The war: report from the Iraqi front 7

The Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Hamas are regiments of the Army of Islam, now waging open war on the non-Muslim world. This is a war of religion.

The strongest military power on the planet, the US, is engaging battle to as small an extent as it can. President Obama, highly sympathetic to Islam, but under pressure (called “advice”)  from the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey, has reluctantly agreed to let a few bombs be dropped by the US Air Force on IS positions. And some military equipment – not too much and not too big and not too effective – is being supplied to the Kurds who are trying to repel the advance of the IS.

The majority of the Kurds are also Muslims. As the big religious war rages on in the Middle East, North Africa, and wherever else the Army of Islam strikes – Hamas against Israel, Boko Haram against the Christians of Nigeria and adjacent territories, al-Qaeda wherever it can – internecine Muslim battles are being savagely waged; and  the  Western governments’ and media’s “good guys” of the moment are the Kurds of Iraq, defending themselves against the advancing Islamic State.

The Washington Post reports:

On the newest front line of the expanding war being waged by Sunni militants for control of the Middle East, the juggernaut of the Islamic State’s advance appeared Saturday to have slowed, at least for now.

Buoyed by U.S. airstrikes the previous day, Kurdish pesh merga fighters said they pushed back an attempt by the extremists to overrun one of their artillery positions on the northern edge of the dust-blown town of Makhmour, south of Irbil. Makhmour was seized by Islamic State fighters Thursday.

At the same time, however, commanders said Islamic State fighters had begun to return to positions that US airstrikes had forced them to flee — a reminder that the so-far limited intervention may represent only the beginning of what President Obama warned Saturday could be a long campaign.

Though not – we suspect – if he can withdraw from it.

Hours later, the US military announced it had carried out four more airstrikes, in the Sinjar area farther west.

The Islamic State boasted in a video of its newest conquests, including Iraq’s biggest hydroelectric dam, outside Mosul. If breached, the dam would inundate towns and villages along the Tigris river and unleash flooding as far south as Baghdad.

The Washington Post sees the IS as an off-shoot of al-Qaeda:

The renegade al-Qaeda force is also reported to have made advances elsewhere across the vast stretch of territory it controls, in the Iraqi province of Anbar, in Kirkuk and in the eastern Syrian province of Hasakah.

Their spirits bolstered by the US intervention, Kurdish forces began to regroup after their rout in the past week, in which they retreated from a string of towns and villages. Tens of thousands of civilians, including Christians and Yazidis, were displaced.

As the sound of outgoing artillery and heavy machine-gun fire rang out across the undulating fields outside Makhmour, trucks bearing fresh supplies of ammunition and SUVs carrying uniformed officers hurtled to reinforce the front lines.

Hundreds of volunteers drawn from all over the Kurdistan region also streamed toward the battle, clutching ancient rifles and wearing the ballooning pants and waistcoats traditional to Kurdish culture.

The first of the three US  airstrikes had taken out an Islamic State artillery position nearby, and pesh merga commanders said they sensed the militants had been chastened by the attack.

“This power they had before, this momentum — we don’t see it now,” said Col. Mohsin Avdal, who sat poring over maps on an ammunition box beside a pile of several dozen newly arrived 107mm rockets. They were delivered, he said, from stocks the pesh merga already owned.

But there was little indication the airstrikes had done much more than slow the militant blitz through Iraq and Syria, where Islamic State forces now govern a vast swath of territory in the name of their self-proclaimed caliphate.

Pesh merga commanders said they had no immediate plans to attempt to push back the militants but rather were under orders to consolidate the positions they now hold.

“We are not moving forward. We are staying put. We are ready and we are strong,” said Mohammed Mohsin, a brigadier general who has come out of retirement to oversee the reinforcement of another front-line checkpoint outside the town of Kalak, east of Irbil.

“But they are really strong,” he added, referring to Islamic State forces. “Everything the Americans sold to the Iraqi army, they have it now.”

The two other American strikes hit an Islamic State mortar position and a convoy a little more than a mile beyond the checkpoint, deterring an attempt by the militants to advance on the position, Mohsin said. Kurdish fighters who visited the site shortly after the strike found the remains of four US-made Humvees that had been captured from the Iraqi army and the bodies of 13 Islamic State fighters. It was all that remained of a convoy that had attempted to advance on the Kurdish position.

But the Kurdish fighters lacked the resources to hold the location and were ordered back to their base at Kalak, Mohsin said.

Later in the day, Islamic State fighters were seen returning to the area, according to Brig. Gen. Azad Hawezi, who commands forces in the area.

“They are bringing new people and more of those weapons they captured from the Iraqi army,” he said.

“They have American weapons, and they have American vehicles,” he added. “Obviously, they are strong.”

Unless the pesh merga are able to make advances, “it would seem likely that further [Islamic State] progress or escalated US airstrikes are the only eventualities,” said Charles Lister of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.

(Interruption: Did you know there was a Brookings Center in Qatar? Why would that be?)

Airstrikes by themselves can only ever represent a potential temporary fix against a force like the Islamic State.”

The United States has promised to send arms and ammunition, but the pesh merga say they would need a massive influx to be able to make real gains against the militants. Their forces are stretched thin along a 650-mile front line, and although Kurdish civilians swarmed to offer their services as reinforcements, their utility was in question.

“We have guns, but we need heavy weapons,” said Abdul Aziz Ibrahim, 52, a farmer who fled the advance of the Islamic State on Makhmour overnight Thursday and has returned to join the fight as a volunteer, armed with an aged AK-47 borrowed from a relative.

“The pesh merga ran out of ammunition. There were too many of them,” he said, describing how the entire town fled within minutes of the first shell fired by Islamic State fighters. “Only the American Air Force can save us.”

Other Kurdish civilians had bought guns, flak jackets and helmets on the open market, making their way to the front lines from as far afield as the Iranian border.

Though enthusiastic, the volunteers seemed only to be getting in the way. They milled around checkpoints, taking turns to peer through binoculars at the front line about a mile away whenever an explosion thundered through the air, and they clogged roads the real fighters were using to ferry supplies and men to the front.

Lt. Col. Abdul Aziz Ali Mustafa, who was directing the deployment of fighters on the outskirts of Makhmour, predicted a long fight.

“All we can do is defend our territory and prepare to die, until someone finds a solution,” he said. “This is a big problem, involving all the Arab world. It is not something we can solve.”

War is now the only answer. War against Islam waged by all possible means with the intention of winning. If it is not, Islam will win.   

  • Don L

    In one sense, I am sick of the mentality from the electorate that we need a “leader”. The meaning is to shirk the responsibility of government by consent of the governed. Of course, this is what the progressives have instilled: be stupid, feel rather than think, leave it to the experts. The governed have no clue as what government’s role is or what the economy is about. Hence, what is or isn’t of national interest or a security concern is, unquestionably, left to the how some jackass on TV makes you feel.

    Indeed, if you pay attention to all these pundits and talking head on/in media…their analysis is always about visual and communication aspects of an incumbent’s or candidate’s words…never about content respective of good government or economic policy…since these are taboo and/or just unknown topics for the analysts (they don’t know and/or don’t want the audience to know the difference).

    So, is there anyone in view that could be good for the country…even as just another figure head ‘great communicator’? I shiver that Romney might try again…by policy and expressed economic knowledge…he’s just Hillary Lite. Ah, that Rand Paul wasn’t married to libertarian pacifism (he argues lefties are married to their ideology…well, look in the mirror fool! – incidentally, the word ideology was coined by a hardcore french capitalist; a student of Adam Smith and Jefferson’s mentor: Count Destutt Tracy). Cruz…I have a hard time accepting this whiney-voiced ‘born again’ just because he would stand up to Iran…one issue pony…what then after?

    Paul Ryan…He’s an Austrian economic sorta guy…religion lower down on his priority list and I believe he has said he wouldn’t allow Iran the bomb. I’d like to see him gain some traction…but he isn’t a great communicator’. I think he’d be a great leader respective of returning the governed to an “informed consent” position/understanding.

    To be sure…the next “leader” must understand we are at war and let loose the our dogs of war!

  • liz

    Since Islam has declared war on the world, the world, whether it likes it or not, is going to have to fight against Islam. We’re going to remain in an undeclared “World War 3” with it until we defeat it.
    If President Pantywaist wasn’t in the way, we could wipe ISIS off the map and get it over with (or at least one part of it).

    • REALBEING

      And this war started in the sixth century!! It is high time that we got serious and finished it, in order to facilitate getting on with the business of repairing what is left of this world.

      Letting this get further out of hand isn’t prolonging the agony so much as it is allowing more and more of the world slip further and further into a even more complacent attitude about this religion and it’s agendas.

      A “cancer” in the body must be addressed with the proper approach. If left along and ignored, it will destroy the body. Islam is one of these “cancers!”

      President “Panty-waist” is a major cancer on this country. He also must be addressed, yet our “immune system” seems to be asleep!

      • liz

        Because we’ve been getting doses of indoctrination into leftist ideology all along, so that our immune system doesn’t recognize it now as a “foreign body” to be expelled.
        And Islamism is riding in on its coat-tails.

        • REALBEING

          Coupled with the continued complacency of a “not interested” electorate, we are doomed as a country.

          • Don L

            Hmmm…Not quite yet. Yes, as Liz points out, the over 100 year socialist indoctrination plan has had a negative effect for a great portion of the populace. Yet, they were never able to totally destroy the notion of “Hey, it’s a free country” even though it has become seriously not one.

            I have mentioned this before…”President Pantywaist” violated the 1957 Hungarian communist party described ‘Salami Rule’. Given ObamaCare, and it’s real affect on millions of Americans who were not, as you point out, interested…they are now (add to this interest the growing list of scandals) interested. Or, the dangerous dunce in the White House screwed himself and took too much of the salami all at once.

            The ‘tell, of course, will be the mid-term and then the 2016 elections. Now, if they go badly…

            Very good friends of mine, back in 2008, said that if Nobama was elected they would leave the country for Panama. They did…they claim to be very happy down there. A bit radical for me…wait, my first thought, should another progressive win, to start wasting folk…maybe moving is a better idea! LOL

            • REALBEING

              I should’ve stated that if this complacency keeps up at this pace, and without a turn-around in thinking, this country is doomed.