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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Nouri al-Maliki’

Strategic Coalition Forming: Russia Supplying Iraq

Monday, June 30th, 2014

This news item involves more than meets the eye.

Western media picked up on it when Nouri al-Maliki stated publicly this week that he should have bought war planes from Britain, France, or Russia, because the planes would have been delivered faster than the U.S. aircraft Iraq is waiting for:

Mr Maliki was speaking to the BBC’s Arabic service in his first interview for an international broadcaster since Isis – the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – began its major offensive.

“I’ll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract [with the US],” Mr Maliki said.

“We should have sought to buy other jet fighters like British, French and Russian to secure the air cover for our forces; if we had air cover we would have averted what had happened,” he went on.

Maliki’s government has a contract for 36 U.S. F-16s – the contract for which the civilians who had to fight their way out of Balad Air Base were in Iraq. There has been no delay in fulfilling the contract, but the planes aren’t scheduled to arrive in Iraq until the fall of 2014.

The first group of 10 Russian jets arrived on Saturday 28 June, however. The aircraft are Su-24 “Fencer” ground attack jets.*

Of perhaps more importance is the point that you don’t just buy jet war planes and have someone hop in and go. Iraq doesn’t have a ready cohort of trained Su-24 pilots or ground crew. Someone else will have to fly the planes in combat, prepare them for each sortie, maintain them – and plan their use in the overall fight.

This means that another nation – probably Iran, possibly Russia and/or Syria – is entering the fight in Iraq in a new and fully committed dimension.

Strictly from the point of view of aircrew expertise, there aren’t actually that many air forces that currently maintain proficiency with the Su-24. If it isn’t Iran, Syria, or Russia, Algeria and Kazakhstan are the only other realistic possibilities: nations that use the Su-24, may have the pilots to spare, and might volunteer to get them some real-world experience in this particular fight.

One reason Iran is the best bet is that Maliki is also reportedly negotiating the return of dozens of Iraqi air force aircraft that were evacuated to Iran in the days before the Desert Storm invasion in 1991. Su-24s were among those aircraft, which also included MiG-29s and French F-1 Mirage fighters.

There are three factors in Iraq’s lack of experienced jet aircrew. One is the substantial loss of aircraft in 1991, which left the Iraqi air force with very little to fly. Another is the enforcement of the UN no-fly zone from 1991 to 2003, which severely limited the scope of what Saddam’s remaining jet aircraft could do even after Desert Storm was over. The third is the fact that most of the elite aircrewmen of the Saddam era were Sunni loyalists, whose services were not necessarily sought or accepted after 2003. Those who are still alive are, in any case, 23 years older now.

But even from a more general perspective – air campaign planning, day-to-day combat direction – the Iraqi air force doesn’t have the infrastructure to manage or man an air war against ISIS using jet planes. Bringing in jets and incorporating them in the fight represents a significant expansion of the campaign, and it’s one that Iraq’s government literally cannot run by itself or retain control of.

In fact, the investment being made by Russia and Iran is what I envisioned nearly three weeks ago when I wrote this:

But conditions in the region are almost certain to change, as much as they need to, to defeat ISIS. All three of Bashar al-Assad, Tehran’s mullahs, and Russia have reason to intervene to beat back the ISIS insurgency. (There’s a significant presence of Chechens and Dagestanis – bane of Moscow – in the ranks of ISIS. For the security of her entire southern flank, Russia needs to see the ISIS effort crushed.)

The air war functions now as a lens focusing the priorities of Moscow, Tehran, and Damascus into a unified strategic view. The Maliki and Assad governments have a common objective in using air power against ISIS, and the geographic elements of their common fight are too obvious to be missed. Syria and Iraq form a single battle space: especially so from the perspective of Assad’s patrons in Moscow and Tehran. Assad and Maliki have an obvious need to coordinate the air war against ISIS, and their (now) common patrons, Russia and Iran, are the obvious means to facilitate that.

Iraq’s Leader Besieged by Obama

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

We’ve seen this scenario before.

Iraq is falling apart, with a major terrorist organization threatening the stability of the nation and murdering civilians and soldiers right and left. The current government, which once was “firmly” supported by its “friend” in Washington is wobbling, its military force unable to cope with the threat it faces.

And now the United States is calling on Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to “rise above” the country’s sectarian divisions and step down or form a national unity government.

Secretary of State John Kerry is attending a meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels after spending two days in Baghdad and Irbil, trying to re-shape the Iraqi government.

The besieged Iraqi prime minister, meanwhile, on Wednesday fought back, issuing a statement warning that calls for him to step down or form a national government really mean a “coup against the constitution and an attempt to end the democratic experience.”

Hm. Now, where have we seen this scenario before?

Let’s see. . . was it . . . Egypt? Libya? Syria? Yemen?

Gee. Nearly every single Arab nation for which the United States has professed unswerving assistance and support, and has in the past provided strong foreign aid. And which has crashed in the wake of the Arab Spring, launched courtesy of President Barack Obama’s oh-so-helpful “Let there be change” Speech From Cairo.

Could there be an emerging pattern here?

And now Washington has set its sights on Iraq.

Al Qaeda has already swallowed a fair amount of territory in Libya, Syria and Yemen, and the Muslim Brotherhood is giving the government a good run for its money in Egypt.

And at last we return to Iraq, a situation which has even given the Iranians pause, believe it or not. Now that’s something, a situation that could make even the Saudi Arabians fear God.

Because when Al Qaeda is finished with Iraq, the horde will probably invade Jordan next, and after that, perhaps the Sinai Peninsula and/or Gaza.

Eventually, maybe even Israel. Yet the Pentagon is upset because Israel will not agree to U.S. General John Allen’s plan to replace Israel’s army in the Jordan Valley with an international force.

Since Saudi Arabia is directly south of Iraq, however, it is entirely possible they may instead move to take Mecca first, the holiest city in Islam. As wealthy as the Saudis are, they are unlikely to be able to ward off that kind of attack on their own.

With the holy Islamic month of Ramadan almost here, will Saudi Arabia be able to rely on its “friend and ally,” U.S. President Barack Obama?

Maybe – as did those who led Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria.

ISIS Seizes Key Syrian, Jordanian Border Crossings

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Al Qaeda-linked Sunni militants from the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria captured key two border crossings on Sunday — including one that leads from Iraq directly into Jordan. The other is a crossing into Syria.

Jordanian officials have been dreading this possibility for weeks and monitoring the situation across the border for some time.

The terrorist group has also seized four more towns, further broadening the wide swathe of territory already under its control. That band of ISIS-controlled land now spreads from nearly all of northern Iraq, to the eastern part of the country, and beginning to bleed down to the south, and into the west – where Jordan lies.

Beyond Jordan, ISIS hopes to eventually reach the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza and then finally Israel. Less than a month ago, terrorists from the group kidnapped a Turkish consul in Tikrit and 80 Turkish citizens. Many are still being held hostage.

The terrorist group’s dream of carving out an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or an Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) as it is called in Iraq, is rapidly advancing.

A top military intelligence official in Iraq told CBC News on condition of anonymity that the militants’ objective is Baghdad, “where we are working frantically to bolster our defenses.” But the Iraqi military is badly outgunned, he admitted. “I will be honest with you,” he said. “Even that is not up to the level of what is needed. Morale is low.”

Jihadists from neighboring Arab nations – as well as from European countries and even from as far away as the United States – are being drawn to the battle as flies to honey and are traveling to join the conflict, as in the past they traveled to fight in Syria.

Those who have already acquired their objectives in Iraq are now supplying their fellow jihadists in Syria with weaponry won in recent battles to fight in the civil war across the border – or at least, until there is no border.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has served in office since 2006, has not given any indication he intends to step down. But as he did in Cairo, U.S. President Barack Obama has sent signals he no longer supports the Iraqi leader during the crisis, although he agreed t osend 300 military advisers to retrain Iraqi troops. Obama also said he might consider air strikes to support the Iraqi military, but did not make any commitments.

With Iran opposing American involvement, it seems likely Obama will drag his heels as much as possible, fearing to intervene and offend Iranian sensibilities.

The new Iraqi parliament, set to meet by the end of this month, is expected to elect a speaker and a new president. The president-elect will then ask the leader who wins a simple majority of the 328-member parliament to form the new government.

During the most recent election, al-Maliki’s ‘State of the Law’ party won the most mandates – 92 – but it is not enough to pull a majority for a new coalition government, especially in light of the current crisis.

Al Qaeda Eyes Baghdad After Taking Northern Iraq

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

The Al Qaeda-linked terror organization that earlier this week captured northern Iraq is now eyeing Baghdad.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known in Syria as ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), earlier this week captured the major northern Iraqi city of Mosul – and then took Tikrit, the hometown of former dictator Sadaam Hussein.

The forces also control a large swathe of territory in the western and central regions of the country, and in eastern Syria — leading to wide speculation about whether an emirate may soon follow. Iraq’s lucrative oil fields in the north are especially vulnerable — and profitable.

Now, the group is vowing to march on Baghdad, as the country’s parliament meets in an emergency session to vote on a request by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to declare a state of emergency.

Up to half a million residents so far have fled Mosul, according to the BBC.

The UN Security Council said in a statement, meanwhile, that it “deplores in the strongest terms the recent events in the city of Mosul” and expressed concern for the hundreds of thousands who have since fled their homes. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on “the international community to unite in showing solidarity with Iraq as it confronts this serious security challenge”.

Faith in any help from the international community, however, is probably about as strong as that in help from America, which promised when it pulled out two and a half years ago to help Iraqi leaders “help push back against this aggression.” And then left them to twist in the wind.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/al-qaeda-eyes-baghdad-after-taking-northern-iraq/2014/06/12/

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