16 April 2016

The great, long-awaited counterattack against ISIS has finally begun. The offensive that spans Syria and western Iraq is targeting the ISIS-held cities of Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

For a variety of reasons, the much ballyhooed “final offensive” against ISIS is moving with all the speed of a medieval army of drunken foot soldiers and all the audacity of a lady’s garden party.

As a former soldier and war correspondent, I find the spectacle both pathetic and weird. Back in my army days, our tough sergeants used to call such behavior “lilly-dipping.” There’s no risk that this pathetic campaign will go down in the annals of military history.

In fact, the whole business smells to high heaven.

In the west, the Syrian government and Kurdish troops, stiffened by US, British and French special forces, and backed by US close air support, are inching towards ISIS-controlled Raqqa, a dreary, one-camel town that sits on some strategic roads. Syrian troops just retook Palmyra, once the desert capital of the fabled Queen Zenobia. The battle was hardly a second Stalingrad: ISIS fighters piled into their pickups and skedaddled.

Washington has been slowly massing Iraqi and US forces for the campaign against Mosul, an important city of 64,000 that is the gateway to Iraq’s northern oilfields. Arabs and Kurds have been battling over Mosul for decades. Iraq’s Kurds, now allied to the US, are set on cementing their hold on Mosul and its oil-producing region…and probably expelling many of its Arab inhabitants. The Turks, who once ruled this region, are angry as hornets and fearful that an independent Kurdish state may be proclaimed at Mosul.

To get to Mosul, all the US-led forces need do is start their vehicles and drive a few hours up the highway to that city. Iraq has excellent roads thanks to its murdered president, Saddam Hussein. US-led Iraqi government and Kurdish forces are similarly close to Mosul from their bases in western Iraq.

If Germans or Russians were running this mini-war, they would have taken Mosul last year.

What strikes me as so curious is that in reality the dreaded ISIS is little more than a bunch of 20-something kids without any military training or professional command except for some veterans of Saddam’s disbanded army.

ISIS has almost no artillery and only light anti-aircraft guns. Their supplies are scanty; their communications listened into by nearly everyone. US, British, French, warplanes buzz overhead, ready to blast anything that moves in the flat, empty desert terrain. ,

In WWII the Germans would have sent a couple of jeeps commanded by sergeants roaring into Mosul, ordering its defenders “hands up, thrown down your weapons, and surrender. Schnell!”

This how the audacious Germans took bridges and towns across Holland, Belgium and Yugoslavia. A single jeepload of German soldiers reportedly took Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital.

The notion that a rabble of 20-something ISIS kids can stand up to highly trained heavily armed western troops and their native auxiliaries is absurd. ISIS is what the Ottomans used to call, “bashi-bazooks,” armed street thugs used for looting and attacking civilians.

The small Russian air contingent in Syria has proven far more effective than the US and its allies. The mighty US Air Force has continued pinprick attacks on ISIS positions in what has become a pantomime war. It’s almost as if the western powers are playing make-believe in Syria.

Perhaps they are. The Saudis and Turks, both very close US allies, have been arming and supplying ISIS in order to topple the Damascus-based Shia regime of President Bashar Assad. Washington has gone along with this covert fight while lamenting the terrors of “terrorism.”

Washington’s strategy in Syria has become so comically inept that the Pentagon and CIA are actually backing rival Syrian jihadist groups who are fighting with one another. The Russians are mocking Washington. Who can blame them.

The Obama administration is clearly reluctant to use “force majeure” against ISIS. So it continues to tip-toe and lilly-dip in Syria and Iraq, likely assuring that the US will eventually get stuck in another big Mideast conflict.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2016

This post is in: Iraq, ISIS, Mideast, Syria, Turkey

7 Responses to “THE PHONY WAR IN SYRIA”

  1. archieboy says:

    Two questions: #1 If ISIS is crushed by a US invasion of Mosul and driven out of the oil fields of Iraq could the USA ever be free to leave or would the whole area in fact just continue to be a war zone ? #2 If we were not under the control of rich and powerful men who tell us what to think would we care about the middle east?

  2. Mike Smith says:

    Phony War Indeed….. former head of the US defense intelligence agency has came forward and said ISIS is an American creation. The purpose… because of their failure to nation build in Iraq, and the inroads Iran has made there, they decided that a balance could be achieved if Sunni fighters took over Syria… The Raj at work again. How many failed states have the fingerprints of the Americans??? Syria, Libya. Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, doesn’t even include Africa or the Americas. I hope Trump gets elected, I hope the whole house of cards come tumbling down as a result, A civil war in the US would likely hinder, then help the Canadian economy… in the best case the US becomes 2 or 3 independent states… so much the better. All empires fall… it is their turn.

    • Mike, expressing my opinion on this column only needs for me to agree with you here. I very much enjoy your comment here. As I was reading this article by Eric, An old cartoon came to mind, in which Ariel Sharon said: “Every time we do something, you tell me the Americans will do this and that. I want to tell you something very clear, don`t worry about American pressure on Israel; we the Jewish people control America and the Americans know it”. This quote was dated Oct.3 2001.
      “The Americans have the best government money can buy” I once read and they prove it at every election. Empires are inherently undemocratic, no matter the claims to the contrary.

    • I’ve seen the trend lines developing for years, telling me in the not too distant Future, we will see a flood of Americans seeking Refugee Status in CanaDa, to escape Crazy American style, home grown terrorism, that will dwarf the phony war on terrorism the US conducts in other countries, so far from the US Homeland.

      I see it coming as a kind of Divine Justice or Retribution as satisfying the American Love and Worship of Guns, Domestically, and being the biggest Merchant of the Weapons of Death, Destruction and Intimidation Globally. The question is, will CanaDa be ready?

      Forty years ago, THE KANSAS CITY TIMES, on September 13, 1976, published this Vision: “He came to town for the Republican National Convention and will stay until the election in November to do God’s bidding: To tell the world, from Kansas City, this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered […] He gestured toward a gleaming church dome. “The gold dome is the symbol of Babylon,” he said.”

      These are the first two parts of the three part ‘Writing On The Wall’ recorded in Daniel 5 during the Captivity of Babylon some 2600 years ago.

      It was not until 9/11 and 7 years later, with the Global Financial Meltdown-Economic Pearl Harbor-Tsunami in the Fall of 2008, the whole world was able to see the ‘Writing on the Wall’ for the 1st Time at the same Time.

      The 3rd part of the 2600 year old ‘Writing on the Wall’ tells of the decline of the Imperial Economic-Military Superpower and a rising Persia-Iran.

      It’s taken 40 years, but current news events, and articles like this one, are the Revelation of the unfolding details of that 1976 Prophecy.

      Multitudes! Multitudes! In the Valley of Decision! The Day of the LORD is near, in the Valley of Decision!


  3. During the second world war the most corrupt army on earth was the Imperial Chinese generals. They had one interest and one interest only and it was not save their country it was make as much money off the war as possible. When Americans sent supplies to China they had to send as much as twice as what was needed to compensate for the amount the Generals would take who would show up with dozens of trucks load them and drive off. Americans in China reported the Generals didn’t give a damn who they sold the supplies to even saying they saw Chinese trucks going to Japanese bases loaded with American supplies.

    America is the same way today. They don’t give a damn about winning or anything except making money. If you watch No End In Sight the only explanation of American activities that makes sense is they deliberately prolonged the war as long as possible to make as much money as possible off of it.

    • Maybe Eric has a unique perspective on this, but along the lines of your comment, I never did understand why, during WWII, tiny Switzerland was not invaded? I can only speculate, both sides knew there had to be a “neutral” place to stash all the war loot.

      Those people, would have been no different morally, than the Chinese Generals you mention.

      It’s not ancient history when the US Military was exposed for paying $500 for hammers and toilet seats. $600,000,000,000 is a lot of money. Who will miss a $million here or there?

      The Christian Conscript Crusaders to the Holy Land during the middle Ages were allowed to loot and rape with impunity. That was their pay!

      War is the removal of all restraints on ‘criminal behaviour’ on a massive scale. The Civilian population considers killing people and wantonly destroying property to be criminal in their Peace Time in their own Cities.

  4. Steve_M. says:

    Another great article, Eric. Thanks for helping to expose this phony war against ISIS. I have said in other posts on this site and to some friends that Turkey is allowing young men and women from the US, Canada, Britain and France to come through Istanbul airport, knowing that they are en route to joining ISIS in Syria or Iraq. But, Turkish immigration officials do not stop them. If the US et al had wanted to crush ISIS, they would have done so last year, as you indicate, but instead they are using it to help topple the Assad regime in Syria. Remember how the US was supplying arms to all of the rebels in Syria and it wasn’t too concerned as to who was getting them? This is a disaster that is to a great extent of the US’s own making.

    In some ways, this situation with ISIS is little different from the mess they created with Afghanistan and al-Qaeda. As we know, al-Qaeda was helping the Taliban to fight the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the US was not at all worried as to who might get its armaments. I clearly recall a televised interview done with Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan back around 1989 or 1990, in which she expressed deep concern as to whose hands those armaments had fallen and where they had gone. It was the US that played a major role in creating al-Qaeda in the first place, only to have this monster literally blow up in its face on 9/11. Too bad the 9/11 Commission didn’t explore that avenue! (Unless, maybe they did and their findings are now “classified” because they would be so embarrassing to the US government.)

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