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16 May 2015


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Patrick Bahzad


I appreciate you playing devils advocate with your post, but I'm afraid it won't get your "client" of the hook with the jury here. regarding PR victories as opposed to victories in the ground, it looks to me it is the other way round actually ! Retreating to syria where they are being hated ? While all of western Iraq up to Baghdad in basically their backyard ? Not very likely I would say ... But as you said you were being the Devils advocate :-)

Patrick Bahzad


What you need first of all is guys willing to use an RPG in open ground with ISIS snipers waiting to light you up

Patrick Bahzad

I concur with PL's assessment ... Taking Baghdad won't be a massive Stalingrad style operation. The Shia neighborhoods and government areas would be submitted to systematic large scale bombing and terrors attacks ... The whole shebang: car bombs, suicide bombs, targeted killings, massive bombings in Shia mosques ...
ISIS has already about 2000 men in Baghdad, according to conservative estimates ... They won't storm the city like it was Fallujah. They'll take it their own way, if they do ... Or they'll strangle the life out of the government services and make life unbearable for the Shias. But in order to succeed they need to get closer so they can get supplies, weapons and men more easily into the city. Getting passed defenders in the east of Baghdad will probably be more difficult, because of Iranians following developments more closely there.

William R. Cumming

Tyler! You are correct and of course greater male numbers almost ensures attacks on males a majority. But apparently the public's understanding of the fact and the greater pool of male recruits has not deterred male recruiting..

BTW I have now heard of Army personnel thaat had 19 combat tours since 9/11/01. Is that possible and whast do you know of repeat tours>

William R. Cumming

Agree! But given command of a highly technical unit--nuclear weapons--I did arrive at a modus vivendi with several male E-5's that I found In Flagrante Loco. My choice is have a key unit go off status or live with it but I did know several field grade officers that were GAY.

And yes did not even see an Army Nurse in my two years, 10 months, 7 days and 4 hours of Active Duty.

Still in love with some fictional nurses from TV shows--Dana Delaney for one!

Peter C

In reply to Aka, I don't know why the Iraqi's did not disable the equipment.


Interesting note, the last time ISIS approached the airport(3 months into the Iraq airstrikes) the USA sent in their Green Zone apaches to intercept them


The article notes:
“Fighting is taking place in Ramadi, the last major population centre in Anbar Province. There is currently no fighting reported in Abu Ghraib, the closest Sunni town west of Baghdad, but the town’s population is likely to be hostile to the Shia-dominated Iraqi military forces and government. There is a high risk that if insurgents capture Ramadi, they would effectively secure a corridor of population centres from the Syrian border with Anbar to Abu Ghraib.


The Anbar Sunni Tribe council leaders in Baghdad just voted to ask for Hashd al-Sha'bi intervention in Ramadi.

In two days or three the serious fighting over Ramadi will start.


That al-Monitor story is interesting.
1) There is a working civil service in Mosul, for which Baghdad pays the wages.
2) They are getting some road-paving done - for the first time since 2003, if I read that correctly.
And there is more in the story.
This is not the first time I clicked on an al-Monitor link and came away with a significantly altered perception of some Mideast news story. Is al-Monitor a good, reliable source? Is it independent (which would be a financial miracle)?
Should I make it my first destination in trying to obtain realistic on-the-ground information on the Mideast?


On the supply of suicide bombers for these assaults, Patrick Cockburn detailed a second source in a recent piece he wrote for the Independent about life in the IS-controlled territories.




On an unrelated note but of Mideast interests, seems that the Turkish Government has a new face man/advocate /lobbyist, drum roll --former CIA Porter Goss.


Peter C

In a rout nobody stops to disable equipment that the enemy may capture. The only thought available to the routed is the avoidance of capture which in this case means death. The really interesting question for me is how IS moved these captured dozers from the north to the Ramadi area. The US has very good overhead surveillance. It does not see everything but it does see a lot. these dozers would have been moved on HETs (low-boys) over the road system around through Syria hiding them when not moving in buildings, under overpasses, etc. That is a major undertaking. pl



I think it bears repeating - revolution (radical political change by force) - is a gentle tap on a rotten barn door or a leaning wall. ISIS will not win Baghdad, the current govt of Iraq will lose Baghdad and ISIS will fill the void. That was Mosul, that is Ramadi. Based on US actions (not words), this seems beyond the comprehension of US leadership (kids drinking koolaid?).

The only thing that likely will change the dynamic are US (or Iranian) boots on the ground in large numbers. A wave of Apache's cannot stop Baghdad from losing, it only can prevent ISIS from winning, and cannot stop ISIS from stepping into the void.

And that is why the ballyhooed assassination of an ISIS economist, is so alarming. True or false is irrelevant. What is relevant is that US leadership thinks (Tyler - 100% agree.) this is a metric of progress.


PB -

I appreciate your insight. Time will tell. Although even if I somehow turned out to be halfa$$ correct, the smart thing for Daesh to do would be to go into hibernation.

What - if any - is your opinion on MGen al Barwari and his ISOF? Do they live up to their press? And how much are they trusted in Baghdad as al Barwari comes from Dohuk and is reputed to be a Kurd?



"the smart thing for Daesh to do would be to go into hibernation." IS cannot do that. If they do they will become yet another of many past Sunni revivalist movements that had their day in the sun and then disappeared. pl


ISIS advances in Anbar at the end only guarantee the end of any meaningful Sunni presence anywhere near Baghdad. Wishful thinking about ISIS taking Baghdad or the Shiite government falling while Iran gets appeased by pointless diplomatic plays are just the dreams of people living in lalaland or believing that Saddam's army still exist (it doesn't which is the median age of any officer that served in that army now? which is the media age of the mostly now foreign jihadist leadership?).

When the time comes and if the majority, or the largest minority, of Iraqi Sunnis keep playing the game of victim hood while supporting and collaborating in the genocide of Shiites and any other minority in Iraq (under the generous patronage of the Gulf Monarchs of Darkness) their cities east of Baghdad will be demolished and in the best case their populations will get the privilege of living in dessert 'refugee' camps if not directly becoming un-wanted refugees in Jordan or the Kingdom of Darkness.

That the Iraqi Shiite majority has no taste for such actions and their leadership wants an united 'inclusive' Iraq, and neither Iran which Islamism is non-sectarian in nature, doesn't mean that in the end, if they find that there is no reasonable agreement they will apply the only viable solution. Iraq has the allies and resources to do so. The external support to Sunni jihadists from Turkey or the Gulf Monarchs will only increase the carnage but won't change the end. The era of Sunni domination in Iraq has finished and Iraq and Iran won't live with a menacing expansionist extremist Caliphate or whatever next to them.

Patrick Bahzad

Why would they go into hibernation ? Seems our eyes in the sky can't even detect bulldozers being moved over long patches of road ? You go into hibernation when the air becomes too thick ... doesn't look like it is. I don't see where the heat is coming from that would force them into hibernation. Besides they have a State to run, or so they say.
In the long run, sure, they won't be there forever. It's pretty safe to assume that in 20 years, the thing called "ISIS" will be long gone, but what will it have mutated into, that's the question. For the time being however, I wouldn't bet my shirt on them getting done for good.
As for al Barwari, he is a Kurd yes, and that is the reason the US put him at the head of the ISOF, in order to counter the heavy Shia influence in the army. He did what was expected of him in Basra in 2008 ... Things haven't changed much since, only his troops are not facing the Sadrists anymore but IS.
Without US air support, he wouldn't last long I'm afraid. The most successful operation he staged was retaking the Mosul dam, and that involved heavy US support. Anywhere else his troops have faced IS, they were defeated, except when IS chose otherwise.
Besides, Barwari has less than 10 000 men, some of whom stay in the South to be able to counter any extremist Shia group there, while another part has been stationed in the Kurdish areas.
He's not going to make a substantial difference if push comes to shove. And some people in the Kurdish camp still think they can struck a deal with ISIS. Maybe that's not impossible ... ISIS leans more towards the South and Baghdad, and in exchange, the Kurds don't stage any major offensive, thus avoiding ISIS the difficulty of a two-front war. What would Barwari do in that case and who's his fundamental loyalty with ?


Greeting the acknowledged war criminal:
"Condoleezza Rice has crossed the threshold into esteemed celebrity – a welcomed speaker at this year’s College of William and Mary commencement – despite her record as the liar who sold the illegal war in Iraq and choreographed torture at CIA “black sites."

Patrick Bahzad

"ISIS advances in Anbar at the end only guarantee the end of any meaningful Sunni presence anywhere near Baghdad" ... I wonder who's living in lalaland and where you get the info from to defend such statements ? Just curious.
BTW, your prophecy of destruction of Sunni cities East of Baghdad (which ones would that be by the way ?) has all the ingredients for making IS an even more potent foe, sounds like a brilliant plan !
As for the Shia majority, they have no hunger for reconquering the Sunni areas, it's as simple as that. They'll defend their part of the country, no more ... whether and how much this includes Baghdad will remain to be seen.
Regarding the end of Sunni domination of Iraq, stating the obvious doesn't bolster your credentials on a site where people have been saying this for years.

Babak Makkinejad

I think that your statement is not expansive enough; Dr Velayati stated today that Iran will not permit the disintegration of Iraq, Syria, and Yemen into smaller countries to be turned into anti-Iran state-lets.

He was most explicit about Iraq.



Isn't ISIS part of the Sunni public?

Patrick Bahzad

With regard to Iraq and Syria,that ship has long sailed ! The Iranians know that ... Keeping borders intact doesn't mean the states within those borders still exist as such. What the Iranians mean is they won't stand idly by.
But they not gonna get into anbar and they won't go into Baghdad. What kind of covert help they will provide is a different story.
On Yemen, I think we're heading for a division into areas of influence but the process is more ongoing than in other two where, whatever the outcome, nobody will vpever glue Syria and Iraq back together.


"A foothold in the western, Sunni neighborhoods"

I don't think the remaining Sunni communities are particularly in the West. A'dhamiyya, the best known, is in the east. Even further west, 25 km west, the celebrated Abu Ghraib is mixed Sunni-Shi'a. Last summer Da'ish did not make progress there, and did not succeed in closing the airport. They could do better this time, but in general Da'ish haven't succeeded in occupying Shi'a populated areas. I'd be surprised if that last changes now.

As for rump Iraq, that's probably true - the north is lost. Interestingly, I once used a 10th century map of Iraq for an article. There was a line drawn around an area stretching from Basra to Tikrit - it was marked in Arabic "Hadd al-'Iraq" (Limit of Iraq). That was what Iraq was in the old days; I should think there's a good chance it will go back to that.

But I don't agree that Baghdad would be likely to fall (though of course, one can always be mistaken). The Shi'a are too resistant, and committed to resisting. More likely there would be a final ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from Baghdad.

FB Ali

I agree with both your last posts.

ThePaper is either a denizen of Lalaland or a Shia hasbara.

Iran will not intervene in force in Iraq unless the Shia south is threatened. Unlikely to happen: I don't think IS will want to attack that part of Iraq. At least, not in the near future!


'"ISIS advances in Anbar at the end only guarantee the end of any meaningful Sunni presence anywhere near Baghdad" ... I wonder who's living in lalaland and where you get the info from to defend such statements ?'

I wouldn't go as far as ThePaper, but there's something in what he says. There was major ethnic cleansing in Baghdad in 2007, which the US troops did not stop. If Da'ish really made a nuisance of themselves by sitting in Sunni neighbourhoods, the Shi'a reaction could well be to move the whole lot out. I think they're probably strong enough to do so. The situation is not the same as in Aleppo.

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