Friday, January 03, 2014
Al-Qaeda Wins Major Victory Over Iraqi Army
Al-Qaeda forces under the command of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi turned back an Iraqi army offensive with heavy losses, winning a major military victory.
Baghdadi’s troops decimated Iraq's 7th and 1st divisions, which were trained and equipped courtesy of Uncle Sam as some of the most elite troops in the Iraqi Army. Not only did the al-Qaeda forces defeat them and send them in headlong retreat towards Baghdad, but the jihadis were able to advance, capture and hold virtually all of Fallujah and most of Ramadi, the provincial capitol of Anbar. These are both key Sunni strong points in western and central Iraq.
The Iraqi forces attempted a counterattack to retake these areas(their fourth),but were thrown back with heavy losses. Whole units fled the battlefield, dropping those shiny new American arms behind them.
The subtext of this is the ongoing war in Syria.
Al-Baghdadi is a commander in an al-Qaeda group that calls themselves Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shams, the jihadis name for Syria. ISIS, as it's known is part of the Islamists rebels fighting Syria's Bashir Assad, Hezbollah and Iran for control of Syria.
ISIS has been operating in the Sunni areas of Iraq for some time, fueled by the current Iranian-backed Shi'ite government headed by Nouri al-Maliki essentially marginalizing the Sunnis in government and in Iraq's security forces. This was exactly the opposite of what Iraq's Sunnis were promised by General David Petraeus when they went on the U.S. payroll and fought al-Qaeda in the “Awakening” groups during the 2005 Surge.Now, a lot of them are fighting with ISIS against al-Maliki's Shi'ite forces.
It's important not to overlook Iran's part in all this. Iraq is essentially an Iranian colony now, with al-Maliki kept in power by the Shiite bloc led by Muqtada al-Sadr. Remember Mookie? Al-Maliki was prodded to attack the Sunni areas of Anbar by Iran, who saw it as a second front to put more pressure on the Syrian rebels. Instead, the al-Qaeda forces, allied with the Sunni tribesmen kicked their collective behinds in and sent them retreating back to Baghdad.
The Obama Administration's response is almost sitcom worthy. They're sending al-Maliki F-16s and drones. We might as well send them to Tehran or to Basher Assad.
The al-Qaeda victory, aside from the morale boost and a harvest of gently used only-dropped-once weaponry has some major political consequences. Rather than opening up a new front for the Shiite/Iran bloc, it has done just the opposite, allowing the Iraqi al-Qaeda fighters and their Sunni tribal allies to link up with al-Qaeda elements in Syria like al-Nusrah and increasing the pressure on Assad.Iran, Assad and Hezbollah had the war in Syria pretty much going their way until this happened. Now things have turned around, with consequences for other al-Qaeda fronts in Sinai and Jordan as well.
Not only that,but the Obama Administration came out looking ridiculously ineffectual in the eyes of both sides, since they made a point of shipping heavy weapons to the Iraqi government..many of which are now in the hands of al-Qaeda and ISIS.If you think about it and remember this president's early arming of jihadis in Syria and his clueless adventure in Libya, more heavy weapons have ended up in the hands of our enemies due to American efforts since he took office than any president in modern history.
So much for President Obama's brag that 'al-Qaeda's on the run'. But as you'll recall, President Obama bears a great deal of responsibility for al-Qaeda's resurgence in the Middle East.
One thing that bears mentioning, when we talk about responsibility. President Obama was very quick to pound his chest and claim he ended the war in Iraq, and a lot of his critics are blaming him for the current chaos. Neither is true.The disposition of forces agreement was signed in 2009 by George W. Bush before he left office, and it was al-Maliki, following his Iranian friends orders who insisted on a complete U.S. withdrawal. Barack Obama had nothing to do with it - he simply followed the agreement. He neither ended the war not 'lost' it - although he certainly did his very best to do the latter as a U.S. senator.
Iraq is going to puzzle historians in the future. We went in with the idea of building a nation out of something that never really existed, just a handful of ethnically diverse provinces of the old Ottoman villayet of Mesopotamia the Brits threw together after WWI. Our only real allies and the only ones who actually had a shot at nation building were the Kurds, who begged us to be theirr allies, put our bases there and to help them establish an independent Kurdistan. Their IDF-trained Persh Merga killed every al-Qaeda jihadi that came anywhere near their territory without our having to even spend the manpower to patrol it. We sold them out for the likes of Turkey's Islamist fascist leader Tayyip Erdoğan, and instead we placed our billion dollar bet on the Shi'ites and on al-Maliki, who spent the Saddam years cuddled up with our enemies the Ayatollahs.
We went in and made a huge (and justified) deal about Saddam being a genocidal monster who needed to be taken out. And after that happened, we sat back and did nothing while Iraq's Christians were brutalized and ethnically cleansed on our watch.
Our warriors, in spite of the way they were handcuffed by the politically correct politicians back home won an amazing military victory. Osama bin-Laden made the mistake of making Iraq the central front of his war on America, and our troops decimated al-Qaeda and pushed them, for the most part, out of the Middle East.
After which we essentially left Iraq in the hands of a politician allied with our enemies and went home, washing our hands of it, and the situation has now returned to internecine violence.
Iraq will unfortunately rank with Somalia as a futile and quixotic misuse of America's armed might.
It remains to be seen how this all turns out, but hopefully the American people learned something from it..about how proper and clear objectives are needed when we go to war, and about how carefully we need to choose the leaders who make those decisions. And also about the nature of the Muslim world. Because they are not like us, they do not want what we want and pretending that they do is a sure route to repeated folly.