Iraqi Soldier Kills 2 Americans, Wounds 9

The killing of two American servicemen and the wounding of 9 others by a Kurdish member of Iraqi special operations unit on Tuesday at Tuz Khurmatu is a real puzzle.

The US troops were up at that Iraqi commando base in the mixed Kurdish, Turkmen and Arab town of Tuz Khurmatu escorting American officers who were consulting with Iraqi counterparts on security issues. Soran Rahman Taleh Wali, the Kurdish soldier, is said to have been playing volleyball with the Americans when some sort of dispute broke out between them. He reacted violently. Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the soldier had nothing suspicious in his personnel file.

All this is strange because Kurdish soldiers are typically the most pro-American section of the Iraqi army. Kurds are a minority in the north, inasmuch as they are not Arabs, and they mostly view the Americans as saviors and do not want them to leave. The excellent WaPo article linked to above ferrets out the information that the US military had recently helped target the radical fundamentalist group Ansar al-Sunna in Tuz Khurmatu. That group has typically been mixed, with both Arab and Kurdish members. If Wali had family or other ties to Ansar al-Sunna, he may have been an agent who deliberately targeted the US troops.

On the other hand, people do snap, and it is possible that something the Americans did in the volleyball game set Wali off. It is more noticeable if the person who snaps is heavily a armed.

What does seem clear is that when it gets to the point where US troops are being killed and wounded by Iraqi military allies over minor issues, it is past time for those troops to withdraw from Iraq altogether. Remember that the Status of Forces Agreement concluded by W. with the Iraqi parliament only says that all US troops must be out of the country by the end of 2011. It does not say they could not withdraw more quickly than that.

22 Responses

  1. This appears to have been a sport dispute. These things can get violent anywhere in the world. Many have died over soccer games. ;-)

    Violent attacks by IA against fellow IA or foreign forces have always been rare. They remain rare. This said, every country on earth has a fifth column of citizens who are strongly committed to destroying their own country. Iraq is no different. There will always be a few bad apples in the ISF who try to murder their fellow ISF, fellow Iraqis, and foreigners.

  2. Where do the American soldiers withdraw to when they are, as has happened, killed by fellow American soldiers in America?

  3. Long ago I have read a short story with the title like this: how the anti-colonial struggle started in …some small Indian area. It tells about a group of Indians – mostly respectable middle class folks and only one half-naked pupil of Gandi come to visit a British governor. They pledge to each other be sensible and not start to chant slogans. So, they were perfectly ready to behave nicely. But there were a bit of problem – the governor was busy and had no time just now for Indians. So, he told his high servant to serve them tea and biscuits. But his high servant was a white racist and snobbish- I suppose it tells us something about the governor as well – and delegated the task to a boy. The boy by mistake served Indians dog’s biscuits – made with animal fat. So, when the governor did come to meeting, and his guests learned what they were treated with, they got very angry – they were religious vegans or something, but mostly they were insulted by such pejorative treatment as a whole, so they started to chant slogans :)

    You see, there is NOT a method of colonialism and occupation, which is OK. They ALL are wrong. I am not sure that the story about volleyball is a true and not a try of a spin. But I am SURE, it would be not the last such incident, not if I understand anything about Iraq and occupation.

    • Iraq had tens of thousands of foreign advisors 1919-1990. 1968-1990 Iraq had tens of thousands of Indian, Soviet and French advisors. Pakistani ones too.

      There are frequent large training exercizes on US soil that involve many foreign troops. Similarly many foreign military soldiers attend US military courses. US military commands inside the US tend to have foreign military representatives at them. After 9/11 NATO aircraft flew flights to protect US airspace, freeing up US aircraft for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      Is the US occupied? Is Canada occupied by US troops? Are Britain, Italy, Turkey, Germany, Bulgaria, Japan, South Korea under US occupation?

      Lidia, why do you think Americans think Americans are superior to Iraqis rather than Iraqis thinking that they are superior to Americans? Iraqi civilization was ancient and advanced 6000 years ago.

      • year, year, you have your say about bad apples, and I remember you spinning “foreign advisors” tale before.

        I’ll wait and see, and so others. And while we are waiting, you could tell some “Afghan Army”soldiers that their USA “advisers” sometimes bombing them are any sort of apples you call them.

      • .
        “There are frequent large training exercises on US soil that involve many foreign troops. ”

        I don’t think that statement is correct.

        • Brian, here is a link to only one joint exercise in Alaska. There are many other exercises. Some of them larger than this one:
          link to

          There are many countries interested in conducting division sized joint exercises with the US. Some countries want to practice corps level joint exercises with the US. Because of Iraq and Afghanistan the US hasn’t been able to comply with these requests nearly as much as we would like to. Expect to see more large joint training exercises on US soil and on the soil of other countries as Afghanistan winds down.

          “year, year, you have your say about bad apples,” What are bad apples?

          “and I remember you spinning “foreign advisors” tale before.” It is no tale. Ask any friends you might have in the Iraqi Army about them. This is actual Iraqi history. You are asking the fully sovereign legitimate government to be the first government in Iraqi history not to invite tens of thousands of international combat advisors. [Saddam wanted the tens of thousands of international advisors to stay in 1990, but they left to protest Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.]

          Why would any Iraqi government want to do what you are asking them to do? Please try to put yourself in the shoes of an Iraqi and look at it from their perspective. Iraqis want a powerful military because Iraq has powerful enemies. Iraqis want international advisors to train and strenghten their military.

          “Afghan Army”soldiers that their USA “advisers” sometimes bombing them are any sort of apples you call them.” What do you mean? Why do you put Afghan Army in quotation marks. Do you have some beef with them?

          Every military has friendly fire accidents and accidentally kills their own soldiers. This happens frequently in peace time during military practice exercizes. It happens in Afghanistan too. Do you really think that ANA would intentionally kill ISAF or ISAF would intentionally kill ANA or ISAF would intentionally kill ISAF? What is your basis for this belief? The ANA and the fifty country ISAF coalition are allies in a war against an international movement that wants to kill as many ANA as possible. They also want to kill Shiites, Ahmedis, Jews, Sufis, Europeans, Buddhists, Persians, Indians, Russians and Americans. Deal with the world as it is.

  4. I would like to add that Lee Peters the military spokesman from U.S forces said that the trust for Iraq security forces wasn’t broken. Considering how high U.S forces previously have held the security it sounds like the incident is because ‘Wali’ really snapped. If that is the case, I agree with the author about leaving Iraq earlier. We have all seen studies on how human psyche is affected by war. If people are starting to “snap” att each other, what is the purpose of staying?


    Team go

  5. President Obama has now adopted the mantle of “Bush Lied, People Died.” How else to interpret his Oval Office speech? Anyone who has examined the actual unit composition of the 50,000 troops remaining Iraq knows that there is some serious US firepower left.

    Frankly, I am puzzled by Obama’s handling of this entire matter. First, why announce an “end to combat operations” when he knows full well that casualties will continue? Moreover, by making this sort of announcement, he has invited AQ types, affiliates, nationalists, criminals and crazies to prove him wrong–which lessons will be administered in American blood.

    I can only conclude that the implosion of his political prospects in the midterms have made him too eager to claim something–anything–as an achievement.

  6. Re Kurd interests vs US interests

    In regard to the Kurdish Regional Gov’t, which is dominated by warlord-for life Barzani’s clan, a more nuanced view than ‘they generally like the US’ is in order. I’m not saying that this tragic multi-murder of US special forces is part of a plot, just that ‘kurd’ does not equal ‘US ally’, any more than ‘muj’ equals ‘freedom fighter’.

    At this stage of our occupation, the US is actively blocking Eretz Kurdistan ambitions. If, as press and prisoner reports indicate, Team Barzani is willing to murder his internal Kurd opposition, not to mention the Turkmen and Yezidis, motivating our peacekeeping force to leave sooner is not off the table. After generations of insurrections, defeats, terrorism, holy war, and making arms deals with any and everyone, including Tel Aviv and Iran’s Qods operatives, I think we can safely conclude that Barzani’s multi-generation project is ruthless, corrupt, not to be trusted, and not to be characterized as ‘those good Iraqis.’

    The KRG border is the flashpoint. We should expect the max combat risks for our troops there, primarily around Mosul and Kirkuk, according to last years Rand study on the withdrawal.

    If you go to the KRG website, you’ll find that they don’t show borders on their map. The current failure to form an Iraqi gov’t is in large measure because neither Arab block will meet expansive Kurd territorial demands. If things really come unravelled in Baghdad, expect the KRG/Barzanis to attempt some major border adjustments, and not just at Kirkuk.

  7. Wondering if ill judged gamesmanship, as in saying something you
    know will upset your opponent in an attempt to unsettle him and put
    him off his game, has anything to do with this?
    Something along the lines of Zidane Vs Materazzi during the 2006
    World Cup springs to mind.
    If this were so, it would point not only to massive cultural insensitivity
    but also a mind-boggling lack of awareness of recent Iraqi history
    (i.e. the invasion by the United States and its consequences)
    Could this be fallout of the “We Won Mindset”

    • I was wondering a similar thing.
      The article has so little detail …there is always some background as though there must be some recent incident/personal link /hidden terrorist leaning as though it is the only way to explain why one of the natives would go mad and shoot the good guys.
      I wonder how many US troops have not been killed because the Iraqi was able to swallow their pride ……again.

      • Umm, Glen and Janine, the Iraqi Army think that they won the war. They underestimate the US role in helping them win their war against the enemies of Iraq.

        I think they might be surprised to know that you don’t think they won the war. Insufficient pride and being insufficiently pumped up isn’t one of the IA’s problems. ;-)

  8. “It is more noticeable if the person who snaps is heavily armed.”


  9. .
    “It does not say they could not withdraw more quickly than that.”

    Pulling our troops out before the last possible moment allowed in the “Security Agreement” would require political courage from a President not afraid to stand up to Army Generals. Since the next Presidential election is 2 years away, what makes you think President Obama might be replaced before then ?

  10. As an American I do not buy the “Kurds are our friends” meme. It seems like most of our friends in the ME are anything but. The Kurds have the ability to set this region on fire, once again, and we won’t have the Arabs and Persians to pin the blame on, just our good friends the Kurds. Finally, don’t the Kurds have a strong relationship with the most hated state in the ME, whom shall remain nameless?

    • The Kurd’s have been played by many sides (the CIA/Shah funded a Kurd army agin the Saddam Baathists, who then fled from Khomeini’s revolution. Kurds were caught in the middle during the 80’s, variously attacked by the Turks, Iran, Iraq, Syria.

      So if Kurd factions play Qods, CIA and Mossad at the same time and against each other, remember that it’s a tough league. It’s my understanding that some Pesh have cult jihadi tendencies and past connections, including a pre-2003 AlQ-Iraq affiliate.

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