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19 May 2015


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This says it all: "without an alternative for those who live in the realm of Daesh to support, that can actually protect them when they do stand up, then it should be expected that the legitimacy and therefore strength of the Caliphate will continue to grow."


I wonder what ISIS see as the beginning of the end game in IRAQ. The Saudi cash flow must have templates for this. The Iranians must also have a scenario. I foresee that Ramadi will be held and Shia/Kurd choke points installed to choke oxygen out of ISIS.


"The Iraqi government – politically and militarily – have no answer to Daesh that results in an end-game of Iraqi unity, unless that unity is achieved through the domination of the state and country by Shi’a militias."

The end game would be a confederation of the provinces so each group can govern themselves while receiving their fair share of the oil revenues. After the past double-crosses, the Tribes and Sufis, two Insurgencies-in-Being amongst the Islamic State, will have to enticed with a nice piece of the pie to fight for the state again. Or the Shias can go ahead formalize the partition. Everyone needs to give a little to gain a lot (getting on with life).



Saudi money is going to buy salvation for ISIS true believers?



America has the same problem now as it has since 1990; an eagerness to go to war but a failure to think out the consequences. A quarter of a century later this basic flaw is still true. America thinks it can fight wars without the draft to provide the troops necessary to conquer the enemy and the transfer the wealth from future generations to multi-national corporations fighting the war today can continue forever.

Colonel, your position is to get out of Iraq now. But, war selects hard nose survivalists. To bear the burden of life, soldiers have to believe they are fighting for their families and the true cause. The Islamic State is not going to stand pat. They are the inheritors of Mecca. Shiites and Alawites are a minority of the Muslims in the World. Rather than being killed trying to retake Anbar Province, the Shiites should be working to fortify their towns and villages and divert ISIS to the south.

If Washington DC had an ounce of brains and concern for the wellbeing of its citizens, right now it would force Turkey and Israel to stop their support of the Jihadists. Build an Iron Curtain around the Islamic State. Make peace with the Syrian Government and formalize the partition of Iraq.

FB Ali

I'm afraid the RUSI commentary doesn't tell us much. Just listing all the things that IS can do is not very helpful.

If IS live up to their past operational performance they will fortify Ramadi as much as possible while withdrawing most of their mobile forces, leaving just a small dug-in force to defend the city. The aim would be to bleed the Shia militias to the maximum when they attempt to retake the city, as well as to avoid presenting worthwhile targets to US air power.

As soon as the Shia militias are locked into the battle of Ramadi, IS will attack another sensitive target which the Baghdad government cannot afford to leave in their hands. They will then repeat their Tikrit/Ramadi strategy. Gradually they will reduce the offensive strength and morale of the militias so that they are only able to defend Shia areas, leaving IS free to consolidate their hold on Anbar. And plan operations beyond.


FB Ali
IMO you have it just right. The question in my mind is what their next objective will be. pl

FB Ali

Col Lang,

I doubt if they will switch to the Kurds or Syria. The main threat to them are the Iraqi forces supported by US air power. They will concentrate first on reducing the strength of these forces. So it will likely be an Iraqi target.

Patrick Bahzad

FB Ali,

Think you summed it up pretty well. Just an additional thought: the use of Shia militias which seems to be the only way forward for Baghdad further inflames resentment among Sunnis in anbar because of the many cases of abuse that have been committed by these groups.
Thus even when IS engages in tactical retreat, they still score points on the board as the anti Shia bias in the areas in question is just increasing with each government operation of reconquest. Combined with what you mention, the outcome is a tipping point where IS wants to be seen by the locals as the only viable alternative.

Patrick Bahzad

Just a hunch but think Baghdad will be at the center of IS attention in weeks to come, makng a powerful statement as to governments inability to counter IS.
If they want to send a signal to the Shias showing them that IS too has ability to strike in Shia areas as payback for tikrit and coming counter offensive on ramadi, they might also try something south of the sectarian divide line west of Baghdad. Kerbala for example.
Could also serve as incentive for Shias militias to be forced to divide their forces to defend the homeland and holy places. And further inflame the situation ....


A feignt?



fb ali

"it will likely be an Iraqi target." Perhaps it will be an Iraqo-American objective. pl


A bit off topic- but related to the mess in the ME. A Newsweek article regarding the false intel that Cheney's people manufactured to make a case for war. Notable that Cheney made his WMD speech on Iraq without clearance by the President or vetting by the White House. Also Bush was not told about a DIA analysis that debunked the case for WMDs.


FB Ali

IS appears to be moving forces towards Habbaniyah. An attack there would disrupt the assembly of the Shia militias for the Ramadi counter-offensive. But I believe there are no US troops there.

PB has suggested Baghdad, but I think that is still a 'bridge too far' for them.

Baghdadi and the Haditha dam look like tempting targets.

Patrick Bahzad

Just to clarify about Baghdad: I don't expect an attempt at taking city or parts thereof but actions aimed at disrupting offensive in ramadi through diversions that will require government to recall troop and bolster defenses in and around the capital.
Massive bombings could be a risk or storming a governement building for example which would have high symbolic value.



What else is there on the road to the Haditha Dam? pl

Patrick Bahzad


Agree that ain al Assad airbase could be on menu, but suspect IS wants to keep the fight to urban areas now and keep on beating up the weakest link, ie Iraqi government


Thank you FB Ali for your analysis and the rest of SST commentators as well. Latest commentary on what ISIS is alleged to be doing in Ramadi appears to back up Gen. Alis analysis.

Where do the Sunni residents of Ramadi turn to when the Shia militias are unleashed? ISIS seems to be doing "hearts and minds" among Sunni populations quite well. Shia? Christians? Not so much.

"A showdown between Islamic State militants and pro-government militia is looming in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, as thousands flee ahead of the fighting.

IS militants captured the important city in Anbar province last week in what was the Islamist group's biggest victory in almost a year.

Those who have remained are bracing for a bitter conflict as Iraq's government masses Shiite militias to try to take back the city.

But the IS militants have dug in, laying roadside bombs and building fortifications.

In the four days since IS seized control its fighters have also been going house to house searching for members of the police and armed forces.

They group also released about 100 prisoners from the counter-terrorism detention centre in the city.

"Islamic State used loudspeakers urging people who have relatives in prison to gather at the main mosque in the city centre to pick them up," said Saed Hammad al-Dulaimi, 37, a school teacher still in the city.

"I saw men rushing to the mosque to receive their prisoners."

The move could prove popular with residents who have complained that people are often subject to arbitrary detention.

Mr Dulaimi said IS fighters were using cranes to lift blast walls from the streets and bulldozers to shovel away sand barriers built by security forces before they fled.

"I think they (Islamic State) are trying to win the sympathy of people in Ramadi and give them moments of peace and freedom," he said.

Islamic State flag in Ramadi
PHOTO: Islamic State militants have laid roadside bombs and built fortifications since seizing the city of Ramadi. (AFP: Aamaq News via YouTube)
The jihadist group said it would set up courts in Ramadi based on Islamic sharia law, as it has done in other captured towns and cities.

Jasim Mohammed, 49, who owns a women's clothing shop, said an IS member had told him he must now sell only traditional Islamic garments

"I had to remove the mannequins and replace them with other means of displaying the clothes. He told me that I shouldn't sell underwear because it's forbidden," he said.

The International Organisation for Migration said 40,000 people had been forced to flee the city — 110 kilometres north-west of Baghdad — in the past four days.

About 500 people were killed in the fighting for Ramadi in recent days, local officials said……"



Apparently the town of Baghdadi is the only think keeping the tenuous supply line to Haditha and the dam open. Reports that the town has been completely surrounded since the fall of Ramadi with the defendants running out of food,water,and ammo


I found that news article particularly interesting in it deviating from the traditional line of describing ISIS as a genocidal seemingly utterly foreign nazi entity imposed on the poor democracy-and-nation-loving Iraqi civilians

"Sami Abed Saheb, 37, a Ramadi restaurant owner, said Islamic State found 30 women and 71 men in the detention center. They had been shot in the feet to prevent them escaping when their captors fled."

telling, to say the least, of the alternative that the civilians living under IS know that they face if the present Iraqi government comes back to rule over them


Other than here and a few other places, its been radio silence on how Big a Deal this is. The few "mainstream" places that have talked about it make sure that WH propaganda ministers always get the last word about how its not really important.


Khan al Baghdadi city


While Dash fights in Iraq, it has other problems in Syria that may shift its operatives West. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2015/05/syira-qalamoun-jabhat-al-nusra-war-isis-kharijites.html

We do live in interesting times.

FB Ali

There are some other aspects of the Ramadi situation that need to be taken into account.

Ramadi is a city with a population of 500,000 to 900,000 (according to McClatchy), which also reports that only 8,000 of them fled the capture of the city (other reports put this number at 25,000 and 40,000). In any case, there are several hundred thousand civilians, mostly Sunnis, still in the city. IS made a concerted effort to prevent them from leaving.

If the Shia militias attempt to recapture Ramadi, as they are planning on doing, there will be a huge loss of life among Sunni civilians. This will not bother the militias, but it will put the final nail in the coffin of an Iraq comprising both Shias and Sunnis. Many of these civilians will join IS rather than die as 'collateral damage'; this will have a huge impact on other Sunnis in Iraq.

The US is stating that it will provide air support for the recapture of Ramadi (notwithstanding Gen Austin's brave words about never supporting Shia militias). This will mean bombing inside the city - and killing Sunni civilians. What will this do to future relations between the US and the Sunni population, not only in Iraq but throughout the Muslim world? Yet, after the bold claims by US military and diplomatic luminaries about the retaking of Ramadi soon, the US cannot back off providing air support for the Shia militias in their battle for Ramadi.

It is obvious that the capture of Ramadi by IS, whatever happens afterwards, will have widespread ramifications for the future.

Could all this not have been foreseen? Couldn't its defences have been strengthened? Obviously not by those who are still parroting that IS is "on the defensive"!


That link is a breath of fresh air.
The ending, particularly, is refreshing: 'be honest, or get lost.'
Here's hoping...

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