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Last Stand for ISIS?
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As a former soldier and war correspondent who has covered 14 conflicts, I look at all the media hoopla over tightening siege of Mosul, Iraq and shake my head. This western-organized “liberation” of Mosul is one of the bigger pieces of political-military theater that I’ve seen.

Islamic State(IS), the defender of Mosul, is a paper tiger, blown out of all proportion by western media. IS is, as this writer has been saying for years, an armed mob made up of 20-something malcontents, religious fanatics, and modern-day anarchists. At its top is a cadre of former Iraqi Army officers with military experience.

These former officers of Saddam Hussain are bent on revenge for the US destruction of their nation and the lynching of its late leader. But IS rank and file has no military training, little discipline, degraded communications, and ragged logistics.

In fact, today’s Islamic State is what the Ottoman Empire used to term, ‘bashi-bazouks,” a collection of irregular cut-throats and scum of the gutter sent to punish and terrorize enemies by means of torture, rapine, looting and arson.

What has amazed me about the faux western war against ISIS is its leisurely nature, lack of élan, and hesitancy. In my view, ISIS was mostly created by the US and its allies as a weapon to be used against Syria’s government – just as the Afghan mujahadin were used by the US and the Saudis to overthrow the Soviet-backed Afghan government. Israel tried the same tactics by helping create Hamas in Palestine and Hezbullah in Lebanon. Both were cultivated to split the PLO.

ISIS is an ad hoc movement that wants to punish the West and the Saudis for the gross carnage they have inflicted on the Arab world.

Western and Kudish auxiliary forces have been sitting 1.5 hours drive from Mosul and the IS town of Raqqa for over a year. Instead, western – mainly US – warplanes have been gingerly bombing around these targets in what may be an effort to convince breakaway ISIS to rejoin US-led forces fight the Damascus regime.

Note that ISIS does not appear to have ever attacked Israel though it is playing an important role in the destruction of Syria. Some reports say Israel is providing logistic and medical support for IS.

The siege of Mosul is being played up by western media as a heroic second Stalingrad. Don’t be fooled. IS has only 3-5,000 lightly armed fighters in Mosul and Raqqa, maybe even less. The leaders of IS are likely long gone. IS has few heavy weapons, no air cover at all, and poor communications. Its rag-tag fighters will run out of ammunitions and explosives very quickly.

Encircling Mosul are at least 50,000 western-led soldiers, backed by heavy artillery, rocket batteries, tanks, armored vehicles and awesome air power


The western imperial forces are composed of tough Kurdish pasha merga fighters, Iraqi army and special forces, some Syrian Kurds, Iranian ‘volunteers’ irregular forces and at least 5,000 US combat troops called “advisors”, plus small numbers of French, Canadian and British special forces. Hovering in the background are some thousands of Turkish troops, supported by armor and artillery ready to ‘liberate’ Iraq – which was once part of the Ottoman Empire.

For the US, current military operations in Syria and Iraq are the realization of an imperialist’s fondest dream: native troops led by white officers, the model of the old British Indian Raj. Washington arms, trained, equips and financed all its native auxiliaries.

The IS is caught in a dangerous dilemma. To be a political movement, it was delighted to control Iraq’s second largest city. But as a guerilla force, it should not have holed up in an urban area where it was highly vulnerable to concentrated air attack and being surrounded. This is what’s happening right now.

In the mostly flat Fertile Crescent with too few trees, ground forces are totally vulnerable to air power, as the recent 1967, 1973 Israel-Arab wars and 2003 Iraq wars have shown. Dispersion and guerilla tactics are the only hope for those that lack air cover.

IS forces would best advised to disperse across the region and continue their hit-and-run attacks. Otherwise, they risk being destroyed. But being mostly bloody-minded young fanatics, IS may not heed military logic and precedent in favor of making a last stand in the ruins of Mosul and Raqqa.

When this happens, western leaders will compete to claim authorship of the faux crusade against the paper tiger of ISIS.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq, ISIS, Syria 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    According to Robert Fisk:

    “The real purpose behind the much-trumpeted US-planned “liberation” of the Iraqi city, the Syrian military suspect, is to swamp Syria with the hordes of Isis fighters who will flee their Iraqi capital in favour of their “mini-capital” of Raqqa inside Syria itself.”

    “The entire Isis caliphate army could be directed against the Assad government and its allies – a scenario which might cause some satisfaction in Washington.”

    “When Mosul falls, Isis will flee to the safety of Syria. But what then?”

  2. Diogenes says:

    I have been following the Syrian proxy war on U-tube via R&U Video, South Front and Anna News for some time now, it is a horrific spectacle to watch and on the face of it appears to be utterly irrational. The country is steadily turned to rubble and waste and it’s soil soaked in blood. I don’t have any sympathy for “rebels” they appear to be “an armed mob made up of 20-something malcontents, religious fanatics, and modern-day anarchists” just as Eric says, mere pawns infected by a Wahhabi jihadist meme which programs them to act as and useful willing foot soldiers for Sunni nations like Turkey, Arabia, Qatar and Western Interventionists such the US. US policy in this conflict is irrational and conflicted. In my mind it would be horrendous if a Secular Syria were to become a vanguard state for Islamic fanaticism and further regional conquest. The Americans must be pleased with themselves for fostering such a Muslim bloodbath in the Middle East just to insure the survival of the much loved Zionist Cuckoo. I for one would be pleased if the Jihadists were utterly annihilated to the last man in Syria and Iraq. An example has to made that Islamic extremism will not be tolerated, there can be no political resolution to this conflict, it is sadly, a fight to the death. The House of Saud must be decapitated and the West sent packing from the Arab World. Worse things are yet to emerge from this bloody morass and may yet consume us all.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  3. @Diogenes

    Concur all, except: All these cities, entire countries really, lie in ruins. We’re merely bouncing rubble and rearranging sand. No lights, no phones, no motorcars. Not a single necessity. Especially, no water. Where are these people to live now? Now what?

  4. KA says:

    IS is a western( USA) product . Deash ,al Nusra,al whatever and al Quida are all western ( USA) guided and sired . Sometimes they rebel and most of the time they fall in line . They without knowing take the cues of other western countries and fall in line and they take the cues from internal American election running leaders of GOP and Democrats . Like Cruz, Chafee,Sanders,Dean,Rubio,McCain – they fall inline, sometime like Dean,Sanders,Bush Jeb , not before hurting mortally .
    Saudis support them. Saudis know the history – what happened to Ibn Rashid ,Sharif of Hezaz not listening to British ,what happened to Shukat of Syria in 1949, Kashim of Iraq in 1960,to Ghaddafi in 2011

    . They know very well another fact that is what happened to Saddam for daring to go against the the West .without confirming double triple multiple times with Pentagon and meia after confirming with the female ambassador of America to Iraq in 1990 . They haven’t forgot the coup against the sultan of Qatar and murder of King Faisal in 2000 and in 1970 respectively.

    Saudis before 911 was protected by US After 911 itis being protected by Israel and US .

    Qatar,Gulf,Egypt-Pakistan are already there . ISIS and al – Americana also known as al – something like al – Nusra will automatically come under the same food chain way down as foot soldiers . Future will prove that the IS may be sent again to help beleaguered leaders or get rid of demons anywhere from Phillipnes to Congo and from Maldives to Moscow . But let’s not forget that it was a western idea,spawned by UK – US ,raised and taught by US and UK . May be they will get a new name : al – World .
    Saudis are just the visible face who mops the floor,cleans the bathroom, gets the food on the table and supply the chips. But they don’t own or run the casino or the prison behind it . They get to sleep with white girls and drink best wine for their services while ISIS has been told by America to wait for the 40 virgins .

  5. A defeat of ISIS would be a disaster for the Pentagon. It needs perpetual war to justify wartime budgets and a massive OCO slush fund. Would it finally have to pull the 8000 American troops out of Iraq? Could it justify daily bomb runs in Syria?

    Oddly, I don’t see tanks and APCs in the videos of advancing Iraqi troops, just Mad Max style Hummers. I’m not sure why.

  6. […] COMMENTARIES The Unz Review: Last Stand for ISIS? By ERIC MARGOLIS […]

  7. So why is Eastern Aleppo so hard for the Russian/Syrian government forces to take if ISIS is such a paper tiger? Perhaps Eastern Aleppo is not held by ISIS after all? Or are we about to see a massive struggle for Mosul? It doesn’t sound like it at the moment.

    Russian/Soviet technique to take cities post WW2 and the lessons of Stalingrad is to destroy them street by street through artillery fire. Grozny is the prime recent example. Does the US have some better strategy (in terms of reduced destruction and civilian deaths)?

  8. Excellent on the point article. what is missing and should be mentioned ” 1996 memo to Bill Clinton,need to destroy 7 middle east countries for security of Israel”.then from the same group- 1999, we need a new pearl harbor event,to get it done.
    Any thoughts what that event took place in 2001?

  9. SPQR70AD says:

    I do not know what is wring with Eric lately. He has vast experience and wisdom but has been saying some weird things. ISIS is israels private army who want to travel 1000′s of miles to attack the west but not 50 miles to attack Israel. they do not even attack them verbally. what is happening in Syria and Iraq is an old fashioned slaughter like in the OT. the demonic sons of the devil in tel aviv cannot sleep at night unless 100′s of thousands of people are being raped tortured beheaded crucified bombed set on fire etc. all thru history I have never seen evidence of god only the devil

  10. […] Source: Last Stand for ISIS? – The Unz Review […]

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