Middle East News Update. A combination of news reports over the past week about the Middle East, Syria, Libya, Yemen, State Department failure in Iraq, Russia bombing Syria from Iranian air bases, and (not so smart) recruits for the Islamic State.
CRS Report on al-Qaeda & U.S. Policy. Carla E. Humud, a Middle East and African Affairs analyst for the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has penned a report for Congress. Read Al Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa, August 11, 2016 posted on the website of the U.S. Naval Institute.
State Dept Plan for Iraq Failed During OIF. In more Middle East news we learn the United States Department of State had a plan for the reconstruction of Iraq for the post-Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) era, but . . . Learn more in “Promises Unfulfilled: How a State Department Plan to Stabilize Iraq Broke Apart”, The Washington Post, August 15, 2016.
A Victory for the SDF in Syria. The Syrian Arab Coalition element of the Syrian Democratic Forces has seized control of the Syrian city Manbij from the Islamic State. This is a big victory to the U.S. aided rebel group. Manbij was a key transit point for ISIL fighters going into Syria and Iraq as well as for the flow of supplies, equipment and supplies. Read more in “Local Forces Clear Manbij in Syria After Seizing Control from ISIL”, DoD News, August 16, 2016.
Syria’s Warlords & U.S. Strategy. Paul Wood writes about the mess in Syria – how it started, the U.S. (lack of) strategy, who replaces ISIS, and why the conflict will not end soon in “Syria’s warlords were nobodies. Now they are rich men with sex slaves”, The Spectator (UK), August 6, 2016.
Proxy Warfare in Syria. The U.S. employment of proxy forces in Syria has not been entirely successful. While its alliance with the Syrian Kurds is going well (although alienating Turkey) the relationship with other Syrian groups is problematic. A U.S. Army Special Forces officer tells us how to improve. Read more in “Want to Build a Better Proxy in Syria? Lessons from Tibet”, War on the Rocks, August 17, 2016.
The Sunni Myth & Civil Wars in Middle East. War on the Rocks has posted (August 16, 2016) an interesting, lengthy, and controversial article entitled “Washington’s Sunni Myth and the Civil Wars in Syria and Iraq”.
Bodycounts? 45,000 ISIS killed? Hmmm. Read more about a U.S. general recently proclaiming the latest body count (as a measure of progress) in a Foreign Policy article (Aug 16, 2016).
Factors in Iraq War. This article explores the sinking morale of the ISIS fighters, the fight for Mosul, the success of the Kurds, and more. Read “Iraq: The Two Front War”, Strategy Page, August 17, 2016.
‘Islam for Dummies’: ISIS recruits have poor grasp of Muslim faith. A news report by Military Times, August 16, 2016 explains that new recruits for the Islamic Group seemed ignorant in their knowledge of Islam. This was a great opportunity for ISIS to ‘fill in the blanks’ and indoctrinate the new recruits with the ISIS brand of Islam.
Partitioning Libya? In Libya, the divisions between east and west are the problem – now and in the countries past. Federica Saini Fasanotti examines this past and comes up with some conclusions. Read “A house divided: Why partitioning Libya might be the only way to save it”, Brookings Institute, August 18, 2016.
Russia Bombing Syria from Iran Bases. Russia has been sending its bombers to Syria from Iranian air bases. Presumably they are flying through Iraqi air space with no interference from U.S. aircraft. Does this make the United States complicit with Russian bombing atrocities? Hmmm. Read more in “Russia uses Iran as base to bomb Syrian militants for first time”, Reuters, August 16,2016.
What is the Endstate of the Terror Wars? The United States is currently engaged in at least five conflicts. But some analysts say there is no path forward and there is a lack of a grand strategy. In addition, neither presidential candidate is addressing the current status or recommended strategy for the conflicts the U.S. is currently engaged in. Anthony Cordesman examines this topic in great detail in U.S. Wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen: What are the Endstates?, Center for Strategic & International Studies, August 15, 2016.