the favor. It is part of Gen. Sky could provide to avoid the groupthink that so often characterizes military command.

He made her his indispensable aide, and she stayed by his side not only during his tour as the deputy commander in Iraq in but also when he was the top commander, from to Along the way, she helped the U. In his second term, he pursued the sectarian agenda that drove many Sunnis into the arms of Islamic State. Sky ended up disenchanted with the administration she had once supported: If only Obama had paid attention to Iraq.

But his only interest in Iraq was in ending the war. Odierno—who warned the administration of Mr. As we stared across the salt lake and watched the sun disappear behind the rocky crags of Israel, I recounted a trip I had taken to Jordan 20 years earlier to conduct field research on Palestinian refugees, as part of a Middle East peace effort designed to ensure that within a decade nobody in the region considered himself a refugee.

No one had an inkling back then that the numbers of refugees in the region would increase exponentially, with millions of Iraqis and Syrians displaced from their homes by international intervention and civil war. Nor had I imagined at the time that I would find myself in Iraq after the invasion of , initially as a British representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority—the international transitional government that ran the country for about a year after the fall of Saddam Hussein—and then as the political advisor to U.

Army General Raymond Odierno when he commanded U. A number of the Iraqis I had gotten to know over the last decade had relocated to Jordan. I had gone there to see them and better understand events in the region—and the conditions that had led to the rise of the Islamic State. It was a reunion of sorts; some of us had gone white-water rafting down the Little Zaab river in northern Iraq a few years ago. Azzam was an experienced rafter, but even the danger of the rapids had not pressured the group to trust his leadership and work together.

There was a lot of shouting and we all got soaked, but somehow we had survived the trip. This, to me, represented Iraq writ large. Therefore, so the twisted reasoning goes, the United States must have deliberately created the group in order to make Sunnis and Shiites fight each other, thereby allowing the U. S to continue dominating the region. Local media had reported on alleged U.

One of my dining companions asked me where I thought the group came from. I responded that Daesh was a symptom of a much larger problem. Regional sectarian conflict was an unintended consequence of the Iraq War and the manner in which the United States had left the country, both of which had empowered Iran and changed the balance of power in the Middle East. In my view, regional competition—of which Iran versus Saudi Arabia is the main but not only dimension—exacerbated existing fault lines.

Iran was funding and training Shiite militias, as well as advising regimes in Baghdad and Damascus. Gulf financing had flowed to Sunni fighters, including the ones that ultimately became Daesh. Azzam offered another perspective. Daesh, he said, were Muslims, and fundamentalist Salafi Islam was to blame for their existence. The problem, he said, was the literal interpretation of the Quran, which, for example, spelled out harsh criminal punishments reflective of seventh-century practices.

Other religions had moved forward and reformed because adherents were willing to interpret texts for their own time. A heated argument broke out as others at the table defended Islam and accused Azzam of being brainwashed by the West. All of these explanations contained some truth: There was no one simple reason, but rather a complex set of factors, that had enabled the group to take control of so much of Iraq.

Another explanation came from Sheikh Abdullah al-Yawar, the paramount sheikh of the Shammar tribe, which has around 5 million members in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Last summer, in the wake of the Daesh takeover of Mosul, his mother and brother managed to escape just hours before their palatial room house near Rabiah—northwest of Mosul on the Syrian border—was blown up, his photos and carpets destroyed, his horses scattered to the wilds. It was a house that I knew well and had visited many times.

From onward, Abdullah had decided that he and his family would cooperate with international coalition forces to secure their area, rather than fight against them. Daesh did not suddenly take control of Mosul last summer, Abdullah told me over dinner with his family at his house in Amman. For years, there had been so much corruption in local government that Daesh had been able to buy influence and supporters.

Daesh had then been able to exploit this situation to take control, presenting itself as a better alternative to corrupt local government. But I had a more basic question: Then, after , some became al-Qaeda, and now they were Daesh. They felt excluded and marginalized. Daesh gave them a sense of empowerment and let them present themselves as the defenders of the Sunnis against Shiites, Iran, and the United States.

I asked Abdullah what had happened to them. He responded that they had been all talk. Some had grown the beards mandated by fundamentalists and joined Daesh. Others had done nothing. Abdullah and his wife provided me quotation after quotation from the Quran to prove that Daesh violated the tenets of Islam.

Personally, I told them, I judge people by how they behave. I told them I thought I faced a greater risk of death from overeating. Iran is now in Tikrit. This is not the way to destroy Daesh. It will cause a worse reaction in the future. A few days later, Sheikh Ghassan al-Assi of the Obeidi tribe, which has around , members in Iraq, both Sunni and Shiite, took me to a restaurant in Amman that he said was owned by Christians from Baghdad. When the waiter came to take our order, Ghassan said, with an acerbic wit that I was by now long familiar with: I had first met Ghassan in , when he had been highly critical of coalition forces in Iraq.

Even so, we had remained friends. He had fled to Amman last summer in the wake of the Daesh blitzkrieg. According to Ghassan, the group had blown up the grave of his father, the paramount sheikh of the Obeidis, and had destroyed the houses of his uncles because they collaborated with Maliki. He had hoped that his house would be left alone, since he had not worked with the United States or the Iraqi government. But the week prior to my visit, Daesh had turned up with C4 explosives and blown the home up.

He did not know why. He took out his iPhone. It is a state of militias. I was surprised; I had never expected a boy born and bred in Hawija—a rough provincial town—to turn out looking like this. Even in Hawija, it seemed, there were people who just wanted to lead normal lives, to wear the latest fashion. It was Dubai, not Daesh, that represented the sort of society they wanted to live in.

Sheikh Ghassan laughed at my astonishment. On my last day in Jordan, Jaber al-Jaberi, another tribal leader who had served Iraq as a member of parliament and had once been a candidate for minister of defense, drove me to Jerash, an ancient city outside Amman. Jaber, too, had been forced to leave his home in Anbar amid the Daesh advance. Jaber himself had given up politics and was now spending his days trying to get food and assistance to tribesmen living in terrible conditions in makeshift accommodation in the desert. The Sunnis, he said, had no real leaders, and the Shiite militias were more powerful than the Iraqi security forces.

The state of Iraq has indeed failed. It no longer has the legitimacy or the power to extend control over its whole territory, and the power vacuum is being filled by a multitude of non-state actors, increasingly extreme and sectarian, who will likely continue to fight each other for years to come, supported by regional powers.

Whether a new kind of order will finally emerge, with more local legitimacy, remains to be seen. And for now those who are displaced are left wondering how long it will be until they are able to return home—and to what. The past would survive in archives, in exhibits in the British Museum, on the walls of art galleries in Amman, in poems recited around the world.

We were in the land where humans had first experimented with settled agriculture, where the Babylonian king Hammurabi gave some of the first written laws, where Jews had written the Talmud. Jaber, I saw, had tears in his eyes. Not these terrible terrorists, not these militias, not these awful politicians. A new generation will come one day that can build on this. The hope is the youth who just want to live their lives. And How to Get It Back. From to , she was the political adviser to Ray Odierno then the commanding general of U. Republicans and Democrats each share some of the blame for the situation in Iraq — the former for the way in which the United States entered the country and the latter for the way in which it left.

It was only between and that the United States had a coherent strategy in Iraq, matched with the right leadership and the necessary resources. At that time, some senior officials argued that the United States should uphold the constitutionally mandated right of the winning bloc, Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi, to have the first go at trying to form a government.

They maintained that the United States should actively help broker an agreement among Iraqi elites to form the new government and warned of the already apparent autocratic tendencies of Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent prime minister. Other officials argued that Maliki, despite his narrow electoral defeat, was the only conceivable Shia leader who could hold the position. He was also, they said, a friend of the United States who would agree to allow the United States to maintain a small contingent of forces in Iraq after , when the existing agreement between the two countries expired.

In the end, it was Iran that stepped in and, by pressuring the Sadrists to support Maliki, secured him a second premiership. The price Iran extracted from Maliki was his support for the removal of all U. Since , Maliki has consolidated his power by targeting his political rivals, subverting the judiciary and independent government commissions, reneging on his promises to the Sunni tribal leaders who had helped him fight al Qaeda, and politicizing the security forces that the United States invested so much in training.

He also mishandled the yearlong protests against his government that erupted in Sunni areas at the end of , following the souring of relations between him and Rafi al-Issawi, the highly respected minister of finance. His forces attacked protesters in Hawija, killing Following the death of the Iraqi general leading the operation, Maliki ordered his troops into the cities of Anbar province to close down all protest sites.

But they have been revealed to be strategic disasters, since they provoked a backlash that weakened the state. Sunni tribes, which previously had turned against the forerunner of ISIS, al Qaeda in Iraq, have this time either fled, remained neutral, or backed the militants.

In one of his recent speeches, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, called on Sunni Muslims to join his organization to fight the Shia and establish a caliphate, which would remove the borders between Muslim lands that were demarcated by colonial powers. But it is not the borders that are the root of the problems of these countries. It is the political leadership, which has failed to develop inclusive and robust states. And, ironically, although the ISIS has railed against national divisions, the tensions between its international jihadist agenda and the nationalist agendas of most Sunni groups will inevitably create friction and infighting.

Meanwhile, facing the shock caused by the collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul, Shia have turned to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for guidance. In the ongoing turmoil, the Kurds have taken the contested city of Kirkuk and see independence in their sights. Without such a neutral third party, the likelihood of Arab-Kurdish conflict is increasing, with ISIS gaining the opportunity to present itself as the protector of the Sunnis against Iranian-backed Shia but also against what they perceive as Kurdish expansionism.

So what can and should the United States do? It is positive that the United States no longer views the violence in Iraq as separate from the bloodshed in Syria and Lebanon. The region has become one battlefield — and U. It was the Iranian Revolution that set off the modern-day struggle between Iran and the Sunni powers.

And it was the war in Iraq that led to sectarianization of regional politics. Then it was the U. The United States needs to pursue policies that lessen sectarian tensions and support moderates. The majority of those living in Iraq and Syria yearn to live in peace with just, effective, and transparent governments. The fall of Mosul and events that followed are indications that these tensions have come to a head and that it is time for Maliki to admit his failures and open the way for a more competent Shia leader to start a new approach. Although Maliki did head the winning bloc in the most recent elections, those opposed to him have enough votes to replace him if they can agree on an alternative.

In his June 19 statement, U. Shia, Sunni, Kurds — all Iraqis — must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence. He correctly recognized that any military options would be effective only if they were in support of an overall political strategy that a new broad-based government agreed to. A new broad-based Iraqi government will need to win back the support of Sunnis against ISIS — and the Obama administration should be prepared to respond positively to requests for assistance to do so.

Nationalism, Sectarianism and Socio-political Conflict in Iraq. This past December, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of several bodyguards of Rafi al-Issawi, the minister of finance and one of the most influential and respected Sunni leaders in Iraq. In response, tens of thousands of Sunnis took to the streets of Anbar, Mosul, and other predominantly Sunni cities, demanding the end of what they consider government persecution.

Issawi has accused Maliki of targeting him as part of a systematic campaign against Sunni leaders, which includes the indictment of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, on terrorism charges. This is not the first time that Maliki has gone after Issawi, either.

In , during tense negotiations over the makeup of the government, Maliki accused Issawi of leading a terrorist group — a claim that the U. Not coincidentally, this most recent incident occurred days after President Jalal Talabani, always a dependable moderator in Iraqi politics, was incapacitated by a stroke. The scale of the ongoing demonstrations reveals the widespread sense of alienation that Sunnis feel in the new Iraq.

Prior to , Sunnis rarely identified as members of a religious sect and instead called themselves Iraqi or Arab nationalists. Today, the roles are reversed. In turn, many Sunnis take issue with the new political system, which was largely shaped by Shia and Kurdish parties.

Today, the Sunni population is mobilizing against the status quo and making sect-specific demands, such as the release of Sunni detainees, an end to the torture of Sunni suspects, and humane treatment of Sunni women in jails. Moreover, demonstrators are calling for the overthrow of the regime, using slogans made popular during the Arab Spring. As with other protests in the Arab world, which were initially driven by legitimate local grievances, there is a risk that the current movement will become increasingly sectarian.

At political events, some Iraqi Sunni clerics use conciliatory language and emphasize Iraqi fraternity. Since , when Maliki led a harsh crackdown on the Mahdi Army, a Shia militia, the prime minister has tried to present himself as a nationalist leader seeking to unify his country and evenly enforce the rule of law. Maliki tried to earn legitimacy beyond just the Shia community, in particular seeking the support of Sunni voters.

His confrontation with Massoud Barzani, the president of the semi-independent Iraqi Kurdistan region, over security issues along the disputed border was primarily a move to win the support of the Sunni population there, which is resentful of Kurdish encroachment.

He blames external interference for the current tensions, exploiting images of divisive symbols such as flags of the Saddam era, the Free Syrian Army, and Kurdistan, as well as photos of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Maliki could cling to power by presenting himself as the defender of the Shia in an increasingly tumultuous environment, turning his fear of a regional sectarian conflict into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Al-Qaeda attacks in Iraq are on the rise, provoked by discontent with Maliki and inspired by the Syrian civil war next door. Meanwhile, other leaders are struggling to remain relevant.

The credibility of Sunni government officials is declining, due to their inability to prevent discrimination against their constituents while participating in a system that brings them personal benefits. In the Shia camp, Sadr is moving to the center, positioning himself as a nationalist leader. If Sadr is able to create an alliance with anti-Maliki Sunnis and Kurds — presenting a credible and unifying alternative government — sectarianism could be curbed.

However, Maliki might be provoked by such a challenge and clamp down on his rivals even more aggressively. Politics in Iraq and the surrounding region are increasingly sectarian. This need not be the case: But, given the sectarian turn of Iraqi politics, Sunni leaders seem likely to run on one list with a platform built around Sunni grievances in the national elections.

In addition, more hardline Sunni leaders may emerge if the current politicians prove unable to achieve meaningful gains for their communities. Sunni leaders may also, if they manage to overcome their internal divisions, propose an independent Sunni region, similar to the one enjoyed by the Kurds. This would mark the end of Iraqi nationalism and put the survival of the state in question. Saudi Arabia, despite its usual counterrevolutionary attitude, is supporting the rebels in Syria in hopes of replacing the Shia-Alawite regime with a Sunni government and undoing the pro-Shia axis that now runs through Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Unfortunately, given mutual distrust, the personalization of disputes, and the upcoming electoral season, such compromises do not seem likely — particularly if Maliki insists on remaining in power indefinitely. The American public is no doubt fatigued by the recent decades of involvement in the country and the region. But to avoid disaster, the United States urgently needs to review its Iraq policy. Washington needs to show the Iraqi people that its intent is not to divide Iraq and keep it weak — even if that appears to have been a main outcome of the U.

President Barack Obama succeeded in keeping his campaign promise of withdrawing U. In its second term, the Obama administration should stop supporting a status quo that is driving Iraq toward both authoritarianism and fragmentation. Washington should make its aid to Maliki — or any other Iraqi leader — conditional on his behaving within democratic norms. Washington needs to contain Iran, but should make clear that it is not aligned with Sunnis in a regional sectarian war against Shia.

This will require pushing back on Iranian influence in Iraq and simultaneously putting greater pressure on Sunni allies in the region to respect and protect their Shia populations. The United States has invested too much in Iraq to simply ignore these warning signs.

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Washington should use its diplomatic clout to help prevent further bloodshed. The MOU calls for South Korean firms to help build at least two small-to-medium sized nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, the South Korean presidential office said in a statement. Saudi Arabia aims to build 17 gigawatts GW of nuclear power by as well as around 41 GW of solar capacity. The oil exporter currently has no nuclear power. CARE , in charge of overseeing such projects, said in January. Care said in a statement: That agreement called for cooperation in research and development, as well as in construction and training.

Separately, Saudi Electricity signed four energy-related agreements on Tuesday with U. Turkey held a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of parts of its first nuclear reactor, sparking an angry protest by activists. Protesters blocked a gate leading to the ceremony area, briefly preventing officials from leaving the site.

Security forces pushed the activists back with water cannons. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the plant was designed to withstand powerful earthquakes, adding: Briton who advised US in Iraq tells how tactics changed after bloody insurgency Emma Sky, who spent four years in Iraq, says US military started reaching out to groups it had been fighting to stem violence. Everything had just escalated and escalated.

Speaking in detail for the first time about this most turbulent of periods, Sky also describes how:. A British liberal who had been against the war in Iraq, she was taken on by the Americans because they respected her judgment and advice, even when it ran directly counter to their own. She said the military realised it could not win with might alone, and had to start reaching out to groups that had been waging violence against it.

But I was not sure the strategy would work. The military has a language that is not accidental, it is used to quarantine emotion. Every day we would hear reports that another 60 or 70 bodies had turned up, heads chopped off or drilled through. It was absolutely horrific. We could tell which groups had been behind the attacks by the way the victims had been killed. There were ceasefires everywhere, local agreements, because more and more Iraqis were coming forward wanting to work with us.

The intelligence we were getting improved, and the number of Iraqi casualties started to go down. When Obama made his first visit to Iraq, a scheduled meeting with the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, had to be abandoned because White House security staff refused to let the president fly from the American base outside Baghdad to the Green Zone because of bad weather. Senior Iraqi politicians had always avoided the US base, called Camp Victory, because it was regarded as the seat of the occupation.

With a diplomatic standoff looming, Sky was sent to the Green Zone to see if Maliki could be persuaded to travel by car to meet Obama at the US headquarters. I had to wake him up. Everyone was excited about him, and Maliki agreed. And if Maliki agreed, then the others would probably come too. On the face of it, Emma Sky was not an obvious candidate to send to Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the war.

She had only been to the US once and was instinctively suspicious of the military, perhaps especially the US military. Yet on Friday, 20 June , two months after the war began, Sky boarded a flight from RAF Brize Norton, the only woman among soldiers, and headed into the 50C heat and post-conflict chaos of Basra, the city in the south where the British were based. Two weeks earlier she had been working as an international development adviser for the British Council in Manchester; now she found herself in charge of one of the most volatile regions in Iraq.

The journey from north-west England to north-east Iraq owed a lot to fortune, her determination, and some barely scriptable coincidences. But Sky is the first to concede the random nature of her appointment reflected much broader failures in planning and strategy that would ultimately draw the country into a civil war. When the Foreign Office asked for volunteers to go to Iraq to help with the reconstruction effort, a friend in the civil service prompted Sky to apply.

The Foreign Office did not give her a formal interview or briefing before she left, and she was given no detailed instructions about what to do when she landed. I was told that there would be someone at the airport waiting for me, carrying a card with my name. When I got to Basra, there was nobody there, and nobody seemed to know I was coming.

After a sleepless night on the floor in a corridor at Basra airport, Sky hitched a lift on a US Hercules transport plane to Baghdad, and then a military bus into the Republican Palace in the Green Zone. This had become the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority CPA which was supposed to be restoring order to the country. Life inside the palace was bizarre. At times we showered in mineral water and some days even the floors were washed with mineral water. Their dirty laundry was flown to Kuwait for cleaning, and engineers spent days trying to decapitate the four giant heads of Saddam Hussein, which leered from the palace ceilings.

A few days after arriving, she decided to escape into downtown Baghdad on her own — the kind of trip that was already strictly forbidden. She found herself chatting to a man selling cigarettes from a trolley. And I was thinking, how does he know about Hobbes? He was referring to all the looting. Iraqis were taking revenge on the state that had controlled their lives for so long. Under the leadership of the US diplomat Paul Bremer, the CPA was tasked with reforming and reconstructing the country; but it was always going to struggle, especially in the regions away from Baghdad, where it had fewer people.

Sky was told to fly to northern Iraq because the CPA was short of staff in Erbil, but when she arrived, the posts were already filled, and she was directed to Kirkuk. On the border of the autonomous Kurdish area, and miles north of Baghdad, Kirkuk is an ancient, oil-rich city, with tribal rivalries that date back to the Ottoman Empire. She reported directly to ambassador Bremer. In the days before she took up her new post, he invited her to join him on a short tour of the north, which included dinner with the Kurdish leader, Masoud Barzani, in the town of Sari Rash.

I wondered, how on Earth have I got here? How on Earth had someone like me, a British liberal, become part of a US-led invasion that I had opposed? From the airport in Kirkuk, Sky was taken to modern villa near the centre of the city, a base she was supposed to share with a group of American contractors and engineers. But within days, this idea looked a trifle optimistic, as did any notion that a new Iraq would emerge easily from the shadow of the old.

On my fifth night, five mortars were fired at the house. The noise was deafening and seemed to be coming from all sides. We were under attack. I struggled into my body armour and ran down to the safest part of the building where the others were already huddled. We sat in the darkness for what seemed like hours.


Most of the staff abandoned the villa the following day, but Sky decided to stay. Two nights later, the house was attacked again by gunmen who appeared determined to storm the building. Dust poured in through the sandbags. I curled up in a ball in bed with my hands over my ears, paralysed by the sound. The attack lasted half an hour … it was only when it was over that I discovered that four rocket propelled grenades had been fired at the house, and one had entered a couple of metres from my bed. The private security guards who tried to defend the house believed it was too vulnerable, so Sky accepted the offer of a bunk on the airfield in a US airforce tent, which she shared with seven men.

Narrowly avoiding death within her first week was an inauspicious start to her governorship, and the task ahead remained unclear. This was underlined to her a few days later when Sawers arrived in Kirkuk on his farewell tour of the country. He invited Sky to join his entourage, and during the trip, she sought his advice. With few staff of her own, no orders from Baghdad, and reliant on the US military for protection, Sky concluded there was only one way to get anything done.

She would have to work with the 3, soldiers of the rd Airborne Brigade who were based on the outskirts of the city. I looked around and decided to work closely with the military. They were the ones with the power, with the resources, with the bureaucracy.

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I could spend all my time watching what they do and reporting back on all their mistakes, or I could look at how to work with them. So I rolled up my sleeves, knuckled down. I learned the rank structure, the handshakes, the jokes, the code. Sky did this with some trepidation — she had never worked with the military before — and some of those she spoke to at first did their best to confirm her fears.

They did not understand the people they were dealing with. In one effort to foster relations with community leaders, the US air force invited a group of dignitaries to a military entertainment show. The guests walked out, quickly followed by Sky, who assured them that no offence had been intended. Abu Ghraib Iraqi inmates line up for a body search in Abu Ghraib prison: Sky set about learning the history of Kirkuk and ventured out into the city, in her soft-topped car, to speak to people about their problems.

The military seemed genuinely perplexed that Iraqis seemed so hostile. I said that after the first Gulf war which killed , Iraqis, a decade of sanctions with the devastating effects on health, education and economy, and the humiliating defeat of the second Gulf war, I could well understand why Iraqis were shooting at us. Sky found an unlikely kindred spirit in Colonel William Mayville, the brigade commander with a cowboy swagger.

They shared the same goal — to help Kirkuk get on its feet so the military could withdraw. And he also believed — wrongly — her presence heralded the arrival of an army of civilians that would enable his brigade to go home. As did their willingness to listen to this opinionated Englishwoman who had appeared in their midst.

When she arrived in Kirkuk, the military was running everything in the city. But that was part of the problem. Sky said success should be defined as Kirkukis running their own affairs: They established the Kirkuk Development Commission to kickstart the local economy. And they also encouraged Iraqis to register any complaints they had about the coalition, including damage done to property during raids. The two shared an office on the first floor of an old government building in the city centre. Others were asking for jobs or complaining about services.

The second issue was whether Kirkuk should secede from Iraq and become part of the Kurdish enclave in the north. Sky urged the CPA to give Kirkuk special status because of its unique make-up; she met the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, and the US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, when they made flying visits to the city.

She argued Kirkuk needed to be exempted from the rush to Iraqi governance the CPA was demanding in other areas. Instead I had listened to a litany of suffering and pain under Saddam for which I was quite unprepared. The mass graves, the details of torture, the bureaucratisation of abuse. The pure banality of evil. But the Iraqis also had huge expectations of the US. Sky admits the CPA simply could not meet these expectations and no amount of hard work from many experienced British and American volunteers could make up for the lack of planning before the invasion. It left the CPA — which was assembled in haste and from scratch — attempting to restore public services, disband the security forces and build new ones, as well as introduce a free market and democracy.

Those in Baghdad struggled to cope with the daily crises, whilst those in the provinces were often left to their own devices. Some Americans believed Iraq could become a democracy that would serve as a model for the region. Most Iraqis had not consented to this experiment, or to being occupied by foreign forces. Thousands of professional people in Kirkuk lost their jobs at a stroke — including teachers and doctors.

It did not affect all communities evenly. Some Sunni areas ended up with no doctors in their hospitals and no teachers in their schools. What did the coalition really know about Iraq? It became highly politicised and brought more and more anger. Everybody who had stayed in Iraq had, in order to survive, become complicit to some way with the regime. Sky realised many local Sunni Arabs were joining an emerging insurgency because they felt excluded from the Shia-led Iraq.

Right from the outset, there was resistance from former regime members as well as foreign fighters who entered the country to fight jihad. But Baghdad controlled the payroll and cut them off. A mix of resentments and fears fuelled violence to a level nobody had foreseen. There were continuous raids and mass round-ups of military-aged males. There were no suitable facilities to hold the detainees, nor systems to process them, and many became radicalised in detention. I spent a lot of time with the provincial council and about a quarter of the people on council were killed. If we had never come into their lives that would never have happened.

Some were killed because they stood forward to join the council, some were killed because they were seen as close to the coalition. I can still see their faces, I remember going to their funerals, speaking to their kids. Beyond the wire and thick bomb-resistant walls, fliers were appearing all over the capital denouncing the occupation. He had watched Sky reaching out to people in Kirkuk and liked the way she worked with the rd Airborne Brigade. In almost all respects, Sky and Odierno were different; she is diminutive, precise and controlled.

Shaven-headed and muscular, Odierno is a giant, whose military call sign was Iron Horse. He and Sky developed a rapport that became as important as it was unlikely. I found him honest, straightforward and direct. Whenever he arrived in Kirkuk, we felt a huge sense of relief. He always gave us support and asked how he could help. And he always asked my opinion about why the violence was happening. I think he recognised the solutions were not simply military ones. He asked Sky to join his team. Emma Sky was at her home in Wandsworth, south-west London in September , when she received an email from a friend in the US.

At first she tried to ignore it. When he asked me to return I was flattered. I also felt that if anyone could make a difference in Iraq it was Odierno. He is prepared to take in ideas, and then make decisions. The presence of a British woman at his side would prove controversial and unpopular in some quarters, particularly at the US state department, but the stakes were high and Odierno was evidently prepared to take a risk.

The situation in Iraq at the time was desperate. The violence in Iraq had morphed from an insurgency into sectarian conflict. The al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had provoked a civil war between Sunni and Shias that would take the country close to collapse. In , 16, Iraqi civilians died, including 3, in September, the highest amount for any month during the conflict. Coalition casualties were also high; troops were killed that year, of them American. Inevitably, political support for continuing the military campaign was ebbing away in Washington and London.

Nevertheless, the US president George Bush was poised to disregard the advice of some of his closest advisers — and most commentators too — to announce he was sending an extra 20, troops to Iraq, most of them into the cauldron of Baghdad. The surge was a gamble. It seemed then, and with hindsight remains, an astonishing risk taken by a president who had stopped believing those people who said the violence was being provoked solely by the presence of US forces.

With thousands of extra troops heading for Iraq, Odierno set up headquarters in the vast US military base outside Baghdad near the airport, the unfortunately named Camp Victory. Sky was given her own basic accommodation and was expected to accompany the general everywhere he went. Specifically, Odierno wanted Sky to help him work out an operational plan. A process, she said, that could only begin with a brutal acknowledgment of previous tactics. There was no denial about the extent of the problem. But every day we would be up late talking about why people are using violence.

I knew from my time in Kirkuk that politics drives this kind of instability, and that politics needs to be managed to bring down violence. I believed Iraqis were using violence to achieve political goals. We had to stop stigmatising these people. We had to stop calling these people the enemy. What are the drivers of instability? The overall strategy was masterminded by General David Petraeus, who had spent months in the US developing a new counter-insurgency doctrine.

The former would not be targeted by Special Forces operations, the latter could be. It meant we would have to start dealing with people we had been fighting and for any commander that is a very difficult thing to do. McChrystal dealt with those who refused to compromise.

The campaign was given an Arabic name, Fardh al-Qanoon — imposing the law. As an important first step, US troops began to move out of their bases to live among the local population. And they had to do two things which were fundamentally counter-intuitive; prioritise protecting the population rather than trying to defeat the enemy; secondly, reach out to the armed groups which were killing civilians and soldiers.

People were using violence to achieve political objectives, so we had to create a process where they could achieve their objectives without violence. I had confidence in our analysis. Not because I thought it was wrong, but because I worried the situation in Iraq was so out of control our extra forces might only exacerbate the violence, not lessen it. In those first months, there were few signs of progress and there was violence everywhere they went. We would go to the hospitals to visit the wounded.

We would attend memorial and ramp services for the dead. Every day, the general would be slipped a note with details of casualties which went up and up. We lost over a hundred soldiers a month in April, May and June In the past, I had been a spectator, an observer. I had never been involved in the decision-making to send our soldiers somewhere. We were living among these men. And every day, the general would talk to commanders and troops, explain the strategy, listen to their concerns, boost their morale.

He would tell them that he knew it was so tough in this gruelling heat to put on body armour and go out day after day on raids. And the general continued telling them that they were making a difference, and all the little tactical successes were helping the strategy. Sky said she never felt in danger herself, though with hindsight, she accepts her confidence may have been misplaced.

Then the door at the back of the plane fell open and we had to get it closed, and on the ground there was shooting, and when we got in a vehicle and it was hit by an IED. But I never had a sense that I was going to die, and I was sure the General could not die. I thought, this is not where the story ends. Some things you never forget … the smell of burning bodies. The military talk about KIAs killed in action. There was so much violence that it was almost too big to comprehend.

Everyday we would hear reports that another 60 or 70 bodies had turned up, heads chopped off or drilled through. We were not peers and he was always in charge. But I could be more of a friend to him. Within two months of the launch of the new campaign, al-Qaida militants had claimed responsibility for an audacious suicide bomb attack on the Iraqi parliament in the heart of the fortified Green Zone; two of the bridges in the capital were also hit by truck bombs. But these incidents proved to be the high-water mark.

Of course there were nights when I thought, we are bringing more violence and it is causing more violence, but is it actually going to break the violence. Everything had just escalated and escalated … there were occasions when I doubted whether we were ever going to break the back of it, and whether we should call it quits. That was until those same tribal chiefs began to see al-Qaida as a greater threat to them, and turned to the US military for help to drive the insurgents out of the region. This process had begun before the surge, but the Fardh al-Qanoon programme put the US in a better position to work with, and build trust between, sheiks who had spent the previous four years waging vicious conflict against American forces.


This started before the surge when the Anbaris became sick of al-Qaida. In that wonderful way people in the region can switch alliances, they just changed side. They saw they could get American help, and they regarded Iran, and the Shia militias it supported, as the bigger threat, and decided to align with the US to fight them.

While tentative progress was being made out on the ground by the military, Sky was tasked with talking to the Iraqi government and assuaging some of their fears. One unexpected consequence of the campaign was that Shia leaders had begun to worry that through the ever-increasing awakening the US was creating a Sunni army that would eventually overthrow them.

Al-Jaidra was remarkable in many ways. She was a young Shia, in her late 30s. She had been a rocket engineer. And she was tough. When she was denounced by the US for her unwillingness to include Sunnis in the higher echelons of the new Iraqi security forces, she said: Over the summer and autumn, Sky made regular helicopter trips into the Green Zone to speak to Al-Jaidra, who was known for wearing the striking combination of stiletto heels and a veil.

I think it would be fair to say she is not an easy woman. I would try to explain to her what we were doing and why. They assumed that this was all part of a conspiracy by the US to purposefully destroy Iraq, keep it weak and humiliate its people. I tried to get her to understand our position and how we had got there, and vice-versa. He therefore assumed the US was plotting a coup against him using the Sons of Iraq! When you ask your commanders for good news, you get good news.

If you ask for bad news, you get bad news. It helped that they were women in similar positions. We were the same age, and neither of us had married. And we were both trying to bring our bosses closer together. Sky persuaded Al-Jaidra that it would be better, and safer, for the government to integrate the new groups emerging around the country into the Iraqi security forces, rather than ostracise them. That year we went from being in hell to bringing the violence down.

In , 15, Iraqi civilians were killed in violence. In , the number had come down to 4, US casualties went from in to in Sky was at the heart of the US military machine and her advice was being sought at the top of the political pyramid. But she says she only ever met British diplomats when she accompanied Odierno to embassy meetings. They told the prime minister their senior adviser was from the UK. I assured him that I was British born and bred.

To end any suspicions, Sky says she was not and never has worked for MI6. Sky saw what the British were doing from the US side of the fence. More than 40, British troops took part in the invasion but, by , it seemed the UK was losing control of the south to the Iran-backed Shia militias of the cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr. And there was little political appetite to win back this territory.

The early confidence that led senior members of the British military to boast to the Americans about their experience in counter-insurgency had evaporated.

Frédéric Saldmann

Of course the Americans wished the British forces were bigger and had more resources, but to be perfectly honest, the British think far more about what the Americans think of them than the Americans think about them. In March , 30, troops from the Iraqi army surged into Basra to clear the city of Shia militias; the operation was called the Charge of the Knights.

The British were peripherally involved, mostly giving medical and logistical help. All of which meant the British inevitably left Iraq under a cloud. With the British hamstrung by lack of numbers, and with Prime Minister Maliki overestimating the capabilities of his own forces, the US had to intervene to stop the Charge of the Knights turning into another disaster.

AT the end of , Sky left Iraq for what she thought was the last time. But three months later there was an unexpected reshuffle at the top of the US military. In the rearrangement, Petraeus was to leave Iraq to take command from Centcom and Odierno was asked to return to replace him as the commanding general of all coalition forces in Iraq.

General Odierno had been separated from his family for so long and had been so looking forward to going home. Within months, he was told he was being sent back to Iraq. For senior commanders, they get little choice. The poor guy, I felt so sorry for him. But General Odierno was going to go regardless. For him it was duty. And if he goes, and he wants my help, I go. This time, with broader responsibilities, she was based in the US embassy in Baghdad, but still accompanied Odierno to all his meetings.

Staff like to feel they are controlling the general and they did not like him getting different ideas from me. It was upsetting, but I felt the mission was important. He had enough things going on. You certainly need thick skin to work with some in the military. The key initial task was on negotiating a status of forces agreement, the legal basis that allowed the US to remain in the country, and for how long. Sky, the Englishwoman, was asked to represent the US military during the talks.

With a UN resolution due to expire, getting an agreement was essential before the end of Some of the Iraqis were scared the agreement made the prime minister too strong and wanted reassurances. But, at the last moment, an agreement was signed. It specified that the military had to be out of the cities by the end of June , and out of Iraq completely by After so many years of fighting in Iraq, it was natural the military would find it difficult to let go.

But by letting go, our relationship with Iraqis would improve. So the general had to get them to understand that success was something different now. We were shifting from counter-insurgency to stability, and putting Iraqis in the lead was the priority. When you do counter-insurgency the focus is protecting the people. In stabilisation, the priority is building up the institutions.

As the change in military posture and preparations for withdrawal continued, Sky remembers tensions between the military and the state department. These trips gave Sky a chance to speak to Iraqis and see places for herself, picking up valuable on-the-ground understanding she could feed back to the general and his staff. I was supposed to be as well, but being a non-American, and not coming under the British either, I was in a unique situation and Odierno trusted my judgment.

I would travel at night around Baghdad to get a sense of what it was like so I could report back on different areas. I was going out with and among Iraqis. I could see if the Iraqis were working the checkpoints properly, if the electricity was on. Things like that can help give commanders the confidence to let go. I was going in and out of Sadr city a district of Baghdad , which the Americans regarded as one of the most dangerous places on earth at the time.

They had their own lives and their own motivations. Iraqis are the most extraordinary people, they might distrust each other but they can be remarkably open to an outsider. I was a woman on my own, and they took good care of me. The people who would have done me harm, would have done them harm too.

So if the security was good enough for them, it was good enough for me. Although the risk of kidnapping was real, I was not worried that I would be taken. I trusted the Iraqis with my life, I trusted them completely. Sky would travel from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. You could see areas coming back to life. When women and children are in the streets you know they must feel safe.

Even Sadr city started to buzz, and that was very exciting. One meeting made a particular impression. We had tea together. A little later I discovered he had been arrested and was the al-Qaida emir for northern Iraq. But Obama-mania was still very much alive when he made his first visit to Baghdad in April, Though not reported at the time, Sky says the trip so nearly ended in acute embarrassment for all sides. The problem was something even the leader of the free world could not control; the weather. It is their country, he has to meet them.

In the Green Zone, nobody else knew about the looming crisis. There were myriad security check-points along the route and Sky knew the prime minister would take umbrage if he was stopped anywhere along the drive, and U-turn back to the Green Zone. At every one I jumped out, waved my military badge and shouted. It was a miracle that we got him in without a major diplomatic incident.

There was laundry all over the bed. Sky attended all the meetings between the Iraqis and Obama, and Odierno introduced them. Despite the chaos, and the opportunities for bruised egos, the visit ended without any major diplomatic incidents. The chief of staff almost had a heart attack. Although the ceasefires between Sunnis and Shia were holding, tensions in the north had increased between Kurds and Arabs. One episode reflected the difficulties; there had been a spate of bomb attacks close to the town of Hawija, just south of Kirkuk, which had been blamed on al-Qaida.

So Gen Odierno told me to accompany one of his generals to speak to the sheiks. I told them the peshmerga would not be positioned south of Kirkuk. This is how they saw things so they took their own defensive action. The Americans said he could, as part of an agreement that we had brokered.

And then the Iraqi security forces arrested some Kurds for trying to assassinate the governor. So we had a group of Kurds detained in Mosul, and an group of Arabs had been taken in retaliation. Sky said the US embassy insisted that men accused of attempting to assassinate the governor should be put on trial, in accordance with the rule of law.

Odierno told Sky to find a pragmatic solution to the crisis; realistically, it could only be solved one way — an exchange of hostages. But to do this, I needed to get proof of life of the Arab detainees. The weather was absolutely terrible. But they were determined to get me to my meeting and managed to land on the second attempt. The Kurds took Sky to a presidential guest house, but before addressing the critical security situation, her hosts said she had another appointment — with a beautician. I had my hair cut and my legs waxed. It was quite nice but rather bizarre.

Then they said they wanted to take me to a new mall. They love their malls. This was partly a deception; on the way, Sky was diverted to meet members of the Asayesh, the Kurdish intelligence service. I saw they were alive and well. So I called the deputy prime minister Rafi al-Issawi and told him I had proof of life.