Tag Archives: Iraq

The hammer and the anvil. US to attack IS from Turkey

While the whole world was focused on the tragic events in France, a secret decision could be taken by Turkey to allow 62000 US troops to launch an attack from Turkish territory into northern Iraq. The troops could start arriving in Turkey as soon as Monday. The plan is for these troops to attack IS across Iraq’s northern border with Turkey and hammer them onto the anvil that is the Iraqi armed forces. In the last few days IS has been forced onto the defensive by the US coalition’s airstrikes, any movement by the fundamental Islamists is met by a high explosive response. With reduced mobility the guerrilla forces of IS have been forced to hold ground, they then become targets (if they can be identified). This should make it possible to defeat them on the ground.

There are a couple of potential problems that I can see with this operation:

  1. A brittle anvil. The US forces will be pushing IS into the maws of the Iraqi army which has proven itself easy to crumble under pressure. If this were to happen then Baghdad would be at risk of falling. The US and UK have troops in these areas providing “training” to the Iraqi army which should help to stiffen their spine. Don’t be surprised if extra troops are required in these areas.
  2. An exposed flank. The US forces will have their right flank exposed to IS, nothing short of a continuous defensive line could prevent IS from infiltrating the flank and causing mischief in the US forces’ rear.
  3. Where’s the border? There are no nice lines on the ground delineating the Iraq/Syria border, there is just desert. Any incursion into Syria would be seen as an act of war against another sovereign state which could have some serious consequences.

I wish the operation luck.

IS in Iraq & Syria

IS in Iraq & Syria

Raytheon cheers commons IS vote

It will probably be too late to buy into the bomb and missile maker on Monday morning, but I’ll bet that the people who count are already in. The shares were up 1.33% to $101.52 at Friday’s close on the expectation that UK’s MPs would vote in favour of going back to war. With a P/E of only 15.8 there could still a lot of upside left and the quarterly dividend of $0.605 is not too shabby either. This good news for Raytheon is on top of the good news that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, France and Denmark will also be dropping their products over the sands of the Middle East. It can only be hoped that Raytheon has learned it’s lessons from the Libya campaign and it can keep up with demand.

Paveway IV

The Paveway IV, £30000 a bang

The commons vote means that there are another 6 aircraft dropping Raytheon’s finest munitions in the Middle East. The Royal Air Force will deploy 6 Panavia Tornado GR4 aircraft to Iraq and they will be equipped with the Paveway IV, a so called smart bomb, which is guided to it’s target by GPS or laser designator. Each bomb costs £30000. That’s enough to house, feed and clothe a family of 4 for a year and still have some change for a holiday! This cost does not include the cost of the delivery platform but, I’m sure you’ll all agree with David Cameron, that it is a small price to pay for keeping the “brutal terrorist organisation” off the streets of Britain. Indeed we have a “duty” to do so.

But let us consider where IS came from. After the warmongers Bush and Blair conducted their illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Sunni group al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) rose up to fight the invaders. They joined with other Sunni groups to form the Mujahedeen Shura Council which then became the Islamic State of Iraq. Their main area of operations were in the predominantly Sunni areas to the north of Baghdad. Their extreme views and violence against the civilians in the areas which they controlled led to The Awakening, in which the more moderate Iraqi Sunnis pushed them out. There then followed a period of consolidation and another name change to ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Their stated aim was to create an Islamic state, or caliphate, in Iraq, Syria, Israel,  Jordan, Palestine, Cyprus and southern Turkey.

The group entered the Syrian civil war and made astounding gains in both territory and materiel, they then pushed south towards Baghdad, east toward Kirkuk and west towards Jordan. The Iraqi armed forces fled in terror, they did not have the stomach to fight for the puppet government in Baghdad. It was only the Kurdish forces which managed to halt their advance, along with some assistance from the Iraqi Air Force.

So you can see that it is the US and the UK’s actions in Iraq which led to the rise of IS. It is therefor quite ironic that we are having to go back there to clean up the mess that we helped to create. But as I mentioned in an earlier post the bombing on it’s own will not defeat IS, they will just move into the cities and hug the civilian population so that they cannot be bombed without unacceptable “collateral damage”. As the last foray into Muslim lands, Libya, showed the availability of targets for the aircraft could quickly dry up. Unless IS are so unhinged that they will drive about the desert in pick up trucks, black flags flying, just to tempt the infidel to spend another £30k.

The only way that IS will be defeated militarily will be to attack them with ground forces and it would appear that the Free Army of Syria are being groomed for the job. They will be equipped and trained then sent against IS. Of course they are busy fighting the Assad regime so, if I were Assad, I would wait until FAS start attacking IS then I would move against them. This would then draw the Americans in to the civil war and the Russians would also join in. Cue WW3, but in the quagmire of the Syrian civil war anything could happen.

The next thing to watch out for is “Mission Creep”. Did you notice how David Cameron explicitly left the door open to attacking Syria without asking the permission of parliament? Once all of the IS targets have disappeared then the next targets will be other groups in the Syrian war who don’t fit in to the US’s world view. The UK will follow on like a good poodle in order to lend some legitimacy.

The operation is going to last for years, it is going to cost us millions which could have been spent elsewhere. Isn’t it funny how money can always be found for war but not for housing, feeding and educating the poor? I wonder how many MPs have shares in Raytheon?


Boots on the ground

Tony Blair, the UK’s former chief warmonger, has called for “boots on the ground” in the fight against IS. Almost immediately the US launched missile and airstrikes against targets in Syria and Iraq, having informed Syria’s dictator that the airstrikes were coming. 47 tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from ships, each missile costs $1.59 million. That’s $74.3 million! Such is the perceived threat posed by the terrorist group. There is no data on which other missiles and bombs were used, however I did see a video of an airstrike of a “vehicle staging area” which was hit by multiple strikes at once. The strikes were in a regular pattern which would suggest that cluster bombs were being used. But then neither the USA or Syria have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions so that’s alright then. The legacy of these airstrikes will persist for the civilian population for years to come, but I’m sure that that they would consider the loss of their children’s’ limbs as a small price to pay for ending the tyranny of IS and replacing it with a more benign tyranny.

The reason why the war criminal Blair is calling for ground troops to be used is because of the nature of IS. They are relatively lightly armed and are highly mobile. They learned their trade fighting against the USA after the illegal invasion of Iraq by Dubbya and his British poodle Blair. They are used to fighting against an enemy with superior fire power and complete control of the skies. So they disperse their forces, hide them from view. In the words of Mao Zedong who stated, “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea”, they merge with and blend into the civilian population which means that there will always be “collateral damage” due to these airstrikes no matter how precise the munitions are. In short, airstrikes are not going to be very effective and they will not lead to the destruction of IS, so ground troops will be required if the job is to be completed.

The only question is where these ground troops are going to come from? Iraq? it would take at least a year before the Iraqi armed forces would be capable of fighting IS, but they would probably be able to hold a northern front with US air support. The Kurds? They would be able to make limited gains against IS from the west, but they could not venture far from their semi-autonomous areas as their supply lines would be stretched too much. Jordan? They are already involved in the airstrikes and as such they will no doubt suffer the wrath of IS for doing so, but they would probably be able to squeeze IS from the east. Turkey? They would be able to make significant gains against IS, but they are members of NATO so any incursions into Syria would be fiercely resisted by Russia, they will probably hold their southern border. So it would appear that a containment exercise is in progress. But containing and defeating are two different things.

In order to defeat IS there would have to be troops sent into Syria itself, or the forces which are already present in Syria would have to be bolstered and used as proxy forces. Does this mean that the Syrian regime will be used? That’s unlikely because it is so unpalatable, but it wouldn’t be the first time that the West has snuggled up to a dictator out of expediency. It would be more likely that some other, less unsavoury, group would be armed and trained then used as proxy forces. Just like the US did with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan when the Soviets invaded all those years ago. Who ever is used will need to have some kind of US and/or UK troops embedded with them in order to direct the airstrikes. Which would probably mean that our troops will be on the ground, if they are not there already. But given the sensitivities of despatching NATO troops into Syria they will consist of small teams of special forces.

What has this got to do with Scotland? Everything and nothing. The timing of these airstrikes, coming almost straight after the referendum result, suggests to me that the US was waiting for the result before going ahead. They needed to be sure that they could get the UK on side before they started, a Yes vote would have prevented that. But now that the unionists have won they can ride a surge in English nationalism and get a vote passed in Westminster on more engagement in the Middle East. The UK government will be engaging itself in another war in our name, this will probably happen on Friday. So we must congratulate the No voters for getting us pulled into another war in the Middle East. This one will be so much more confused and it will have so much more potential to badly wrong than Iraq or Afghanistan combined. Let us hope that it doesn’t.