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Iraq Crisis: US Precision Attacks Will Hurt the Jihadists But They Won’t Defeat Them

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US air strikes aimed at stopping Isis from advancing on Baghdad or taking more territory would be very different from previous American air campaigns in Iraq in 1991, 2003 and during the guerrilla campaign against the US occupation between 2004 and the departure of US troops in 2011.

This time the US would be looking for vehicles carrying Isis fighters or for fighters moving on foot. Air strikes against them would be effective in breaking up ground attacks if these are directed by highly trained US forward air controllers operating on the front line. The US fought this sort of war in Afghanistan in 2001 when its air power operated on behalf of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. It was also successful in northern Iraq in 2003 when the US Air Force was supporting the Kurds advancing on Mosul and Kirkuk.

Air strikes of this type would very likely succeed in giving the Iraqi army and Shia militias the edge over the Sunni rebels in holding Baghdad. US intervention would help restore the battered morale of the army and the Shia in general. Air strikes would come in combination with two other factors already slowing the rebel advance: Isis is now entering mixed Sunni-Shia areas north of Baghdad and not Sunni-dominated cities like Mosul, Tikrit and Baiji where it is guaranteed local support. Second, Shia volunteers have been pouring into the army since Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and the Shia hierarchy issued a fatwa calling for volunteers. They are unlikely to run away as the regular army did in Mosul.

More ambitious use of air power by the US is likely to show diminishing returns because Isis leaders like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are careful to hide their movements. Few prisoners from Isis taken by the government say they have ever seen him and those that have say he often wears a mask. Isis commanders, believed in many cases to be well trained military professionals from Saddam Hussein’s security forces, are likely to be very careful not to expose themselves or their men to air attack.

The Isis offensive has turned into a Sunni uprising with many trucks full of young men from Sunni villages waving their rifles and taking little care to protect themselves. Killing many of these will only further anger the Sunni community. The US will also not want to appear as the saviour of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who is detested in Sunni districts.

It is important to recall that much greater air power than is now available, notoriously failed to win the war in Iraq for the US from 2003 to 2011 when it had air bases all over the country along with 150,000 soldiers. The same is true of US air strikes in Afghanistan, which often turned out to have mistakenly targeted wedding parties and other social gatherings.

One important feature of US air intervention has not been mentioned. Isis is an efficient, experienced and fanatical movement with a reputation for striking back at any enemy. If its fighters start being killed by US aircraft, it may not be long before it sends its suicide bombers against American targets, inside or outside the US, to exact revenge.

(Reprinted from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq, ISIS

13 Comments to "Iraq Crisis: US Precision Attacks Will Hurt the Jihadists But They Won’t Defeat Them"

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  1. Today, 6/19/14 Obama announced an ambiguous policy in Iraq. It may be the beginning of a slow creep to a fullscale war, or more likely it is a way of avoiding any real involvement in Iraq again. Obama is basically a coward and he has to show he has balls even though he has none. But a coward is better than a warmonger like Bush and Cheney and the Zionist Lobby.

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  2. no I think Obama’s cowardice is worse than Bush and Cheney. Look at what he’s done so far – Libya destroyed (on the cheap), syria half-destroyed (on the cheap), Ukraine run by nazis killing their own people(on the cheap), Iraq destroyed from the consequences of the others. The point is that Obama still advances USA’s evil neocon foreign policy, but with even more resolve, and in a truly nefarious manner.

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  3. You are giving Obama far too much credit for intelligence. He is a dumb negro and his administration is full of dumb negroes and their guilty white slaves.

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  4. Send in the Drones (With Apologies to Stephen Sondheim) | Tom Engelhardt
    says:
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    […] in the early stages of the intervention sweepstakes. The initial moves may even be greeted as auspicious, but watch out for the long-run destabilizing effects in an already chaotic region. Washington only […]

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  5. Send in the Drones (With Apologies to Stephen Sondheim) — LiberalVoiceLiberalVoice — Your source for everything about liberals and progressives! — News and tweets about everything liberals and progressives
    says:
    • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    […] in the early stages of the intervention sweepstakes. The initial moves may even be greeted as auspicious, but watch out for the long-run destabilizing effects in an already chaotic region. Washington only […]

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  6. Michael Schwartz: The new oil wars in Iraq
    says:
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    […] in the early stages of the intervention sweepstakes.  The initial moves may even be greeted as auspicious, but watch out for the long-run destabilizing effects in an already chaotic region.  […]

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  7. » Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, The New Oil Wars in Iraq Band of Rebels
    says:
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    […] in the early stages of the intervention sweepstakes.  The initial moves may even be greeted as auspicious, but watch out for the long-run destabilizing effects in an already chaotic region.  Washington […]

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  8. Flexible Reality
    says:
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    […] in the early stages of the intervention sweepstakes. The initial moves may even be greeted as auspicious, but watch out for the long-run destabilizing effects in an already chaotic region. Washington only […]

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  9. War for oil in Iraq again | Dear Kitty. Some blog
    says:
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    […] in the early stages of the intervention sweepstakes.  The initial moves may even be greeted as auspicious, but watch out for the long-run destabilizing effects in an already chaotic region.  Washington […]

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  10. Norman…you sure Obama’s really not a warmonger? I don’t know…he’s got his finger on JSOC, which is currently conducting warfare on states like Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and who knows where else; without Congressional approval or knowledge. JSOC reports only to the White House. His own personal little hit squad you might say, with a list that gets longer as the future gets focused. Moreover, with JSOC’s main mission of destroying terrorist cells world-wide, makes you wonder why we should be concerned with something so trivial as more boots on the ground in Iraq. Heck, they have armed in Syria, the very fighters they will face in Iraq. The foreign policy don’t and won’t change, past and future administrations be damned. The AUMF…the gift that keeps on giving to the defense industry, rogue factions, “the moderate opposition” and the so-called War on Terror.

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  11. Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, The New Oil Wars in Iraq | TomDispatch | Olduvaiblog
    says:
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    […] in the early stages of the intervention sweepstakes.  The initial moves may even be greeted as auspicious, but watch out for the long-run destabilizing effects in an already chaotic region.  Washington […]

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  12. Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, A NOVA GUERRA DO PETRÓLEO NO IRAQUE | Blog do Liberato
    says:
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    […] nos estágios iniciais das apostas na intervenção. Os movimentos iniciais podem ser até ser saudados como auspiciosos, mas todo o cuidado é pouco quanto aos efeitos desestabilizantes de longo prazo, em região […]

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  13. Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, The New Oil Wars in Iraq | Vietnam Full Disclosure | Just another WordPress site
    says:
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    […] in the early stages of the intervention sweepstakes.  The initial moves may even be greeted as auspicious, but watch out for the long-run destabilizing effects in an already chaotic region.  Washington […]

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