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06 January 2015

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Andy

PL,

The King is thought to be near death - do you think the transition following his death will be smooth? I know just enough about SA to be dangerous, but SA seems to be an inherently unstable construct; the house of Saud probably cannot keep control forever...

With respect to IS I think the utilization of airpower in indirect support to the various players (Kurds and ISF mainly) stymied IS operational progress but will not be sufficient to roll IS back. To decisively defeat IS will likely require a concerted and coordinated effort among the anti-IS players including Iran, Syria and the US - a coalition which isn't likely anytime soon.

Walrus

Col. Lang, I'm afraid you are right. I read a self deluding piece a week ago about mortar attacks on Al - Adsa airbase in Iraq but decided not to mention it on SST.

The Pollyannas in Washington won't believe the seriousness of the IS situation until it's too late. The bit that got my goat is reproduced below; How does "Jessica Lewis McFate", despite her military career, know that the attacks on Al Adsa are not a prelude to an overwhelming attack, given IS ability to rapidly assemble their forces? Why are we so sure it will merely be bypassed?


"But Jessica Lewis McFate, an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, said militants appeared to be focusing their efforts on ensuring Iraqi forces cannot use the base to block their attempts to capture other, more strategic parts of Anbar.

Al-Asad lies between areas under Islamic State control, into which the group will eventually have to press if it will be able to conquer the province. Militants are still fighting for Ramadi, another important city. Iraqi forces have so far been able to defend other strategic areas, such as the Haditha dam.

The militants’ goal is “not necessarily to try to overrun the base, but to try to pin forces in that fight,” Lewis McFate said.

A U.S. defense official said artillery or rocket attacks on al-Asad had been “very sporadic and ineffective.” U.S. and Iraqi officials said many landed outside the base."

- See more at: http://www.teaparty.org/u-s-military-advisers-iraq-see-combatants-edge-nearer-75179/#sthash.lt1G7ITA.dpuf

Stuart Wood

I can't feel too much sympathy for Saudi Arabia. They more or less open Pandora's box with their embrace of the extremist Wahhabism version of Islam (think fundamentalist Christians). Indonesia has more Muslims than any country with India having the second largest. In both countries Muslims seem to get along with the world. In my opinion, fundamentalist Saudi Arabia needs a modern Reformation.

C L

Petty border attacks will ramp up in order to draw more SA forces to the border thus weakening the centers of the country and straining the SA forces logistics & moral.
The 'spectacle' attack will come with the Hajj. IS should be able to infiltrate enough forces during the migration of hundreds of thousands of the faithful, to stage an attack on the Ka'ba or the mosque of the prophet and temporarily overrun the security forces.
Deaths will be high but for the believers it is hard to beat a death on the Hajj.

The media/propaganda coup will be worth the loss of seasoned fighters.
The blow to the house of Saud as guardians of the holy sites will be crippling, they will over-react and escalate their demise.
Recruitment to IS will soar.

The collateral deaths of innocent pilgrims will not affect the arab public, for there is always death associated with the Hajj through food poisoning, stampedes, catastrophic accidents, intra tribal fighting etc...

Lets hope this scenario doesn't play out.

General Question regarding Oil prices. How much of the market collapse has to do with IS selling as much of the oil it controls at cut-rate prices since it cannot sell the oil on the open market?

Fred

Col.,

As an aside it should be any day now that the FSA marches in to Damascus. Why in 2011 they had 22 battallions (according to the OB linked below). Why after all our support in the last three years they are sure to be victorious. Except of course for the unknown number of the 22 FSA battalions that have been destroyed in combat, dissolved or have - shock - defected to ISIS.
http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/asads-armed-opposition-the-free-syrian-army

As to Saudi Arabia isn't it the ultra-conservative Wahhabbi sect that is both the ideology of the Kingdom's true backers and also the same ideology at the heart of IS? There must be many, many potential (and actual) IS supporters in Saudi Arabia.

turcopolier

fred

Alas! pl

turcopolier

cl
Good stuff. congrats. pl

Aka

dear sir,
Above Andy mentioned that the "house of Saud" probably can't keep control forver.

My question is can the can the "House of Saud" keep control of "House of Saud"?

I mean a Saud who is not likely to become the king attempting a coup.

phugh

I was going to comment on the logistics problem that ISIS faced with keeping Abrams tanks running. I understand that turbine engines are pretty reliable, but when they break, you're not going to fix them with shade tree tree mechanics and jury rigged/salvaged parts (or won't stay fixed for long). I didn't realize there were 1500 to 1800 (wikipedia) of them in Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, and SA, some or all with spares. It's still a logistics problem, but it puts it into the purchasing and transportation realm, not manufacturing. I also learned that there are piston engine conversions in the works, or already existing. Being able to use a truck, heavy equipment, marine or large generator engine to power one is a great idea, but perhaps not so good for us in this situation.

confusedponderer

Hmm, given that it is about the ISW, Jessica Lewis McFate sounds just like Elizabeth O'Bagy, this time with a real PhD.

Well, not a real PhD this time, but 8 years in Military intelligence. Still, same stable.

http://www.understandingwar.org/press-media/staff-bios/jessica-lewis-mcfate

Ulenspiegel

The oil ISIS is selling is NOT an addition, it would have entered the market anyway.

The real issue is a demand (China, Europe) that is almost stagnating in combuination with higher unconventional production in the USA.

Niece piece on this topic by Steven Kopits:

http://www.prienga.com/blog/2015/1/2/scrap-the-call-on-opec

Dubhaltach

Whenever I think of the House of Saud, & the wealthy Saudi classes and the evil they do, the words of Galatians 6:7 come to mind.

Du

turcopolier

All

Assuming that the attack on Charlie Hebdo was an IS phenomenon, it appears that contrary to Admiral Kirby's assertion IS has not lost the initiative. The battlefield use of force is, after all, only one aspect of warfare. pl

Cee

All,

SITE attributes this to IS. Excuse me!? France is recognizing a Palestinian state and now this? BULLSHIT!

Fred

Walrus,

"Institute for the Study of War"
This is yet another Kagan/neocon organization.

turcopolier

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IS doesnt care abt a Palestinian state. They dont care abt countries. Could be a non-IS Muslim grp. Interesting that they went in the wrong door. Poor planning. PL

Origin

Stuart,

One would expect an ISIS adherent to consider their own beliefs not as extremist, but to be consistent with the Koran and the example of the Prophet and the others who have beliefs more moderate in Western eyes to have fallen away from the true faith. Many of the actions of ISIS viewed in the West as barbarism such as beheadings and forced conversions are wholly consistent with traditional Sunni beliefs.

ISIS is their reformation. Purification of Wahhabism by the allegedly corrupt and hypocritical Saudi Family is one of the central ISIS goals.

There is no necessity that a religious reformation move toward more liberal ideas. ISIS is a reformation that rejects modernism with a vengeance.

Babak Makkinejad

There is no intellectual basis for challenging ISIS practices within Sunni Islam; there is nothing that they are doing that is against Islamic Tradition or Practice.

That is why there is deafening silence from Sunni Doctors of Religion when it comes to ISIS. They cannot condemn their own religion.

And precisely for the same reason, ISIS, like a contagious disease, can infect Sunni Indian Muslims and Indonesians as well - in my opinion.

The program that ISIS is carrying out in Mosul, for example, destroying the ancient mosques and mausoleums and churches of that city is identical to what Saudi Arabian government has been doing since 1950s - committing outrageous crimes against Muslim History and Muslim Memory.

The treatment of the Yazidis is qualitatively no different than what was done in the former Kafirstan - present Nouristan - in Afghanistan in 1890s.

The only Doctors of Religion that have condemned ISIS claiming the legitimacy to do so based on their knowledge of Islam have been the Shia Doctors of Religion in Iran; some even wrote to the Pope, urging cooperation against extremism.

Babak Makkinejad

Euro-Americans historians posit Reformation as a positive thing in their history. One could argue that the various protestant sects and their rebellion against the Church were used and manipulated by the European rulers to severely limit the political power of the Papal States and - to at the same time - destroy the Holy Roman Empire.

Once those tasks were accomplished, the new states made sure that the protestant sects were tightly controlled and supervised by the now secular governments; there was not going to be a repeat of Luther's 92-point Thesis but this time directed against the secular state.

Cee

Col. Lang,

With all due respect...I've question who IS really is on your forum before. Last month Netanyahu threatened France if the voted to recognize Palestine. False flag terrorism us real and I don't think a mistake was made when this group attacked this left wing group. Had they attacked right wingers aligned with Bibi, yeah.

MRW

In one of the videos, the shooter went back to kill what I assumed was an injured cop on the street. He yelled out in English, "Bullshit," but on second and third time listening, I thought I heard, "This is bullshit." And there was no French accent. Je sais.

ex-PFC Chuck

I don't know doodlysquat about tanks pe se, or Abrams tanks in particular, but based simply on general knowledge I would assume that the gas turbine engines need some sophisticated, periodic routine maintenance. Access to the underlying training required would be an issue as well.

Farooq

I hope entire French and European press publishes these cartoons together in a show of solidarity. Getting intimidated by these insane creatures is simply not an option.

shepherd

Colonel Lang may have speculated correctly about the Charlie Hebdo attackers. It's being reported that the cartoonist who let them in the door has said that they claimed to be from Al-Qaeda, not IS.

Charles I

Nonetheless they seem to have escaped for the moment.

Big suicide blast in Yemen today too:

SANA, Yemen — At least 23 people were killed in Yemen on Wednesday when a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a cultural center in the southern city of Ibb, where hundreds of people were commemorating the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, according to a witness and officials.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/01/world/middleeast/yemen-bombing.html?_r=0

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