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Re: INSIGHT - Iraq/Afghanistan - general

Released on 2013-02-21 00:00 GMT

Email-ID 5492063

Date 2009-01-25 19:28:37

From goodrich@stratfor.com

To analysts@stratfor.com

Re: INSIGHT - Iraq/Afghanistan - general observations

I agree... very different game & much more difficult for the Americans.
When I talk to the Russians about the war in Afgh... they sort of laugh
because they're like "we couldn't do it... lets see you do it, so-called
great Americans."
The Syria stuff is interesting... I'll put my ear further to the ground on
that one.

Reva Bhalla wrote:

Just some really general insights from a party I attended this

Several members of Petraeus' inner circle were there, including his
chief strategist (the guy who was the main architect behind the Iraq
surge strategy, his chief intel guy, special forces badass, the guy
managing the CENTCOM campaign strategy and a couple other analyst and
intel guys. All of them are part of the small group led by Gen. McMaster
to form the CENTCOM strategy for Petraeus.

Most of these guys were very deeply involved in Iraq and had a lot of
insane stories to share. These were the guys that would go out , run all
over Iraq on their own, drink Johnny Walker black with the al Hakims,
the Sadrists and senior Sunni insurgent leaders and strike deals with
them to turn on AQ. It was interesting to see how these negotiations
would actually play out and how the Shia above all were the best at
playing them off each other. They found out after a while that it was
impossible for them to get the Sunnis to consolidate. They flat out told
them, 'we'll strike a deal with you, but you have to prove to us that
you're in charge'. Since there were dozens of different competing Sunni
groups, the US really had no choice but to strike deals with each group
individually. Fortunately, it worked. But as we'll see in the upcoming
elections, the Sunnis are just as divided as the Shia are. It was of
course an enormously complex endeavor to get all these guys on our side,
but the US really benefited from the fact that AQ was openly hostile to
the local Sunni communities in Iraq (recall the letters b/w Zawahiri and
Zarqawi). There was a very clear strategy that the US was able to

But when you ask about whether we can replicate that success in
Afghanistan, the pessimism that you hear is astounding. As they say,
Afghanistan is a whole different game -- the Soviets couldn't do it with
double the number of troops and they were able to complete raze the
country to the ground. This is a different culture, different terrain,
no real institutions already in place to build from, huge and vast areas
of empty space, no real way to consolidate control, and the neo-Taliban
that they're dealing with understands better how to maintain constituent
support. The chief strategist keeps emphasizing that the war isn't in
Afghanistan -- the main problem is Pakistan. We discussed how Pakistan
is extremely fearful of being a short-term ally of the US that can be
thrown under the bus. What he is advising Petraeus to do is to redefine
that relationship with Pakistan -- not hold their hands and give them
little sweeteners now and then. But convince them that we're ready to
devote the time and resources to get this thing done, and that we are
going to invest in institution building and development in Pakistan to
turn the ideological tide. They admit, this strategy takes years and
years before you see any results. We're talking at least a 10 yr
project, and they know the US doesn't have patience for this. The troops
they're devoting to the surge wont likely be enough to break the
insurgency. Some will tell you that the same kind of pessimistic
attitude was heard in Iraq in 2004, but still, Afghanistan is a very
different war. I keep getting the feeling that we're going to give it
everything we've got in this next year, but after that, we're not going
to be able to drain our resources in this region for that much longer.

on the iraq front, a big conflict is brewing b/w the central govt and
the Kurdish regional government. Seems like they're expecting a major
showdown in the north this summer. Maliki is building a ton of support
through his support councils and is in negotiations now with the Obeidi
tribe (Sunni). You can already see the Shia-Sunni gang-up against the
Kurds. I'll dig into this more.

Things in Iraq are going to look very different by the summer. US is

completely pulling back. They aren't going to be able to do nearly the
same amount of stuff as the terms of SOFA are implemented (a lot of
them are kinda pissed off since now the 'fun' of Iraq is pretty much
over and it's mostly political now). Petraeus' head intel guy is really
smart, but maybe too smart for his own good sometimes. He gets pretty
idealistic in terms of what he wants to get done (ie. splitting
Iranian-backed Shiite groups in the Bekaa), and the others tend to have
to rein him back in a lot.

We should keep an eye on the Syrian-Russian defense relationship.

Special forces guy (this guy has been running all over the Levant for
the past 25 years, knows the Syrian regime well) says that the rockets
that were used to attack coalition troops near the syria-iraq border
were all brand new Russian shit. They were getting fresh supplies
regularly from the Russians, and they maintain that that defense
relationship is still going strong.

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Lauren Goodrich
Director of Analysis
Senior Eurasia Analyst
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