Wednesday, December 02, 2015

And The Coordinates Are

"By the time we get to the end of 2016, I hope to be pretty well done with Daesh. That's probably aspirational, but I think we are putting pressure on Daesh. We have not seen from Daesh any major offensive in the past couple months. Most of the stuff we see is more harassing attacks. So they don't have the staying power that they're going to need to survive what we're putting on them."
Lt.-Gen.Charles Brown Jr., U.S. Air Force Central Command

"It is necessary to hit training centres, to hit those centres where this terrorist army is being trained. But the main thing is to hit the sources of financing, which give life in the first place -- first of all oil."
French President Francois Hollande

"These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture ISIL leaders."
"That creates a virtuous cycle of better intelligence, which generates more targets, more raids and more momentum."
"This is an important capability because it takes advantage of what we're good at. We're good at intelligence, we're good at mobility, we're good at surprise. We have the long reach that no one else has. And it puts everybody on notice in Syria. You don't know at night who's going to be coming in the window."
"And that's the sensation that we want all of ISIL's leadership and followers to have."
U.S. Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter

"I'm confident that we are on the winning side of this and that ultimately Russia's going to recognize the threat [posed by ISIL]."
"I don't expect that you're going to see a 180 turn on their strategy over the next several weeks."
U.S. President Barack Obama
This November 18, 2015 image from a US Department of Defense Twitter site of the Spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the US military operation against ISIL, shows a leaflet warning civilians of upcoming airstrikes
© AFP 2015/ DOD    This November 18, 2015 image from a US Department of Defense Twitter site of the Spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the US military operation against ISIL, shows a leaflet warning civilians of upcoming airstrikes

Earlier in the year senior American officers claimed that ISIL was on the verge of failure. And then, follow-up events rendered one of those 'Ooops!' moments. The American bombing focus is now on oil refineries taken over by ISIL and the truck convoys that carry that oil -- markedly through from and benefiting Syria and to Turkey where both countries blink hard not to notice the thriving black market trade that also incidentally benefits their political cronies personally.

Embedded image permalink
Rofl baba @roflbaba -- 
500 Oil Trucks in Syria meant for Turkey were blown to bits by Russia and Putin is not answering Erdogan's calls

Tidal Wave II launched fighter jet attacks on oil refineries and U.S. gunships and fighter jets destroyed 283 tanker trucks that will no longer be capable of smuggling oil from Syria to ... oops ... Turkey. French fighter jets as well have been attacking those facilities for oil extraction and production. Russia's quite legitimate questioning of Turkey's role in the lucrative ISIL oil production has led to predictable outrage and counter-charges.

Another facet of the conflict with Islamic State is a special operations force, a concept introduced by Ashton Carter who explained the "specialized expeditionary targeting force" would conduct "unilateral operations" within Syria as well as Iraq, and without the special permission of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, another interference in sovereign rights that Vladimir Putin can hit Obama over the head with. Comparisons with Crimea? Utterly inconsequential.

Mounting Russian casualties with Russian troops on the ground giving military aid and emotional support to the Syrian regime and the lack of progress of the Syrian forces even with the Iranian-promoted Shiite militias and Hezbollah and the al-Quds contingent bespeak a true stalemate. One that President Obama is banking on to convince his Russian counterpart to join the coalition's more 'successful' efforts.

The new U.S. expeditionary force is to become a "standing" force, stationed in Iraq. Mr. Carter remains hopeful that Iraq will eventually become capable of defending its borders with rebuilt Iraqi security forces. Of course, the United States has experienced a long relationship with Iraqi forces, exposing them to expert American military practices, lavishing state-of-the-art military equipment on them, and witnessing them abandoning both regimental cohesiveness and arms at the first encounter with Islamic State militias.

Hope springs eternal. Perhaps recalling that, though Mr. Carter feels the expeditionary force could end up being only American staffed, the potential for a mixed force with Kurdish troops more skilled and determined to fight the Islamic jihadists might become a good option. Still, the focus on hitting ISIL in its bank account is progressing apace, with an estimated 43 percent revenue decline from oil profits hitting the caliphate.

One question here: If/when Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is finally vanquished and its constituent parts wither and seep back under the rocks they slithered out from under, its spiritual ideation will remain to invigorate and incite Islamists to reinvent themselves again and again. There are so many manifestations of Islamist jihad, and a myriad of groups professing to be instructed directly from Allah, there will surely be another and more vicious incarnation of the jihad of conquest to surface.

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