Iraq: The War To End A War

The last “big” story out of Iraq was that the Iraqi military has called the battle for Mosul as won….that all that is left of ISIS is some wandering bands of fighters looking for leadership……

If indeed ISIS is defeated then we should expect a peace to now prevail, right?

Only an uneducated dolt would think that the conflict in Iraq is coming to an end.  Believe me there is a wealth of uneducated “experts” when it comes to foreign policy.

Now we wait to see if Iraq can win the peace……or an op-ed in USA Today is saying……

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi waved his national flag in a devastated Mosul last week and with good reason. He was celebrating the hard-fought victory of his U.S.-supported troops over the stubborn Islamic State terrorists who held Iraq’s third-largest city for more than three years. But Abadi was candid about the challenge going forward: “We have another mission ahead of us — to create stability.”

Source: Winning the peace in Mosul

Stability?  Really?  Sounds like spin to me.

ISIS has been routed from the Iraqi city of Mosul. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has declared that this signals “the end and the failure and the collapse” of ISIS.

But according to two Iraq War veterans writing in a paper published by the Small Wars Journal in April, the victory in Mosul will be short-lived.

Source: Iraq War Veterans Warn: Mosul Victory Is Prelude to Iraqi State Failure | Alternet

September will be the start of the after conflict conflict…..why September?

That is when the Kurds have scheduled a vote of an independence referendum.

Depending on the outcome…I do not see that as an event that will bring peace.

This has the possibility of becoming uglier and a lot more messy before there is an end to these hostilities.

One Living–Another Dead

Awhile back there were several reports that the leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, had been killed….and the peasants dance…..now someone has rained on that parade….

A top Kurdish counter-terrorism official said on Monday he was 99 percent sure that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after reports that he had been killed.

“Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive,” Lahur Talabany told Reuters in an interview.

Source: Exclusive: Islamic State leader Baghdadi almost certainly alive – Kurdish security official

I question since this came from the Kurds is it just a story to keep the money and arms flowing before the “independence” referendum in September?

This would not be the first time a terrorist leader was declared dead and not being so…..

Then far miles away in Afghanistan….

The head of ISIL in Afghanistan, Abu Sayed, was killed in an attack on his headquarters in Kunar province earlier this week, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement on Friday that other members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) were killed in the raid on Tuesday.

“US forces killed Abu Sayed, the emir of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) – in a strike on the group’s headquarters in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, July 11,” White said in the statement, referring to ISIL’s other acronym.

Source: ISIL leader in Afghanistan ‘killed in US raid’ | ISIS News | Al Jazeera

Once again it is…..Another he said….they said…..

Many “leaders” over the years have been pronounced dead…only to re-appear healthier than ever…..

Defeat Of ISIS–What Then?

It appears that ISIS is all but defeated in Iraq and it is not looking good in Syria…..so when the end arrives…..what then?

The Islamic State appears to be nearly ousted in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and now US-backed forces have the last 2,500 ISIS holdouts trapped in the group’s other stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, reports the New York Times. The militants are cut off from supplies, though the final battle to defeat them promises to be a difficult one that plays out building by building. ISIS leaders already have fled the city, and the group maintains control over smaller towns in both Syria and Iraq. Related developments:

  • The plan? Once ISIS is routed from Syria and Iraq, then what? The Los Angeles Times reports that the US doesn’t seem to have a clear strategy yet for the aftermath, one that takes into account factors such as Iran, Russia, reconstruction, safe zones, troop numbers, etc. Without “rules of the road,” it’s “a dangerous situation,” says one analyst.
  • Assad’s role: One particularly thorny problem for the US is whether to try to keep Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in check as he seeks to reclaim territory abandoned by ISIS. The AP has an analysis.
  • ‘Mom, I’m exhausted’: What’s it like for civilians still in Raqqa? “Mom, I’m exhausted and the situation is horrible, I can’t bear this life anymore,” writes a 23-year-old daughter to her mom. CNN takes a look at WhatsApp messages.
  • A leader emerges: Iraq’s success in Mosul has turned the spotlight on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. In a profile, the Wall Street Journal reports that the 65-year-old former electrical engineer has emerged as a genuine leader after three years, to pretty much everyone’s surprise.
  • Premature? But at BuzzFeed, Nancy A. Youssef writes that Abadi and other Iraqi leaders may have made a mistake in declaring the end of the ISIS caliphate last week. Too much fighting remains, in Mosul and elsewhere.
  • Abuses in Iraq:Human Rights Watch says it has reports of Iraqi soldiers beating and executing unarmed men fleeing Mosul.

The better plan is to start planning for ISIS 2.0……..it will be back and back with a vengeance…..

Lt Gen Stephen Townsend told the BBC Iraqis needed to unite to ensure IS was defeated across the rest of Iraq.

He also urged the government to reach out to the Sunni Arab minority.

“If we’re to keep… ISIS 2.0 from emerging, the Iraqi government is going to have to do something pretty significantly different,” he said.

“They’re going to have to reach out and reconcile with the Sunni population, and make them feel like their government in Baghdad represents them.”

Source: Mosul: US commander says Iraq must stop Islamic State 2.0 – BBC News

With the defeat…..does anyone know what ISIS thinks of the future?

In a conversation I had with a fellow university student in Damascus in 2000, he made curious remark. “Ana mubayie,” he said. The sentence, which translates into “I owe a pledge of fealty”, was a reference to a supposed secret oath he made to Mullah Omar, then the emir of the Taliban in Afghanistan. In a secular country like Syria, the lack of context for young students meant nobody made much of it beyond observing its oddity.

When I wrote about the anecdote for The National three years ago, ISIL’s announcement of a “caliphate” was widely dismissed as comic and a delusional ambition. Many hoped that ISIL’s military campaign soon would be reversed once the Iraqi army recovered from the initial shock. Even more than the military challenge, moreover, it was harder for politicians, clerics and observers to grasp the implications of the declaration on the region and the world, and the subsequent evolution of ISIL from a local insurgent group into a global organisation.

Source: What ISIL really thinks about the future – The National

The consensus seems to be that ISIS may be beaten but it is not yet defeated…..plans should be drawn up now that has an approach that will prevent a repeat of the last 4 years.

With the battles of Mosul and Raqqa dislodging the Islamic State (ISIS) from its strongholds in Syria and Iraq, and the Syrian civil war becoming a war of attrition, the Middle East’s most acute conflicts are evolving fast. But that doesn’t mean they will soon be resolved.

ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate was never a state that could be driven to unconditional surrender, meaning that the battles of Mosul and Raqqa were never going to be decisive, even if they did eliminate ISIS sanctuaries. As ISIS’s spread into Libya and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula underscores, there are plenty of loosely controlled areas available to be penetrated.

Source: The next phase of Middle East conflict | The Strategist

But with everything said maybe there is a rule of thumb they should adhere to……one question they should ask after the debacles of Syria and Libya……

Source: Is It Ever a Good Idea to Arm Violent Nonstate Actors? | RealClearDefense

Then what about all those “terrorists” that did not die defending the “caliphate”?  What will become of them?

The fall of Mosul and the likely fall of Raqqa won’t be the end of the Islamic State. The group has already reverted to its insurgent roots in some of the areas that have been lost. It also still controls some territory. The Islamic State will continue to function as a guerrilla army, despite suffering significant losses. In May, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) assessed that even though it was losing significant ground, the Islamic State “will likely have enough resources and fighters to sustain insurgency operations and plan terrorists [sic] attacks in the region and internationally” going forward. Unfortunately, I think ODNI’s assessment is accurate for a number of reasons, some of which I outline below. I also discuss some hypothetical scenarios, especially with respect to returning foreign fighters or other supporters already living in Europe or the U.S.

Source: The Terrorist Diaspora: After the Fall of the Caliphate | RealClearDefense

We will see….the world is watching…….

Mosul Is Liberated!

Dancing in the streets………..Celebrate….Celebrate….Dance To The Music!

The news has hit the presses.

Mosul is liberated!

At least according to the Iraqi military………

After months of heavy bloody fighting the army of Iraq with US help has taken the Iraqi city of Mosul…….

Iraq’s state TV says the country’s prime minister has arrived in Mosul to declare victory over the Islamic State in the more than eight-month old operation to drive the militants from the city, reports the AP. “The commander in chief of the armed forces [Prime Minister] Haider al-Abadi arrived in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulated the heroic fighters and Iraqi people for the great victory,” the office of Haider al-Abadi said in a statement on Sunday, per Reuters. Dressed in a black uniform of a type worn by Iraqi special forces, al-Abadi was shown on Sunday descending from a military plane and was greeted by senior security forces commanders. Fighting Sunday was heavy, with the increasingly cornered militants sending female suicide bombers; some 30 ISIS fighters were killed attempting to flee by crossing the Tigris.

Lt. Gen. Jassim Nizal of the Iraq army’s 9th Division said Sunday his forces have achieved “victory” in the sector allotted to them, after a similar announcement by the militarized Federal Police. Nizal’s soldiers danced to patriotic music atop tanks even as airstrikes sent plumes of smoke into the air nearby. Backed by US-led coalition, Iraq launched the operation to retake Mosul in October. Iraqi state TV says government forces drove the militants from all areas and are “chasing” them in some areas in the city. The militants captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in a matter of days in the summer of 2014.

Great news in the battle against the barbaric ISIS….but does this mean the ISIS is at its proverbial end?

It’s a big loss for ISIS, one of the biggest they’ve ever sustained, but claims from Iraqi officials that it marks “the end of ISIS” are a major overstatement of the situation. Clearly, ISIS not only still hosts a lot of territory, but remains hugely powerful and influential besides.

Indeed, ISIS predates its “caliphate” by quite some time, with its origins as the al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgency. The group never totally abandoned those insurgency tactics when they became a land-holding state, and even if they ultimately lose all their territory, they’re just back to that.

And even that direct capability is just the tip of the iceberg, as ISIS retains massive influence in the international Islamist community, and will continue to inspire attacks worldwide, a problem that will likely endure irrespective of ISIS’ near-term prospects.

(antiwar.com)

 

  • A leader emerges: Iraq’s success in Mosul has turned the spotlight on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. In a profile, the Wall Street Journal reports that the 65-year-old former electrical engineer has emerged as a genuine leader after three years, to pretty much everyone’s surprise.
  • Premature? But at BuzzFeed, Nancy A. Youssef writes that Abadi and other Iraqi leaders may have made a mistake in declaring the end of the ISIS caliphate last week. Too much fighting remains, in Mosul and elsewhere.
  • Abuses in Iraq: Human Rights Watch says it has reports of Iraqi soldiers beating and executing unarmed men fleeing Mosul

 

This is a good day for Iraq and time to consider rebuilding….but never take their eyes off of ISIS….they will be just as dangerous now as they have been in the past.

Are Tribes The Answer?

Back in the Dark Ages of the Iraq War, 2007, the president decided that he would send more troops into Iraq to help with security for Baghdad and Anbar province……the general at the time, Patreues, also conned the tribes of Anbar into working with the US and to stop the advance of the AQ backed insurgency.

Using the tribes was a novel idea….of course they were promised things like protection, weapons and most important money for their help with the problem.

I relive this part of the war history because it was a stroke of genius and that I do not understand why the technique has been abandoned.

We, the US, could be using tribes in several conflicts to do some of the lifting…..across the Middle East tribes are the central aspect of life…..so why not try to duplicate the small successes we have had in the past……

For instance in Yemen…where the US has had an on-going battle with AQAP…why not turn to the tribes that do not like AQ……some thoughts on the subject….

Source: The US is failing to exploit tribal anti-AQAP sentiments in Yemen – Middle East Monitor

Then there is Syria and its array of tribal connections…can the tribes work on the aftermath?

Some say no……

Source: After Raqqa: The Challenges Posed by Syria’s Tribal Networks – Jamestown

I keep harping on trying to find a new plan….I would say this idea would be considered a new plan….well at this time anyway….it had been a success…It could be again.

What we got to lose?

Then There Is Mosul

The war in Iraq is still raging…..we just do not hear much about it thanx to the media and its fascination with political chicanery.

ISIS is losing ground around and in the Iraqi city of Mosul….the Iraqis have said that the fall of ISIS in Mosul is only days away…..

The battle to wrest full control of the Iraqi city of Mosul from Islamic State will be over in a few days, the Iraqi military said on Monday, as elite counter-terrorism units fought militants among the narrow alleyways of the historic Old City.

An attempted fight-back by militants failed on Sunday night and Islamic State’s grip on the city, once its de facto capital in Iraq, was weakened, a senior commander said.

“Only a small part (of the militants) remains in the city, specifically the Old City,” Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, commander of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) in Mosul, told Reuters.

“From a military perspective, Daesh (Islamic State) is finished,” Assadi said. “It has lost its fighting spirit and its balance. We are making calls to them to surrender or die.”

As CTS units battled militants in the densely-populated maze of tiny streets of the Old City, which lies by the western bank of the Tigris river, Assadi said the area under Islamic State control in Mosul was now less than two sq kms.

Mosul will fall “in very few days, God willing,” he added.

(Reuters)

Let’s say that the prediction is factual…..what will be the events following the fall?

The U.S.-led military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria appears to be nearing its end. In Mosul, Iraqi military forces are now pushing into ISIS’s last pocket of resistance in the Old City as allied militias cut off ISIS forces near Tal Afar. In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have encircled the ISIS “capital” in Raqqa and pushed into the city proper with U.S.-led coalition support.

However, as ISIS’ territorial footprint shrinks, a new battle for control over liberated areas is brewing. Forces aligned with the U.S.-led coalition are not the only players fighting ISIS. Russia, Turkey, the Syrian government, the Iraqi central government, Iran-backed militias, and a mix of Kurdish militias are just some of groups angling to stake their claim to the lands ISIS leaves behind.

Two strategic areas along the Iraqi-Syrian border – Sinjar in northwestern Iraq and the regions of Raqqa and Deir al Zour in eastern Syria – are set to play a vital role in this burgeoning power struggle. As these disparate forces operate in ever closer proximity, who stands to gain after ISIS’ fall, and how far is the U.S. willing to go to assert its interests in eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq?

Source: As ISIS Falls, Border Battles Loom | The Cipher Brief

The aftermath will be the battle for territory….the Kurds, Sunnis and Shia…all will want their piece of the newly liberated pie.

Where will this put the US troops that in country?  What part will they play on the ensuing battles?

The one constant will be the US fighting unwinnable wars…how long will the American people allow this to continue?

Fearless Leader, Come On Down!

Recently the Russians issued a statement that they had killed the leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, in an airstrike in Raqaa Syria…..they have said they are 90% sure that he has been killed.

But first………

The 2003 American invasion of Iraq, which came not long after the invasion of Afghanistan, proved to be highly controversial, not only for the rationale behind the invasion (Saddam Hussein and his putative support of 9/11 and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction) but for how the war itself and the governing of the country were conducted. On May 11, 2003, President George W. Bush appointed L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer as the Presidential Envoy to Iraq and then the top civilian administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Shortly thereafter, two of the CPA’s most notable decrees entered into force, on May 16, 2003 and May 23, respectively:  CPA Order Number 1 , which banned the Ba’ath party in all forms, a process otherwise known as de-Baathification; and CPA Order Number 2, which dismantled the Iraqi army.

The US got rid of the Iraqi army and its generals….then some question this decision…..

The latter decision was sharply criticized in hindsight, as many observers blame it for fueling the insurgency that would plague the country to this day. Bremer defends the decision by noting that most of the Iraqi army had been brutalized under Saddam and had no desire to continue serving if given the chance. Therefore, in the Pentagon’s terminology, the Iraqi army “self-demobilized.

To this day that one decision haunts the country of Iraq…..

Source: Iraq’s de-Baathification still haunts the country – Al Jazeera English

About here there will be some that are questioning my motivation for this post….and I will clear it all up…..

If Baghdadi is truly dead and there seems to be no successor waiting in the wings then analyst think that there will emerge an Iraqi general from Saddam’s day to take over the leadership of the group.

Source: If Baghdadi is dead, next IS leader likely to be Saddam-era officer – Iraqi News

To me it makes perfect sense….ISIS is losing on almost all fronts if there is a way to re-group and come back punching it will take a military man with experience and sense the US made sure that there would be a wealth of experienced officers with their ill conceived de-Baathification program available…….the prospect is good that a Saddam general will rise to the top of the group.

We did what we always do…..make the seeds of opposition easy to sprout and grow…..

Another round fired into the foot of the nation.