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16 August 2014


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How well is the Pesh Merga doing? They were once regarded as formidable and more than capable of defending Kurdish territory, but I see that our host is talking about "more heavy armaments and training".



Military forces, like athletic teams require constant re-training and the PM is a light infantry force. The Iraqi government with US agreement kept them that way. They are not equipped to deal with a force with heavy weapons like IS. pl

FB Ali

Col Lang,

I agree that air strikes will not stop the IS without ground action. I also think the PM are over-rated; merely giving them more weapons is unlikely to increase their effectiveness much. What may well happen is that US SF will begin to get involved in their operations, initially as 'advisers' but then as 'support'. How much of a difference that will make, remains to be seen.

It is interesting that official US reports and MSM stories make no mention of the PKK (now the YKK) role in rescuing the Yezidis - because the PKK are officially "terrorists". It appears they are much better fighters than the PM.

In my view, unless the Baghdad government offers the Iraqi Sunnis virtual autonomy in their area, there is unlikely to be a serious breakaway attempt from the IS. The success of such a move is a whole other issue.

Baghdad probably realises that the Kurdish area is gone for all practical purposes. Will it also be prepared to relinquish the Sunni area?


FB Ali

If you are talking about Green Berets working with the PM their "support" would consist of something approaching a command relationship as well as communications, supply, etc. pl

Duncan Kinder

With all due respects, Colonel, if we follow your logic, the only viable option appears to tell the government in Baghdad to pound salt and actively set up Kurdistan and the Sunni tribes as autonomous / independent type entities.

Of course, the government in Baghdad would respond by telling us to pound salt right back and effectively become part of Iran.

But beggars can't be choosers, can they?


Duncan Kinder

"to tell the government in Baghdad to pound salt and actively set up Kurdistan and the Sunni tribes as autonomous / independent type entities." The old Iraq is no more. We destroyed it. we should follow your plan and develop a reasonable relationship with Iran. pl


I question how the Sunni autonomous region would be economically viable if they got the 'autonomy' set up? What resources do they have? The Kurds would have the oil in the North, the Shia the oil in the South, what do the Sunnis live on? Skills as traders? Largesse from the oil Kingdoms? Govt work?

Maybe they might conclude they have to go after something more than autonomy. Whatever the odds.


This morning I heard Ollie North hold forth on the situation in Iraq...he was bewildered at how the ISIS could make an attack on the Peshmerga forces in face of U.S. airpower. You answered the question above- they have learned to protect themselves and are employing those lessons.

And retired General Jay Garner today echoed your comment that "the old Iraq is no more." We need to live with that....


Babak Makkinejad

KRG cannot survive as an independent state - it was demonstrated by ISIS fighters.

And then there was the blockade of truck traffic imposed by Iran when Barzani started making noises about independence.

FB Ali

Col Lang,

"....develop a reasonable relationship with Iran..."

If you, or people like you, were shaping US policy, what a different world this would be!

The only enemy the US has (in the sense of an entity wishing to use force and violence to harm the country and its people) is the Jihadi movement. But US foreign and military policy is based on considering Russia, China and Iran as enemies, whereas the former two are just competitors, and the latter not even that.

Instead, the US allies itself with the Saudis and Gulf emirates, who created and financed the Jihadis. It provides diplomatic, financial and military support to Israel, whose use of deadly violence against Muslims turns the Muslim world against the US and ensures a steady supply of recruits for the Jihadis and much sympathy for them.

The Jihadis are recognized as enemies only in US internal policy, where this has been used to turn the country into a 'security state'.

A rational policy would ally the US with Russia, China and Iran (all of whom see the Jihadis as a threat) to defeat this menace. And, then, perhaps move on to deal with the other threats that face us all (as TTG implied the other day: one can still dream!).



i can envision a situation on which a KRG with stronger forces, a firm alliance with the US and Turkey could survive a long time. pl



Thee is quite a lot of oil and gas in the part of what was eastern Syria and the Euphrates runs right through the whole thing. Saudi Arabia would also subsidize this place as a bribe if they got the chance. Jordan has existed a long time with even slimmer resources. pl

Babak Makkinejad

It may survive, a tribal confederation of Brazani & Talibani tribes does not a state make.

There is a good reason that there has never been a Kurdish state; some people are incapable of statehood.

And no, I do not think Papua-New Guiana (or its like) is a state on par with Turkey or UK.

FB Ali


As suspected, the US air strikes on the IS forces near the Mosul dam were part of an attempt to retake the dam using PM (probably with US SF support) backed by US airpower. This will be an interesting demonstration of how effective (or not) this combination will prove. (BTW, the media storm about the danger of IS blowing up the dam is more propaganda; the IS will not flood Mosul and the area they hold).

Another developing move can be discerned in the media stories about another massacre by the IS in Syria while at the same time the 'moderate' resistance in Syria is calling for air strikes on IS forces in Syria. One report said that the US had advised the resistance to call upon the Western allies. Are we going to see the British and French bombing in Syria? (At least this would make some sense - provided they don't try to be 'even-handed' and also bomb Assad's troops).



"The major problem in trying to make this idea work will be the
questionable willingness of yet another Shia run governnment in Baghdad
to empower Sunni tribes."

One of the strongest voices against thinking of the threats of ISIL as
a sectarian one is that of Hassan Nasrallah. In a recent *interview
with Al-Ahkbar and a speech yesterday, he makes it abundantly clear that the "monster" of ISIL/ISIS is a universal threat to all peoples of the region, slaughtered
Sunnis providing ample proof of his thesis that ISIL is acting
completely outside of anyone's correct notion of Islam. He uses the term "takfiris" in order to distance them from the Sunni branch of Islam.

Given that Nasrallah has decades of piloting Hezbollah through the
treacherous eddies and currents of Lebanon's often volatile political
realities, it's should not be a surprise that he would call for
overarching unity to face what he sees as a dire existential regional
threat far beyond Lebanon.

It's uncertain how much influence Nasrallah's voice would have but I
would bet Hezbollah's direct experience in Syria and, some say, in
Iraq, would add to the impact of his messages. (I have even seen
claims that he successfully advised Iran to shut down anti-Sunni radio
programs in Iran).

Frustratingly, in keeping with HA's notorious caution about discussing details of military activities, there are no practical prescriptions on offer.

* One section of the multipart interview:


** Compilation of English over-dubbed segments of Nasrallah's speech. Relevant portions start in segment #3 at about 9 minutes. Content includes references to the situation facing Lebanon:


PS. I will caution that some may be offended by what HSN has to say about American influence and actions in the region so forewarned is.....



you will have noticed that the Shia politicians in Iraq are not Hisbullahis. they are unfortunately likely to continue to play their own sectarian game without regard to Nasrullah's opinions. pl



I was thinking more in terms of whether or not the Sunnis would pay him mind. HSN has created enduring alliances with other Lebanese sects that are in no way Hisbullahis such as Michel Aoun's Maronite Christian Free Patriotic Movement aka the FPM. HA's wink-and-nod cooperation with the Christian-led (by General Jean Kahwaji) Lebanese Armed Forces to keep Lebanon as free of takfiri jihadis as is possible under the circumstances.

As for the Shia politicians, I am presuming that they do listen to Iran and Iran respects Nasrallah.If anyone's message of joining together to address a common enemy can resonate beyond sectarian lines, it would be his. HSN has long stressed the efficacy of Lebanese unity and decried sectarianism.

HA's successes on the fields of battle loudly speak for themselves.

All. Sorry for the choppy appearance of the original post...sure didn't look that way in preview.

The Beaver

@ Brigadier Ali
"(At least this would make some sense - provided they don't try to be 'even-handed' and also bomb Assad's troops)."

IMHO I am certain that's what France is aiming for - get to Assad also - d'une pierre deux coups as they say in French



Samuel Johnson said “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

The Shiites, Kurds, Alawites and Christians face beheading unless they unite. They must ally with Iran; get arms to defend their tribes, clear out supply routes, accept Hezbollah training and agree to a uniform command structure. If the USA was at all interested in peace in the Levant and reducing global chaos, it would provide Close Air Support against the Jihadists who would like nothing better than to kill heretic Americans and at the same time make peace with Syria, Iran and Russia.

Similar to the containment of the Soviet Union, ISIS must be quarantined. Cut off its money, recruits and weapons. Subvert the ISIS leaders with paradise on earth. The City of London’s Casinos always welcome the rich.

The true believers’ goal will always be Mecca. Convince them that this is time to make the dash across the desert into another Highway of Death. But then, perhaps, there is a God. They succeed. The House of Saud falls and the Western Hegemony collapses.



"Subvert the ISIS leaders with paradise on earth. The City of London’s Casinos always welcome the rich."

Caliph Ibrahaim and the Islamic Statists see paradise on earth as their complete control of the terrestrial sphere. The end game is sending them to a face to face meeting with God.

You do have the right slogan "Unify or Die".


ISIL's new found artillery and armor might have a longer life expectancy if they were shifted outside of US bombing areas and into Syria.



Only if they were to be actively used destroying the Assad regime, in which case this administration would probably send more money and ammunition.


Since IS' heavy weapons appear to be those and only those captured from the Iraqis, would an air/drone campaign to disable those be sufficient? After that the Pesh Merga can handle IS?


Even though Kurdish and Iraqi government forces are recapturing the dam at Mosul, the dam continues to present siginficant dangers for Iraq. It has been described the, if not one of, the most dangerous bridges in the world.

The Mosul Dam was a rush job, ordered by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s without regard to the engineering realities on the site. It is anchored in gypsum, which dissolves in water. So daily, leaks in the foundation have to be plugged with “grout,” a mixture of cement and sand. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the Mosul Dam is fundamentally the wrong structure for the location, and called it the “most dangerous dam in the world.”

Even with careful tending, the Mosul Dam is in danger. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, many of the workers who have kept the dam going fled when the Islamic State arrived, and only one dedicated manager is known to have remained.

The United States spent $33 million trying to stabilize the Mosul Dam, but the money, according an inspector general’s report, was largely wasted. Now the United States cannot bomb near the dam for fear of destabilizing it further.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/08/14/3331057/a-tale-of-two-dams-catastrophes.html#storylink=cpy

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