Much like Khan was fixated on Kirk, Washington is fixated on degrading and destroying IS. We are still convinced we are the indespensible nation and must solve all the world's problems. We are not and we cannot.
On Sunday morning, President Obama told Bob Schieffer the fight against ISIS has reached a turning point and the “coalition” is about to go on the offensive . That’s a lovely sentiment. I wonder if he really believes that? It goes well with the decision to double our bootless troop strength in Iraq and the request for an additional 5.6 billion dollars for that mission. Beyond its value as a sales pitch, this talk of a “new phase” is pure BS. The only thing that has been established is that the IS is not militarily invincible. This is going to be a long, tough slog and the final outcome will most likely not be to Washington’s liking.
Our own Babak Makkinejad summed up a course of action and the probable outcome quite well in one of his recent comments. “I think the best policy for NATO states is to cut and run. This would focus the minds of their erstwhile allies like the proverbial death sentence and give leverage to NATO to shepherd into some sort of order. I think also given the weaknesses of the Muslim states, order in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan and Palestine cannot be restored. I expect the new Salafi state in Western Iraq and Eastern Syria to endure and become - in time - a UN member.”
I generally agree with Babak’s prescription and prognosis. The solution to the problems in the region must come from within the region. I think we can do more militarily than cutting and running, but not much more. As an example, we should be aiming to replace our air campaign with organic mortar and artillery among the Kurdish forces and other Iraqi forces willing to stand up to IS attacks. Think indigenous and sustainable. They need training in the effective use of those indirect fire weapons. I’ve seen videos of Kurdish mortars in action and it was painful to watch. IMO the idea of a JUWTF that came out of our recent SST wargame would be most helpful in this regard. We should reinforce indigenous solutions rather than try to, once again, rebuild an Iraqi Army in our image.
I also like the Russian view as expressed by Vitaly Naumkin in Al-Monitor. “In Russian official circles, Damascus is considered the force most capable of stopping the jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist organizations, and cooperation with the Syrian government is vital to the struggle against IS. Moscow is decisively against classifying the extremists as “bad” or “good,” viewing such positions by Western and some regional countries as short-sighted.” (Al-Monitor) We really need to open our eyes to this reality and drop this “Assad must go” nonsense. At the same time we need to drop our regime change fixation on Iran. Like the song says, “Let it go.” Of course, this is hard to do with Netanyahu and our own “Israel Firsters” playing the part of Grima Wormtongue.
Finally, I leave you with these two reports without comment.
A reluctant former communications technician working for Islamic State, now going by the pseudonym ‘Sherko Omer’, who managed to escape the group, told Newsweek that he travelled in a convoy of trucks as part of an ISIS unit from their stronghold in Raqqa, across Turkish border, through Turkey and then back across the border to attack Syrian Kurds in the city of Serekaniye in northern Syria in February. “ISIS commanders told us to fear nothing at all because there was full cooperation with the Turks,” said Omer of crossing the border into Turkey, “and they reassured us that nothing will happen, especially when that is how they regularly travel from Raqqa and Aleppo to the Kurdish areas further northeast of Syria because it was impossible to travel through Syria as YPG [National Army of Syrian Kurdistan] controlled most parts of the Kurdish region.” (Newsweek)
Two-hundred km (120 miles) to the west lies Afrin, which, like Kobani, is one of three Kurdish regions that declared itself autonomous from the Syrian government earlier this year. It could face a fate similar to Kobani's at the hands of the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, according to the woman who runs Afrin's local government as its prime minister. "Afrin is surrounded by Nusra, we're ready to defend ourselves," Hevi Mustefa said during a visit to the Turkish capital Ankara to raise awareness of Afrin's plight. "We're grateful for the international community's efforts at Kobani, but it was late. We want support from them so that the situation in Kobani doesn't repeat itself," she told Reuters in an interview. (Reuters)