Shiite Militias of Iraq Reject US Return, Threaten to Attack US Forces

By Juan Cole

The pan-Arab, London-based daily, “Al-Sharq al-Awsat” (The Middle East) reports that the major Shiite militias of Iraq are denouncing Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi for welcoming US air support in the fight against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Prime Minister al-Abadi himself rejected conventional US ground troops for Iraq on Wednesday, even as Gen. Dempsey said that they might ultimately be necessary. The militias are going further, saying Yankees go Home altogether.

Hamza Mustafa reports from Baghdad that Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Iran-backed Badr Corps, warned that the American plan is to take credit for the victories of the Iraqi armed forces and the popular militias. He called for a rejection of the plan and dependence solely on Iraqi military and paramilitary to defeat ISIL. The Badr Brigades are the paramilitary arm of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), led by Shiite cleric Sayyid Ammar al-Hakim. Al-Hakim condemned the exclusion of Iran from the international coalition opposing ISIL. The new foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Jafari also objected to the exclusion of Iran . His party, the National Reform Trend, is close to al-Sadr.

The Bloc of the Free (al-Ahrar) led by Shiite cleric Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr called on al-Abadi to reject the US plan. Muqtada al-Sadr warned the US against trying to reoccupy Iraq and threatened, “If you return, we will return.” This was a reference to his Mahdi Army, which had subsided in importance after the US withdrawal. Muqtada boasted that the militia had inflicted heavy casualties on US troops and forced the US out. He also said that if the Mahdi Army “Peace Brigades” discovered an American presence in any province where they were fighting ISIL, they should immediately withdraw from the fight. (For the US Air Force to give close air support to Iraqi troops, there have to be US Special Operations forces on the ground to paint lasers on the targets and to coordinate with the Iraqi Army).

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq (Gangs of the People of Truth) also condemned al-Abadi for welcoming foreign intervention.

The Shiite militias appear to have been key to the breaking of the siege of Amerli, where ISIL had planned to massacre the 20,000 Turkmen Shiites living there. The US did give close air support to them and the Iraqi Army, which they didn’t seem to mind at the time. But now they are all rejecting any US involvement. It is not clear that the Iraqi Army, which suffers from low morale, bad training and corruption, can do the job against ISIL by itself, without the aid of the militias.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports an anonymous Iraqi politician as saying that former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki made a mistake when he continued to rely on the militias and did not take advantage of the fatwa/ religious legal ruling of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in favor of the regular Iraqi Army to build it up and take recruits away from the militias.

It is difficult to tell how serious these militia leaders’ pronouncements are, since they might be attempting to save face with their followers even as they benefit from the US air cover. On the other hand, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq actually did in the past kidnap US troops, and the Mahdi Army fought them tooth and nail in spring of 2004, inflicting high casualties on them. Since President Obama’s air campaign requires Special Ops forces like Navy Seals or Green Berets to be on the ground with the Iraqi Army, they should apparently watch their backs. The people they are trying to help against ISIL don’t seem to appreciate their being there. And many of them seem to prefer Iran’s help.

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Related video

from a couple of months ago: The Telegraph: “Iraq Shia militias mobilise in face of threat from Sunni-led jihadists ”

Should US policy toward ISIL be Containment?

By Juan Cole

The US launched air strikes on Tuesday on ISIL targets, south of Baghdad and also in the north. The ones south of Baghdad were in support of the Iraqi Army, for the first time since the ISIL crisis broke in early June.

US close air support to the Iraqi army and the Kurdistan Peshmerga shouldn’t be necessary. The Iraqi military should be able to deploy helicopter gunships for its own defense. For reasons that are unclear, it apparently cannot, leaving Baghdad open to attack by ISIL. But the most effective campaigns in which the US air force has been involved have been more or less defensive. It helped the Kurds take back territory west of Erbil and around the Mosul Dam. It helped break the ISIL siege of the Shiite Turkmen town of Amerli, averting a massacre of thousands.

The problem is in going beyond stiffening Iraqi government and Kurdish resistance to the ISIL onslaught. For that, in Iraq, the US either needs to enable the invasion of Sunni Arab cities by largely Shiite and non-Arab (Kurdish) forces, or needs to stand up Sunni Arab national guards in the three major Sunni Arab provinces, and support them against ISIL. This latter task is complicated by the feelings of betrayal still suffered by Sunni Arab fighters who fought al-Qaeda in 2007 but were not rewarded with a government job, and whose lives were in danger after the US campaign wound down (al-Qaeda minds when you target them).

President Obama’s speech last Wednesday was a strange mixture of counter-terrorism and warmaking. Counter-Terrorism involves things like strategic precision strikes to foil terrorist groups. A war, in contrast, is a set of campaigns aimed at conquering and holding territory.

Obama even adverted to a bombing campaign against ISIL on the Syrian side of the border. This widening of the war, however, is not necessary, and in my view it is probably illegal in international law. It will be coupled with a $500 million training program for “vetted” “moderate” rebels in camps in Saudi Arabia. This latter program is too small to do much good; insofar as there will be heavy Saudi influence on it, it could do a great deal of bad.

A minimalist, defensible position for the US could have been to say that the US will intervene aerially to ensure that Erbil and Baghdad don’t fall, but that recovering the Sunni Arab areas that Nouri al-Maliki had alienated was up to Iraqi politicans and forces. And a minimalist strategy could have simply ignored the Syrian side of the border. It is true that ISIL has a big base in Raqqah and uses its Syrian assets to support its operations in Iraq. But ISIL successes in Iraq were in any case not mainly military but rather political.

Since this is so, the military position of ISIL in Syria isn’t really so central to its taking of Mosul, Tikrit, etc. Nor would holding Raqqah help it to hold Mosul if Mosul turned against it.

The US was very good in the Cold War at containing Stalinism but very bad at defeating a guerrilla group like the Vietcong. It was the former that mattered in the end.

Unfortunately, the logic in Washington usually ratchets toward the macho and the simplistic. Obama at first admitted that the US could only degrade ISIL, not destroy it. But then on Wednesday the chorus of critics pushed him to say that his goal is eradication of the organization. But the tools he announced for his effort, including Yemen-style drone and fighter-jet attacks, were not sufficient to the task of eradication. Containment is doable. It isn’t clear that an air war is.

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Euronews: “US general says ground troops an option in Iraq”

Must Muslim Americans Condemn ISIL? Must Turkish Jews Condemn Gaza War?

By Juan Cole

During the recent Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, a controversy broke out in Turkey about whether Turkish Jews were required to condemn Israel’s actions, as some pro-Palestinian Turks suggested.

Turkish Jewish intellectuals wrote in an open letter to the newspaper Hurriyyet ["Liberty," Istanbul]:

“”Israel’s latest attack on Gaza led, once again, to cries of ‘Why does the Jewish community remain silent?’ A campaign was even launched that claimed that the Jews of Turkey bear responsibility for what Israel does in Gaza.

“No citizen of this country is under any obligation to account for, interpret or comment on any event that takes place elsewhere in the world, and in which he/she has no involvement. There is no onus on the Jewish community of Turkey, therefore, to declare an opinion on any matter at all.

“It is anyway not possible for a community of 20,000 to declare a unified opinion. No human community can be monolithic and the Jewish community is not. Its members include people of all kinds, with a great variety of views.”

Many Jewish organizations stigmatized the demand as Antisemitism.

Asking people to take stances based on their ascribed identity (what they were born into most often) rather than on the basis of their individual choices in life goes against everything that modern human rights thinking stands for. It is like forcing all Russian-Americans to say publicly what they think about Vladimir Putin.

So if all this is correct, and it certainly is, why do right wing Americans continue to demand that Muslim-Americans condemn Muslim extremists in the Middle East? They have nothing to do with the latter and aren’t responsible for them. Some of the inhabitants of the American Southwest in the early modern period were secret Muslims from southern Spain who had been forcibly converted to Catholicism by the Inquisition. My birthplace, Albuquerque, is an Arabic word (al-Barquqi). Some 10% of the some 4 million Africans kidnapped and trafficked to Southern landowners as slaves in the US before the slave trade was abolished were Muslim. Hundreds of thousands of people practiced Islam in North America long before there was a United States. The White House was built with slave labor and likely some of that was Muslim labor. Some of the founding Fathers likely owned Muslim slaves. As late as the 1930s, elderly ex-slaves reported in interviews that they remembered their mothers bowing toward the east at dawn. Some Arab-American Muslims can trace their family roots in the US back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The religion is an American religion, deeply interwoven with American history and Muslim-Americans are not responsible for developments in the contemporary Middle East.

So they shouldn’t have to, but they do:

VOA: “US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State”

Top 5 Contradictions in Obama’s Emerging ISIL Strategy

By Juan Cole

In the past week, Secretary of State John Kerry has marshaled support of some sort from both European nations and from countries in the Middle East for the US push against ISIL. Unfortunately, the resulting coalition is riddled with contradictions that may well cripple it. Here a some of the more important obstacles to a smooth alliance or coherent war plan.

1. Kerry deeply wanted buy-in from Egypt, the most populous Arab state and the most important military power among the Arabs. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, however, insisted that the strategy be wider-ranging than just a push against ISIL He wanted a campaign against “terrorism” in general. Al-Sisi’s government has declared devotees of political Islam, i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood, to be terrorists. Al-Sisi believes he can “turn” Obama, getting him to stop criticizing Egypt for the overthrow of the Morsi (Muslim Brotherhood) government, and that the US need for him gives him a trump card in this regard.

2. There are hundreds of guerrilla groups fighting in Syria. Some of them have given fealty to the the so-called Islamic State. Others have joined a rival organization that is more Salafi in coloration, the Islamic Front (strong in Aleppo). The National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army are yet another force, heavily dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and now much weakened. So if Obama agreed with al-Sisi to pursue a global ‘war on terrorism’ together, he would be in the difficult position of opposing the Free Syrian Army and of agreeing to help crush the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood– among the major opposition groups to both ISIL and the Baath regime in Damascus.

3. That is, Obama’s desire to support a “moderate” opposition will lead him to back to the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria. But Saudi Arabia, one of Obama’s major partners, has declared the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, and they have the money to make that stick. With Egypt and Saudi Arabia against the National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army (because of their Muslim Brotherhood ties), Obama by allying with them is basically allying with the murky Islamic Front, which has some al-Qaeda elements and now has turned openly anti-democracy and anti-rights for minorities.

4. Saudi Arabia will provide training camps for the rebels of the “moderate” opposition. But it is rumored that the Saudis are behind the splinter group from the Free Syrian army, the “Islamic Front.” It rejects democratic elections. The Islamic Front is full of people who have continued to have rigid religious views but who are trying to find new allies. The Saudis will be training people, in other words, very much like the Islamic State fighters in their fundamentalism, but who are less hostile to Saudi Arabia and perhaps slightly less openly brutal. That’s a “moderate” Sunni opposition?

5. Iran is a much more promising ally for Obama But because of hardliners in both countries, Obama won’t be able openly to ally with Iran Still, operations by the Jerusalem Brigade of Iranian special forces such as the one to break the ISIL siege of Amerli are at least effective. The downside is that that will look like a Christian/Shiite crusade against Sunni Arabs. Effective militarily, perhaps, but poison politically.

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Related video added by Juan Cole

Aljazeera International: “Egypt wants wider ‘anti-IS’ campaign Al Jazeera”

Media, Politicians should stop Letting ISIL Manipulate them

By Juan Cole

Ever since George W. Bush invaded Iraq and created the circumstances under which al-Qaeda could take root and flourish there from 2003 forward, al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (which later styled itself the “Islamic State of Iraq”) has taken captives and has beheaded them on film. It was doing this in 2004

These acts of public brutality against a helpless individual are intended in part to announce that despite their military superiority, Westerners are not 10 feet tall and can be cut down to size. They announce leadership and encourage angry young men to join ISIL rather than one of its many rivals. They also push Western publics to demand reprisals. Reprisals in turn can be used by the radical group as proof to its followers that it really is being unjustly targeted by the big bad superpower. It is a passive aggressive form of terrorism.

For these reasons, I don’t typically talk about kidnappings or beheadings of captives at this blog. It is an artificial phenomenon carried out precisely for people to talk about ISIL.

In the UK, the killing of the aid worker David Haines by ISIL comes at a time when the government is divided. Foreign Minister Philip Hammond had said last week that the UK army military would not be aerially bombing ISIL. The PM David Cameron heard about this and contradicted it publicly. This show of disunity on the part of a prominent America ally is the sort of thing the “Islamic State” group is going for. Syria could actually be bombed in part because of ISIL’s barbarous action.

It seems to me that editors should refuse to play along with this sick game.

The fact is that almost no news organization covers the killing of American troops in Afghanistan any more. If it happens it is on page 17, and this had been the case for years. So let’s get this straight. The Taliban can actually kill US troops without our headlining the fact. But the slaughter of an innocent captive is front page news. These are editorial decisions, not acts of nature.

Related video:

RT: “‘ISIS killing far more Muslims than they can admit’

Middle East “Allies” decline to Commit Forces, Resources against ISIL

By Juan Cole

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting in Jedda with ten Middle Eastern foreign ministers produced a communique on Friday, but little more. The regional states promised to do more to stop the transit across their territory of volunteer vigilantes seeking to join the so-called “Islamic State” of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to stop their citizens from sending money to the extremists. That neither of these steps had been taken earlier shows how unseriously Middle Eastern states took the ISIL challenge.

On Friday, faced with another visit of the indefatigable Mr. Kerry, state officials in Cairo, Egypt, were careful to say that they would and could not devote troops on the ground to defeat ISIL. Cairo maintains that its troops are already stretched thin by their current tasks . The Egyptian military is deployed within the country to keep order and to stigmatize the previous regime, on the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. In Sinai and along the Red Sea coast, guerrillas stage frequent attacks on Egyptian troops. In any case, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has other things to do with his army than deploy it directly against ISIL. Perhaps if he stopped maintaining that all Muslim Brothers are terrorists he might have some troops left over with which to deal with ISIL.

Turkey, likewise, has announced that it doesn’t want to get involved with ISIL. The Turkish government has even declined to allow the US to fly anti-ISIL missions from Incirlik Air Base. They will only allow US forces to use Turkish air bases for logistics, i.e. things like ammunition resupply.

Jordan’s main role is apparently intelligence cooperation.

It is a true irony that the two most enthusiastic regional powers in fighting ISIL are Iran and Syria. The Syrian deputy foreign minister explicitly offered Washington an alliance if it wanted one. But the Obama administration has no wish to ally with the brutal Baathists.

As for the West, aside from the UK and Australia, France is stepping up, apparently with an offer to deploy air power against ISIL in Iraq. A Socialist ally may be enough to make the Congressional Tea Party’s heads explode.

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Related video:

Euronews: “Paris looks set to join fight against Islamic State in Iraq”

Russia denounces Obama Plan for Syria Air Strikes as Violation of Int’l Law

By Juan Cole

Russia on Thursday pushed back against President Obama’s state plans for taking on the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) in Syria.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich remarked on television: “The US president has spoken directly about the possibility of strikes by the US armed forces against ISIL positions in Syria without the consent of the legitimate government,” “This step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law.”

The Russian ambassador to the United States, Vitaly Churkin insisted that the Syrian government would have to give its consent, otherwise the operation to bomb ISIL in Syria “will complicate international operations and will pose problems for Russia as well as for many other countries respecting international law, including China. . . Respect for international law is necessary so that the international community is able to take consolidated actions on a problem as complicated as this one and if it [the US] opts for such actions, its choice will be highly regrettable and will create obstacles for further cooperation…”

Russia is divided over the new US initiative. It is desperately afraid of ISIL (in which Chechen fighters serve) and happy enough that the US had decided to intervene against it. But it doesn’t want the US overthrowing Bashar al-Assad and trying to turn Syria into a US sphere of influence.

Britain’s government is divided over the international legality of any bombing raids on Syria. Foreign Minister Philip Hammond had ruled out British air strikes on that country but Prime Minister David Cameron says that they are still on the table.

For my overview of the legal issues, see this blog entry

ISIL in Iraq is unambiguous, and there the Obama administration has Russia and Iran as behind the scenes allies in defeating the terrorist organization. ISIL in Syria is also opposed by Russia and Iran, but they want the Baath regime of Bashar al-Assad to be the beneficiary of ISIL’s defeat. The Obama administration imagines that there is still a “moderate” opposition that it can back against both ISIL and al-Assad.

In essence then, in Iraq the outside great powers are on the same page. But in Syria, the Obama administration is setting up a future proxy war between itself and Russia once ISIL is defeated (if it can be), not so dissimilar from the Reagan proxy war in Afghanistan, which helped created al-Qaeda and led indirectly to the 9/11 attacks on the US. Obama had earlier argued against arming Syrian factions. My guess is that Saudi Arabia and other US allies in the region made tangible backing for the Free Syrian Army on Obama’s part a quid pro quo for joining in the fight against ISIL.

In Jedda, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the situation in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine were not so tragic, Russian expressions of concern over international law in Syria would be laughable. Kerry secured support for the US push against ISIL from 10 Middle Eastern countries in Jedda, though it remains to be seen whether this resolution is more than lip service.

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Related Video:

RT: “US strikes, intervention against ISIS in Syria could turn against army’

Obama’s ISIL Actions are Defensive, Despite Rhetoric of going on Offense

By Juan Cole

President Obama’s speech launching his war on ISIL avoided the qualifications that he had earlier made, which had produced caviling inside the Beltway from politicians who confuse careless belligerency with decisiveness.

From a language of containing ISIL, he was forced to speak of degrading and destroying it. He went back and forth between trying to reassure the left wing of the Democratic Party that he had not suddenly been possessed by the ghost of Dick Cheney and assuring the skittish American people that he was going to make mincemeat of the terrorist American-beheaders.

Analysts will focus on his four-step program of fighting ISIL, but it is in the president’s analogies to his present battle that we find clues to what he really expects to happen. He says that this is not a war as Iraq and Afghanistan were wars, i.e. with the commitment of several divisions of conventional US ground troops. He cautioned:

“But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

Invoking Yemen and Somalia is a signal of minimalism in every way. On MSNBC, veteran, experienced and brilliant correspondent Richard Engel took apart this analogy. He pointed out that Yemen and Somalia are holding actions but that in Iraq the US and its allies would have to take territory.

But what if Obama is talking big but carrying a soft stick? What if he really does mean he has a Yemen-like situation in mind?

What if Obama wants to prevent the fall of Baghdad, Erbil and even Riyadh? What if he is privately skeptical about Baghdad recovering Mosul any time soon? He has after all used drones in Waziristan in northwest Pakistan not to inflict military defeat but for tactical advantage. Iraq and Syria are the new Waziristan.

Yemen is of course a mess. In the north you have a Zaidi Shiite rebellion, the Houthis, who recently have threatened the capital, Sanaa. In the south you have secessionists of various stripes, some nationalists and some fundamentalists. On the Red Sea coast you have Sufis and some Salafi fundamentalists, the latter shading at one end of the spectrum into al-Qaeda. You also have al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsuala (AQAP) in the south and east. A third of Yemenis go to bed hungry every night. The country suffers from lack of water. Oil exports are limited. It is the poorest Arabic-speaking country. US air strikes and drones have arguably alienated and radicalized more Yemenis than they have killed al-Qaeda members.

The best that can be said for US actions against AQAP in Yemen is that they may have forestalled AQAP and kindred groups from taking and holding some provinces. For instance, AQAP took over Zinjibar and some other towns in Abyan Province in 2011, but in 2012 a government offensive backed by US air power and aided by grassroots anti-al-Qaeda popular committees expelled AQAP from Abyan.

True, AQAP relocated east to Hadramawt, and it still kills Yemeni soldiers, but it is farther from Sanaa now and it really did lose Abyan province, which it had hoped to make a caliphate.

Obama hinted in his speech that he wants to help Baghdad and Erbil take back towns from ISIL just as Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the president of Yemen, took back Zinjibar. And just as AQAP hasn’t disappeared in Yemen, Obama expects ISIL to be around for a while. In essence, the Yemen policy has de facto yielded a sort of containment with regard to AQAP, though how successful it will be in the long run can be questioned.

What if Obama is a sharper reader of the Middle East than his critics give him credit for? He knows ISIL is likely not going away, just as, after 13 years, the Taliban have not. US military action may even prolong the lifetime of these groups (that is one argument about AQAP) even as it keeps them from taking more territory.

Don’t listen to his expansive four-stage program or his retooled, stage-managed John Wayne rhetoric. Look at his metaphors. He is telling those who have ears to hear that he is pulling a Yemen in Iraq and Syria. He knows very well what that implies. It is a sort of desultory, staccato containment from the air with a variety of grassroots and governmental forces joining in. Yemen is widely regarded as a failure, but perhaps it is only not a success. And perhaps that is all Obama can realistically hope for.

The White House: “President Obama Addresses the Nation on the ISIL Threat”

3 Years War? Obama to Bomb Syria in fight against ISIL

By Juan Cole

Juliet Eilperin and David Nakamura at WaPo report on a Monday evening dinner at the White House attended by foreign policy experts, in which President Obama expressed confidence that he had the authority to bomb ISIL positions in Syria.

In other reports, Obama officials have leaked that they think this is a 3 years war. (Ronald Reagan began vastly increasing the aid to Afghan rebels against the then Communist government in Kabul in 1982, and US counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in that country is still going on in 2014, 32 years later; so three years have a way of becoming multiplied by 10).

Everyone should just understand that the social science literature finds that external interventions typically extend, not shorten, civil wars, as Marc Lynch has pointed out.

At the same time, Obama appears to envisage arming and training the “moderates” of the Free Syrian Army, who have consistently been pushed to the margins by al-Qaeda offshoots and affiliates. Private billionaires in the Gulf will continue to support ISIL or its rival, Jabhat al-Nusra (the Succor Front, which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda). Strengthening yet another guerrilla group will, again, likely prolong the fighting. Moreover, in the past two years, Free Syrian Army moderate groups have gone radical and joined Nusrah or ISIL at an alarming rate. Defectors or defeated groups from the FSA will take their skills and arms with them into the al-Qaeda offshoots.

In Iraq, while giving the Kurds and the Iraqi army close air support against ISIL has already borne fruit when the local forces were defending their ethnic enclaves, it hasn’t helped either largely Kurdish forces or the (largely Shiite) Iraqi army take Sunni Arab territory. Several campaigns against Tikrit have failed. The only thing worse than this failure might be success.

Success would mean smart phone video making its way to YouTube showing US bombing urban residential buildings full of Sunni Arab families in support for a motley crew of Kurdish (non-Arab) fighters and Shiite troops and militiamen. Helping such forces take Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, would make for a very bad image in the Sunni world.

US hopes of enlisting Sunni “tribes” led by people like Ahmad Abu Risha are probably not very realistic. Sunni notables in the cities and ex-Baath officers need to be convinced to break with ISIL. One might ask where all the Iraq oil money has gone. With Brent crude mostly over $100 a barrel in recent years, and Iraq exporting 3 mn barrels a day or so, the government should be enormously wealthy. But Sunni Arabs complain of poverty, unemployment and no services or electricity. What’s wrong with this picture? Inefficiency and corruption are part of the story of the disaffection of the Sunnis in Iraq; and those faults are in the main US ally!

Giving close air support to Middle Eastern groups requires US special forces on the ground, to paint lasers on the targets. And if the campaign isn’t finished in 3 years, there will be pressure from Washington hawks to commit troops (there already is). Governments don’t like to be seen failing, and sometimes will double down in a gamble.

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Related video

ARIRANG NEWS: “U.S. launches airstrikes around Iraq′s second largest dam, Obama to announce strikes”