Saturday, 25 July 2015

War Strategy against ISIS

Recently Mr. Obama delivered a speech in the Pentagon on the war strategy against ISIS, but unfortunately he had nothing new to say and it was just a repeat of the same old, same old, saying we support the Iraqi government and escalated training for Iraqi forces, including Sunni tribes, and continuing to increase the rate of transferring important equipment, such as anti-tank weapons to Iraqi security forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga and tribal fighters.

On the other hand, at a US Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing Ashton Carter and General Martin Dempsey opposed sending combat forces to Iraq and described the solution to a lasting defeat against ISIS in a powerful and capable Iraqi force in the fight against ISIS.
The US strategy in the war against ISIS has not changed and what I understand is that like in the past the US government is seeking to train Iraqi forces, including the tribes, to build a strong fighting force and arm them with adequate new weaponry. Therefore, it will be focusing on building a capable force of Iraqi troops to fight ISIS.
I was truly shocked about all this dramatic talk from the Americans. My question now is that during the past 8 years, after more than 150,000 US boots were stationed in Iraq, did they do anything else than train Iraqi forces to one day take control of affairs in Iraq? Then whatever happened to all this time, energy and supplies – the value sky rocketing over the roof – and where did all this go? The remarks delivered by Obama, Carter and Dempsey are nothing new, a repeat of the same that the US has done during the past decade in Iraq. Has the US truly sat down and analysed its actions in Iraq, and what results it has led to today? Or are there other calculations at hand that we are not informed of?
When US forces were departing Iraq in 2007 after the ‘surge’ the Iraqi army consisted of 14 divisions, 4 federal police division, a ‘golden’ division of special-ops forces and dozens of rapid deployment force battalions in Baghdad and other provinces. This was all alongside the local police that numbered at that time at something around 500,000. These men were all trained by US forces and had adequate weapons, and the evaluation provided by US military experts on the status of the Iraqi army and police at that time was very positive, describing it a security force with a fundamental training system. Of course, in my view this was a very correct evaluation. Then what happened in the past 6 years that this army and police crumbled to such a level? Wherever its forces are stationed they are first looking for a path to retreat from ISIS attacks, and they flee their ranks and files with the smallest ISIS attack?
I don’t how much you are informed about the Iraqi army and police retreat from Mosul in 2014? I will shed some light and go on. When Sunni tribes and ISIS attack Mosul there were over 50,000 army and police troops stationed in Neinawa Province in northern Iraq. However, in the span of just one hour they all threw their military uniforms and ran off with traditional Iraqi clothing known as ‘dishdasha’. They left behind all their weapons, equipment and military supplies for ISIS to round up.
Personally I don’t think American experts have been unable to figure out the reason behind this degrading of the Iraqi security forces. However, the important factor is that the US is continuing down this path and there has been no change in Washington’s policy.
Here I want to a brief look at the reason behind all this decline seen in the Iraqi security forces. During the five years that I discussed above, the Iraqi government was under Nouri al-Maliki’s leadership. This individual was – and is – an outright proxy of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force. An independent and strong army and police force, with the structure engineered by the Americans, was intolerable for the Quds Force in Iraq. During these five years they used proxies in Iraq, with Maliki topping the list, and placed all their efforts to weaken and annihilate all the strong pillars of the Iraqi army. The Quds Force’s methods was that first they set aside all the competent US-trained commanders and installed a number of their own elements from various militia groups, providing them senior rankings such as brigadier general and generals. The next stage was cleansing all Sunni forces from the army and police, in a way that in the past few years I can dare to say that one would rarely find Sunni boots in the Iraqi army or the police. Currently the status quo is as so and over 90% of all remaining army and police units in Iraq are of Shiite background. Most of the Shiite forces that have entered the army and police ranks and files belong to militia groups and have never received any decent army or police training. Therefore, literally nothing is left of the US-trained and equipped Iraqi army and police. With the first sign of any attack we saw that these forces withdraw and crumble.
Currently, despite changes made in the government and Haider al-Abadi coming to power after Maliki, the status quo has not changed much on the ground because Maliki has maintained his past influence and Abadi is so weak that he cannot challenge Maliki. The policy adopted by the US during the past year after Mosul’s fall has not changed at all, and it is as if the problem lies in the training provided for Iraqi forces. However, the problem in Iraq is the presence of Iran’s Quds Force and Iraqi militants as proxies pursuing Quds Force policies on the ground.
Finally, I would like to finish this piece with a few words with Mr. Obama, Ashton Carter and Dempsey: The path you have chosen leads to nowhere, and the American people will be the ones damaged the most because such a policy will lead to the spread of Shiite militias far more dangerous than ISIS.

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