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article imageOp-Ed: Iraq — Situation deteriorating as Kurds lose key area

By Paul Wallis     Aug 7, 2014 in World
Baghdad - President Barack Obama has approved US airstrikes in support of US personnel and civilians in Iraq, but the situation on the ground is getting a lot worse, fast, for the Kurds. Air power may not be enough.
The news about US airstrikes comes against a background of ISIS moves which are alarming analysts. The jihadis have taken control of the Mosul dam from the Kurds, giving ISIS a major bargaining chip and a strategic asset of immense importance, and has started a panic in the surrounding region.
The New York Times:
The loss of the Mosul Dam, the largest in Iraq, to the insurgents was the most dramatic consequence of a militant offensive in the north, which has sent tens of thousands of refugees, many from the Yazidi minority, fleeing into a vast mountainous landscape.
In one captured town, Sinjar, ISIS executed dozens of Yazidi men, and kept the dead men’s wives for unmarried jihadi fighters. Panic on Thursday even spread to the Kurdish capital of Erbil, long considered a safe haven, with civilians flooding the airport in a futile attempt to buy tickets to Baghdad.
The ramifications of the current situation are:
1. If ISIS takes over the Kurdish region, it gains access to adjoining nations to the east and north of Iraq.
2. The Kurds are a credible military force, but don’t have unlimited resources. If they’re isolated or their forces become fragmented, they’re in deep trouble.
3. US intervention, which has been a particularly unpopular, divisive issue, may not be effective without a ground commitment, which President Obama has ruled out.
4. Opposition to ISIS by the Iraqi government has been mediocre, poorly coordinated and tactically naïve. The military situation is worsening by degrees, and ISIS has the initiative.
5. ISIS hasn’t been seriously disrupted in its overall strategy and is outmaneuvering its opponents in Iraq and Syria.
The Pentagon has confirmed airdrops of aid, but denies any airstrikes have taken place.
The UN Security Council has called for international aid for Iraq, but so far there’s been no mention of use of UN forces, just “alleviating the suffering” of Iraqis in the war zone.
The bottom line here is that the military situation is truly messy. Iranian support has blocked access to the Shia territories south, but not much progress has been made. The “assault” on Tikrit ran out of ammunition, and fizzled out. Other countermoves have stalled on a similar, “too little, too late” basis or simply failed to make headway.
ISIS has been moving around with impunity in the regions it controls, able to mount attacks without interference on both sides of Iraq. They’ve also been able to commit mass murder without interference, and drive a tide of refugees into areas with few resources to help them.
ISIS doesn’t have to pay any attention to world opinion. Nor are they. They’re doing the classic Us vs Them shtick, and it’s working. They’re creating a total war scenario, and their cadres are locked in, literally “unto death.” They’re doing their own PR, and becoming the first successful jihadi force, winning themselves major collateral for disaffected Muslims and would-be jihadis around the world.
This is a hell of a time for the world to go all pacifist, when there’s a real threat mass murdering its way around the Middle East. The world can ignore Iraq as much as it likes, and the problems will simply multiply.
The tired old theory is that if you don’t learn from history, it repeats itself. The fact is that if you don’t learn from history it comes back and beats the crap out of you. Learn, or pay for the fractures.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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