« “demagoguery, lies, fear and cowardice...” McAullife | Main | Is the Pentagon "briefing" retired military media analysts again? »

21 June 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

How militarily competent are the ‘mahdi’s army’ and similar groups? They may be eminently capable of massacring foreigners and Sunnis, but how much real military experience do they have, and, in particular, are they likely to have among their senior officers experienced soldiers who ‘know their craft well?’

Lord Curzon


The notion of "Mullah Atari" having any kind of religious authority would be laughable we're it not for the respect his family's name commands. It would be a singular irony if Green Berets had close protection courtesy of the Al Quds Brigades....


How can they be moving all these tanks and heavy equipment in broad daylight (or moonlight)? Doesn't the Iraqi government have any air power and targeting capabilities? Or was that capability denied by the USG after their withdrawal?

"Most of them think that the mahdi will be the long "hidden" Shia Imam whose re-appearance they have longed for over many centuries." Can the rapture be far behind? (Irony) Christianists should be delighted.



"Doesn't the Iraqi government have any air power and targeting capabilities?" No. IMO there was some hesitation in making Iraq a major regional military player. Now. as H.Rap brown woulda said. "The chickens has come home to roost." pl


Lord Curzon.

"It would be a singular irony if Green Berets had close protection courtesy of the Al Quds Brigades" Indeed. Moqtada is a joke as a religious figure but he commands a lot of guns. pl


David Habakkuk

They are just rabble. pl

Jim Ticehurst

Col. Lang I cant Thank you enough for Sharing your Expertise and Thinking With us by Creating This forum..Its always a Fascinating ,Informative and Far Sighted Read..

As far as Current developments in and around Iraq ..You are always One step ahead of almost every Strategic move,Action and reaction..There are plenty of Lessons to be learned from History here...and Warfare in the region going back to the "Anglo Iraq War" during WW2 as far as modern Warfare..and the importance of Strategic and Logistical Planning...Also for the Importance of Open Supply Lines like those of the "Persian Corridor."

In My Opinion...The United States has also been suffering "Death by a Thousand Cuts" Social ,Economical and Political" Soon I fear we may eventually be Bleed to Death Ourselfs..

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

If indeed they are just ‘rabble’, and if indeed U.S. policy was designed to avoid Iraq becoming again a ‘major regional military player’, and if moreover U.S. policy has empowered the ‘liver-eaters’ by giving them the backing of very competent former Iraqi army people – how far can the insurgency go?

If it can go a good long way, what will the Iranians do?

(If Babak Makkinejad is still commenting here, I would be interested in his view.)

Moreover, what the hell will ‘the West’ do, confronted by dilemmas for which the education and experience clearly does not prepare them. Look for psychiatric help?


David Habakkuk

I would think that the rebels can destroy the regime through disintegration of government forces absent major Iranian intervention. They would have a tough time holding Baghdad in its entirety and the land south of Baghdad is thick with Shia Arabs. that probably marks the limits of their reach. As I wrote, this coalition is unstable and self contradictory in its components. It will break up. pl

different clue

John H,

One would think perhaps these tanks and things rushing back to Syrian ISIStan would be targets for destruction from the air, if such a thing were possible or advisable.
Perhaps the Syrian air force has an ability to kill some of these tanks near or just within Syria's border? How does the Obama Administration feel about these supplies getting back to ISIS's Syrian division? Is a well-armed well-supplied ISIS in Syria still a "good thing" much to be desired and never ever prevented?

Margaret Steinfels

All: As predicted here, believe.

Headline: "As Fighting Spreads Through Iraq, Sunni Allies Turn on One Another."NYTimes, 6/21/14

"The fighting between Sunni militants near Kirkuk that left 17 dead was an early sign of a split in the coalition of Sunni Muslim forces who joined with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and helped propel their advance. The Men of the Army of Naqshbandia, a group made of former Baathist officials, clashed with ISIS militants Friday night, according to a security official in Kirkuk, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as a matter of official policy.

"The battles took place in Hawija, one of the strongholds of the Naqshbandia, a group formed by former army officers from the Saddam Hussein regime. The group’s leader is believed to be Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, one of the few top commanders who worked with Hussein who was able to escape capture by the American military. The group’s nationalistic, Sufi philosophy is completely at odds with ISIS’s extreme Islamist philosophy." http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/world/middleeast/iraq.html


MOA quotes Phil Greaves (http://notthemsmdotcom.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/isis-an-expression-of-imperialism-in-iraq/)

"The ISIS-led insurgency currently gripping the western and northern regions of Iraq is but a continuation of the imperialist-sponsored insurgency in neighboring Syria. The state actors responsible for arming and funding said insurgency hold the same principal objectives in Iraq as those pursued in Syria for the last three years, namely: the destruction of state sovereignty; weakening the allies of an independent Iran; the permanent division of Iraq and Syria along sectarian lines establishing antagonistic “mini-states” incapable of forming a unified front against US/Israeli imperial domination."

seems a viable hypothesis. This would explain why the heck Obama is funding anarchists in Syria, only to have the same kind show up in Iraq; why the immediate calls for regime change in Iraq (?!??); and why Pres. Obama did not call for immediate drone strikes. The chaos in Iraq has certainly been predictable, and certainly continues to be desired by the Zionists. So, pre-planned?


Col. Lang, has the disintegration already started?


"As in Syria, ISIL has started to clash with other Sunni militias in Iraq. In the town of Hawija, ISIL and members of the Naqshbandi Army, made up of former army officers as well as loyalists of Saddam Hussein's former ruling Baath party, started fighting on Friday evening, witnesses said.

They said the clashes, in a dispute over power, killed 15 people.

"Hawija is falling apart," a senior tribal figure from the community said before the clashes. "There are so many groups working with ISIL. Each group has its agenda.""


It depends on which component of the Jaish-al-Mahdi successor organisations you're talking about. There were 2 now apparently there are 3. Let me explain:

The JAM as they were in 2008 were disbanded, and reorganised into two successor organisations. These were:

1) The Muhamidoon which is an unarmed political and social works organisation. The overwhelming majority of JAM members were instructed to join this organisation.

2) The Liwa al-Youm al-Mawud ('Promised Day Brigade') this is a small but well-armed Hizballah trained force.

Now apparently we have tens of thousands of volunteers flocking to the colours at the behest of Shi'i clergy from Grand Ayatollah Sistani down. I don't what to call them except perhaps 'dead men' if they come up against the forces now fighting under the ISIS/Ba'ath banner.

The men in the ISIS/Ba'ath attacking force are battle-hardened and well-trained, well-armed members of coherent military and military/political organisations the current throng of Shi'i volunteers are mostly not well-trained or well-armed members of coherent military and military/political organisations. The ones from Sadr City are likely to be barely literate.

They might make very good death squads - and like Colonel Lang I would be very worried for the safety of any military foreigners particularly any Americans or British military foreigners who have to work or fight amongst them.

Whether large amounts of these volunteers will be taken in hand and trained by members of the Liwa al-Youm al-Mawud ('Promised Day Brigade') is another question. But even if they are taken in hand and trained it takes time to train a soldier and money to equip him. I'm not sure how much training these volunteers will be given at a guess I would think not much. I'm don't know how they'll be armed but I doubt they'll be well-armed.

Perhaps I am being excessively cynical to think that al-Maliki will see a golden opportunity to kill lots and lots of Sadrists and perhaps a few Sunni as well by saying to his commanders to treat them as David treated Uriah.




“Things Fall Apart” is an apt title for the Obama Presidency.

The firefight at the Baigi Oil Refinery is a taste of what’s to come. If you’re going to die you might as well make it count. The Sunnis will encircle Shiite enclaves who will never surrender until ISIS/Baathists run out of manpower. Apparently the Sunnis do not have enough munitions to kill in place the encircled Shiites since the firefight at the refinery continues.

Once the Shiite militias realize they are not getting any American Air Support and are fighting for the True God all on the own, any infidels they run across will be fair game.

Walrus’s post below gives hints that Russia has sent its troops back to the Ukraine border. When Russia invades, a day later NATO troops will be sent into Western Ukraine and the world will be one trigger-happy soldier away from WWIII.

It is getting harder and harder to figure what comes next since corporate media has stopped reporting the news.

The 300 Special Forces troops will do all right out in the Desert but if they are in Baghdad trying to herd out thousands of Embassy employees and American contractors to safety; Good Luck.


My understanding is that he has passed the examinations for Hujjat al-Islam. So no it's not laughabl him having some religious authority amongst the Shi'i. A Hujjat al-Islam doesn't have very much religious authority but he does have some. In al-Sadr's case being a member of the family that he was born into is clearly the major component but even so underestimating him and calling him things like "Mullah Atari" is not necessarily the wisest course of action. He survived Saddam, the Invasion, the Occupation, and Maliki's loathing of him and during all of that he managed to build a large political base with paramilitary attachments. An intelligent and dangerous man...




"Apparently the Sunnis do not have enough munitions to kill in place the encircled Shiites since the firefight at the refinery continues" IMO such ammo shortage is likely to be short lived as supplies are hauled forward over the network of roads we are talking about or straight south. pl



"former army officers" Likely to be a lot of ex enlisted as well. The old Iraqi Army had a corps of career, combat experienced NCOs. pl



"passed the examinations" might be a bit of an exaggeration in this highly political context. Elevation in the Shia system is by acclamation not by some sort of graded exam. As for the varying quality of his forces. Most of them are fit for marching in the streets. His previous adventure with US forces resulted in death by marksmen of quite a few hundreds of his better people. After that he decided to study in Iran. pl


"...an eyewitness from Hawija said they had been fighting over control of gasoline and oil tanker trucks captured from the refinery at Baiji."


If the Sunnis want to take the refinery intact as they say they do and they have it surrounded, doesn't it make sense for them to just wait until food runs out on the government defenders?



Yes. pl



Yes. As I said the coalition is unstable and is already coming apart. The military guys want the fuel for their ongoing mechanized ops. If they are smart they will get the real ISIS people to take the lead in attacks on the Baghdad perimeter. that way they can get as many of the ISIS people and opposing Shia killed off as possible. pl


All I just watched the hour plus long Utube propaganda piece of actual ISIS freaks running amok in Anbar. It is intended both to frighten and as a recruiting piece overseas. it is standard Wahhabi religiosity throughout. If you had seen the Ikhwan Army conquer what is now Saudi Arabia in the early 20s, they would have been saying the same things. The Muwahiddun as they call themselves have not changed. IMO they are not a serious combat force unlike their old army and tribal allies but the y may have frightened the Shia enough so that Maliki's army will just collapse. pl


"The price of a Kalashnikov rifle, long a ready-reckoner of tensions in Iraq, has increased by 50% in the past week, according to the city's gun dealers. And, even on the black market, the cost of ammunition has almost tripled." - The Guardian

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad