Friday, April 18, 2014

Iraq Burns Along With Syria As al-Qaeda's ISIS Takes Over Jihad War

The carnage in Syria and Iraq has taken a new turn.

While the war in Syria against Bashir Assad had appeared to be going his way because of infighting between jihadi insurgents, the situation has changed radically with the killing of al-Nusra front leader Abu Mohammed al-Ansari(aka Abu Mohammed al-Golani), his wife, daughter, brother and niece in a house in Ras al-Hosn, Syria. The assassination was headed by the now dominant al-Qaeda force, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams, the jihadi name for Syria (ISIS).

This adds to the momentum ISIS has gathered in it's ongoing assault in Iraq, which has the U.S. trained Iraqi Army reeling.

Since the western Iraqi city of Fallujah fell to ISIS in a major victory over Iraq's 7th and 1st divisions, in January of this year, the Iraqi Army has been unable to drive them out.These are highly trained jihadis, amny of them foreign born, with battle experience in the war against Syria's Assad. and the use of

Initially, the Iraqi army was routed and went into a headlong retreat to wards Baghdad, but then returned back to Fallujah in several failed attempts to retake the city. The Iraqi forces have been limited to sporadic shelling of the city, which hasn't done wonders for feelings of the natives towards the Iraqi government.

ISIS is so confident of their hold on Fallujah that they actually held a military parade through the city that featured captured and very gently used Iraqi HumVees and APCs the Iraqi army received courtesy of the American taxpayer. I also have to wonder how much of the arms ISIS is using now came originally from Moamar Khaddaffi's arsenals after out ill-advised adventure in Libya.

At this time, the Iraqi military has been desperately working to shore up a defense line around Baghdad to keep ISIS from advancing to the outskirts of the city.Some sources say that ISIS has already penetrated the outskirts of Baghdad, and that armed jihadis are distributing packets of candy to children with a note attached advising their parents that they are invited to attend “repentance” sessions held by ISIS. ISIS has also secured the loyalty of a number of Sunni tribal militias who remain independent but fight with ISIS against what they see as Shi'ite oppression.Anbar is essentially lost to Iraqi control control at this point. Even Abu Ghraib prison, only two miles from Baghdad was evacuated this week as ISI and its tribal allies approached, because it was about to be overrun.

Meanwhile, ISIS has been engaged in some interesting tactics. Rather than a frontal assault on the Iraqi lines, They've been concentrating on - wait for it - using water as a war weapon.This started when ISIS forces captured a strategic dam just south of Fallujah, closed all of the dam’s 10 gates and essentially created a moat with the waters of the Euphrates to make a military assault by government forces an even more implausible also has the effect of cutting Baghdad's water supply and interfering with the city's power, causing blackouts because of the reduced flow to the steam generators. A spokesman for the Iraqi Electricity Ministry said the power supply from Mussayab power station had decreased from 170 megawatts to just 90 megawatts, almost a 50% cut.

Not only that, but ISIS is actually using bulldozers and earth moving machines in an attempt to divert the Euphrates River from its course to the south towards central Iraq.The idea here is flood and isolate the Iraqi army positions now facing Falluja and cut off passage by road from Baghdad to army bases in central Iraq. If ISIS pulls it off, if will isolate the largest part of the Iraq army, cutting off its supply lines and making movement towards Baghdad slower and more difficult. And it will reduce water supplies and power to the predominant Shi'ite cities in the south.

According to my sources, one of the major reasons Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to Washington last March was to ask President Obama for a major shipment of new equipment, including Apache attack helicopters. The package was on hold, quite correctly, (primarily by Democrat Senator Robert Menendez)because the Senate wanted assurances Maliki wouldn't simply use the new toys to further repress Sunni civilians ala' Saddam. Then, there were questions about whether the Irawqi army should receive more U.S. weaponry, given how much of it ISIS captured from the Iraqi army during its headlong retreat. Also the Senate wanted questions answered about what if anything the Iraqis were doing to stop overflights of Iranian arms shipments to the Syrian government of Basher al-Assad. The Obama Administration managed to push the sale through, but only by spreading it out over three years. And that might not be soon enough.

This new war in Iraq is taking place against the backdrop of the upcoming April 30th Iraqi parliamentary elections. Maliki and the Shi'ite bloc began repressing Iraq's Sunnis as soon as the Shi'ites got into power and removing them from the army and police forces. The last elections were marked by fraud and Maliki simply invalidating the election of enough Sunni seats to guarantee a Shi'te majority.If the April 30th elections go down in the same fashion, more and more of Iraq's Sunnis are going to see ISIS in a positive light.

Two years ago, President Obama was telling the American people about how al-Qaeda was on the run. Thanks in large part to his own missteps and poor judgement, they're not on the run but on the advance.

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