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15 May 2015


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Capturing a provincial capital is the kind of gift an Islamic State Amir should give to his Caliph, because a crock pot for lentil soup would just not do it for newlywed Ibrahim and wife.

Now if the other Amir could only take that refinery...

It always helps when your enemies fight amongst themselves.

"This kind of picking of sides has an impact on more than just the Iraqi Prime Minister's office. There are also opposing parties within the general Shiite Muslim alliance. Mostly these parties are defined by how they feel about Iranian support. The Shiite groups are divided between those who are closer to Tehran and who tend not to obey government directives – such as the Badr Brigades, Hezbollah in Iraq, The League of the Righteous and the Khorasani Brigades – and those who are more inclined to support Iraq and the Iraqi government. The latter group includes those loyal to Iraq's own senior Shiite cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and includes the tens-of-thousands-strong militias led by the clerics, Muqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim.

Sometimes the friction between the militias on the two opposing sides has turned violent. For example, last week members of Hezbollah in Iraq stormed the headquarters of al-Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council and stole furnishings and other office equipment. In response the Islamic Supreme Council issued a statement condemning the incident and demanding an explanation from Hezbollah leader, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis."



Colonel Lang
As usual you are right on target. The mock conversation was very illustrative. Though one reason the IS has the upper hand maybe the falling out of the Shia Militias and the PM Abadi. The regular forces may be facing the IS alone, or nearly so. As the informed Comment blog points out:
" ... These disputes saw some of the leaders of the Shiite militias telling their men to stop fighting. Some of the most prominent of these leaders – including the always-grandstanding Haider al-Ameri of the Badr Brigades and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis of Hezbollah in Iraq – left the front lines and returned either to Baghdad or their hometowns further south. Taking off their uniforms didn’t stop them from continuing to publish statements critical of al-Abadi either. .."


Continuing your line of thought in the mock scenario, one might even postulate that both sides needs their "crazies" ... given the state of affairs in that neck of the woods, they may be a crucial ingredient for higher moral !



This is a good point. where are the Shia "crazies" who would meet on the field of martyrdom with the Wahhabis? Where are they? Babak will tell us. pl

William R. Cumming

MSM now reporting the taking of RAMADI by ISIS!



In situations in which I had a choice not dictated by duty, I always figured out my exit route. If I were in Baghdad I would think about it. pl

William R. Cumming

P.L. IMO the Green Zone will not be an American Die Bien Phu! So exit shortly?

Babak Makkinejad

In many wars there were occasions in which men went knowingly to their deaths.

I would not call them crazies.

Where the US aviators who attacked this Japanese aircraft carrier & her escorts early in the Pacific War, with no possibility of inflicting any damages, and were destroyed all crazy?

Assuming that Col. Shaw and his men were depicted accurately in the movie "Glory"; were they also "crazies"?

In Korean War, Chinese sent men with sticks across the Yalu river; them picking guns from the corpses of other Chinese soldiers. Were they crazy too?

Lastly, during the Iran-Iraq War, there were many military units on the Iranian side whose sole function was to break the Iraqi lines of defense; be they mine fields, or barbed wires, or other such fortifications.

I would not call them crazy.

As I have stated before, nothing that ISIS does is against Islamic Tradition and Sunni Islam and nothing that its military units have done are insanely new; in my opinion.

The only way that ISIS could be confronted is by stating that it does not present legitimate authority either in temporal or religious spheres; that it is a rebellion.

In which case, by implication, the Syrian Arab Republic and the (Shia-dominated) Republic of Iraq are the legitimate authorities.

I am still waiting for Germany to supply a 1000 tanks to the legitimate authority to fight the crazies.

Likewise for France.

And Russia.


The reporting is so fragmentary and intermittent that anyone but a full-time scanner of exotic Internet sites (and preferably literate in Arabic)cannot get even a rough outline of what's going on. Today is the first news I've seen about Ramadi after a week's blackout. And the first accounts of frictions there among the Shi'ite militias requested by the local Sunni authorities and 'sent' by al-Abadi 10 days ago or so. Two factual questions:

1. Any indications that the US has been involved in keeping the Shi'ite militias off the front lines?

2. Is close air support possible in that type of situation? If so, where is it?


Babak, in my opinion Hassan Nasrallah made that statement. No?

Richard Armstrong

Please don't laugh at this question as it is a sincere question.

I simply do not understand why the middle east is considered to be of strategic importance to the United States.

I know that our intervention into Iraq was the result of foolishness on the part of persons advising President Bush and I suppose he felt it was necessary. But it seems to me that killing a few bad guys with Predator missiles creates more harm than good.

It seems to me that should Syria fall that would be Israel's problem and not ours. I just cannot see how another Islamic state would represent an existential threat to the United States.

Any new caliphate would certainly have its hands full just trying to consolidate its power given the overwhelmingly tribal nature of the people's of the middle east.

I always enjoyed watching Colonel Lang on television before he was banned for telling the truth. I have also been a faithful reader of this website visiting several times a day as I learn website visiting several times a day as I learn quite a bit more about the Middle East than I can possibly hold to learn from the mainstream media.

Someone please enlighten me because I really don't get it.



Yes, they are "crazies." IMO the Japanese in WW2 could also be labeled as "crazies.' They are/were motivated by a form of religion that makes them want to die. The American naval aviators whose torpedo planes were shot down at Midway did not want to die. Western soldiers do not want to die. They are killed doing their duty These "crazies" want to die. That is an irrational attitude. IMO these "crazies" are unworthy of your defense. pl



Ah, but you see, the art of intelligence analysis is almost always performed with incomplete and ambiguous data. The ability to do that is what distinguishes. pl


I think you might oversee the technological gap. They all have an objective to attain. The aviators can fly planes, knowing that their chance of survival is negligible, the Japanese can so Kamikaze attacks, … I am sure that if the DAESH was able to use conventional tactics, they would have opted to have their enemies become martyrs (to paraphrase Patton).



You are mistaken. In the case of the Japanese, their mass suicides were a preference on their part. There was nothing that prevented their surrender in impossible situations. Instead they preferred to sit in caves and blow themselves up with grenades and the like. In 1942 in the Philippines US forces surrendered when hope was gone. In 1944 and 1945 the Japanese Army in the Philippines and on Okinawa died by hundreds of thousands after hope was gone because Bushido and Shinto called them to do that. The Germans were, IMO, far better soldiers than the Japanese and they did not stupidly seek to die. Japanese suicide attacks against the US Navy in 1945 threw away a lot of perfectly usable aircraft because they thought there was virtue in suicide. The number of Baka glider bombs was quite small. Once the emperor told his forces to surrendered they did so quite meekly all over east Asia. In the case of IS, they possess a lot of captured artillery and armor. They too, prefer to fight this way because they think there is virtue in martyrdom. There is not. The martyr is simply dead. The independence of Texas was not won at the Alamo. the defenders were simply killed. the independence of Texas was won at San Jacinto where the Texian Army defeated the Mexicans. Patton never said anything about martyrdom. He would have thought that a stupid thing to say. I, too, saw the movie. What he said was that "you should make the other poor dumb bastard die for HIS country." That is quite different. pl


This is a good article on the Ramadi situation today. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/05/15/266798/islamic-state-takes-ramadi-government.html

Mark Logan

Re the "crazy men"

Just speculating, and I do not doubt many are willing true believers, but if I were a ruthless ISIL jihadi it might occur to me that I could pick a man out from the population of a captured town and tell him "You are dead. The only choice you have is whether or not we kill your wife and children too".

Crazy men, manufactured as needed.


Men are motivated by either sex or fear. If they are motivated by something else, then they are crazy.


dear sir,
while ISIS uses lot of suicide bombers, defectors say that those guys used as suicide bombers because they are "useless". In other words guys who do not have any militarily capabilities are given that "specialty" because ISIS can't use them in any other way.

Those same defectors say that if any new recruit has some competency that is useful to them, they would not become suicide bombers. But the glorification is there to maintain the continuous stream of "would be martyrs".

Patrick Bahzad

Regarding ramadi, I can't say I'm surprised ... All the talk about ISIS retreating in the face of the coming government offensive was a bit premature.
With regard to the use of suicide bombers and the death wish most of their troops have or are conditioned for, I can only confirm this is true and it is a way of breeding a particular type of combatant ... When we go to war, we might be willing to put our life on the line and in certain situations, we may fight til the last man, or til we run out of ammo, but we don't go into the fight with the aim to die on the battlefield. This is what ISIS does however, suicide bombers or other troops. They seek martyrdom ... This is sometimes effective in the sense that they won't stop fighting even when there is nothing to fight for anymore, but the attrition rate against an organized force would be huge. The psychological edge this gives them over poorly trained or poorly motivated adversaries shouldn't be underestimated however.
This brings me to the second point. ISIS leadership knows they can't use large contingents of forces in open battle as it would be putting the whole organisation at risk of being hit with massive airstrikes and this could threaten the survival of their caliphate if they loose too many men in a single battle. It is the same rationale as for naval warfare ... If you gather your whole fleet and you loose the battle, you have basically lost the war.
That is the reason that they never engage more than about 1000 men in a single combat operation. They took Mosul with a thousand troops only, and they prefer smaller engagements spread over wide distances in order to stretch enemy forces, force them to concentrate in particular places and stage other attacks almost simultaneously a long distance away. We see it also with ramadi and palmyra.
The long term aim, especially in Iraq is to get closer to Baghdad, coming from the east and west, and someday when the time is right and the city already reeking with fear, stage a large scale onslaught onto the Shia neighborhoods where they know they gonna have to fight hard. But before that they will have to organized massive terror and bombing campaigns, to try and make sure as many locals as possible flee the city. Mosul was kind of a rehearsal of the Baghdad operation which is going to be much messier if it ever takes place.



Yes. The way to avoid being "volunteered" for suicide bomber duty within IS is to have a valuable skill. So what? Is that not obvious? "Intuitively obvious to the casual observer." pl



You actually believe that men are only motivated by fear or sex? Just checking. pl


Mark Logan

As PB writes above, the whole process of socialization of IS jihadis is designed to produce a mentality in which the fighter is ready for the task. To think that the process involves picking some poor schmuck out of the crowd in Mosul or anywhere and telling him that he is now a jihadi is probably not "on." pl



According to the latest reporting IS has moved out into other parts of the city of Ramadi with another wave of suicide bombers followed by troops. They have found an interesting methodology with this kind of operation. pl



A modern day blitzkrieg style, with suicide bombers replacing arty and light trucks replacing tanks, suited for UO.

I remember Ramadi as being the town the marines didn't patrol during the day because they were getting lit up too much. I imagine there's some of them that feel like I did when Mosul fell.

Also of note is how totally f-cking infected the military is with the "no news but good news" mentality. They've got to torture language so much to make it look like we are "winning" the press release has to be sent to a CIA black site and get waterboarded before they can lie to us.



Some USMC 0-7 in Baghdad has told the press in Iraq that things are under control in Ramadi. IMO he should conduct a personal recon to find out. it will be interesting to see if we have to destroy the city by air in order to save it. As PB said (and me) what happened to the part about IS being on the way to defeat? pl

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