Reward for What?! | Charles Duelfer

Reward for What?!

According to news reports, the US State Department announced that in response to the continued attacks on US diplomatic personal and assistance missions in Iraq it was offering a reward of $3 million for information about the perpetrators. 

This seemed weird.  Our people are in Iraq have been subjected to continuing attacks. In fact, Lockheed is withdrawing their staff supporting the Iraqi Air Force F-16s. Washington has repeatedly asked PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi to stem this problem.  Nothing happens.  The Iranian-backed Iraqi militias (who receive their salaries from the Iraqi government) grandly state they will expand such attacks until the US military leaves. Iraq at one point arrested a few militia members but soon released them presumably due to militia threats to the government.

And so we offer a reward for information about those responsible?  Huh?

I thought this might have been fake news.  I checked the State Department press releases and found nothing.  The State Near East Bureau had no such announcement. The Rewards for Justice site had no announcement. Maybe it was fake.

So I checked the sources of the articles that carried this story—the first articles appeared in Arabic press.  It turns out they were quoting a twitter announcement by the Rewards for Justice program.

Sure enough, you look up the RFJ twitter account and they really are offering money (and have an imbedded video) for information about attacks on US presence in Iraq.


(Google translation:  Oh loyal people of #Iraq, cowardly terrorists attack US diplomatic missions in Iraq and then rush to hide among the civilian population. America is offering a reward of up to $3 million for information on planned or past attacks against US diplomatic facilities. Text us via WhatsApp, Telegram or Signal.)

So, we are so disturbed about these attacks that we quietly offer $3 million for reports about attacks on the US.  Is that the best we can do?

First of all, it will generate all sorts of useless responses.  When the Iraq Survey Group was pursuing WMD evidence in 2003-5 in Iraq, someone had the idea of offering rewards for tips.  Well more tips than could ever be checked out came in.  Useless.  Some were just misguided.  Somebody would see something that looked weird (like the cryo bottles for a SAM missile) but wasn’t WMD.  More damaging, tipsters would provoke raids against somebody they had a grudge against.

But worse, it is the responsibility of the government of Iraq to provide protection.  They can’t or won’t. The government cannot control the militias they fund.  Clearly Iran has more control than Baghdad and is even upgrading their ability to hit the US with attack drones like those used by the Houthis in Yemen.

So, in response the US issues an Arabic twitter statement asking for information—and offering a reward.  Is that the best we can do? 

It’s difficult not to conclude that Washington is unwilling to address the source of the attacks—Tehran–so as not to upset the nuclear JCPOA talks in Vienna.  This repeats the approach of the Obama Administration.  The highest priority was the JCPOA and all other issues were subservient to that goal.  Iran seems to understand this and take advantage of it.

Where this leaves Iraq remains a sad question. And where does this leave the US, or do we just leave?

This entry was posted in Allies, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sunni, Syria. Bookmark the permalink.

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