Why hasn't the US Army done a Fallujah on Mosul yet?

I’m not sure if this is a GD, but it seems as likely a forum as any.

It seems to me, over the past few weeks, that the U.S. Army did a pretty decent job of negating Fallujah as a base of operations for Iraqi insurgents. It also seems, though maybe it’s just my own perception, that 80% of the nasty stuff that’s happened since then has been coming out of Mosul. Stands to reason that Mosul is the insurgents’ new nerve center.

So, what’s stopping the US army from doing the same thing to Mosul? Is there some uncertainty that the insurgency forces there are really significant? Are there logistical issues or politically/religiously sensitive issues that make Mosul harder to take than Fallujah was? Is it just bad P.R. with the average Iraqi to lay waste to two cities within a month of each other?

I think they did a pretty decent job of negating Fallujah period. Maybe there’s not enough in this year’s budget to rebuild two cities.

Hard to know why not, the last thing worked out so well, what with the wounded guy getting shot, all the houses wrecked, streets made into open sewers and everybody there hates our guts…

Whats not to like?

Not sure that’s accurate - there seems to be quite a bit going on Baghdad and adjacent areas as well.

For one thing Mosul is Iraq’s third-largest city, with a population of 1.7 million+. A Fallujah-type action wouldn’t be anywhere near as easy. For example where are you going to evacuate a million and a half people while you sweep the city? And can you afford to further wreck the infrastructure of a center as important as Mosul, as was done in Fallujah?

I imagine those are some of the bigger issues for starters. Other possible stumbling blocks may be lack of sufficient troops to deal with other flare-ups as the election approaches and simultaneously conduct such a major undertaking ( just a WAG, I have no inside info ). Or as you mentioned the PR black eye that might result. Or even just a more systematic approach that aims to try to clear adjacent areas to Fallujah first before moving on ( also a WAG and I think less likely ).

Whatever the reason, Fallujah was no easy task and hurt in terms of Sunni Arab public relations. Mosul can only be harder in every way ( depending of course on the strength of the local resistance which I am in no position to really judge ).

  • Tamerlane

Population of Mosul: 1,739,000. Population of Fallujah: 256,000.

Granted, despite those two figures coming from the same list, I’m not totally sure if that’s actually comparing apples to apples–taken from the same year, not comparing “city limits” to “urban agglomeration”, etc. However, I do believe Mosul is a much larger city. It’s always described as the “third largest city in Iraq” (actually that list I linked to shows it as second, ahead of Basra), whereas Fallujah seems more of a largish town or provincial city.

Isn’t the Mosul problem thought, by some, to be partly a direct result, in whack-a-mole fashion, of building up to a raid on Fallujah, allowing the big insurgent players there to fold up their tents before the raid, and go elsewhere, including Mosul?

Aren’t there also separate political sensitivities in attacking a Northern Iraq city adjacent to a large number of Kurds? To grossly oversimplify the U.S. “plan” in Iraq, to the extent there has been one, it seems to have been to stoke Kurdish opposition to Saddam’s rule in the North, Shiite opposition in the South, write off much hope of immediate Sunni cooperation, but then after toppling Saddam focus on a military pacification of hardcore Sunni areas while hoping Kurd-region cities and Shiite cities will be pretty happy, pro-American, relatively unscathed, and won’t require much policing? So doesn’t sending heavy forces into N. Iraq (I gather that Mosul is about 25% Kurdish) raise questions that bashing Fallujah doesn’t?


There would have to come a point at which even the US news media could no longer reprint/rebroadcast without comment Bush’s claims that we’d somehow made life better for Iraqis by our actions of the past two years. If we did a Fallujah on a honkin’ big city like Mosul, things might just reach that point. Did Saddam ever do a number like that to a city that big?

Not to mention, doing a Fallujah to Fallujah resulted in our most costly month in Iraq in terms of troop deaths and casualties. And Fallujah is roughly 1/6 the size of Mosul. And our troops are already terribly overstretched.

In the immortal words of King Phyrrus of Epirus, “One more such victory and we are lost.” Far better to wait for the Iraqi election, so somebody can be elected who would have the authority to tell us to leave. Why do you think that Bush is insisting on no postponement of the election, even though Allawi, who is supposedly running Iraq (remember the transfer of sovereignty back in June? neither do I), seems to desperately want it? No election means no get-out-of-Iraq-free card, no rescue for the Boy King who has always had someone to rescue him.

No, we’re gonna try to limp through to the election, then pray that the Shi’ites who will inevitably elected tell us it’s time for us to go. Then we’ll gracefully accede to their demands. And our men and women will stop dying and losing arms and legs over there, Bush will speechify about how we brought democracy to Iraq, and the civil war that we can’t prevent will get underway in earnest.

Maybe if we flatten every single city in Iraq, then we can win this war. I think you’ve latched onto the winning strategy. Let’s liberate the crap out of Iraq! :rolleyes:

I don’t really think this is funny, emoticon or not. What if someone like Aldebaran had made a crack like this about an American city? The usual suspects would have been right in there calling for blood or banning, I guess.

Jeez. Artu, what a crazy hypothesis! Like we could pretend that the election is valid, the Iraqi gov is in place, so we hand out a bunch of medals, declare victory, run like hell, and then whatever happens is their fault? C’mon, nobody is going to buy a ridiculous…

Uh oh.

Got a cite to support your statement about Alawi? I did some googling, and the only reference I came up with was al Jazeera’s article about Blair’s recent visit which quotes Alawi as favoring that the elections go on as planned. I won’t quote that article here, given the source.

Sounds like a prediction. Either of you guys want to place a little wager on that scenario coming to pass?

The elections, flawed as they will be, are going to happen. There’s no point in postponing them-- that’ll only make matters worse. And the elected government might ask for more control over the activities of US troops, but they aren’t going to ask us to leave.

A full blown civil war is a real possibility in Iraq, some years down the road. But the US troops aren’t pulling out anytime soon. Even if you base your whole argument on the Republicans wanting save their political hides, your scenario would be MORE damaging to them than our staying in Iraq for the duration.

You’re overlooking the awesome power of spin control. Worked before. Some otherwise intelligent posters herein are willing to say, with straight faces, that, gee, the President didn’t actually know that what he was saying wasn’t true, so its just mean and unfair to call him a “liar”. Or, as Ms. Rice put it, “the President is not a fact checker.”

“Well, heck, we went in there and took out that terrible, terrible Saddam and freed the Iraqi people and then they screwed it all up! Not our fault, we freed them from the terrible terrible Saddam, but some people here are dissing our heroes and saying they didn’t do a good job freeing the Iraqi people! Well, you gotta go with the Iraqi people you got, not the ones you wish you had! Besides, whatever they end up with, the threat from the terrifying terrifying Saddam is gone! And did you hear about Hilary Clinton spitting on our returning troops?..”

Could it be done? Sure! Have they got a better option? Like what, for instance?

We had to destroy Fallujah in order to save it.

I don’t like any of the option either, 'luc. I’m not trying to defend Bush on this. I’ve always thought the war was a bad idea, and I think a full blown civil war in 5-10 years is a real possibility. I just don’t see your scenario (actually, it’s RTF’s scenario) playing out. I know that you’d like to see Bush have to retreat in shame, but wishes are rarely a good means of predicting the future. And I think you underestimate the resolve of this administration and the military in plowing along, even under circumstances as bad as they are.

As an aside… do you think Kerry, had he been elected, would take a different course? This is Bush’s war, no two ways about it, but I don’t think any president from either party would cut and run. We’re in Iraq for years to come. I wish it weren’t going to be that way, but it is.

Note to RTF: I read an article in todays paper about Alawi and it does appear that he’s not 100% behind the January elections, per your statement. It’s all pretty sketchy (an anonomous administration official says…), but I doubt we’d ever get anything more definitive than that.

Don’t do that, OK, John. Whether you intend it or not, your words carry the implication that I am hopeful of a prospect of slaughter and misery simply because it would promote my partisan agenda. That’s really offensive. I’m going to assume that isn’t what you mean.

I don’t know why you see the prospect of civil war as some distant horizon. Have you any reason to think it will be postponed? As best I can tell, it may be happening even as we speak, the only thing is, all the hostile groups are unified on one point: nobody likes us. At best, the Shia find us useful and handy, killing their enemies which happen to be ours.

The trouble for both of us is the dearth of dependable information. Who is fighting who, and why? If I were the Shia leadership, I would align myself with the US in order to get to an election that cannot help but place me in the drivers seat, and form a militia of armed loyalists, wave a wand over them and presto! the Iraqi Self Defense force, thank you very much, here’s your hat, there’s the door, adios, motherfucker.

What moves me most to suspect a “get the Hell out of Baghdodge” scenario on the part of the Bushiviks is their insistance on an election, any election, if not now, yesterday. Its hard for me to accept that their urgency is based on anything more than self-interest, they want out! If they can’t get out with banners streaming and bands playing, they are perfectly willing to throw around a bunch of medals and head for the helicopters, so longs as they have some kind of plausible scenario to feed the folks back home. And you know as well as I do that they have a whole cadre of spinsters ready to spin a shit souffle into a tasty quiche, yum-yum! And that there are posters on this very board who would trumpet that as though it were the Word from Mt. Ararat.

Suspicious? Hell, yes, suspicious. They haven’t told me the truth yet, why should I think they going to start now?

Stuck in a rot.

1-Election goes forward, Shias win as expected. Iraq descends into a theocracy.

2-Same as above. Only in this scenario, a full-blown civil war breaks out.

What to do, what to do?

Told you so. As did most of the world.

To the OP: using your method the US would have “won” Vietnam as well. Just destroy everything in sight and declare victory. No doubting that you possess the firepower to do that and more.

Only a minor inconvenience: how do you think the rest of the world would react to the return of the Mongols? I daresay not very well at all. In fact, most of us are pretty pissed as is. And as much as this Administration is populated by any number of Mongol-like extremists, most of them also have opposable thumbs, thus realize that is no longer an option in the 21st Century.

Kind of feel sorry for them, what with being born so out of date to fully implement their ideas. Scratch that, I don’t feel sorry at all.

While a Shia gov’t would certainly have a pretty strong religious flavor to it, my impression is that most of the Shia in Iraq are fairly secular (exceptions such as Sadr in his followers exist, but they don’t seem to be in the majority), at least compared with their Iranian neighbors. Al-Sistani, who is usually held up as the voice of the Shia majority in Iraq, has spoken up against religious leaders in Iraq becoming directly involved in politics, so while a Shia gov’t in Iraq will probably not be a paragon of seperation of church and state or of womens rights, it won’t be Iran or Afganistan either.

Your point 2, the civil war option, is probably more of a threat. A shia dominated parliment would probably be tempted to run roughshod over the Kurds and Sunni, especially the Sunni as they will probably be even more underrepresented in the new parlament due to their fear of being blown up at the polling booth. Both of these groups have strong militias and the Sunni have strong outside support, so its likely they would try to exert their influence by force when it doesn’t pan out for them at the polls.

Guess we’ll get to find out, as the powers that be seem pretty determined to do this on Jan 30 come hell or high water.

As for the OP, my impression is the Mosul isn’t as bad Fallujah, which had managed to kick out the US troops earlier in 2004, and then allowed Zarqwi and friends free reign in their stead instead of policing themselves like they’d agreed to do. Mosul has seen a lot of terrorist attacks, but the US troops haven’t had to withdraw and then be put in the position of having to besige and then retake the city like they did in Fallujah

I don’t disagree with the main thrust of your above-quoted observations. In fact, while certainly no regional expert, what you wrote pretty much encapsulates my own take on Al-Sistani. But here’s the thing, as you also mention above, I don’t think anyone really knows to what degree a Shiite-led Government would apply Islamic Law – because for as much as Al-Sistani has tried to make clear that he favors something called the quietist, or moderate, tradition, he’s still very much in favor of Islamic principles. Add that to the fact that a hard-liner such as Sadr has gained a lot of political capital with his Najaf stand, and really, who the hell knows what kind of compromise they’ll come to? Or not. Because how can anyone be sure that their coallition of sorts won’t crumble due to infighting after the fact? Not like these guys are lacking in weapons and followers willing to use them. I think about the only thing one can be certain of is that if should that particular result stand – and I don’t believe it will, for I have no idea how you’d get the Sunnies to agree that this whole election is anything but a farce – that they’d all want the Americans out ASAP. In that vein, I read Sistani’s latest temperate comments as shrewd political gamesmanship: use the Americans to consolidate power and then boot them out.

Anyhow, unless Americans are dumb enough to actually think they can pull a rabbitt out from under a hat, à la Allawi “winning” the election – which of course, if it it’s even possible, would make the whole thing even worse – this whole murderous fiasco will have come full circle with the US hightailing it out of Iraq while claiming some obscure ‘victory’ for ‘freedom.’

So much for all the Utopian Neocon Dreams.

Ah, that made me smile.

Liberation! Freedom! Long live Iraq!

to the OP:

As mentioned : Reason #1 is that with 1.7 million people Mosul has a population 6-9 times that Fallujah’s.
Realize when the long announced American attack on Fallujah began, 70 to 90 percent of the Civilian Population had fled, something similar in Mosul would trigger a significant humanitarian dilemma for the Coalition.

#2 Iraqi interim officials are largely in charge and running Mosul – that was not true in Fallujah. The main difference for our thread’s purposes is that the nature of the insurgency in Mosul is a traditional guerilla campaign - unlike Fallujah which was out and open and could be effected by a straight forward traditional military attack.

#3 The U.S. Armed Services (and coalition forces) are deploying to protect the election in 25 days. There are simply not enough forces to do this and to go on a HUGE offensive in a City that, if it were in the U.S. would be the 5th largest – even if such a direct assault were possible and would be effective and, (given #2 above it would not be), the Coalition would not wish to stir this pot at this time.