Exciting times for ISIS

"The Iraqi government has lost control of the strategic city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, eyewitnesses say. Al-Qaeda-linked militants now control the south of the city, a security source told the BBC. An Iraqi reporter there says tribesmen allied with al-Qaeda hold the rest of Fallujah. Fighting there erupted after troops broke up a protest camp by Sunni Arabs in the city of Ramadi on Monday. They have been accusing the Shia-led government of marginalising the Sunnis. The recent fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi has pitted government troops on the one hand and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, and Sunni tribesmen on the other."  BBC


"A powerful al-Qaeda affiliate is on the defensive in north Syria, reports say, as it comes under attack from Islamist and other rebel factions. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is accused of tacitly assisting the regime and imposing a reign of terror on areas it controls. Dozens of fighters are reported to have been killed in clashes which erupted on Friday in Aleppo and Idlib provinces."  BBC


This situation is a perfect example of why we should stay out of the internal messes created in the ME by stirring the "pot" of revolution.  Western encouragment of the Arab Spring revolts further destabilized a political universe that had been weakened by American overthrow of the dictator Saddam.  Just as the neocons anticipated, this weakening brought on a wave of political change that has shaken the region to its "roots" and the process of violent change is nothing like ended.

In Syria ISIS is fighting the Islamic Front and the Free Syrian Army while the actual Syrian Army watches with what must be great satisfaction.

In Iraq, ISIS has taken advantage of the Shia run government's abusive treatment of Sunni Arabs to seize control of much of Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar Province.  In doing this they have some Sunni tribal allies.  The Government of Iraq also has Sunni tribal allies.

We created the basis for this situation in Iraq when we effectively transferred political power from the Sunni Arabs to the Shia Arabs.  The Sunnis despise the Shia.

The neocons will argue that if we had not left Iraq this would not have happened.  They would be wrong in arguing that.  This would have happened whenever we left.  Ten more years, fifty years, a hundred years, it mattered not. 

Why?  It is because the Iraqis are still who they were when we invaded the country.  Their struggle for power is real.  It is not a matter of misunderstanding and a lack of communication among the groups.  pl     



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32 Responses to Exciting times for ISIS

  1. Norbert M Salamon says:

    Sorry off topic:
    Lobelog.com has
    includes the lit or the 47 Senators

  2. VietnamVet says:

    The fall of Fallujah is a kick in the gut of anyone who served there. I flashed back to 1975 when I read the Washington Post article.
    Just, a few months ago John Kerry was beating the war drums for an American bombing campaign that would have aided ISIS. Israel and the House of Saud are provoking a disastrous Sunni Shiite Jihad that will spread from Beirut to Karachi.
    Today’s paper also had articles on DC Charter School corruption, DOD contractor fraud, and Boeing machinists vote to approve the change of their defined pension to a 401K plan. They had no choice to keep their jobs.
    The only way I can make any sense of the 21st Century is that we have government by and for corporations and crooks, led by ideologs and fools.

  3. Basilisk says:

    It was ever thus, and Iraq is not the only place.
    This makes me sick. We “broke it.” but we didn’t “buy it,” and had we bought it for ten, fifty or a hundred years, the outcome when the lid came off the pressure would still have been the same.
    Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the clinical definition of insanity.

  4. The Virginian says:

    With the next national elections not far away Maliki faces serious challenges on multiple fronts (the Sunnis, internal Shia opposition, the Kurds, Turkey, Iran), and whether he continues as premier is not certain. Regardless of whether Maliki remains or is replaced, the Shia dominated center is unlikely to see through the zero sum nature of Iraqi politics. As stated by Col. Lang, the violence underway is a very real competition, for power and survival. Baghdad’s support for Assad is aimed at squeezing the Islamist groups, but the return of fighters from Syria into Iraq will sorely test the Iraqi military’s capabilities. What turned the Anbari tribes against AQ was more their concern over the Islamists undermining / usurping of localized means of wealth accrual (ex. cross-border smuggling) and impact on tribal ties than anything else. Anbar can’t be pacified by Baghdad, and it along with Diyala, Ninevah, Salahuddin and Baghdad itself will continue to see bloodshed. At some point Baghdad may have little choice to cede greater power to its regions to maintain any concept of an Iraqi state within existing borders, or turn to all out war in which it would have limited ability to achieve “victory” and hold the state together.

  5. drifter says:

    Not fools. Their concerns are different than yours.

  6. toto says:

    What’s the chance of Iyad Alawi (or any nominally cross-sectarian group) actually winning the upcoming elections?

  7. Jose says:

    IMHO, this is the beginning of a Yugoslavia style partition in Iraq and maybe Syria. Let’s hope it does not spread across the region like fire.

  8. Jose says:

    With most of our elites either in Fiance/Scams or on the Government/Cheese what do you expect?

  9. Poul says:

    Will we see an attempt from the Maliki government to use the methods of Saddam Hussein to drown this rebellion in blood or is the present Iraqi Army too ineffective?

  10. Don Bacon says:

    The main purpose of the 2007 US military “surge” was to provide security to allow Iraq to reconcile its political differences, principally being the Shia-Sunni divide.
    The 2007 surge has been widely regarded as a US success, but since it failed politically, because Maliki never reconciled Shia-Sunni, it was actually a failure. Now we’re seeing evidence of that.
    Bush: ‘We need to change our strategy in Iraq’ — January 10, 2007
    “…To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution….”

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    So you will have the Jihadists and other Sunni malcontents residing in a new state consisting of the Syrian Desert?
    With no water and no oil income?

  12. The Virginian says:

    The US surge, with respect to the Battle of Baghdad, had the impact of halting the Shia militia’s push west in the city. As such what it accomplished was to see a decrease in security incidents in the capital, but no reversal of the Shia gains during the civil war. That new reality was frozen in place by Coalition action, and the push westward continues at a slower pace but with the IA and other security forces now the primary Shia actors. And if anyone thought that the short time span gained by military action would allow (or compel) Maliki to “reconcile” they were a tad off to say the least.
    Iyad Allawi is no better then the rest of the political elite, is a thug, and has lost both credibility and legitimacy given his actions in the wake of 2010. Maliki is no strategic visionary, but he divided then eroded Allawi’s support successfully – aided by Allawi’s own arrogance and foolish behavior. Until the moment that zero sum politics cease (perhaps after a renewed round of “tiring out” from bloodshed) Iraq’s landscape will remain fraught with the politics of survival across its various fault lines.

  13. Jose says:

    No, step 1 is getting what you can. Step 2 is getting what you want. Seek aid through patience and prayer…

  14. John says:

    SOSDD [Same ol’ ‘stuff’ different day] …
    Or as they used to say in the Vietnam jungle: “It ain’t no thing!”
    But it was. And most all under fire, knew it. 58,000 died! Some I served with and knew. Indeed my high school best friend died there at age 19.
    How many later died in Iraq? And for what?
    SOSDD! When will we ever learn!

  15. Don Bacon says:

    Wrong. Maliki could have let Sunnis back into government, and now he’s reaping what he sowed.

  16. confusedponderer says:

    I wonder if in some of the the Middle Eastern countries there is anybody who’d have allowed a minority to participate in ruling, tribal creatures that they are.
    I don’t see such a move realistic in either Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon or Iraq. The mentality appears to be very much that politics is a zero sum game and that what THE OTHERS win is a loss for themselves.
    They give no quarter and don’t ask for it. And all the players appear to be quite eager to draw outsiders in to tip the balance in their favour.
    Throw in some nasty and haughty Sunni sense of superiority and the history of persecution of Shia in Iraq, be it by Saddam or the Sunnis before him, and you can see why Maliki would be unwilling to share power with the Sunni minority. He has little mercy to expect from them.
    Iraqi man, whom Saddam almost had managed to forge in Iraq, died with him at the hands of US arms and ineptitude, and the country is back to primary loyalties.
    And now that the Shia-Sunni conflict has been Al Qaeda-ised, there is a new quality to the violence. Al Qaeda is fighting heathens in Iraq and Syria, and for victory, not for Sunni participation on government. That is an intractable conflict, as they are unlikely to win, so the carnage will continue in either Syria and Iraq.
    Maliki, had he been wiser, may have been able to forestall some of the radicalisation in Iraq by allowing for participations. But that assumes that the Sunni would have been able to accept that, and as for the Al Qaeda types, I hardly see that as realistic.
    That isn’t much different for Israel and their attitude towards Palestinians.
    That the Israelis have now seriously suggested that they would trade their Arab citizens to Palestine in return for land to settle on only clearly underlines that to the Israelis they are Goyim all the same, cannot be trusted, and that they’d rather be rid of them sooner or later, lest they corrupt their ethnocratic utopia with their presence, it’s a JEWISH state after all. Their Zionism is of the the Blut und Boden variety.
    Whenever the Israelis call in the US it is to screw over the Palestinians, Syrians, Egyptians, Iranians for them. That attitude to me appears to persist in the entire region, and perhaps the Lebanese manage to be a little worse still than the Israelis in that regard.

  17. The Virginian says:

    What Maliki should have done does not mean he was going to do it, regardless of Coalition wishes, thus your comment “wrong” seems more about wishful thinking than any approach based on reality.

  18. The Virginian says:

    There is a need to differentiate between what Maliki “should” have done and how his perception of interests, his mindset, and the mix of internal Dawa, intra-Shia and other pressures shaped his decision-making. An understanding of that would have in 2007, as it does now, suggest that Maliki is focused on holding onto power and from his perspective that means playing the ethno-sectarian card to the hilt. When he tried to back off of this in 2009-10 he lost ground tactically, but as your comments underscore tactics aren’t a substitute for strategy, and he has risked the potential of a centralized Iraqi state. Policy-making by the Coalition and assessments today that he will “do the right thing” are more wishful thinking than something rooted in reality.

  19. Fred says:

    Maliki could have let the Sunnis back into government? Only if he wanted to wind up dead. The US removed the Sunni elite from power and replaced them with Shia like Maliki. The later are not about to give up or share power.
    The ‘surge’ you mention above did nothing like you mention above. You should re-read what was written here or elsewhere about what actually curtailed the AQ terrorism in Western Iraq.

  20. Matthew says:

    Babak: Take a counter-intuitive approach. Before the Jihadi Outreak (wrongly called the “Syrian Uprising”), Assad had an underpeforming economy and a drought in the NE. He now has millions of fewer citizens. Over time, Assad will rebuild, but these refugees will become a huge burden to Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. Assad, quite properly in my view, set a good precedent by making the enablers of violence (particularly, Turkey and Jordan) carry the cost of the refugees.
    Aren’t Saudi Arabia and Qatar wonderful for the Middle East? (Sarcasm.)

  21. Bandolero says:

    Al Monitor just translated an Interview with Muqtada al-Sadr:
    I find it an interesting read – not only regarding how he changed since he studied in Qom.

  22. Matthew says:

    Virginian: A big problem with the Sunnis and “powersharing” is the torturers want to remain in charge of the prison. As you probably know, the Sunnis initially demanded the Interior Ministry, i.e., the security forces. Considering Iraq’s history, how could any Shia politician agree to that?

  23. Alexno says:

    “Why? It is because the Iraqis are still who they were when we invaded the country.”
    You are forgetting that the US deliberately provoked the sectarian war in Iraq, starting off with Phoenix-style killings in 2005, and then hitting on the idea of blowing up the Golden Dome in Samarra in 2006. An obvious development seeing that Steele was in Samarra for some time only a few months before the Dome was blown. The destruction sparked sectarian war very well, but it didn’t exist before.

  24. turcopolier says:

    My god! You really believe that crap? I suppose that you also think the US attacked itself on 9/11. I am sorry to see that you write from France. the French are given to this kind of fantasy but it is nevertheless a sad thing. The last thing the Bush Administration wanted was a sectarian civil war in Iraq. The IR crazed types among the Bushies and the neocons thought that sectarian hatreds and identities in Iraq and all the other countries of the region were merely masking developmental issues created by political oppression in these countries. They imagined (and said) that Iraqis were waiting to be liberated so that they could become “modern” and semi-European. Believing that, they stupidly and naively thought that Iraqi reaction to the destruction of all the instruments of the state would be to shed their ethno-sectarian identities and emerge as “Iraqi Man.” Yes, US forces killed a lot of Muqtada al-Sadr’ fighters in 2005. Guess what? He decided after that to become an actual politician and has not caused much trouble since then. There is no basis or evidence whatever for the US having had anything at all to do with the attack on the Golden Dome. I don’t know who Steele is and do not care. If yu actually think that there was no ethno-sectarian hatred in Iraq before the US led invasion, you must not know much about the country, Yes, we destabilized the political system but we did not create inter-communal hostility. pl

  25. Matthew says:

    Fred: How many times has the Colonel told us that these countries have no “loyal opposition”? As you note, the Sunnis want to govern Iraq. They will not recognize majority Shia rule.

  26. different clue says:

    Memory fades, but didn’t Alawi and his party win the largest plurality of parliamentary seats an election or two ago; and didn’t al Maliki’s group engage in some nasty trickery/treachery to prevent Alawi’s list forming the post-election government?
    If my memory is correct, winning another election won’t be enough for Alawi’s list to succeed, any more than winning the last one was.

  27. Alexno says:

    Did you watch the video ever? Sounds like you didn’t.
    You are forgetting what things were like before the invasion. But it’s your blog, and you can say what you like.

  28. Matthew says:

    John: If only reality confirmed to this “rock-solid” reporting, all problems would be solved. See http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-destroyed-irans-nuclear-program-already-last-year-leaked-intelligence-claims/
    Now that’s an information campaign!

  29. turcopolier says:

    Hey! Whoa! I have worked on and in the ME for forty years. I was head of ME intelligence for DIA for eight years. I have spent a lot of time in Iraq. Why would I have watched a video made by someone I never heard of? Who is this guy? Who are you? pl

  30. turcopolier says:

    OK. I read the Guardian piece. I am having dinner with someone I trust who would know about Steele and Coffman. I will let you know what he says. pl

  31. turcopolier says:

    I have inquired. It appears to me that the principal fault here on the part of these Americans was neglect of duty in not reporting their first suspicions to Petraeus that the Shia were behaving this way. as for the supposed eye witness reports of the presence of these officers at places where prisoners were being tortured I would tall you that in the ME there is no hesitancy in lying about such things. winning an argument is al that matters there. Steele is an armored oficer who had no real knowledge of COIN operations. The wiki article about him is mere slander. pl

  32. turcopolier says:

    Correction. I am informed that the US commander in Iraq was informed early and often and did nothing. pl

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