Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bonding With Iran

The Islamic State insurgency of Sunni jihadis originally from Iraq to begin with simply returned home from their foray into Syria to engage in sectarian conflict with the Shiite Alawite military of Bashar al-Assad's regime, to claim the city of Mosul as their own just as they had taken possession of Syria's Raqqa as their headquarters. Their marching militias with their fearsome reputation of loathsome brutality marched before them and military resistance to their onslaught fled in fear.

As they steadily began to successfully menace greater geographic tracts in both Syria and Iraq, confidently assuming larger areas and with them towns and villages, and oil revenues began to accrue to them through incorporating oilfields into their territory, they seemed unstoppable. Turkey can claim some responsibility alongside Qatar and Saudi Arabia in their advance, hoping their support would culminate in the destruction of a growing Shiite threat to the region.

The Iraqi military is now claiming it is close to reclaiming Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit from the Islamic State possession. This is the same military that melted away in terror at the advance of ISIS into Mosul, leaving its military installations and the U.S.-supplied weapons, artillery and vehicles for Islamic State to loot in its inexorable advance, aiding its long-range plans to advance on Baghdad itself.

Data available from intelligence sources appear to point out that the combined Iraqi/Iranian force that has moved toward Tikrit is comprised of 20,000 fighters in total. Of that number the smallest contingent is in fact the Iraqi military, while Shiite militias under the command of al-Quds Iranian commander Qasem Suleimani comprise the majority, with the addition of a thousand Sunni Iraqis.

The number of Islamic State fighters said to be barricaded within the centre of Tikrit is estimated at a few hundred, prepared to resist to the death. And in that process they have resisted mightily, picking off their attackers with snipers and suicide bombers at the rate of an estimated 60 to 100 daily. Urban warfare of the kind that this conflict reflects is volatile, dangerous to life and limb, and fraught with uncertainty. All the more so that Tikrit is interlaced with IEDs and booby traps to maintain the siege without surrender.

Tikrit is meant to be the appetizer, with Mosul the main course. At five times the size, the prospect of wrenching Mosul from ISIL who view it as their prize possession, will be nowhere near the cake walk that the Iranian-backed Iraqis crowed it would be. And now that the advance on Tikrit has stalled after its initial success, U.S. forces have admitted to taking part in joint military operations with Iran in the provision of aerial surveillance.

Members of an Iraqi Shiite militant group called Imam Ali Brigades launch rockets against Islamic State group positions during clashes in Tikrit
Members of an Iraqi Shiite militant group called Imam Ali Brigades launch rockets against Islamic State group positions during clashes in Tikrit  Photo: Khalid Mohammed/AP

Cooperation between the United States and Iran has been confirmed by an official from the U.S.-led coalition; it is now providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance from the air in support of the attack. Clearly, although the Islamic Republic of Iran is just as dangerous to world stability, just as guilty of supporting terrorism, and even more threatening than ISIS in its aspiration toward nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, the American administration has chosen one evil over another.

Iran's commitment to supporting Iraq as a Shiite majority country and protection of its Shiite shrines
comes in direct alignment with the United States striving to preserve its legacy in establishing a cooperative pluralist state of Sunni, Shiite and Kurd Iraqis so much was invested in after the 2003 invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, and which resulted in the fractionalization of the country's geography.

This is, in fact, the unthinkable; American warplanes acting effectively in Iranian regional interests to further alarm the Arab Sunni countries viewing what appears to be a rapprochement including a possible agreement on Tehran's nuclear program. It is instructive to learn that General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, estimates that the forces attacking Tikrit are comprised of 18,000 Shia militia, 1,000 Sunni fighters and 3,000 members of the regular Iraqi army.

The United States has chosen to interpose itself in this conflict in support of its own interests, despite making common cause with Iran, a country that is supporting the Syrian butcher responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, and the displacement of millions of Sunni Syrians, whose military exploits inclusive of chemical attacks on civilians, starvation of civilians, barrel bombing of civilians place it in direct competition with ISIS as a terrorist entity.

The Obama administration, in its wisdom, has chosen to throw its lot in with these barbarian Islamist Shiite death squads, even while Hadi al-Ameri, head of the Badr Organization representing the leading Shiite militia in the conflict in Iraq who also happens to be an Iraqi government minister, stated that American support was unnecessary, going so far as to accuse those in the Iraqi army asking for U.S. assistance "weaklings".

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