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Posted on Jul 28, 2015 in Anbar, Elections-U.S., Foreign Policy Issues, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Israel, Kobani, Kurdistan, Middle East, Turkey, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Turkey finally joins fight against ISIS. Kurdish PKK attack Turkey. Iraqi Conundrum made more complicated.

What a merry go-around. The Kurdish Peshmerga have proven to be the best Iraqi fighters against ISIS. The Kurds have been asking for weapons from us directly, i.e., not handed out piecemeal from the weak Shia dominated Iraqi government. Something we should do, right? But wait. The Turks don’t want us to do that. We have been trying to get Turkey, the biggest power in the immediate region and a member of N.A.T.O., to let us use a base in Turkey for our air strikes against ISIS. We have also been after Turkey to help directly in the fight against ISIS. This past week they finally entered the fray, in a limited way, after attacks by ISIS on a Turkish city that lies on their border with Syria. They also finally agreed to allow us to use the air base, in exchange for us trying to create a safe zone in Northern Syria. So why don’t they want us to provide heavy military supplies directly to the Kurds to...

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Posted on Jul 2, 2015 in Anbar, Foreign Policy Issues, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kobani, Middle East, militia, President Obama, Ramadi, Shia, Sunni, tribal | 0 comments

Are we on a “fools errand” for trying to (successfully) train Shia to fight ISIS and stabilize Iraq?

  Last week we introduced the thesis that “peace candidate” Obama embraced Bush era policies in Iraq that have badly backfired. Now we are flailing about in search of a viable strategy to deal with Syria as well. Essentially, ever since we mistakenly failed to keep elements intact from Hussein’s Republican Guard we had become the law and order stabilizer of Iraq. At enormous cost of treasure and lives both among our forces and Iraqis themselves. The hostile sectarian nature of Iraq, primarily between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam, dominates the thinking and fighting on the ground. About six million Kurdish peoples with their own agenda of an independent Kurdistan live in Iraq, mostly in the northwest. Saddam Hussein was an ethnic Sunni as were the Republican Guard soldiers. The Shia, who trace their roots across the eastern border with Iran, number about half of Iraq’s population. They live mostly in an area of eastern Iraq, from Baghdad south. Iraq is the site of the Shiite holy...

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Posted on Jun 24, 2015 in Anbar, Foreign Policy Issues, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kobani, Middle East, militia, President Obama, Ramadi, Shia, Sunni, tribal | 0 comments

Obama continues Bush strategies in Iraq and we are in a costly “no win” situation.

President Barack Obama was elected on a platform that emphasized getting out soldiers out of Iraq. Through much controversy he managed to get most of our combat forces back home, but the serious question remains whether by doing so he contributed to the ISIS growth in Iraq. Similar concerns have been voiced over his caution in supporting the hodge-podge of anti-Assad groups in Syria. Some of these are friendly to the United States, some very much problematic, some downright hostile and potentially dangerous to both our interests in the region and to peace in the area in general. Not that those who are hostile to the U.S. are at all shy about asking us for weapons and air support. Whatever moves we make in Iraq or Syria seem to be fraught with traps and incredibly costly tabs. We have spent so much in this war to date that for those monies we could have provided free college tuition and medical care for years to come. Each “grand strategy” that...

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Posted on May 27, 2015 in Anbar, Foreign Policy Issues, Iraq, Israel, Kobani, Middle East, militia, Ramadi, Shia, Sunni, tribal, Uncategorized | 0 comments

McCain’s rantings against Obama lack of Middle East strategy. Understanding his urgings in context

  This past week, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain took advantage of the fall of Ramadi to attack, once again, President Obama’s foreign policies in the Middle East. He was especially critical of the ad hoc nature of our responses to instability in that region. He called for increased U.S. military presence in Iraq. Three points should be understood: 1) McCain rarely passes up an opportunity to attack President Obama, often with quite personal attacks, 2) He has called for more military involvement in every Middle Eastern crisis since the Arab Spring–and generally elsewhere as well, 3) Criticisms of American Foreign Policy as reactive, and not embracing some grand strategy, have been made throughout the past century, encompassing administrations of both parties. Let’s take a look at each of these three points. The first one involves some personal vendetta, perhaps a carry over from the 2008 Presidential campaign in which he was defeated by Obama. To understand fully the personal nature of his attacks on the President would...

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Posted on May 19, 2015 in Foreign Policy Issues, Iraq, Israel, Kobani, Middle East, militia, President Obama, Shia, Sunni, tribal, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Ramadi falls amid counter claims. Continuing to look like a sectarian fight. 5-24 update added.

The news from Iraq is contradictory. The first and perhaps most significant bit of news is that Ramadi, the Capital of Anbar Governorate, has fallen to ISIS. At the same time we are assured by Secretary of State John Kerry that he is “absolutely confident in the days ahead that will be reversed.” We are also told that the U.S. is “expediting weapons shipments to the Iraqis because of Ramadi. The national government, meanwhile , claims that forces are already on the way to retake Ramadi. The president of Anbar Provincial Council reportedly claims that the national forces still control thirty percent of Ramadi. Despite U.S. claims to the contrary, Peter Mansoor, military analyst of CNN, stated that: “This is a huge setback to Iraqi forces and to the U.S. strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS.” CNN notes: “Soon, a predominantly Shiite militia dispatched by Iraq’s Prime Minister is expected to join the fight, further swelling the ranks of anti-ISIS ground forces but also threatening to inflame sectarian...

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