Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Iraq / Syria Regional War Updates ( October 18 - 19 , 2014 ) -- US Coalition air strikes effective in Northern Iraq and Kobane ( due to the presence of effective fighting forces on the ground ) while ineffective in Anbar where the Iraq Army can't hold its weight........ Al Qaeda shifting to support ISIS ..... Lebanon slowly being sucked into the ISIS war , Turkey trying to walk its delicate tight rope with the Kurds ........
Al-Qaeda’s positioning in Syria as a rival of ISIS has earned it a bizarre second lease on life in some peoples’ estimation, and even gave rise to the term “good al-Qaeda” referring to Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda wing in Syria, as opposed to ISIS, a former al-Qaeda wing turned independent faction.
It’s not quite the same thing as a statement from the parent al-Qaeda, but AQAP’s assessment is a reasonable facsimile, and suggests that even if the parent organization isn’t there yet, al-Qaeda is warming up to ISIS.
Which was perhaps inevitable, as the US war in Syria was launched against ISIS, but immediately expanded to include “Khorasan,” a US-invented term for Nusra, and gave the two groups another common enemy, and one who is attacking both at the same time.
The Obama Administration has made its war in Iraq and Syria extremely Syria-centric in recent days, but while insisting on the importance of allies on the ground, there is a total lack of any inside Syria.
The interest in finding a group to coordinate with has led the State Department to meet with Kurdish militias, even though they are known affiliates of terrorist organizations, as a way to fill the void.
While former Ambassador Robert Ford continues to tout the existing rebel factions as “proven reliable,” the links between them and al-Qaeda has many uncomfortable, and perhaps more importantly, they constantly lose in battle with ISIS.
Though the US imagines in the long run it can create some rebel faction more to their liking, in the meantime they will continue to cite their absence of allies as the reason for their failing war in Syria.
In his first news conference today on the new US conflict, Centcom chief General Lloyd Austin claimed Iraq is “incrementally recapturing” territory it lost to ISIS, saying it showed the US strikes are having an impact on the ground.
Gen. Austin’s example was the retaking of the Mosul Dam, which happened almost two months ago, and which involved Kurdish, not Iraqi, troops. US officials have been hyping this success since mid-August.
Absent from Austin’s assessment of the “recaptured” ground is that since retaking that dam, the Iraqi government has lost numerous towns to ISIS advances, particularly in the Anbar Province, where they’ve also lost several forward operating bases.
The value of the Mosul Dam is undeniable, but the Pentagon is playing fast and loose with the facts to claim that the retaking of that two months ago is vindication for their current war strategy, or that it suggests a momentum shift in the conflict.
Kurdish officials presented the battle for Kobani, a border town between Syria and Turkey, as going entirely in their favor tonight, claiming that ISIS has completely retreated from the town itself, and that the only fighting now is on the outskirts.
Yet the battle seems far from over, as ISIS has repeatedly pushed the Kurdish defenses in recent weeks. Kurdish fighterscontinue to flock to Kobani as well, suggesting they don’t believe the fight is really almost over.
And even the current optimism isn’t changing the US assessment, with Gen. Lloyd Austin saying it is still “highly possible” that ISIS will take the town, despite the US focusing virtually all of its warplanes on the area.
ISIS, as usual, is adapting, with Austin reporting ISIS fighters have stopped traveling in large, easy to target convoys and are avoiding radio communications in the hopes of making it more difficult for the US to strike them.