Iraq asks for return of US troops

Faced with ISIS forces within 8 miles of Baghdad, the government of Iraq is pleading for the return of US troops. Alastair Beach reports in the UK Telegraph:

Iraqi officials have issued a desperate plea for America to bring US ground troops back to the embattled country, as heavily armed Islamic State militants came within striking distance of Baghdad.

Amid reports that Isil forces have advanced as far as Abu Ghraib, a town that is effectively a suburb of Baghdad, a senior governor claimed up to 10,000 fighters from the movement were now poised to assault the capital.

The warning came from Sabah al-Karhout, president of the provisional council of Anbar Province, the vast desert province to the west of Baghdad that has now largely fallen under jihadist control.

The province’s two main cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, were once known as “the graveyard of the Americans”, and the idea of returning there will not be welcomed by the Pentagon.

But were the province to be controlled by Isil, it would give their forces a springboard from which to mount an all-out assault on Baghdad, where a team of around 1,500 US troops is already acting as mentors to the beleaguered Iraqi army.

The pullout of US troops from Iraq, something President Obama engineered by not seriously trying to negotiate an agreement to protect them from Iraq courts in a Status of Forces Agreement  (SOFA), is a historic blunder whose consequences are onlu beginning to unfold. The situation in Iraq is grimmer than most people realize:

Most of the Euphrates valley – which runs south east from Turkey through Syria, into Iraq and towards the capital – is now under Isil control. Were Ramadi to fall, jihadi commanders would control a vital supply chain running from Baghdad directly back to their Syrian headquarters in Raqqa. They would also control the Haditha dam, the second largest in Iraq.

But does Obama have the political will to send American troops back to Iraq? Almost certainly not before the November election, for he would anger the left wing base of his party.

An actual ISIS takeover of Baghdad, with its large sections inhabited by Shiites such as Sadr City, is unlikely. But ISIS may be in a position to deny supplies, including water, to that vast metropolis:

“It’s not plausible at this point to envision Isil taking control of Baghdad, but they can make Baghdad so miserable that it would threaten the legitimacy of the central government,” said Richard Brennan, a former US department of defence policymaker.

Thanks to the half-hearted US response to ISIS, relying on a small number of fighter-bomber attacks, ISIS is thriving in the face of American opposition, lending it vast credibility among Muslims disaffected with secular, Western governance. ISIS has momentum, and that may propel it further, much further, in a region inhabited by Muslims under the sway of fundamentalist clergy, and governed by autocratic dictatorial regimes with little popular support.

The dimensions of the disaster that could unfold are stunning. Think Saudi Arabia and the Emirates under the control of ISIS or ISIS-like regimes.

Faced with ISIS forces within 8 miles of Baghdad, the government of Iraq is pleading for the return of US troops. Alastair Beach reports in the UK Telegraph:

Iraqi officials have issued a desperate plea for America to bring US ground troops back to the embattled country, as heavily armed Islamic State militants came within striking distance of Baghdad.

Amid reports that Isil forces have advanced as far as Abu Ghraib, a town that is effectively a suburb of Baghdad, a senior governor claimed up to 10,000 fighters from the movement were now poised to assault the capital.

The warning came from Sabah al-Karhout, president of the provisional council of Anbar Province, the vast desert province to the west of Baghdad that has now largely fallen under jihadist control.

The province’s two main cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, were once known as “the graveyard of the Americans”, and the idea of returning there will not be welcomed by the Pentagon.

But were the province to be controlled by Isil, it would give their forces a springboard from which to mount an all-out assault on Baghdad, where a team of around 1,500 US troops is already acting as mentors to the beleaguered Iraqi army.

The pullout of US troops from Iraq, something President Obama engineered by not seriously trying to negotiate an agreement to protect them from Iraq courts in a Status of Forces Agreement  (SOFA), is a historic blunder whose consequences are onlu beginning to unfold. The situation in Iraq is grimmer than most people realize:

Most of the Euphrates valley – which runs south east from Turkey through Syria, into Iraq and towards the capital – is now under Isil control. Were Ramadi to fall, jihadi commanders would control a vital supply chain running from Baghdad directly back to their Syrian headquarters in Raqqa. They would also control the Haditha dam, the second largest in Iraq.

But does Obama have the political will to send American troops back to Iraq? Almost certainly not before the November election, for he would anger the left wing base of his party.

An actual ISIS takeover of Baghdad, with its large sections inhabited by Shiites such as Sadr City, is unlikely. But ISIS may be in a position to deny supplies, including water, to that vast metropolis:

“It’s not plausible at this point to envision Isil taking control of Baghdad, but they can make Baghdad so miserable that it would threaten the legitimacy of the central government,” said Richard Brennan, a former US department of defence policymaker.

Thanks to the half-hearted US response to ISIS, relying on a small number of fighter-bomber attacks, ISIS is thriving in the face of American opposition, lending it vast credibility among Muslims disaffected with secular, Western governance. ISIS has momentum, and that may propel it further, much further, in a region inhabited by Muslims under the sway of fundamentalist clergy, and governed by autocratic dictatorial regimes with little popular support.

The dimensions of the disaster that could unfold are stunning. Think Saudi Arabia and the Emirates under the control of ISIS or ISIS-like regimes.