Iraq/Syria Update–07Dec16

How soon our minds wander……

As an analyst of the Middle East I am ashamed of myself for allowing the silliness around the election and the after math to consume my thoughts…..I will try to make things right….today I will start a regular update on the situations in Iraq and Syria…and the region.

Iraq

As Iraqi security forces wage a grinding house-to-house battle to push the Islamic State out of Mosul, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is rushing to prepare for a potential mass exodus of up to 700,000 mainly Sunni civilians. But winter is closing in, funds are short, and the head of the UNHCR mission is worried that the international community and the Iraqi government could be overwhelmed by events, possibly setting the stage for renewed sectarian tension. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable

Iraqi army said on Wednesday that Islamic State militants launched an overnight attack against security forces in the southeastern part of Mosul, a day after the troops advanced deeper into the city. – Associated Press

Syria

Syrian government forces pushed deeper into Aleppo on Wednesday, seizing areas around the medieval citadel whose narrow streets had long given rebels cover, pro-government websites and conflict monitors reported. – New York Times

The United States is discussing with Syrian rebels their surrender and evacuation from Aleppo, as Russia on Tuesday threatened the imminent “elimination” of anyone who refuses to leave the city. – Washington Post

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he and his Russian counterpart will speak this week as a fierce bombing campaign backed by Moscow continues in Aleppo, fueling diplomatic arguments and straining prospects for talks. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The House passed a defense bill last week that included language giving the incoming Trump administration the authority to send shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles to rebel groups fighting in Syria. While the bill provides certain restrictions for transferring the controversial weapons, known as MANPADS or Man Portable Air Defense Systems, it represents a significant shift from prior iterations of the legislation. – Washington Post

Vladimir Putin is seizing on President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to reverse U.S. policy on Syria to press for a military victory that could mark Russia’s return as a great-power rival in the wider Middle East. – Bloomberg

Secretary of State John Kerry has resumed bilateral negotiations with Russia over the Syrian civil war, despite Russia’s refusal to make the policy changes that Kerry demanded when he canceled talks in October – Washington Examiner

Israel’s military attacked an airport in Damascus near Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s palace early on Wednesday morning, Arab media reported, in what appeared to be the second air strike by Israel inside Syrian territory in less than a week. – Financial Times

Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan write: Deterrence, by way of fait accompli, has worked so far. Explicit deterrence will work still better. At the end of the day, the choice is not whether the U.S. stays in Syria or leave, it is whether it stays or, eventually, is forced to come back. – The Daily Beast

I shall try to keep my readers updated as often as possible…..it is important because we have troops fighting and dying in these regions….but I am assuming that Americans actually give a crap……

Why Saddam And Gaddafi Failed To Get The Bomb

Earlier this year while I was lecturing a student asked me this very same question…..she said that since Libya and Iraq had massive oil money they could afford the trip….

I told her that Iraq had tried to build a nuke facility and the Israelis destroyed it….

Then she asked …so then is Israel the force to worry about?

Yes and no…..no they are not a power in the region….only in their own minds….and yes they are a force because the West is deathly afraid if being criticized for not supporting Israel…..you would be surprised the weight that a call of antisemitism can be…..

The more I thought about it I decided that it is an excellent question that needs an answer……

I recall reading an article recently that asked this question and gave an excellent explanation…..

Imagine if Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi had nuclear weapons in 2003. The invasion of Iraq may not have been possible, and states would have been much more reluctant to bomb Libya in 2011. The Middle East would be a very different place today. As it happens, both leaders had sought nuclear weapons for decades, but neither got the bomb. Why?

In fact, Iraq came close to the nuclear weapons threshold. If Saddam hadn’t invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990, Iraq would most likely have acquired nuclear weapons during the mid-1990s. In contrast, Libya’s program failed, over and over again, for three decades before the Gaddafi regime ultimately abandoned the program in late 2003.

Source: Why Saddam and Gaddafi Failed to get the Bomb

Mosul And Beyond

I few years ago I was  asked to write an op-ed for Ace News Room and we have been together ever since…..I appreciate their confidence in my writings and my analyses….if you are a news junkie then Ace News Room is the place for you…..try it…you’ll like it!

The Iraqi and allies have started the push to liberate the city of Mosul from the clenches of ISIS……

The election has the spotlight but the Iraqi army and its cronies have began the attack on the ISIS stronghold in Mosul……and so far it is going as well as ca be expected…. Iraq&#…

Source: Mosul And Beyond

This battle is far from over…..and this battle could only bring a revised ISIS…..this battle may create more problems than before it began…..this battle will not be pretty.

 

The Battle For Mosul

There is a wealth of news these days but most of it is about the election in a few days……but we should be focusing on the war raging in Iraq…..why?

This could be a situation for the ages and not just a push to destroy an enemy…..

After the battle there will be a wealth of problems that could reignite into another shooting conflict……

The battle for Mosul is as much a political endeavor as its post-conflict status will be. The entire venture pivots on the trust between the allied factions: the Kurds, the Christians, the Yazidis, and the Iraqi army which has its own Shia-Sunni divisions—not to mention the Turks hovering on the horizon threatening to join the hunt. For the ground war to work the factions need to believe that they share a common goal for the long-term future of Mosul. That’s a tall order because the major players have divergent, even opposing, agendas.

Source: The Politics of the Battle for Mosul | World Affairs Journal

Let’s look forward in time….and predict that ISIS in Mosul will be defeated….what then?

The steady erosion of ISIL’s hold on its core territories in Iraq and Syria appears to herald the final success of the US-led coalition’s effort to overthrow the self-proclaimed caliphate.

As the attack onMosul intensifies and Syrian regime forces and Kurdish fighters close in on Raqqa, ISIL is mounting a desperate defence of the shrinking area over which it still holds sway. However, it is probably far too early to write off a regional threat that can still call on clandestine, international networks of followers to sustain its fanatical and uncompromising struggle against western countries and their regional allies.

Source: What lies ahead when ISIL is finally defeated? | The National

As the battle for Mosul lingers on…the allies are at the same time preparing for a push on the capital of ISIS….Raqaa, Syria…..

Before Iraqi forces and their US backers have set foot in Mosul, the US and its allies have begun preparations to imminently wrest the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State, a momentous decision aimed at destroying what is left of Isis’s self-declared caliphate.

The US defense chief, Ashton Carter, meeting in Paris with his counterparts in the anti-Isis coalition, vowed that Iraqi forces, Syrian Arab and Kurdish allies and US special operations troops and airpower could take away Isis’s Iraqi and Syrian capitals practically simultaneously.

“We’ve planned for that, and we have the resources for both,” Carter told NBC News early Wednesday, saying an attack on Raqqa would commence “in the next few weeks”.

Source: US and allies prepare to take Raqqa from Isis as battle for Mosul continues | US news | The Guardian

Looks like the plan is to try and catch ISIS off guard with their pants down fighting for survival in Mosul….but I question that decision……

Maybe a better idea would be to fight one battle front at a time….but still keep pressure on Raqaa…but concentrate on the elimination of Mosul first.

But let’s say we are successful and defeat ISIS in Mosul and then move on and do the same in Raqaa….will we then declare the official death of ISIS?

There may be a reason to not get too jubilant about these possible defeats.

Why so, Professor?

The US military warned today that the Islamic State continues to plot attacks against the West from its headquarters in Raqqa, Syria.

“We know this plot and planning is emanating from Raqqa,” Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said, according to the Associated Press.

Townsend didn’t provide any specifics, but the Islamic State has orchestrated multiple attacks from its safe havens in the past. American and European officials are constantly working to disrupt the group’s logistical support networks and uncover cells.

“We aren’t sure how pressing it is. We know they are up to something,” Townsend said, according to FoxNews.com. Townsend added that “we’ve got to get to Raqqa pretty soon” because of this anti-Western plotting.

Source: Islamic State continues to plot against the West, US military warns | The Long War Journal

As a reminder I turn your attention to an op-ed I wrote for Ace News Room…..

Source: Generation Jihad – In Saner Thought

Fore warned is fore armed!

How Will The Battle For Mosul Affect Iraq?

Even though the US election is extremely important I cannot in good conscience ignore the rest of the world…..especially the war in Iraq and the battle for the hearts and minds of Mosul……

The battle for Mosul is in full swing and some are even calling it the end game for ISIS.  I do not know it I would go that far…..but it is an extremely important battle for the future of Iraq is at stake…..

Analysis: What happens in Mosul could determine the future direction of the country.

The battle for Mosul is intensifying as Iraqi government forces and Kurdish troops edge closer towards the country’s second-largest city. According to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) interior ministry, the Iraqi army is only five kilometres from Mosul – and they could be even closer.

Several towns and villages have recently been cleared, including the predominantly Christian towns of Bartellah and Qaraqoush, southeast of Mosul. Fierce battles are raging on multiple fronts.

But fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) are hitting back hard. ISIL fighters have slowed down the advancing forces by waging waves of coordinated suicide car-bomb attacks, deploying tens of snipers and relying on a network of trenches and tunnels.

Source: How will the battle for Mosul affect Iraq? – News from Al Jazeera

Will an Iraqi win amplify the internal problems of the country?  A question few are asking….at least in public…….

Last week the Iraqi government in Baghdad claimed that Turkey had violated its sovereignty by deploying troops and tanks to the town of Bashiqa, north of Mosul. Turkey has stated that this deployment is part of a previously agreed plan to train Iraqi Kurdish forces to combat ISIL. Some Iraqi officials in the central government deemed it a Turkish “invasion”.

The deployment, which had the blessing of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq, but resulted in condemnation from the central Iraqi government in Baghdad, is symptomatic of the schizophrenic foreign policy of post-2003 Iraq, compounded by a complete reversal of a Turkish policy of allying with Iraq’s Kurds against Turkey’s own Kurds.

Source: Diagnosing Iraq’s problems – Al Jazeera English

Granted the complexion of Iraq could change after this battle is won….but will it be the beginning of the end?

Conventional military doctrine cautions against urban operations. Typically they require huge numbers of troops, are painstakingly slow and result in high levels of casualties particularly among the civilian population.

Yet, the Iraqi government is not fighting a conventional war and, as it prepares to wrest back control of Mosul from ISIL, it will be engaged in a battle where the tactics of each side will be determined by their long-term strategies.

For the Iraqi security forces (ISF) not only do they need to dislodge a brutal and – at times – literally suicidal opponent, but they need to retake the city in a way that facilitates Baghdad’s future rule over the Sunni minority population and the encroaching ambitions of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

Source: The battle for Mosul: The beginning of the end – Al Jazeera English

The fixation on the defeat of ISIS is honorable….but someone needs to be paying attention to the consequences that could present themselves……let us not forget what happen in Afghanistan in the 1990’s…..the wrong foot could turn a small problem into a bigger one and a more dangerous one…..

Avoiding Old Traps in Iraq

Optimism is pouring out of the veins of those involved in the newest attempt to put ISIS down….the Battle of Mosul could very well be the end of ISIS in Iraq….they could tuck tail and run for Raqaa in Syria……But first…another American soldier has died in Iraq…….

While the US-backed Iraqi forces won’t even reach the city of Mosul for at least a couple of weeks, the operation already has its first US death, with a soldier embedded with the Kurdish Peshmerga killed in a roadside bombing attack just north of Mosul.

Exact details on the location are unclear, but the soldier’s vehicle hit the bomb planted in the road, and it detonated. He died later of his wounds. Pentagon officials have described there being around 100 US troops embedded with Iraqi security forces around Mosul.

The media actually reported this death…..but was it because of the major battle or good faith?

Now let’s say they are defeated in Iraq…..will the world make the same mistakes it made in 2004?

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has taken a look at the possibilities…..

It is hard to remember exactly when there was widespread optimism about Iraq, but it is easy to remember the circumstances. Shi’a were united, Kurds were united with them, and Sunni dissatisfaction was the only obstacle to the country coming together. Unfortunately, the Sunnis didn’t see the events of 2004 or so that way. They saw the country’s politics freezing them out permanently, and many committed to doing anything they could to disrupt Iraqi stability. Some supported al Qaeda in Iraq, to protect themselves from what they saw as the depredations of Iraq’s Shi’a community.  Bombs exploded, shrines were destroyed, civilians were murdered, and the optimism evaporated.

Things have gotten better slowly in Iraq, but in the last several months, politics seem to be melting down. The Shi’a coalition is coming undone, Kurdish unity seems to be fraying, and different Sunni groups aren’t sure where to turn. Mosul is about to be in flames. Although Iraqi politics seem headed for a cliff, in fact, recent events are actually a hopeful sign.

Source: Middle East Notes and Comment: Avoiding Old Traps in Iraq | Center for Strategic and International Studies

I look for new problems within the different factions….the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Kurds, on and on…..everyone will be looking for that pound of flesh…..

Iraq: Battle For Hearts And Minds

The big news of the week is that the battle for Mosul has finally begun….after months of moving equipment and men around all the prep work has come to the “final” battle…..

If you have been living under a rock and not aware of the situation in Iraq…then I can be of assistance…..

Source: War Against Islamic State in Iraq

I felt it necessary for my readers to be notified of the start of thew battle for I had no confidence that it would be a priority for the MSM……

The war in Iraq has not been in the headlines later even though about a 100 people a day die….the media rather play on an endless loop the gossip coming out of both sides of the election̷…

Source: Iraq: And So It Begins – In Saner Thought

Even if the battle is won and ISIS takes it on the lame….will this be the end of the problems in Iraq?

The Unesco constitution says: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.”

The only thing people seem to agree about the current battle for Mosul is that Isis will be defeated militarily and the city retaken. Militarily, Isis is losing. But progress on giving Sunnis in Mosul reasons to believe in their future and to support the country’s Shia-dominated government remains elusive. And this is the key battleground: without victory here, we will be locked into a cycle of violence without end.

Source: The battle for Mosul is not just coalition (good) v Isis (bad) | Jonathan Shaw | Opinion | The Guardian

Any defeat of ISIS is a welcome story….but in Iraq’s case the possibility of it sinking into further violence is possible…..we have the Iraqi military, the shi’a militias and the Pesh Merga fighting to liberate Mosul….but why?

Each one of them has an agenda…..and not one of them is fighting for the nation of Iraq…..

Iraq could sink into the divisions that have all players in Syria at each others throats…..none have any idea what is at stake beyond their own petty dreams of power….Iraq is looking as a similar problem for the world to sort out.

I say the world because…..well they created the problem….they need to man up and handle it.