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11 August 2014


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Something ISIS has now that they didn't a few months ago is a lot of surplus US equipment. Is there any indication that they are or plan to use it to increase their capability to lay siege for example? I note that our air strike was against an artillery position near Arbil. I assume that was captured US equipment.

Second question. Didn't Sadr and Sistani both tell Maliki to step down? I would think that would be overwhelming pressure.



For Maliki as for most Middle Eastern people constitutional democracy is a tool to use against one's enemies. pl

The beaver


Looks like things are not going well in Lebanon also:


"Lebanese troops battled militants near the Syrian border Sunday in a second day of clashes that the army chief said left 10 soldiers dead and 13 missing, possibly held hostage.
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This happened a week ago

robt willmann

It looks as if yesterday (10 August), the ISIS - Sunni - Old Iraq Army took over the town of Jalawla northeast of Baghdad near the Iranian border.



Jalawla seems to be a Kurdish town or at least a place near the Kurdish held part of Iraq.

Maliki appears to be doing a "reverse coup" or a "self-coup" to keep himself in political power rather than trying to overthrow a government and get other people out and himself in for the first time.


Senor was on TV interviews Saturday as well. He should be totally shunned, as he has no credibility to speak about the present situaiton in Iraq..not only does he have no military or diplomatic experience outside that of CPS spokesman..of that the comment below suffices to underscore that he was merely a cheerleader.

"According to Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Senor was known for the zealous spin that put a good face on the disaster unfolding in Baghdad (the Iraq War did not end until December 2011).
Some statements he made to the press did not reflect the actual situation in the city."

Also McCain and Congressman Peter King were railing this weekend about Obama not leaving troops in Iraq- blaming the ISIS situaion on that. And neither were called on the fact that a SOFA was requried for US forces to stay in Iraq (or Afghanistan) and Bush got the most that he could. Obama could not have gotten an extension of the SOFA in Irq (see Iran).


We have a way of creating evil enemies, mostly out of our imaginations. But ISIS looks more like it has been created out of whole cloth. Recall how the word "Caliphate" was used by Cheney and crew to warn us about what would happen if we did not clean up the ME. If we lack existential enemies, then we will create them.

From the Way Back Machine: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/world/americas/11iht-letter.html?_r=0



Nah! This is real. The Cheney thing was not. pl


In addition to the Yezidis who have taken refuge in Rojava (Kurdish Syria), at least another 14,000 have been taken to Duhok and Zakho in Iraqi Kurdistan.

As for Jalawla, it is closer to Baghdad or even Kermanshah in Iran than it is to Erbil. It is outside of the Kurdish region and was only occupied by the Kurds after the Iraqi Army fled from there. The Kurds are claiming they made a planned withdrawal from Jalawla to allow Iraqi air strikes after which they will counter-attack. Spin??? Maybe. Jalawla is very close to the Iranian border. Tehran will be pushing Baghdad hard to help retake it.


We must be living in truly terrible times when Thomas Friedman acts as the voice of reason.


I'll give the neocons and r2p's this....they never back down. Past mistakes---if the greatest tactical and strategic defeat the US govt, repeat, US govt, has suffered since the early years of the US Civil War can be called a 'mistake'--does not make them hesitant. They blunder forward bellowing as loud and certain, and moralistic as before. And why not? A. They know they won't get called on it, except in the most half ass way. And B. they know well and good which side their bread is buttered on.


Does anyone have any reliable information on how much ammo Dash captured with the American equipment?

Can they buy ammo for the Abrams and 155mm guns on the black market?

Would we be able to tell if they were using ammo we had previously sold to an ally?

What is the useful combat life of an M-1 Abrams without proper maintenance?

Babak Makkinejad

That thought occurred to me too.


Do they have operational Abramses? Most pictures of Caliphate armor show T-55's, which the Iraqi army is very familiar with. While I've seen pictures of knocked out Iraqi army M-1's, I'm really curious if the IS forces managed to salvage them.


My thoughts entirely!



We are railing against paid spokespersons. Some may have older agendas such as support for their religion and tribe. But, most know who butters their bread. For humans it is much easier to climb the corporate totem pole by believing what you tell your bosses and taking part in the corruption. We need only ask who benefits from the chaos in the Middle East; arms dealers; military contractors, financial holders of flight capital, and the next Mahdi.

The other causes of the world’s chaos today are hard to describe and I hope I don’t piss you off too badly. America has changed. When I started working for the Federal Government it was to serve the public. When I retired it was to service multi-national corporate stakeholders some of whom ignored the law and when caught were slapped with fines but not jail time. Good governance is dead. Citizens of the United States at best are votes to be gathered or manipulated on Election Day. Government is run for the benefit of corporations and the wealthy. We the people don’t mean nothing.

I never thought that I would see the United States support Nazis and rush headlong into a civil war on Russia’s border that inevitably will lead to a nuclear exchange unless NATO backs down now and negotiates a settlement.

We have to wait and see if the Russian humanitarian convoy to Luhansk is attacked sparking their intervention into the civil war.


Paul Pillar is up today on dealing with two crises: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/08/10/obamas-foreign-policy-scrambles/

I recall several of these crisis situations from the ones he mentions in the mid-1950's since my father was worried. Several of his fellow WWII veterans had been called up for Korea several years earlier. I was six or seven, and we just had got a TV.

I arrived in Greece in 1978 and witnessed the euphoria of the post-junta period, marked by the junta's failure to invade Cyprus as US foreign policy was neutered since Nixon's resignation dominated "policy." I went to Cyprus in 1980 to meet Cypriot friends of my wife and witnessed the UN refugee camps and managed to get into Northern Cyprus since I was American. I also managed to return there several times over the years as Cyprus flourished during the war in Lebanon and post-Soviet oligarchies turning to the banking freedom/money laundering there.

I was also fortunate to work in Portugal from 1986-1998 in the period of the Carnation Revolution's aftermath. My Portuguese colleagues, mostly of my generational cohort or a bit older or younger described the atmosphere and boasted that only one individual had died--of a heart attack.

An Australian friend visiting in 1992 commented on the EEC/German recognition of many of the republics of the then-Yugoslavia commented that "They think they are dealing with the bloody Belgian government."

I also witnessed the aftermath of the NATO/KFOR intervention here, since I had students from the region including most of the former Yugoslavian republics at the American College of Thessaloniki. The institution managed to avoid violence despite threats from some students against others.

I am aghast at what the last 30 years of foreign policy has wrought, especially the last dozen years or more. The cavalier attitude of Bush the Younger's approach with his WHIG convener, Andy Card's comment: September 6, 2002: In an interview with the New York Times, Andrew Card did not mention the WHIG specifically but hinted at its mission: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." On September 17, 2002, Matt Miller stated on NPR that the above quote from Andrew Card was in response to the question: "... why the administration waited until after Labor Day to try to sell the American people on military action against Iraq" [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Iraq_Group

"What can the government market?" seems to have replaced considered foreign policy not influenced by AIPAC and chicken hawks at this point. I believe Col. Lang's site, Sic Semper Tyrannis, is aptly named.

The current crises in the Middle East and the Ukraine dwarf several of the earlier ones, I believe, since their geopolitical implications are greater to name just one factor.

I will apologize for being over-long and self-indulgent. Please correct any of my errors, all.


I see little mention in comments above of Supreme Strategist McCain, the self-appointed expert on intervening in foreign matters. Graham is just one of his acolytes.

If memory serves, a year ago McCain and his cabal were all in favor of arming Syrian rebels (the right ones, of course). Has any talking head pressed McCain on what would have happened if we had indeed armed the rebels? The internal rebel shakeout in Syria left the IS pre-cursor in power. So not only would they have had the US weapons they captured from the Iraqi 'army', they would also have spankin' new arms from the US through the rebels.

Good thing McCain lost. We'd be in Afghanistan, Iraq, Crimea, Georgia, Syria, Kurdistan, Ukraine...



McCain is revered as a man who suffered for his country. I have known many such and am less impressed. pl



Nice caption photo. I immediately thought of the movie "despicable me" The only thing missing now is the little yellow 'minions' who were the comedic relief. Just the thing to caricature the Morning Joe chickenhawk crown.

FB Ali


An interesting, and accurate, comment by Steve Coll in The New Yorker yesterday:

"And so, in Erbil, in the weeks to come, American pilots will defend from the air a capital whose growing independence and wealth has loosened Iraq’s seams, even while, in Baghdad, American diplomats will persist quixotically in an effort to stitch that same country together to confront ISIS.

Obama’s defense of Erbil is effectively the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal—as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example—are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company, as Al Swearengen would well understand. Life, Swearengen once pointed out, is often made up of “one vile task after another.” So is American policy in Iraq".


alba etie

President McCain could very well have gotten us into a shooting war with Putin by now as well .

alba etie

Brigadier General Ali
Now that Erdogan has won reelection will it be more likely that Turkey will correct course and directly participate in the defense of Arbil ? Turkey only recently stated support for an independent Kurdistan .



Good to know there are zombies doing jobs other than talk on the american media.


I have great respect for the man who served his country in a time of war, and I appreciate his duty and sacrifice.

Having said that, his experience does not make him an expert in the conduct of foreign policy. I respect his right to have his views, however the lack of a coherent and well-laid out world view just highlights his inability to analyze matters in a dispassionate and rational manner.

FB Ali

I doubt it. It serves him better to verbally support the Kurds against the IS, while maintaining whatever relations he (or rather, his intelligence people) have with the IS (I have not come across this declaration of support for an independent Kurdistan that you mention; personally I would be very surprised if it were true).

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