• Hope for Iraq? Depends on What You’re Hoping For…

    May 31, 2015

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Iran, Iraq, Military, Syria

    iraq women2

    Is there hope for Iraq? It depends on what you are hoping for.

    It is becoming clearer that there is little hope of destroying Islamic State in Iraq. Islamic State has no shortage of new recruits. Its fighters capture heavy weapons with such ease that the United States is forced to direct air strikes against equipment abandoned by the Iraqis — even as it ships in more. Islamic State holds territory that will allow it to trade land for time, morph into an insurgency and preserve its forces by pulling back into Syrian territory it controls even if Iraq’s government, with Iranian and American help, launches a major assault.

    Islamic State maintains support among Iraq’s Sunnis. The more the Shi’ites align against it, the more Sunnis see no other choice but to support Islamic State, as they did al Qaeda after the American invasion in 2003. Stories from Tikrit, where Shi’ite militia-led forces defeated Islamic State, describe “a ghost town ruled by gunmen.” There are other reports of ethnic cleansing in the Euphrates Valley town of Jurf al-Sakhar. Absent a unified Iraq, there will always be an al Qaeda, an Islamic State or another iteration of it to defend the Sunnis.

    The only way for Iraq to remain unified was a stalemate of force, with no side having the might to win nor weak enough to lose, with negotiations to follow. As the United States passively watched the Iranians become its proxy boots on the ground against Islamic State, all the while knowing Tehran’s broader agenda was a Shi’ite Iraqi client, that possibility was lost.


    It’s possible to pin down the failure to a single battle. The last hope that Iraq would not become an Iranian client was dashed after Islamic State’s defeat in Tikrit. The victory triggered the Iraqi central government to dismiss American and Kurdish support for a drive toward strategically important Mosul. The government all but abandoned the idea of a nonsectarian national army; it turned instead to a gang of Iranian-supported Shi’ite militias with a bundle of anti-Sunni agendas. Baghdad pointed those forces toward Ramadi.

    Islamic State is also in Ramadi, but it had already poked into most of the city over the past year. It needed only 400 fighters for the final push last week. The threat was not new. The move by Baghdad on Ramadi is thus more long-term political than short-term tactical: think of Ramadi not as a gate through which Islamic State must pass moving east toward Baghdad (Islamic State cannot occupy the Shi’ite city of four million, defended by untold militia, any more than the German army could capture Stalingrad) but as a gate the Shi’ite militias must traverse headed west to control the Sunni homeland of Anbar.

    The Kurds, America’s great loyalist hope, were energetic fighters against Islamic State in the north, at least as long as their peshmerga was reclaiming territory — such as the city of Arbil — from the central government in Baghdad. The Kurds are nowhere to be seen now that fighting has shifted to Anbar. Kurdistan cares little about the Sunnis other than to keep them away from its territory. Baghdad, with Islamic State on its plate, under political pressure from Washington to keep the peace with the Kurds and facing a powerful peshmerga, is unlikely to make any near- to mid-term moves against Kurdistan.


    So, besides simply hoping for the best, what can the United States do? Not much. Most of the possible game changers have already failed.

    Ever more air power and raids by Special Operations forces cannot hold ground or do more than dilute Iranian influence in spots, assuming they are not actually assisting the Iranians. President Barack Obama has ruled out large numbers of U.S. ground forces. (Not that troops matter; the 166,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq at the surge’s peak failed to win anything lasting, and Obama’s final pullout in 2011 was numerically meaningless.) The training the United States is doing with the Iraqi Army in 2015 will accomplish about the same as the training the United States did with the Iraqi Army from 2005 to 2011. Even the U.S. secretary of defense was reduced to near-mockery when describing Iraq’s army in Ramadi; it lacked the will to fight, he said.

    America’s latest man in Baghdad, Prime Minister Hader al-Abadi, has no more moved his country toward any kind of reconciliation than his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, did. Abadi’s reliance on Shi’ite militias only draws him closer to Iran.

    Obama’s post-Ramadi hope is once again to try to attract and train an anti-Islamic State Sunni force. There’s no support for that idea in Baghdad itself. The central government fears arming domestic Sunnis, besides a few token “federal police” units. It seems unlikely the Sunnis will be fooled by another U.S.-sponsored “awakening,” like the one in 2006 that helped root out insurgents in Anbar province. Baghdad left the fighters without paychecks from — or meaningful representation in — the government. As America watched, Maliki’s failure to capitalize on the original awakening is a large part of why Iraq is falling apart now.

    The much-ballyhooed pan-Arab coalition against Islamic State proved to be a short-lived photo op. America flies roughly 85 percent of the missions against Islamic State, with Western allies filling in a good part of the remaining percentage. No Arab ground troops ever showed up, and key coalition countries are now openly snubbing Washington over its possible nuclear deal with Iran.

    The United States appears to have run out of hope any of its cards will play in the long game.

    Iraq’s Sunnis can, at best, hope to be pushed into an Islamic State-protected enclave on the fuzzy Syrian border, a development Washington would likely quietly support to avoid a politically embarrassing ethnic cleansing. Iraq would remain an Iranian client state, dependent on its patron to keep Islamic State in check. Iranian and Iraqi political needs would mostly be aligned at that point, though more Islamic State fighters nearer to Syria would pose its own problems. This would expose what might be the key flaw in American policy in Iraq: The people America thinks are its allies don’t actually want what America wants.


    The Iraq of 2003 is gone. The Iraq of 2014 is gone. America’s mistakes made in between have had consequences because, as everyone knows, hope alone is a poor strategy.




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  • Recent Comments

    • jhoover said...

      1

      Peter
      It’s NOT becoming clearer that there is little hope of destroying Islamic State in Iraq.

      You would like to go deep to the starting of this conflicts originally I list for you these points from few sources that faded in western media but if you go inside Iraq to the heart of Sunni even Shi’ite group inside Iraq they will tell you.

      1- ISL was getting weapons drooped by US according to Iraqi wetness in North Iraq also west.

      2- US officials admitting they BY mistake dropped weapons in wrong place and wrong group they were exposes to the reality of Iraqi finding.

      3- You know these ISL fighter run on road with few or many TOYOTA (NEW) 4WD cars fitted with gun machines on top and entering the cities, Mosul three trucks entered that NON Iraq forces left the city and gave it to them. Same happen to other placed the last Ramadi.

      4- The US fighters with the numbers reported targeting what it called ISL fighters and group on ground just make any even who had no military background laughing, as reported by US Command center which both in Syria and Iraq around 7-15 a day?

      While we saw in Iraq during gulf war and 2003 the US fighter carried around 300+ over Iraq targeting every place included the local petrol station and High Voltage towers.

      Now it’s very clear the war inside Iraq obviously it’s between US and Iran and Iraqi caught in the middle.
      US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said in his recent event that The Iraqi government has now deployed Shia militias
      These militias you knew well peter are Iran midwifed militias and those heads who control them are Iranian Hearts & Minds.
      If US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said that “What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force.” that exactly can be said about US and It’s collation fighting inside Iraq.
      You would go the source of very important question Peter who is behind all this miss?

      Hit to question Iraqi oil production up and up it passed 3 Million b/d…….
      Btw, For last 1400 years of Islam none of those Heritage and ancient places within ME regain even in the ultimate Islamic ruling time been destroyed or looted and moved, So why ISL doing this under the name of Islam? Are they more believers than the Muslims those 1400 years ago?

      Who is behind all this distraction and weeping off this massive and important heritage to the Arab and Muslim history which is their identity Peter?

      05/31/15 5:56 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      2

      The Iraq of 2003 is gone. The Iraq of 2014 is gone.

      Its gone not because of America’s mistakes made in between have had consequences because, as everyone knows, hope alone is a poor strategy. Peter

      Not just Iraq gone but all the ME will go because its the US strategy as outlined by Ralph Peters

      05/31/15 6:04 PM | Comment Link

    • Chuck Nasmith said...

      3

      Change, Believe. I do not care who caused the weather changes, or the Empire failing, but want you to Have a Nice Day! Enjoy! Vote Chelsea Manning. We need a women in the WhiteHouse……Black Lives Matter

      06/1/15 10:22 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      4

      1. “Now it’s very clear the war inside Iraq obviously it’s between US and Iran and Iraqi caught in the middle…”

      Who says Israel and the Arab countries can’t agree?? Partial sarcasm aside, has Iraq ever stopped being a playground between the US and Iran since after the Iranian Revolution?

      ONe of the questions is, will ISIL go for Baghdad?

      2. “Btw, For last 1400 years of Islam none of those Heritage and ancient places within ME regain even in the ultimate Islamic ruling time been destroyed or looted and moved, So why ISL doing this under the name of Islam? Are they more believers than the Muslims those 1400 years ago?”

      Apparently, ISIL thinks they are more holy than earlier Muslims. Just don’t quiz them on the Quran, but the money from looting antiquities must be awfully good. Where is this stuff going off to?

      06/1/15 6:11 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      5

      Just don’t quiz them on the Quran, but the money from looting antiquities must be awfully good. Where is this stuff going off to?

      Of course its driven by those priceless items, you know well how looting from early looting of Iraq artifacts from historical Babylon, Mousel also Ur and other place throughout 2003 with the looting of Iraqi museum Remember When Donald Rumsfeld Stood Up for Rioting and Looting let them test the freedom? wounder if Wisconsin riot also let them test their freedom

      Are those looter Iraqi, doubtfully A US tank fired on the looked door of the Museum and let the looter inside while they watching the seen.

      06/1/15 8:22 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      6

      Apparently, ISIL thinks they are more holy than earlier Muslims.

      You either not looking far from your noise or you hiding something here?

      They are not holy at all they are not religous and they are not Muslim their acts speaks loudly who they are…….. you go and search for the truth, did you hear or read the history of those gangster done mascaras and outlaw acts by color thier atcs by something on of the the religion just like Kosher Mafia

      06/1/15 8:30 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      7

      ‘”Apparently, ISIL thinks they are more holy than earlier Muslims.” ‘

      You either not looking far from your noise or you hiding something here?”

      I guess humour doesnt translate well, does it? No kidding, they are looking for money and excitement. The village is too boring

      06/1/15 10:15 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      8

      London-based Sheikh Hani Al-Siba, see this terrorist he living in London no doubt living on UK taxpayer money in addition get grand for his social community work (terrorist acts and voice of devil)did not learn how to talk…..

      The only justice for these ugly faces and voices send them back, as soon as they lives there then there is something fishy there.

      all of you read and heard of ISL having girls and boys leaving UK, US, Germany And other countries getting man heir power did any of those official in those country tell us did they arrested any like this man who brainwash these individuals and send them to war zones?
      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/09/lebanese-tv-presenter-cuts-short-interview-with-sexist-islamist-scholar

      06/2/15 3:30 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      9

      The majority of the Iraqi people HOPE the dumbest country on the planet — that’s US – would just go away.

      06/5/15 2:36 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      10

      The majority of the Iraqi people HOPE the dumbest country on the planet — that’s US – would just go away.

      Do You think so dude?

      06/5/15 5:04 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      11

      The majority of Americans HOPE the dumbest government on the planet would just go away:

      The inspector general at the Office of Personnel Management, which keeps the records and security clearance information for millions of current and retired federal employees, issued a report in November that essentially described the agency’s computer security system as a Chinese hacker’s wetdream.

      But by the time the report was published, Chinese hackers had already cleaned out tens of thousands of files on sensitive security clearances, and were preparing for a much broader attack that ultimately obtained detailed personal information on at least four million current and former government employees. Even today, the agency is struggling to patch numerous vulnerabilities.

      A number of administration officials on Friday painted a picture of a government office struggling to catch up, with the Chinese ahead of them at every step.

      06/6/15 4:16 PM | Comment Link

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