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02 January 2017


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PB -

Regarding the bombing in Sadr City:

Late last month, Iraqi authorities removed some security checkpoints in Baghdad in a bid to ease traffic for the capital’s 6 million residents.

Asaad Hashim, an owner of a mobile phone store near the bombing, blamed "the most ineffective security forces in the world" for failing to prevent the attack.

They surely moved too fast in taking down those checkpoints last month.

Interesting that the Baghdad bombings came just a few hours after Hollande and Le Drian arrived there. I assume they were not specific targets, but I think the press did mention his visit schedule back on Friday. So there may have been a point in picking that day, do you think?




With respect to rebellion folding under pressure, there is a very significant difference between Aleppo and Mosul - the flavor of the ocean the rebels are swimming in. In Mosul the large civilian population has the Shia to look forward to upon defeat, in Aleppo, they had the SAA, which has been a beacon of light relative to the very nasty sectarian nature of the conflict in Iraq - emphasis on relative. As you are already clearly noting, even victory would likely be pyrrhic with the war continuing in guerilla form.

It was only two years ago that we almost witnessed the complete collapse of the Iraqi State. I somehow doubt it has recovered much since, particularly on austerity and $45 bbl oil, and now its only effective military force is being ground into hamburger.

So if we imagine Trump makes good on his promise to open the tap on US oil, which then drops to $35 bbl. Well, absent US boots, what is to prevent Iraq from starting to fly apart?

Babak Makkinejad

I credit it; that is what they or their brethren did in Aleppo; looted the factories and the warehouses - that was what they stood for; all the fine ideals of the Syrian Revolution or of Islam was boiled down, refined, and reduced to a single thing: "Loot".

And they were not even socialists.


"is undeniable is that IS has a limited numbers of fighters inside Mosul "
Unless they manage to recruit from the 750K-1.25 million civilians still in mosul proper in order to constantly replenish losses, which by many reports they have(in droves).IMO they are more likely to run out of ammo than bodies.
The Golden Division commander also said 2 weeks ago in an interview with rudaw that reinforcements are still getting through from syria
"No, not all the routes are closed. The routes between Iraq and Syria are open, enabling them to travel. [The area] is big. You need more than 10 divisions to recapture it. According to our information, they have received new reinforcements from Syria."


Do the Iraqis have a "Russia" acting with them, as was the case for Syria in Aleppo? Does Iran have forces in Mosul?



Thanks again for keeping us updated. I had withdrawal symptoms when SST was off line earlier today. January 20th and the inauguration briefings are critical. After this date will the Islamic State be enemy #1? Or, will Donald Trump be neutered and the endless war continue forever? If I am interpreting this correctly, seizing Mosul will require more than the current makeshift Western, Iraqi, Quds and Kurd offensive forces. An alliance with NATO, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Russia is necessary to win the war against the Islamic State by seizing Raqqa and Mosul and imposing peace on the Middle East. Israel and the Gulf Monarchies would have to go stuff it.



Well, at least there are the militia proxies. However, although I am sure Iranian RG contributed greatly to morale of the SAA and logistics, I have not read anywhere they were decisive. Perhaps I missed that.

Still, per the colonel's comment above, the Shia militia are probably shadows of the Iranian RG - fine for colonial actions against the local citizenry, but against a determined, hardened, armed foe in urban combat?

Additionally, its been a decade since they "studied the art of war" in practice - a decade in which they have been learning the art of patronage and ghost soldiers - they are now part of the Iraqi budget! IMO Erdogan's actions once again are critical in his ability to be the spoiler (not against Russia).

Green Zone Café

Patrick, Col. Lang,

Some may be saved by a big joint US/Russia/others campaign against ISIS. I could see Trump/Mattis/Flynn putting a lot of troops in for a couple of months, then leaving "the occupation" to the Golden Division and regular army Iraqis or parties unknown.


Can't say from my sources.

But as Babak notes it would be totally in line with earlier behavior. Aleppo industrial city was looted from the biggest machines down to the last cables and sold off to Turkish dealers and shops.

Patrick Bahzad


I don't think we'll see the US (and the West) take over the Mosul operation. In the current situation, it would probably take about 30k+ troops, whith a casualty rate of 2-3% (that's already 1 000 men). Personally, I wouldn't do it. It's an Iraqi city, it's their fight first and foremost. Besides, I don't think stepping in would be necessary. Did the Russians send in Russian Guard divisions into Aleppo ? No, they provided a consistent air support as well as plenty of firepower.
We are stuck with policy requirements ("don't turn Mosul into Aleppo") that dictate and hamper the conduct of a military assault on a large urban center. Fighting in such an environment with one hand tied behind your back will never be easy.
The Golden Division in its current form is gone and it was the Iraqis' best unit. Shit happens ...

Patrick Bahzad


You mean on our side or the head choppers' ?

Patrick Bahzad

For now, there is a huge battle to be fought in Mosul, and Baghdad as well as other Shia areas are exposed to terror attacks. I don't think any significant amount of PMU manpower will move into Syria any time soon.

Patrick Bahzad

Fair enough,

hadn't spotted your reply was directed at the nameless guy, who is hereby advised to find a name pretty soon if he wants to carry on posting.

Guess what he meant was that a victory over ISIS in Mosul, with a heavy death toll on our side, would be a "Pyhrric" victory, which is different indeed, you're right.

Patrick Bahzad


Iraq was definitely broken in 2003 and there's nothing we can do currently to change that. Putting US boots on the ground in large numbers would probably just reunite current enemies (the Shia PMUs hate us as well, make no mistake), until we're gone again.

You can't break up countries like that and do a few years of "nation building" to put them back together. Not after what has happened in Iraq since 2003.

Patrick Bahzad

There are certainly IRGC advisors embedded with PMU militias around Mosul.

Patrick Bahzad


I'm not sure there is a "one size fits all" equation to adequately correlate firepower with loss of civilian life. Lots of elements have to be factored in. The only equation that might be useful is the amound of firepower and manpower necessary (on paper) to fight urban warfare against an entrenched and determined enemy. And that equation needs to weigh in the quality of the troops you got. Again, warfare can't be reduced to percentages. The human factor is the decisive one.

Patrick Bahzad


Yes, I'm pretty sure they wanted to send a message both to the Iraqi government and the French president.

Patrick Bahzad


Yes, they might mobilize Mosul's youth (I doubt it), but they could. It would still be a limited pool of ppl to pick from and they would not last long in battle, assuming they did not run over to the Iraqis.

Reinforcements reached Mosul for a period, that is true. Not anymore, or if so, in very small numbers. And even if there was a way in, the turnover rate would not replace the casualties. Would only mean IS pouring in and losing more resources in the end. They're not going to do that, unless they see a real chance of bringing the whole thing to a standstill. Their plan is not based on replenishing regularly their garrison.

Patrick Bahzad


I don't think taking back Mosul would require the Great Alliance you mentioning. Did Aleppo require such an alliance ? No.

However, there is indeed a difference between prevailing in Mosul and putting IS out of business. That goal does require an overall and inclusive strategy, and it's not even assured to achieve its aims then !

Chris Chuba

ISIS the T2000's
It's fair to say that ISIS consistently fights better than any of the other rebel groups and frequently outfights army units.

So how did this breed of Jihadi T2000's come about, does it all go back to the infusion of Saddam's ex-military leaders.
That with ISIS they started out as Al Qaeda stocked with people willing to fight to the death (very motivated) and then you add in a core of professional military motivated for revenge and status and you get the Uruk-hai. That the leadership of ISIS was smart enough to preserve their ex-Iraqi military leaders and only use the new recruits as cannon fodder.

If this explains it then the disbanding of Saddam's military was the greatest blunder in creating modern Jihad. Obama's mistake of withdrawing 6,000 troops (the Republican's favorite trope) is like complaining about a gust of wind after building a house of cards.


Andrew Cockburn’s article “There Is Nothing the Turkish Government Can Do to Stop Isis” (http://www.unz.com/pcockburn/there-is-nothing-the-turkish-government-can-do-to-stop-isis/) brings to mind William Lind’s concept of “4th Generation Warfare” In short why are we spending so much money on nation to nation warfare (e.g. nine new ships for the navy this year) when the real problem is what we see in Turkey, Europe, etc.

I know that in the past you have been critical of Lind. But, that was before this ‘Terrorist’ thing got really going. I would what are your current thoughts?


PB et al

Yes, the "long pole in the tent" at Mosul is the poor quality of the troops. The US has now tried what? three times? to re-build Iraqi forces to replace the army we disbanded? Amusingly I see references here to the supposed leadership cadres derived from the army we disbanded. At the time of the disbanding we Americans spoke about them as dregs who should be left to starve with their families in the streets. Rather than starve they joined the rebellion against us. It seems to me that those men would be rather elderly by now. What would US/French/British casualties be at Mosul if we took over? They would be substantial. pl



Lind is a fraud who sold the notion of generations of warfare to ignorant generals who felt bad because they didn't know anything about revolutionary/guerrilla warfare. They didn't know anything about this because they never studied history. History is the basic knowledge base of the military profession but if you are ant-intellectual and prefer to spend your time kissing ass to get promoted that you end up understanding nothing about a war that you are committed to by political authority. At the beginning of the occupation of Iraq senior Army and USMC leadership could not even formulate in their minds the notion of a population in arms waging guerrilla war against them. Their pitiful response to this was to insist that the resistance war was rear area security operations conducted in cities. That idea was in their manuals. So, at first they labelled the resistance as "urban warfare." IOW they understood nothing of the situation they were in. Lind's genius was to tell them that they were not to be blamed for their ignorance because what they were experiencing was a new form of warfare, something that they could not be expected to understand. This, of course, is nonsense. There is nothing new about a levee en masse that results in partisan, i.e., guerrilla warfare against an occupier. History is full of such developments, but they knew no history. To return to your question - you think that what is happening in Syria and at Mosul is Lind's 4th Generation Warfare? It looks like plain old war to me. Oh yes - you think terrorism is something new! My god! pl


Thank you for your usual cogent response. However, while I don’t think that ‘conventional’ war is a thing of the past as you point out in Iraq and Syria; still, if I may, you did not address Cockburn’s contention “There is nothing the Turkish government can do to Stop Isis”. If Turkey and NATO doubled their conventional forces, would that stop ISIS attacks on their respective homelands?



Terrorism is a police, SWAT and intelligence problem. It is not "war." Conventional forces are irrelevant to this problem unless the terrorist insurgents capture something significant and try to hold it. pl

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