Word out of Iraq from yesterday is quite different the what I see in the morning war coverage out of MSM/corporate media.
-- Over in Iraq the coalition has set up two large-scale victories in the north.
-- Same time, everyone over there observes a sea change to Sunni tribal loyalties in Anbar Province.
Every bit of news for major events runs against ISIS.
The actions at Ramadi and Palmyra ??? The headlines? What is going on there?
The former was a skirmish in Iraq that cost fifteen government lives. That's fewer than get killed in a typical suicide bombing at a mosque. ISIS took one building complex. The latter, at Palmyra, Syria, featured looting, pillaging, rape and mass murder at a neutral city that had no military defenses. This was not an Assad stronghold. It wasn't "Assad" at all.
ISIS had held the residential center of Ramadi since June, 2014, when ISIS first rolled in. At first the local Sunnis had loved them.
This morning our corporate media focus exclusively to these two actions at Ramadi and at Palmyra. "A setback" is the phrase, linked to file film of Vietnam and the Tet Offensive from 1968. President Obama's strategy is judged to be "failing."
Compared to what is really happening, it seems strange.
John McCain is on "Face the Nation" saying that there is "no strategy." This is the guy who met with Muslim Brotherhood people in Syria and called them "Free Syrian Army."
Contrast with the most recent updated map. Here is what has happened:
Simple map: ISIS is getting wiped out in the northern part of Iraq.
And in Anbar Province, the western section, murdering thousands of Sunni civilians has reversed tribal support so it is uniformly against them.
In Syria the attack on Palmyra forms up as madness. The city, itself, has been neutral for years. Surrounded by Nusrah Front since 2012. The souk has been wide open and they have come in an bought whatever was available. Never a shot fired. And now ISIS has run amok, attacked these neutrals and killed 300 or so for no discernible reason.
Bob Shieffer is on CBS saying that the war is in disarray. That the war is near to being lost. Shieffer is the certified Old Guy who runs "Face the Nation" for CBS. Thing is, he is talking about anti-ISIS forces. He has no idea that of the military forces involved, it is the ISIS crews that are getting annihilated.
Mosul is Surrounded.
That is today.
ISIS had rolled into Mosul with full support from the 2,000,000 residents of that city. They enjoyed a big parade, guns firing. Hot time back May and June of 2014.
Iraqi Security Force soldiers at Mosul had been ordered to stand down, Yes, to "run away." The alternative, then, was to shoot into crowds of locals mixed with ISIS supporters once the fight got to downtown.
Then in June of 2014 the ISIS invaders of Iraq sent some 7,000 fighters down out of Mosul. Those attack groups were formed into two prongs.
The ISIS military leaders at Mosul, mostly former Army officers from Saddam, expected to move on south and take three major dams. This effort would have paralyzed the country by knocking out electricity generation and controlling water. (They went zero for three at dam taking.) ISIS also expected to take Tikrit and then Samarra with the Golden Mosque which their Salafi fanatics intended to raze to the ground.
Prong # 1. After the June takeover at Mosul, some 5,000 of the 7,000 advancing fighters and suicide volunteers went down south through Amerli aiming to flank Baghdad. They expected to take over Diyala Province to the east.
This force fully expected to generate a popular uprising. Both militarily and politically, none of it worked out. The word "stupid" characterizes pretty much everything they did from battalion level on down.
The largest group lost a big battle at Amerli last September/October. Then the forward assault teams were eliminated in detail with drone strikes, conventional bombardment, and small arms infantry actions when their very limited ammunition stores were depleted.
Prong # 2. A second prong took 2,000 fighters and suicide volunteers straight south to Tikrit. These were the people who murdered hundreds of Iraqi Air Force trainees and cadets. As many as 1,700 by local estimates. "Stupid" fits. They murdered these kids instead of following the plan and making an all out assault to take Tikrit Dam. That dam has to be the single most critical asset going down the Tigris River. They were so carried away getting their hands bloody that never even threatened it.
This Tikrit prong lost a battle at Tikrit last July. From there their forces dug in and invested the southwest sector of Tikrit. They also spread out, looting villages all over the region.
Love the Bomb or Not
Look at that map, above, from today.
The smudge off to the east from the Baiji refinery is of particular interest. That smudge is what is left of the two prongs that came south out of the ISIS northern invasion.
There's maybe 1,500 ISIS fighters trapped in there. That's generous. On a geo map that is the Little Zeb River basin.
The Kurds report that their ammunition is low. Kurdish artillery lob in mortars at close range and nothing comes back. To repeat: that is all that's left from the two prongs, the 7,000 fighters that rolled south last June.
At Mosul the rear guard there and a small force at Tal Afar are encircled by Syrian Kurds to the north and west, by Kurdistan Iraq and Iranian Kurds to the east, and by the coalition to the south and southwest.
Kurds and Why Not?
There's still a 100 kilometer section to the southwest from Mosul that needs strengthening. No worry. Really, no problem. The ISIS rearguard are far too stupid, from what we've seen so far, to realize that getting out of there a.s.a.p. is a do-or-die problem.
Stalingrad does not appear in the Quran or the Sunni Haddiths. It would be heresy for these fanatics to learn from what happened at Stalingrad, ending February of 1943.
Anbar Province is Now Anti-ISIS
This is a tribal thing. ISIS has murdered people in every major tribe.
What has been happening in Anbar goes directly to murders of Sunni civilians. That's by the hundreds a week and the pattern goes back for months. ISIS in Anbar has no access to Shi'ia, Yazidi or Chrtistian civilians. So they go off killing Sunnis.
They are psychopaths. That is how they are recruited. Killing people is what they do.
Sunni tribes face any number of problems dealing with the Baghdad government. Baghdad is the problem. Largely that is an echo of the 700,000 Shi'ia bodies found in mass graves from the Saddam regime.
The Iraqi Shi'ia are never going to forget that.
Saddam had Shi'ia Ba'athists in his organization. But for Shi'ia who were not Ba'athists, his dictatorship killed on a scale that dwarfs what ISIS has been doing. Saddam's secret police punished dissent and disorder by killing family members by the dozens.
The Anbar Sunnis have been getting hammered one way and the other for a decade and more.
This was brought to a boil in 2003/2004 when J. Paul Bremer came in and reversed the basic employment policies that the Allies had applied during the post-WW II de-Nazification program. He was supposed to copy that program. He didn't. That 1940's occupation in Germany never, ever issued a blanket prohibition against employing Nazi Party members. It was understood back then that everyone in management positions had been required to become Party members.
Bremer prohibited employment of Ba'athists. This fell most heavily on the Sunnis as there were no alternatives. He also shut down the public health clinics all over the Sunni tribal areas.
All this was good for Perpetual War.
It took $30,000,000 a month 2006-2008 to get the main Sunni tribes to call off their anti-Western insurgency. What else did they have to do? Getting Bremer and his ilk out of Iraq was their only hope.
"Sunni Awakening" was 100% a PR cover for bribery.
When the so-called Iraqi democracy came in, Sunni tribes got the short end of that stick.
"Hello, ISIS !"
When ISIS returned to Iraq in 2014, the Anbar tribes welcomed them. The public gave them support. Half of Ramadi. Parts of every city from Fallujah to al-Qa'im. It's not the fault of Sunni tribal leaders that the ISIS fighters turned out to be psychopaths.
These people have had a run of bad luck for the ages.
Today that support for ISIS has been burned to the ground. ISIS fighters are such low quality, so vicious that every one of the Sunni tribes in Anbar has set to resisting them.
The worst of it is the murders. 500 at Hit. Another 500 locals at Ramadi, done for no observable purpose. They have not had a month over the last year that passed without an ISIS slaughter in Anbar.
Stupid, you betcha. Every abusive action has an equal and opposite reaction. (I got that from Newton.)
Support for ISIS in Anbar, today, is down to what a conqueror gets from a subject people. There are no crowds for them. Nobody out waving the little black flags unless there are guns being waved in their faces.
The girls wear their hoods/burkahs. Like so many wingless hawks. The modern world cannot be seen. Their children cannot be educated.
Overwhelming support for ISIS from a year ago has turned to resentment and grief. The Imams do not support their actions. ISIS foreigners are feared, every one of them.
When ISIS leadership called a meeting at al-Qa'im early last November, the locals passed information to ISF loyalists. A thermobaric bomb was dropped on them from a helicopter. Killed them all. Depends who you talk to, whether al-Baghdadi the "Caliph" was killed. A recent audio tape from ISIS appears to be a fake -- if anything that indicates that he is dead.
Anbar without Sunni tribal support? How does that count for ISIS?
They're there in force, but politically they are dead to the Anbar Sunnis.
And attacking Palmyra in Syria made no sense militarily. Nusrah Front controlled that area three years ago. It's not connected to the Alawite tribe. There is no military base.
Slaughtering civilians leads to recruiting more psychopaths ??? Is that why the ISIS fighters have been doing the mass murders in Anbar and at Palmyra?
Is that what they call logic?
If so, ISIS is a pyramid scheme for psychopaths.
Based on what is happening up north, ISIS in northern Iraq is disintegrating. Geography worked against them up north from the time they split off two prongs going south.
If they had taken the big dams, that might have worked out differently. The Baghdad would have had to send the whole of the Iraqi Aemy up to retake them.
But big dams don't exist in the Quran and the Sunni Haddiths. The Iraqi Ba'athist generals failed to impress on their "Caliphate" masters that modern assets count more than cutting throats.
ISIS did get control of the dam north of Mosul. Temporarily. But they just let it go. Not a big deal. Local Kurds took it back -- no Special Forces, no professionals required.
I see no way that the ISIS effort in Iraq can be sustained. When Mosul falls, the area of the "Caliphate" is reduced. The breadth of their Sharia Law system is diminished. The doctrine of perpetual expansion goes away in a day.
At the least you will be the Anbar Sunnis take to laying in IED's on ISIS convoys. And sniper activity. And assassinations.
It's a hard luck life for psychopaths.
In Syria the situation changes for ISIS because the geography is different. Turkey was always the # 1 route for war materials coming in for ISIS. Turkey keeps on pushing to remove the Assad regime, for whatever reason, so you have to expect this resource will remain in place.
If the coalition in Iraq can carry out surround-and-annihilate operations in Anbar, similar to the north, then it seems possible that they can continue on into Syria. They certainly have the numbers going for them. Where ISIS is down to doing raids with 200 and 500 fighters, the coalition sends full divisions of 10,000 to 18,000 ordered light-infantry/militia and supporting artillery. The coalition cleaned out Tikrit with fewer than 20 casualties.
A more pleasant alternative will see ISIS breaking down to units that fight each other.
They're not much internally but gangs of foreign bandits. What rises must converge; what falls goes to shxt.
That's ISIS. And contrary to corporate press and their Perpetual War bxllshxt, ISIS blew it over the last year and they're not coming back.
Iraq looks to be another year. That's to annihilate what is left of ISIS in Iraq. 98% of it.
The Ramadi skirmish? No, really no. ISF troops were ordered back to their bases.
Syria could take two or three years. When ISIS loses the north of Iraq their recruiting will have to fall back. What else? You will see hundreds of interviews online, local people relating what animals they were.
Give people safety and they will tell their stories.
Between the Jordanian Air Force pounding ISIS 24/7/365 and artillery coming steadily on the firing lines supporting the Syrian government, the ultimate battle in Syria goes over to recruitment. Jordan is saying nothing about Assad. ISIS is being driven away from Damascus by artillery --
We could also see a deal where the Kurds take Raqqa and keep it. Expand Kurdistan across what was northern Iraq and eastern Syria. Assad might could see that as fitting payback against Turkey.
ISIS can keep going as long as they can attract psychopaths.
What is likely to change going forward is that the two pockets of ISIS fighters at the Little Zeb River basin and Mosul get wiped. Then in Anbar the hunters from 2014 and 2015 become the hunted as we move toward 2016 and 2017.
Perpetual War ???
We have seen what Saudi-GCC money can do, wrecking Syria and then Iraq. And they did it with help from Turkey.
Our American politicians backed Muslim Brotherhood ("Free Syrian Army") for years, so we get our share of the blame.
Let's hope that President Obama sees through the propaganda. His people at DoD are certainly aware of what has happened in northern Iraq. We have Special Forces personnel with the Kurds and out spotting for troop movements to keep from hitting the wrong targets.
Fog of war ??? That affects everyone.