|Al Qaeda||Afghanistan||Iraq||Iran||Israel & Palestine|
Gary Brecher, Pando - The Iraqi Army routed by ISIS wasnt really a national army, and ISIS isnt really a dominant military force. It was able to occupy those cities because they were vacuums, abandoned by a weak, sectarian force. Moving into vacuums like this is what ISIS is good at. And thats the only thing ISIS is good at.
ISIS is a sectarian Sunni militiathats all. A big one, as militias go, with something like 10,000 fighters. Most of them are Iraqi, a few are Syrian, and a few hundred are those famous European jihadis who draw press attention out of all relation to their negligible combat value. The real strength of ISIS comes from its Chechen fighters, up to a thousand of them. A thousand Chechens is a serious force, and a terrifying one if theyre bearing down on your neighborhood. Chechens are the scariest fighters, pound-for-pound, in the world.
But were still talking about a conventional military force smaller than a division. Thats a real but very limited amount of combat power. What this means is that, no matter how many scare headlines you read, ISIS will never take Baghdad, let alone Shia cities to the south like Karbala. It wont be able to dent the Kurds territory to the north, either. All it can doall it has been doing, by moving into Sunni cities like Mosul and Tikritis to complete the partition of Iraq begun by our dear ex-president Bush in 2003. By crushing Saddams Sunni-led Iraq, the Americans made partition inevitable. In fact, Iraq has been partitioned ever since the invasion; its just been partitioned badly, into two parts instead of the natural three: the Kurdish north, and the remainder occupied by a weak sectarian Shia force going by the name of The Iraqi Army. The center of the country, the so-called Sunni Triangle, had no share in this partition and was under the inept, weak rule of the Shia army.
By occupying the Sunni cities, ISIS has simply made a more rational partition, adding a third part, putting the Sunni Triangle back under Sunni rule. The Shia troops who fled as soon as they heard that the ISIS was on the way seem to have anticipated that the Sunni would claim their own territory someday. Thats why they fled without giving even a pretense of battle.
So, Iraq is now partitioned on more natural, sensible lines, thanks to ISIS. Its going to be a messy transition, as Iraqi transitions tend to be, with mass executions of collaborators like those already happening in Mosul and Tikrit.
But in the long run, ISIS has simply swept into a power vacuum, like its done from the start.
Shamus Cooke, Truth Out - By attacking the Islamic State in Syria, Obama will become a de facto ally of the Syrian government, just as Obama and ISIS were de facto allies when they were both targeting Bashar al-Assad. Most Americans are likely fed up with Obamas zig-zagging foreign policy, and with each new u-turn support drops for the next war.
But the US has no plans to leave the Middle East to its own devices, and fixing the current problems will mean that Obama will need to tear up the patchwork of alliances previously pieced together amid past US wars. The next US-led solution will only compound the catastrophe, and continue the senseless logic of permanent war.
The situation has become so absurd that the US is now spending millions of dollars bombing US-made military equipment in Iraq itself worth millions, previously gifted to the Iraqi government and then taken by ISIS.
Obamas constant Middle East flip-flops have made it difficult to keep allies. After having built a coalition of nations to wage a proxy war against Bashar al-Assad, Obama backed out of his promised air strikes last year, in effect abandoning his anti-Syrian partners, many of whom still bear a grudge.
As a result, Obama faces a credibility gap, as does anyone who doesnt do what they say theyre going to do. Obama also said he supported a two-state solution in Palestine, but then backed Israel 100 percent in its ongoing slaughter against the Palestinians and its continued building of settlements.
Obama also promised to wage a war on terror, but allowed the growth of jihadi movements in his fight against the Libyan and Syrian governments, since they were de facto allies against the targeted governments. This is one of the reasons given by Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn on why the war on terror failed.
But there are other reasons Obama has few allies to fight ISIS. The unbreakable bond between the US and the Saudi dictatorship can never be too public, since the overwhelming majority of Saudis hate the United States government, as do the vast majority of people across the Middle East, according to a recent poll.
Why do they hate the US government? Unlike the American media perception of US foreign policy goofily stumbling from one good-intentioned mishap to the next, the average person in the Middle East views the American military as a sociopathic power hell-bent on annihilation.
Aed Jarrar, American Friends Service committee, Chicago Tribune - No one can deny that Iraq is in crisis. There is a political, humanitarian and military catastrophe taking place in the country, and it is only getting worse. The Sunni extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State has been involved in massive violations of human rights, including murder, ethnic cleansing and torture. But the Iraqi government forces, government-backed Shiite militias and other ethnic and sectarian militias have also been committing gross human rights abuses.
In the last decade or so, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed, and almost 5 million have been displaced one of the largest ethnic and sectarian cleansing campaigns in the history of the Middle East. Serious crimes have been committed by almost every political faction in Iraq. While focusing on the actions of one terrorist group might be good for an easy narrative where the United States and its allies step in to save the day, the other participants in Iraqs civil war are literally getting away with murder. A new U.S. military intervention in such a complex conflict is not sustainable and will not help Iraqis build their nation or fight extremism.
Humanitarian assistance is much needed and welcomed, but it should go through legitimate UN and other international agencies. As it stands, it is being used as a pretext to sneak in military strikes and more arms to some of Iraqs fighting factions.
The United States, for its part, is not a charity organization, nor is it a neutral bystander. Washington is an active participant in the conflict. In addition to authorizing direct strikes, the Obama administration continues to arm the Iraqi government forces and ethnic Iraqi militias and paramilitary groups. Even since the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011, Washington has continued its intervention in Iraq by selectively arming and training some sides of the civil conflict. The practical implications of this policy are devastating for the future of Iraq because it increases divisions and makes it harder for Iraqis to unite. Arming Iraqi factions is also a path of dubious legality, and it is illegal under U.S. and international law to arm and train groups implicated in gross human rights violations.
The crisis in todays Iraq is not a result of a natural disaster it is a direct consequence of earlier U.S. military interventions. Much of the destruction in Iraqs infrastructure, state legitimacy and national identity was either caused directly by the United States or happened under its watch. The United States also played a lead role in installing the current ethno-sectarian political system that continues to be one of the most corrupt and dysfunctional in the world.
Tony Cartalucci Activist Post - In reality, US special forces and other Western operatives have been inside and operating in Syria for years. The only missing ingredient the US seeks to justify is direct, open military intervention including airstrikes on Syrian territory.
It was the United States itself that intentionally created ISIS, beginning as early as 2007 for the expressed purpose of overthrowing the government of Syria and confronting pro-Iranian forces across the Middle East from Lebanon to Iran's very doorstep. Veteran journalists and Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh noted in his prophetic 2007 New Yorker article, "The Redirection Is the Administrations new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?" that (emphasis added):
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabias government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
It would be difficult for anyone today not to call ISIS one of several "extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda." The clandestine nature of this support from 2007, to 2011 when widespread violence erupted across Syria and soon began spreading beyond its borders, was less obvious.
The support to these sectarian extremist mercenaries became much more apparent after 2011, with monthly admissions published in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other prominent newspapers across the West of the US CIA arming and funding terrorists along the Syrian-Turkish border for years - in the very areas now clearly serving as safe havens and conduits for ISIS.
DS Wright, Firedog Lake - One of the unintended beneficiaries of the current crisis in Iraq has been the Kurds of Northern Iraq. With the Shitte dominated government focused on Sunni fighters, the Kurds have already been able to retake historic and oil rich territory such as Kirkuk. And now Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani has said The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the decision of the people is what we are going to uphold.
The creation of Kurdistan in present day Northern Iraq, a nation for the Kurdish people, was unthinkable even just a few years ago. Partly due to neighboring states such as Turkey who have a large Kurdish population and at one time believed the existence of Kurdistan would create instability in their country. But now Turkey has changed its tune and come close to outright supporting the creation of Kurdistan, likely due to the realization that the threat of Sunni extremist forces coming north is more of a threat to the countrys stability than the Kurds living in Turkey having a homeland. From Turkeys perspective, Kurdistan could serve as a buffer state.
Regardless of the swirling circumstances that put the opportunity before the Kurds, they seem amenable to taking it while they can and forming a state of their own after generations of being denied.
Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani gave his strongest-ever indication on Monday that his region would seek formal independence from the rest of Iraq. Iraq is obviously falling apart, he told CNNs Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview. And its obvious that the federal or central government has lost control over everything. Everything is collapsing the army, the troops, the police.
We did not cause the collapse of Iraq. It is others who did. And we cannot remain hostages for the unknown, he said through an interpreter. The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the decision of the people is what we are going to uphold.
56% of Americans support an interim deal with Iran that would ease some economic sanctions on that country in exchange for concessions on Iran's nuclear program.
Name one significant thing the American government has done since 9/11 to make it less likely that some in the MId East would want to attack it.
The good old days
Infrequently asked qustions:
When in history has a country as powerful as America been as afraid of a force as small as Al Qaeda?
How do we tell when we're meant to surrender our Constitution to fight Al Queda and when we're meant to give them more arms?
.@Harpers - Percentage of U.S. veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seeking disability benefits: 45
A 12 year old who should be running
for president of Egypt
Just a reminder
Australian - In one of three interviews yesterday, Mr Obama said the rebels were saying the right things so far. Most of them are professionals, lawyers, doctors, people who appear to be credible, he told CBS.
Great former thoughts of Barack Obama: President Barack Obama, as an Illinois state senator in 2002, said that using military force to topple a murderous dictator amounted to a dumb war and should be opposed. The dumb war Obama was criticizing was the planned invasion of Iraq and the murderous dictator was its leader, Saddam Hussein. - CNS