No kidding, but Haider al-Abadi may be kidding himself if he thinks Western nations will do much more than airstrikes and tongue clucks against ISIS. The Iraqi Prime Minister went to Paris to complain that his army was “going it alone,” and that the world offered “a lot of talk” but not much action. Iraq needs weapons, intelligence, and action if the world wants an end to Daesh:
After a string of victories by Islamic State militants, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appealed Tuesday for more international military support, saying Iraq’s ground forces were largely going it alone despite promises of help.
“This is a failure on the part of the world,”Abadi told journalists at a meeting of foreign ministers from the U.S.-led coalition to assess strategies in its fight against the militants. “There is a lot of talk of support for Iraq. There is very little on the ground.”
Yes, Iraq’s ground forces are largely going it alone, usually in the wrong direction. Abadi doesn’t explain how 6,000 regular army troops could have lost Ramadi to 150 ISIS fighters, which isn’t exactly having “little on the ground,” except in terms of fighting quality. Abadi could have linked up with the Kurds against Mosul to relieve that city and used the combined strength to come down from the north on ISIS, but instead it chose to launch an offensive on Anbar that never materialized.
The Washington Post felt compelled to note that the US has advisors on the ground in Iraq in contrast to Abadi’s allegation:
The coalition has waged airstrikes against Islamic State targets for months in Iraq and Syria. But in signs of expanded assistance, at least 3,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are training and advising Iraqi security forces, and the United States and its partners are providing weapons and intelligence.
All of which would make sense if Iraq’s army was in fighting form. The lesson of the last 18 months is that the Iraqi army is all but worthless. If it wasn’t for hundreds of thousands of potential Shi’ite fighters defending Baghdad, that would already be overrun. Airstrikes and advisors succeed when a numerically superior and high-morale corps is on the ground to fight against an enemy. The Kurds are proving that in the north, but the US and its allies won’t directly support them as a sop to Abadi and the Turks, who don’t want to see an independent Kurdistan emerge from the collapse of Iraq.
None of which means Abadi’s incorrect. The world has stood by, conducting an air war at considerable risk to its pilots while knowing that it has no chance of ever dislodging ISIS from either Iraq or Syria. They want ISIS destroyed but don’t want the responsibility it would take for a truly effective campaign — competent ground troops in large numbers to conduct house-to-house fighting. That’s what beat ISIS in 2006-8 in its previous incarnation of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Instead, we’re bombing communication lines while ISIS manages to spread anyway:
Syrian rebels appealed for U.S. airstrikes to counter a new offensive by the Islamic State in the northern province of Aleppo that could reshape the battlefield in Syria.
The surprise assault, launched over the weekend, opened a new front in the multi-pronged war being waged by the extremist group across Iraq and Syria, and it underscored the Islamic State’s capacity to catch its enemies off guard.
The push — which came on the heels of the militants’ capture of the Syrian city of Palmyra and the western Iraqi city of Ramadi late last month — took them within reach of the strategically vital town of Azaz on the Turkish border.
The offensive reinforces the impression that the Islamic State is regaining momentum despite more than eight months of U.S. led-airstrikes.
It’s not just an impression. The reality is that ISIS is expanding, the Iraqi army is all but useless, and we’re losing this war.