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30 December 2015


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That Daily Beast piece was full of Pentagon spin and had no voice from those directly involved. It doesn't feel right.

It seems that in Ramadi, like in Singar before that, IS melted away and left only very few rearguards who snipped at the incoming troops. There was hardly any fighting in the last days and casualties were very light on both sides.

Some Iraqis believe that the U.S. told IS (via Turkey) to leave just in time and would not allow earlier assaults on the city. They see this as part of the setup to split Iraq and to again get a permanent foot on the ground.



I do not agree at all. the DB piece is filled with hostility to the spin coming out of the government. As for the usual psycho Iraqi and other ME conspiracy theory nonsense, this is created in the "Great Arabian Dream Machine" to explain to themselves their own cowardice and incompetence. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Meanwhile, in Syria and Iraq, one isn't having much fun...allegedly

My friend John Mc C., who used to live there and is on first-name terms with members of the ruling family, has confirmed to me that he was on the tarmac to greet them.

Apparently, apart from the Qatari royal family, the planes flew in 124 wives, 68 concubines, 87 courtiers, 3 pole dancers from the Ukraine, 12 call girls from Russia and Central Asia (including a 7-ft tall Kazakh woman with a moustache), 4 Guinean masseurs, the 14 staff of the royal press office, 95 Sudanese slaves, 34 Yemeni bodyguards, 6 doctors, 28 Pakistani cooks, 359 domestic servants (mostly from Bangladesh and the Philippines), 2 security advisers from the UK, and, finally, a butler from Yorkshire called Carson (first name unknown and not in use).

"As you can see, it's a fairly modest affair all in all," said the butler on the tarmac as he was shaking hands with John Mc C.



1000 ISIS killed by airstrikes? Is this realistic?
"Defense officials said most of the roughly 1,000 ISIS fighters entrenched in Ramadi were killed in airstrikes; the remaining fled northeast of the city."

What happened to all the civilians?
"The U.S. military still doesn’t know how many civilians have been killed. Warren said roughly 400 civilians fled to the city government center once Iraqi troops moved in, on the backs of their elite force and coalition air power. At its peak, Ramadi had nearly 200,000 residents. Images from the fallen parts of the city showed an area all but destroyed."

Seems like there are some big pieces missing in the stor. But I found the DB story to be better than anything else in the US media on Ramadi. The Warren briefing was just strange, seemed to have big chunks of logic missing from it.

Hood Canal Gardner

Did they leave anybody home to feed/water the royal camels? Must be the US Central Command HQ's Yemeni contractors//5th Fleet are overloaded/busy doing Manama.


Would these be US-trained Iraqis?


Sounds very intriguing... and has me wondering if it has anything to do with this...

Qatar hunters abducted in Iraq desert by gunmen http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35112774
Gunmen have kidnapped at least 27 Qatari hunters - including members of the ruling family - in a desert area of Iraq near the Saudi border, say police and the local governor. The attackers were driving dozens of four-wheel drive vehicles when they swept into the hunters' camp at dawn on Wednesday, officials said. They struck near Layyah, 190km (118 miles) from regional capital, Samawa.

Iraq's Top Shi'ite Cleric Calls For Release Of Qatari Hunters http://www.rferl.org/content/iraq-shi-ite-cleric-qatari-hunters/27449122.html
Iraq's most powerful Shi'ite cleric has called for the release of a group of Qatari hunters kidnapped in the south of the country last week.

"We condemn the kidnappings for political goals, including the recent kidnapping of a number of hunters who entered the country legally," said Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, speaking through an aide in a sermon broadcast on state TV on December 25.

different clue

Way off thread but . . . " U.S. Army scraps Darpa robot for being too noisy."

Maybe the Army might want to speak to NASA and see about co-developing an articulated multi-wheeled "wheels on stilts" sort of Earthside Rover for moving stuff over bad terrain?

Babak Makkinejad


SF Novel:

"Der Brand der Cheopspyramide"; Hans Dominick, Berlin, 1927


After the Arabs have reconquered Spain, there exists 3 powerful Arab states and a rather disunited United States of Europe; all engaged in a chase after atomic energy.

An English scientist who has invented atomic energy has died but the brilliant German Herr Dr. Friedrich Eisenecker has also solved the problem secretly. The Arabs steal the Englishman's apparatus, helped by a beautiful female spy who is in love with the Khalif, but manage only to blow up the pyramid of Cheops.

In the meantime, Herr Eisenecker supplies the brave Spanish guerrillas with atomic weapons that shoot "condensed electricity" helping them on their path to victory.

I must say: Some things seem to persist.

Chris Chuba

Col. I suspect that speak for others when I say that this type of independent analysis is exactly why I have to visit here on a daily basis.

One of the things that caught my attention in the CNN coverage was the mention of the number of air strikes, I heard them mention a number between 600 to 1,000. When I looked at the footage of Ramadi I was thinking, man that place looks trashed. I don't know how much of that damage was old vs. new but lately the Assad is the devil coverage has been getting under my skin. I couldn't help but think of how there was no mention of the damage to Ramadi but Assad and the Russians can't sneeze in Syria without physical damage being the entire focus of those military operations.


Not that I'm any expert on military matters, but I would have thought that Da'ish have learnt the same lesson as the other Syrian rebels from Falluja. That in the open terrain of Syria/Iraq, the only way to make the attackers suffer is by city-fighting, with its inevitable massive casualties for the attacker, if he goes in on the ground, and fights from house to house. That's why the barrel-bombing and starvation sieges of the Syrians, who can't take the casualties. The Iraqis have a political need to retake Ramadi, and go in gently under the cover of US air-strikes.

Although I'm not sure that US troops would have behaved much differently without the air-strikes, the issue is really political. Are the Iraqi Shi'a troops ready to die for a Sunni city, when their government has been sectarian Shi'a for a decade, with consequent propaganda? There are of course Sunni militias involved. The problem is: once reconquered, is the Baghdad government going to treat the Sunnis properly? Or is it going to be another round of pro-Shi'a sectarianism? In which case, Da'ish might be better.

Chris Chuba

I have an open question / comment about the Shiite militias. Is it a mistake NOT to use them?

I have heard the argument against using the Shiite militias and it goes like this ...
1. It will increase sectarian tensions, 2. some of the militias misbehaved in Tikrit, 3. the Sunni's don't trust them because of their Iranian influence.

Let me argue the other side, 1. they are good fighters, 2. by NOT using them you INCREASE sectarian tensions because you are in effect saying that Shiites cannot be trusted not to slaughter Sunnis, 3. by discipling Shiite militias when they do misbehave and rewarding those that perform well you potentially build more trust and reduce sectarian tensions. 4. it's not possible to field forces that perfectly reflect the demographics of the areas that you are retaking from ISIS.

I get making an effort to recruit Sunnis but it seems like the U.S. is putting enormous pressure on the Iraqi govt to avoid all the Shiite militias. This seems counter-productive to me. I am curious what people think.

Old Microbiologist

Great sense of humor. I love it.


I suspect that the Hezbollah forces in Syria account for a lot of the difference between Syria and Iraq. They're the ones with the deepest institutional experience in that kind of war. They understand the survival tactics of outnumbered and outgunned forces with no air power because they have used them while under attack by Israel. As trainers, they would have a much deeper and more relevant knowledge base than American special forces.

The longstanding alliance between Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran lends cohesiveness to R+6 that is lacking in Iraq. There isn't the issue of cobbling an alliance of militias with sectarian distrust. Shiite militias from Iraq are volunteering in the Aleppo area. They seem to have made a decision about the environment in which they can be most effective.


Of interest:



Maybe Iraq can ask the Egyptian air force to come in and help them out.



"Although I'm not sure that US troops would have behaved much differently without the air-strikes" I am quite sure that present US line troops would have acted quite differently. It is one thing to fight using organic means to advance by fire and maneuver and fire and movement employing available organic and supporting artillery and air. It is quite a different thing to rely altogether on supporting air to clear the ground for you. In the latter case you are not really achieving the victory with minimal damage to the infrastructure of a built up area like Ramadi. You are merely an instrument of the air forces. Air power, even in the age of PGMs, is a remarkably blunt instrument, unable because of inevitable errors in targeting to strike with fine precision. To paraphrase Robert Heinlein in "Starship Troopers," "The Mobile Infantry can be sent to kill or capture all red-headed men." Aircraft cannot do that. pl

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