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06 October 2014

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VietnamVet

Colonel,

This is above my pay grade but it seems to me that effective US counter force against the Islamic State is dependent on maintaining security of Baghdad International Airport. Since IS has howitzers thanks to USA generosity this requires a minimum 20 mile exclusion zone. But, the airport is right in the middle of the cultivated land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and ten miles from Abu Ghraib which is already under IS control. This is impossible unless the 173rd Airborne is sent in once again to seize and control the airport’s far perimeter like it did almost 50 years ago at Bien Hoa Air Base. Since the shelling of the airport hasn’t started yet it may well be coordinated with an IS attack on the Green Zone.

I don’t think IS will take the Shiite urban areas east of Tigris thanks to Iranian aid but the current US position in Baghdad is tenuous at best. Perhaps DC is pressuring the Turks and Saudis to keep their puppet jihadists on a leash. But, I still believe that the True Believers have to prove God’s greatness by seizing the Green Zone and then on to Mecca. The western world hasn’t completed its collapse yet.

Oscar Romero

There are people like myself who do not share your background but are interested in your thoughts and experience. I find it hard to understand many of the abbreviations.

turcopolier

Oscar Romero

I cannot spell everything our for you in the level of detail you seem to want. You have a computer. you have Wikipedia. engage the material. pl

turcopolier

VV

you come here frequently so you should know that I have been forecasting attacks on BIA and the Green Zone for months. If by the outer perimeter of BIA you mean the range circle described by the capability of those 155s, tell me how big that circle would be and how many US troops it would take to secure it. It would be a lot more than the 173rd Bde. pl

Thomas

VV

"But, I still believe that the True Believers have to prove God’s greatness by seizing the Green Zone and then on to Mecca."

After gaining the west bank of the Tigris and before the march on Mecca, the Caliph has a conundrum of what do with that Embassy building, assign it to the West Baghdad City Council or deconstruct it in spectacular fashion and turn it into a city park?

Walrus

My guess is that the Iraqi Government will collapse when the first rounds hit the airport and Green zone.

Haralambos

This is from an Irish friend who has been working in the ME for the past 26 years, at least 17 of them in Saudi training cadet pilots in English. He thinks they would not engage against other Sunnis. His take from two days ago is this:
I can't see the current bombing campaign having much. Sending a Tornado from Cyprus to take out a gun-mounted Toyota Hilux doesn't make either military or economic sense. Sooner or later the IS loons will make their way to the Saudi border. There were reports two days ago that they were on the outskirts of Baghdad.

"The problem is we're not dealing with the issues at home. Today an imam from Manchester (where the latest decapitee came from) was allowed to say unchallenged that the Islam of ISIL was not the Islam he knew. It is precisely the same Islam. ISIL are re-enacting with guns, vehicles and tech know-how the 7th century spread of Islam. They are not extremists; they are true Muslims following that most demented admixture of the Abrahamic faiths and Saudi tribalism that we politely term a religion."

He sent me this several weeks ago: http://pando.com/2013/12/19/the-war-nerd-saudis-syria-and-blowback/ on Saudi Blowback from their funding. My friend has few illusions regarding his safety, but he has exit plans.


Kunuri

They may need a few architects, from the school of radical deconstructivism, or post-modern revolutionary socio-environmentalist movement. I made it up, but surely a IS would like it. They seem to do the same with Islam.

turcopolier

walrus. Yes. My SWAG s that if/when the airport is disabled, then the government will more or less collapse as a run for the borders begins. pl

bth

First, so IS taking Baghdad's airport chases the US out of Iraq? And taking the airport hinges on letting less than 100 howitzers and tanks within range along with a general Sunni civil uprising in western Baghdad? Surely the US and Iraqi army have contingencies for this battle.?!

Second, in the grand bargain between IS and Turkey over the diplomatic hostage release, do you suppose squeezing the Kurds along the border with Turkey is part of the deal between them?

turcopolier

bth

"In war the moral has twice the weight of the physical," Bonaparte. If the Iraqi government collapses what possible way would the US have to remain in Iraq? As to the second, IMO, yes. pl

Origin

Col.,

It would appear IS is already in firing range for lobbing artillery shots into Baghdad International Airport. Considering the political and PR considerations, what timing and prior circumstances do you guess IS still needs to get in place prior to opening fire on the airport. What is the likely choreography for their upcoming production and how long before the premier?

VietnamVet

Colonel,

To prevent the shelling of Baghdad International Airport all of the 173rd Airborne would have to be pulled out of the Baltic States and Europe, most of the 82nd Airborne from the USA and Marines of course. They would seize the Sunni areas in a circle from the airport to the Green Zone to East, to the Euphrates West, South to Latifiya and North past Al Ghraib to the suburbs of Falluja and North up the Tigris to Baqubah. Since this would be fought by veterans on both sides, each Sunni town and village fought over would be another Falluja. This would not defeat IS but only buy time.

If successful there would be pressure to push north to Mosul. We would have 500,000 troops in Iraq. ISIS would melt back into Syria and we would be back to where we were in 2011 except with more dead and wounded; and deeper in debt.

Alternatively, one day soon the shelling will start and the battle for the Green Zone will be on.

Eliot

Col. Lang,

How will Tehran react to a collapse? Will they write off the government in Baghdad? Will the focus on supporting a Shiite rump state?

- Eliot

Anonymous

Oscar Romero,

http://www.fas.org/news/reference/lexicon/acronym.htm

Thank Optimax for that, that is unless you are a texan, in which case it would be better to apologize first and thank later.

alba etie

Oscar Romero
As a complete layman in the MENA I came to this site and have learned a great deal about current affairs overseas. I have found it particularly useful to link to the material provided by many of the experts here at SST . Stick around and put in your time its worth the effort .

alba etie

Bth
May general understanding is that the PPK is seen as an clear and present danger by Erdogan - and that the IS/Daash can be effectively co-opted once Assad is removed from power . But on the other hand who the f--ck knows ..

Anonymous

Apologies, Col. Lang. Optimax himself reposted the link to acronyms on the thread bellow. Ebola didn't get him, yet.

 Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang,

"Vice President Joe Biden apologized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday for saying the Turkish leader had conceded that his country mistakenly assisted foreign fighters, including extremists with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), seeking to depose the Syrian regime." (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/joe-biden-apologizes-to-turkish-president-for-remarks-about-isis/ )

This is beyond foolish. Biden apologizes even though:
1-There are very significant US intelligence assets in Adana from where these monitor the Kurdish issues. It is inconceivable that such did not know about the ratline, and could not have shut it down were they so minded. 2-Everyone in the Turkish security apparatus in south-east Turkey know about the tayyipist support for Daash; they were ordered to turn a blind eye to these convoys, and those who did not do so were cashiered and are being prosecuted.
3-tayyip had publicly stated that he would support the Syrians in every possible manner until the overthrow of "the dictator and his gang" (http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/yazarlar/20854009.asp , in Turkish).

The public back-pedaling of Biden might indicate the presence of some sort of a deal with tayyip on some "vital" US interest. I really wonder what is going on. Perhaps Virginian knows more.

Ishmael Zechariah

toto

Sir,

Apparently Leon Panetta is weighing in, and he's not exactly optimistic.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/10/06/leon-panetta-memoir-worthy-fights/16737615/

I was struck by this quote: "Panetta says Obama erred [by] not pushing the Iraqi government harder to allow a residual U.S. force to remain when troops withdrew in 2011, a deal he says could have been negotiated with more effort."

turcopolier

toto

"Panetta says Obama erred [by] not pushing the Iraqi government harder to allow a residual U.S. force to remain when troops withdrew in 2011, a deal he says could have been negotiated with more effort."" Panetta forgets his place. He was Obama's subordinate. This is not a parliamentary system of government. If he did not like the decision he should have resigned, but he did not because like so many he believes i the "great man" theory of history and he thought himself the great man. pl

turcopolier

Eliot

I think they will support the rump and let the rest go so long as Karbala and Najaf are not molested. pl

turcopolier

Origin

They need to get their major pieces of artillery into built up areas (villages will do) and surrounded with flak traps that will defend the guns. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Iran will not give up on Iraq or Baghdad with its millions of Shia - as well as the Samarrah shrines north of Baghdad - in my opinion.

Official Iranian position is that they are helping the legal and duly constructed and democratic government of Iraq.

There are many analogues of the current situation: FARC, the Boxer Rebellion, the Tamil Tigers, and lastly the Lebanese Civil War.

Again, I go back to the worst case for Iran and the Shia: "the Shia Rump State."

What is everyone else going to do about ISIS?

Are Russia, US, and EU prepared to live with a salafi state indefinitely?

Is Saudi Arabia? Is Kuwait?

I suspect not but then they will have to destroy ISIS and turn the reins of the conquered territories to the "Shia Rump State".

This is no longer a war between Shia and Sunni - it is now a war between Sunnis an Sunnis and Christians.

Babak Makkinejad

I think that the recent events also have established on the field of battle that Kurds had misjudged their situation; they thought the civil wars in Syria and in Iraq would enhance their political position.

In fact, it weakened and wrecked them and disabused them from their "independence" fantasies.

It also showed them that without strong patrons such as Iran, US and SAR they have no chance of even physical survival.

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