Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mother of all Battles Update

Saddam Hussein, January 7, 2002:
"The mother of all Battles continues to this day,"
Indeed it does. Few analysts disagree on the nexus between the Naqshbandi Army and ISIS/ISIL, now Islamic State. Here's Foreign Policy:
The Islamic State has conquered broad swaths of Iraq thanks to a surprising alliance with secular veterans of Saddam Hussein's military.
Meanwhile Jack Murphy at SOFREP is questioning the very existence of al-Baghdadi himself, suggesting he may be a doppelganger figure, which is prudent considering the past.  He believes the group is more than likely controlled, or heavily influenced both tactically and strategically, by the likes of Izzat al-Duri.

But one really doesn't need experts to know there's a Saddamist component to the rise of ISIS to re-establish Sunni rule in parts of Iraq--just look at the news reports. The question is, where does it go from here? The FP writer goes on to suggest their marriage of convenience is heading for a divorce as the Islamists have double-crossed their 'enemy of my enemy' friends.

Perhaps, but perhaps that depends on their real sources of support within Arabia. While it's fun to slam Obama for playing golf instead of bomb, bomb, bombing the IS, the situation seems almost indeterminably complex. A strong IS in Iraq makes it harder for Iran to support Bashar Assad, which hurts the Mullahs and by extension, Putin.   Sounds like a good thing. Conversely, crippling IS in Iraq opens the door for a stronger Shia rule across the region, helping Iran and Assad, and by extension, Putin. Sounds like a bad thing.  It's a real mess.  The US is in a position where it can't even applaud Assad for attacking IS.  

But it's a mess that can't be allowed to get much more messy.  As some analysts have suggested, Obama may have to eventually chose a side, as deplorable as the side may be. One possibility is choosing Izzat al-Duri and his JTRN group and assisting them in dividing and conquering the Islamists. Yes, the guy with the 25 million dollar bounty still on his head.  How that might shake out in Baghdad is anyone's guess.

If that happens it will probably happen at the CIA level, since nobody in the US government will want to be seen acting in concert with the likes of al-Duri.  Of course there's always a link-up with Bashar Assad,  but that bridge has already been politically burned.  No matter what we do there's always the potential for blowback--remember Saddam once warned April Glaspie about "individual Arabs".  

Speaking of politics, Obama has spoken to the nation on the IS "folks" and he will do more pin prick bombing to support "our interests" but it's likely he'll try to pivot to anything else as the mid-terms approach. There's simply no easy political win in the Middle East right now.  He got a little one today in the strange release of the US hostage by al-Nusra, but he knows the public will be more than happy to whistle past the Middle Eastern graveyard with him, as everyone is tired of war.  But the fighting will go on, and on, and on.  And the US will continue to be involved, even if Rand Paul wins the presidency.

MORE  8/25/14

As to which enemy Obama might turn friendly with in order to go after ISIS-ISIL-IS, well it looks like Bashar Assad.  Sounds like a better bedfellow than al-Duri--probably less fleas.  But if true, the administration's press mousekateers are really going to have to spin up some PR magic to make reporters believe this is something other than what it is.

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