ChrisWeigant.com

Will The Fight For Mosul Be The October Surprise?

[ Posted Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 – 16:23 UTC ]

There has been relatively little speculation this election year about what could possibly be the "October surprise." In a normal presidential election year, this is a fun subject to speculate about when the actual news from the campaign trail gets dull and repetitive. This year, of course, that hasn't exactly happened -- the political news has been anything but dull and repetitive, in fact. Because of this, most political reporters haven't even bothered to wonder if an October surprise will happen, much less what it might consist of. The few articles I've seen have suggested two possibilities: Wikileaks releasing more of Hillary Clinton's emails, and Vladimir Putin launching some military adventurism somewhere in the world. Both, it's interesting to note, would aid Donald Trump's candidacy. Perhaps one or the other of these will happen, but I think there's a different October surprise out there, and one which (depending on the outcome) might help Clinton, not Trump.

I would direct everyone's attention to the city of Mosul, in northern Iraq. The war against the Islamic State in Iraq has been proceeding in fits and starts, but the news over the past year has almost universally been good for the Iraqi armed forces, and very bad for the Islamic State. The government forces have retaken huge swaths of the country, including the key cities of Fallujah, Hit, and Ramadi -- pushing the Islamic State back from being almost at the gates of Baghdad to positions far out in the desert, in the western part of the country. In the meantime, Kurdish forces have retaken an important supply route into Syria in the north. During this time, the Islamic State has not gained any ground at all -- the movement has been one-sided, as they have lost ground everywhere in Iraq.

But, as everyone knows, the big prize still remains in the Islamic State's hands. Mosul is a huge city which may still have up to a million civilians living in it. The city has slowly been surrounded on the north, east, and south by both the Kurds and the Iraqi forces. A key airfield was taken earlier this year which will be a base of operations for the final push to retake the city. Troops have been gathering, and the Iraqi government has even recently dropped leaflets over the city warning that the final push is about to begin. Just today, it was announced more Americans will be on the ground to aid the effort. From the article:

The battle for Mosul is not expected to be easy. Militants have been moving swiftly against would-be opponents in the city as they strengthen their defenses ahead of the expected attack.

In a statement on his website, [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider] al-Abadi said his government had requested a "final increase" to the U.S. troop presence, but said U.S. service members would begin to go home immediately after the recapture of Mosul.

U.S. officials have not said exactly when the offensive will begin, but have suggested that it could get underway next month.

Next month is October. However, you can't just assume that this timetable will hold. The Iraqis have been saying they're about to start the final push for Mosul for many months now, and it hasn't yet happened. The White House has been saying all along that it'd like to see Mosul retaken "by the end of the year," which has allowed the Iraqis some flexibility. But now the end of the year is fast approaching, so the prediction that the final battle will begin in October is more believable than previous such proclamations.

The big sticking point has always been what happens after the city is retaken. Who will govern Mosul? Will the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government agree to boundary lines and shared responsibilities, or will they finish off the Islamic State there and then begin attacking each other? The solution to Mosul has always been political, but so far that's been rather elusive.

But assuming some sort of plan for the aftermath is agreed upon, the fighting could start very soon. It will probably consist of bombing Islamic State positions in the city, which might provide a lot of video for American news channels to show. Retaking Mosul will be a very big deal, since it has always been the biggest city -- in either Syria or Iraq -- under Islamic State control. Denying them this city means a real body blow for their dreams of a caliphate, to put it another way. Plus, if Mosul falls, there will only be scattered outposts of the Islamic State left in Iraq. Given six months or another year of mop-up operations, the Islamic State could be pushed out of Iraq entirely. So taking Mosul is pivotal to defeating the Islamic State altogether.

Most Americans don't know any of this, but they might learn all about it in October. The big question, of course, is what the fight for Mosul might mean to the presidential campaign. This will likely depend on how the fight goes. It's not going to be easy -- there are thousands of Islamic State soldiers in the city, they are extremely well dug-in (they've known they're going to be attacked for the past year), and the environment is urban, meaning street-by-street fighting (the worst possible military environment). Retaking Mosul is not going to be a walk in the park, and it might take a long time, in other words.

If the fight begins in October, but is not decisively over by Election Day, it's really anyone's guess how it will affect the race. If the Iraqis win back Mosul and expel the Islamic State by the time people in America vote, it would obviously be a big feather in President Obama's cap, and would likely help Hillary Clinton by giving her a "see, the plan is working" talking point to use. If, however, the fight is a disastrous failure for the Iraqis, it would obviously benefit Donald Trump, who could use his stock "Obama and Hillary don't know what they're doing" phrase to good political effect.

But the most likely outcome by the first week in November is that the fight is still underway. Perhaps the Iraqis and Kurds will have taken all the surrounding towns, and drawn the noose tight on the city -- but will still be bogged down at the city limits (where all the heaviest Islamic State fortifications have been constructed). What would that mean, politically? It's hard to predict, really. It will all depend on the public's perception of how the fight is going.

Republicans will quite likely accuse Barack Obama of scheduling the whole thing to affect the election. Obama will calmly point to statements made all year long that the Mosul fight was slated for "before the end of the year," and that the year is running out of months. But it'll leave Republicans in an odd place, because they'll essentially be arguing that the war against the Islamic State should now be slowed down for their own political benefit (of course, to be fair, they'd be arguing that Obama either sped the war up or delayed the fight until October for his own political benefit).

No matter who convinces the public that they're right, the dialog would change in a big way out on the campaign trail. An external event that neither candidate had anything to do with would shift the whole foreign policy debate. Depending on how it turns out, it could help one candidate or the other. Which, it seems to me, is the very definition of an October surprise.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

61 Comments on “Will The Fight For Mosul Be The October Surprise?”

  1. [1] 
    neilm wrote:

    I guess there are two possibilities. One is that the inevitable ISIS atrocities videos give Trump the ammunition to claim that only he has the guts to "bomb the shit out of them". The other is that Obama has thought this through and is ready to turn this into a "support our special forces troops fighting on the ground and our pilots in the air". He will have surrogates explaining that we can't put our men and women at risk by giving away our actions and that playing politics and second guessing our commanders on the ground from Trump Tower for political purposes is incredibly irresponsible. Throw in a few barbs about "Monday morning quarterbacks", "irresponsible voices who have never worn a uniform", etc. and Trump will look like a dangerous loudmouth.

  2. [2] 
    TheStig wrote:

    A very timely and well researched article. The West tends to think of Mosul as a Kurdish city, but this is a recent development stemming from migration. Mosul lies at the junction of many different cultures. Until recently this worked out fairly well.

    In the spirit of the esteemed CW, a map

    http://gulf2000.columbia.edu/images/maps/Iraq_Ethnic_lg.png

    The ancient town is majority Sunni (the obligatory foothold for ISIS colonization) and Assyrians, Turkmens, Shabaks, Yazidis and Armenians are present in appreciable numbers. Before ISIS, Mosul was progressive, well run and cosmopolitan.

    The Kurdish military are the most effective regional forces in Iraq, but not the best equipped. Turkey is fearful of an independent Kurdish region, which is a pity.

  3. [3] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    Thanks, CW and both comments.

    At some point, Turkey needs to be confronted, from a (hopefully) diplomatic standpoint.

    Not only do they have a whack-job in the present (Erdogan) and genocide in their past (that they deny and apply every ounce of political pressure to prevent anyone else from acknowledging), but they have also attacked the Kurds, who we've repeatedly pledged to protect because they are our most loyal and effective ally in that region, with military might on several occasions somewhat recently.

    An AUMF that empowers POTUS to also protect the Kurds would effectively enable us to "carve out" a Kurdish state consisting of the SSE portion of Turkey, the NW part of Iraq, and maybe a tiny portion of Iran (the last being probably not).

    Yes, that is an imperialist act. It is also probably the best thing that could happen for the future, even if it means some small military actions with Turkey while protecting the newly formed borders.

  4. [4] 
    Steedo wrote:

    The Kurds have been the stepchildren in this power struggle for generations, including our former ally Saddam who famously gassed the Kurds with no US intervention. It is clear that the Kurds have been carrying plenty of water in the current conflict, showing organization that the Iraqis lack and the commitment in lives and effort to stay the course on driving IS back. Their efforts are key in the Mosul squeeze that CW describes in his fine analysis and props to CW for his seemingly solo effort to remind everybody that can read a map that the IS is in big trouble militarily and that consistent effort over time by many parties has made it possible. The Kurds deserve a seat at the table when this is over and the "imperialist" carving Speak2 describes begins.

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    In the spirit of sharing maps, here are the two I use for reference:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Syrian_and_Iraqi_insurgency_detailed_map

    shows current state of affairs, with different colors for different groups. Map changes week to week, so keep it as a bookmark and refresh occasionally to see.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the-islamic-state-caliphate-is-in-danger-of-losing-a-lifeline/2015/02/19/127d2cb2-b84d-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_graphic.html

    This is a snapshot from Feb 2015, or a low point. Use as a benchmark to see how much ground has been regained since. Most notable: the areas around Baghdad.

    I can't believe this is such a non-story. ISIS is getting beaten, and badly. Progress has been painfully slow, but has happened with the Iraqis on the front lines in full control of ground troops (we've aided enormously from the air).

    Of course, the news isn't so good from Syria, but even so ISIS expansion has been stopped. Beginning to be turned back, but not as much as in Iraq.

    -CW

  6. [6] 
    neilm wrote:

    I can't believe it either CW. But then it is gradual good news. Two counts against it. It is like trying to explain Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature" to two-year-old with a temper tantrum.

  7. [7] 
    TheStig wrote:

    As I see it, the region is basically a mostly contained, semi-stabilized misery with some progress in the Kurdish region. Astonishingly, this will have to pass for progress, as there are no better prospects. The US learned (or should have learned) this the hard way during our invasion/regime change/occupation of Iraq.

    On the plus side, the ISIS franchises are downgraded to failed states that cannot maintain viable economies or services, (failed oil, failed water, failed institutions) just endless insurrection and terror. The brand ought to be re-acronymed FISIS.

    On the downside, Iraqi Security Forces are overstretched, unreliable and poorly equipped. A lot of the overstretch problem is just geography, everything of importance is strung out like beads on string - and subject to small unit infiltration and ambush. The British provided the model back in WWI (think T.E. Lawrence). I still think the only viable long term future for Iraq is to break it into thirds. One third , the Sunni one, is probably going to have to be isolated and contained like a desert N. Korea.

    Syria is even worse, and a unique worry because it lies within the intersection of so many competing spheres of interest. Regional players such as Iran, Turkey and Israel, plus outsiders like Russia, the US and the rest of NATO distinct from Turkey. So many opportunities for a dumb mistake to get of control. If you know anything about WWI, you have to be at least a bit nervous about that.

  8. [8] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @TS,

    good point about syria. over a hundred years after the powder keg that started WW1, serbian nationalism is STILL a problem. ask any albanian.

    JL

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    Leave it to Obama and the Democrats to schedule a military offensive when it would do the most political good.. :^/

    Michale

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    I can't believe this is such a non-story. ISIS is getting beaten, and badly.

    Probably because Obama is a little gun shy, since he was made to look like a completely incompetent fool after claiming that the Daesch is "the JV" and is "contained".....

    Michale

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    U.S. threatens to suspend bilateral engagement with Russia over Syria
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-threatens-to-suspend-all-bilateral-cooperation-with-russia-over-syria/2016/09/28/1ed4a554-8591-11e6-a3ef-f35afb41797f_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_obamasyria-345pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

    And in other news, Putin and the Russian hierarchy were heard laughing their asses off for almost an hour..

    No word if these two events are related...

    Threats and ultamatums from the Obama Administration has absolutely NO CREDIBILTIY on the world stage....

    Michale

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Time to face reality, my fellow Weigantians...

    Obama is going to do whatever Putin tells Obama to do....

    Obama has proven beyond ANY doubt that he does not have the testicular fortitude to make good on ANY ultimatums...

    Michale

  13. [13] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW-

    Getting back to maps, I like the high quality Graphical User Interface (GIS) maps that the Institute For the Study of War puts out. Sadly, they aren't updating the Iraq map very often, I think the latest is April of this year. The Institute is focusing more on Syria these days and those maps are more current.

    The big unknown (known unknown? heh, heh) in Iraq as far as I'm concerned is how the US is conducting aerial battlefield management over Iraq. If there is always a big aerial radar platform (E2, E3, E8) loitering in the right place, the air campaign can be devastatingly efficient. Basing, and aerial tanker commitment are also big questions impacting the ability to maintain continuous aerial surveillance/battle management. If NATO member Turkey is allowing use of it's airbases and airspace, that a big plus, but I'm unable to determine if that's actually happening.

    You really can't use tactical air and hunter killer drones to anything near full potential without continuous aerial battlefield surveillance/management. Anything else is trying to fight with a bucket over your head with two tiny peep holes. If we are mostly using local ground intelligence assets to target ISIS, I fear we are playing a very dicey game of "family feud" that is killing a lot of innocent people to very little purpose.

    Does anybody else remember when we had professional war correspondents? Very rare breed these days.

  14. [14] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    Steedo [4]

    I was thinking more than a seat at the table. Essentially, the only other seat at the table besides us might be the Kurds.

    Also, I guess it would really be an imperialist re-carving since the borders were all constructed by western governments, primarily after WWI, though there were some major changes later (e.g. Israel).

    That does go a long way to explaining many of the instabilities over the years.

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    When ya'all congratulate Obama and Clinton on Syria.....

    http://twt-thumbs.washtimes.com/media/image/2016/08/24/20160819edstc-a_s878x668.jpg?6dcee348a67b0e1f1ea5f625afab1e9708d014e5

    THAT is what the vast majority of Americans see...

    Michale

  16. [16] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW

    I'm not sure a flattened city and dead civilians from an offensive that's been in the works for a year can be sold as a positive or a surprise.

    As far as Syria goes, our arming of "good rebels" who are ideologically identical to al Qaida and who collaborate with them in their effort to turn Syria into a Wahhabi Sunni theocracy... all using the "legal" justification of the AUMF triggered by 9/11 and billions out of our pockets... would certainly be surprising if the truth were reported by our media.

    OPEC agreeing to oil production cuts a few hours after the veto override of the bill that allows lawsuits against the Saudis was an early surprise.
    The Saudis exempting Iran (among others) from cuts in order to reach agreement was the most surprising part.
    Congress being so mean to the Saudis that they make nice with Iran seems like a potential path towards peace in the Middle East.

    Of course, we're all going to be paying more at the pump... and if memory serves, voters don't like that. Surprise!

    A

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    I'm not sure a flattened city and dead civilians from an offensive that's been in the works for a year can be sold as a positive

    Have you MET Hillary Clinton??

    That's her claim to competence... A flattened city and dead innocent civilians...

    Michale

  18. [18] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    When ya'all congratulate Obama and Clinton on Syria..

    Wrong country, but close enough for horseshoes.

    It's always good to remember that Bush pulled the trigger on Iraq, breaking 200 years of US tradition against invading a country that hadn't attacked us, i.e., dropped the pot at the pottery barn. He then failed to negotiate a status of forces agreement so that we could keep a sizeable residual force behind to prevent a back-slide.

    The Shiite Iraquis, all too happy to get us meddling Americans out of the way while they consolidated power in Baghdad, only invited us back and signed a SOFA when ISIS started seizing cities, and by then it was too late to contain them.

    ISIS is still the JV militarily, by the way, long on fanaticism and bloody-mindedness, short on air power and long-range firepower. They've been lucky so far in the faults of their adversaries: the Iranians have sent some support to the Iraqi Shiites, but still prefer that the Iraqis do the fighting, and, as CW points out, that has its drawbacks. We're unofficial allies of the Iranians on this one, but we prefer to push Sunni Iraqis out front, at least most of the time. The Kurds are superb fighters, however, unburdened by the religious zealotry that handicaps everyone else in the Theater. Trouble is, the Turks hate them, and we're allied with them too. Oh, and we just sent a big FU to our other allies, the Saudis, who are sworn enemies of the Iranians and Syrians, but might be secretly funding ISIS, and are also at war in Yemen, facing enemies who are backed by Iran and Al-Quaeda (who also hate each other).

    And they want to blame Obama for this mess? He inherited it. Biden might have had the clearest answer back when all this started: divide Iraq into three parts. Experts in the Bush administration dismissed the idea out of hand, and the Iraqis, who covet the oil fields in Kurdish-dominated areas, were outright hostile to that potentially peaceful resolution of this convoluted conflict. Ah, humans.

  19. [19] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Have you MET Hillary Clinton??

    Have YOU listened to Trump? Several flattened cities and dead innocent civilians is pretty much his plan, to the extent that he has one.

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's always good to remember that Bush pulled the trigger on Iraq,

    You mean the trigger that Hillary and the Democrats VOTED and SUPPORTED being pulled???

    THAT trigger??

    ISIS is still the JV militarily, by the way,

    And if Odumbo had made that distinction, you would have a point..

    But he didn't, so you don't...

    Michale

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    Have YOU listened to Trump? Several flattened cities and dead innocent civilians is pretty much his plan, to the extent that he has one.

    Yea, that's your claim....

    But even if Trump HAD said that, he is just TALK...

    Hillary has actually DONE it....

    But, of course, you don't care about that.. All you look at is the '-D' after Hillary's name... :^/

    Michale

  22. [22] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Of course, we're all going to be paying more at the pump... and if memory serves, voters don't like that. Surprise!

    I just heard someone say that unfortunately for Republicans, any gas price hike before the election will be minimal, as we're using much less gas from the OPEC sources than we used to.

    Shame on the Democrats who voted to override Obama's veto! In an election year! I'm making a list..

    On the other hand, the arrogant Saudis haven't been making any friends on these shores lately. Money can only buy so much good will.

  23. [23] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    But even if Trump HAD said that, he is just TALK...

    Amazing. You support him BECAUSE you don't believe him, and don't support Hillary because you don't believe her (but DO believe her enough to disagree), but call HER the liar because she doesn't agree with you (and would be lying if she said she did).

    That's just nonsense masquerading as politics.

  24. [24] 
    altohone wrote:

    Balthy
    22

    You don't understand the oil market if you think only OPEC oil will cost more. Prices jumped 5% immediately and will go higher.

    As for your list, it includes all the Dems except Bernie and Kaine who were busy campaigning for your progressive warmonger.

    18
    "It's always good to remember that Bush pulled the trigger on Iraq, breaking 200 years of US tradition against invading a country that hadn't attacked us"

    I'm not defending Bush or his collaborator Hillary, because our invasion of Iraq was stoooopid and illegal, but your statement is nowhere near factually accurate unless you are defining "invading" narrowly or "attacked" broadly in such a way that they no longer match the dictionary definition.

    "And they want to blame Obama for this mess? He inherited it."

    Iraq yes, Syria no.
    Obama initiated the covert effort to fund and arm foreign militant Wahhabi Sunnis who collaborate with al Qaida as proxies in our (US/Saudi/Qatari/Turkish) regime change war in Syria which allowed IS to spread.
    Your claim is nonsense.
    Obama is hip deep in it, and Hillary was clamoring for him to go in up to his neck... just like all the neocons.

    A

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Al,

    Why are you the only one with all of the answers?

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, so, you're not the ONLY one ... :)

  27. [27] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Thanks, CW for posting the links to those maps again, as I just spent my evening doing a deep dive on the Syrian conflict and came out the better for it.

    I'd been unaware of some major political developments on the battlefield that have affected the war just in the last year or so. For anyone interested, here's a rundown:

    There was, in the last year, the creation of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a.k.a., the SDF or QSD (the yellow dots on the insurgency map), a coalition of Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, Armenian, Turkmen and Circassian militias which now control most of the area along the southern Turkish border. These were all oppressed minorities in northern Syria called Rojava that were a part of a larger "Rojava Revolution". The SDF formed following the seige of Kobani in October 2015, and now gets a lot of US support, which probably annoys the Turks to no end. Hey, remember when there were no rebel groups that we could openly back in Syria? This group has established a secular society within the areas it controls which includes free elections and equal rights for all, based on the libertarian-socialist (imagine that!) ideas of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan.

    There is also now the "Army of Conquest", a.k.a., Jaish al-Fatah, or JaF, (the green dots on the map) a coalition of Islamist Syrian Rebel Factions, formed in March 2015 under the supervision and coordination of Saudi cleric Dr Abdullah al-Muhaysini and currently backed by Sunni interests, including Turkey and the Saudis, who openly support it.

    The JaF controversially includes the "Front for the Conquest of the Levant", a.k.a., Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or JFS (the blue dots on the map) a successor to the Al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front, which reorganized and renamed itself just this last July 28,2016, with a new mission to work with all the other rebel groups in order to "protect the Syrian revolution", to the extent of renouncing 'international associations', including Al-Qaeda, whose leader said (in effect) that he was down with that, issuing a statement that said, "Your unity and unification is more important to us than any organizational link." Still, top Al-Qaeda leaders were at the announcement, so it might just be a re-branding effort. They're important, though because the JFS are considered the "shock troops" of the Islamist rebels, and their presence on the battlefield "have become to the opposition what Russian and Syrian jets are to the regime".

    So it seems that in Syria, the news for folks like me is that the anti-regime opposition on every side has been consolidating even as Assad gained increased support from the Russians. This last September 8, a number of Army of Conquest commanders were killed in an airstrike just outside of Aleppo, including the top JFS military commander. The group initially blamed the US for the strike, which was denied by the Pentagon; Russia eventually admitted that it was their jets that conducted that strike.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Do you have a link for that, Balthasar?

  29. [29] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [24]altohone wrote: Obama initiated the covert effort to fund and arm foreign militant Wahhabi Sunnis who collaborate with al Qaida as proxies in our (US/Saudi/Qatari/Turkish) regime change war in Syria which allowed IS to spread.

    See? If I hadn't done that research tonight, I'd have never known just how far from the truth that statement actually is. Why are you so anxious to blame Obama/Hillary for all this? Efforts to fund 'friendly rebel groups' in Syria have been discussed since that conflict started, mostly pushed by war hawks like John McCain, but the idea has been fairly popular in the mainstream.

    That war became about 'regime change' about five minutes after Assad reacted brutally to protesters who wanted to bring the Arab Spring to Syria. Assad's use of chemical weapons was what caught the world's (and Obama's) attention. Obama wanted to pressure Assad into not gassing his own people. Do you oppose that goal?

    ISIS arose from the remnants of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, who were poised to try to take advantage of the American withdrawal, but mightily aided in that effort by the Shiite-led Iraqi government, who refused to renew the Status of Forces (SOFA) agreement, which would have allowed us to keep a residual force in Iraq even after the Bush administration-negotiated withdrawal, then shamelessly oppressed the Sunnis, who fled into the waiting arms of ISIS.

    Could Obama or Hillary have prevented all that? Don't forget that most of the US public wanted us to leave Iraq on the quickest possible time schedule. Further, attempts by the Obama administration to renegotiate that withdrawal were rebuffed by Iraqi officials at that time.

  30. [30] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Do you have a link for that, Balthasar?

    I actually learned all that just by clicking on the links on the Syrian and Iraqi war Insurgency map (links to that provided in post [5] by CW) and letting them take me where they went.

  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    Al,

    Why are you the only one with all of the answers?

    Ahem.... :D

    Okay, so, you're not the ONLY one ... :)

    Better.. :D

    Michale

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    See? If I hadn't done that research tonight, I'd have never known just how far from the truth that statement actually is. Why are you so anxious to blame Obama/Hillary for all this?

    They same reason you are so anxious to blame Bush for everything... :D

    That war became about 'regime change' about five minutes after Assad reacted brutally to protesters who wanted to bring the Arab Spring to Syria. Assad's use of chemical weapons was what caught the world's (and Obama's) attention. Obama wanted to pressure Assad into not gassing his own people.

    And, as usual, Odumbo did a bang-up job... That was sarcasm, in case you missed it..

    Odumbo said that Assad has to go.. Assad is still there..

    Odumbo said that Assad using chemical weapons is a "red line".. Assad is STILL using chemical weapons...

    Odumbo is an incompetent boob...

    Michale

  33. [33] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Postscript to [27] (then I'll stop beating this poor horse, I promise):

    I came across a CIA-published map Kurdish-controlled areas in the Middle East in 1992:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Kurdish-inhabited_area_by_CIA_%281992%29_box_inset_removed.jpg

    If you compare it to the Syrian and Iraqi Insurgency map that CW links to in [5], notice how the areas that the Kurds (and SDF) currently occupy in Iraq and Syria are mostly the same areas they occupied then, and not much further.

    The CIA map also illustrates why everyone in the vicinity is wary of the Kurds: if they ever got their dream of a Greater Kurdistan, it would consume sizeable portions of every one of its new neighbors.

    Good thing they're libertarian-socialist democrats!

  34. [34] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [Obama] said that Assad has to go.. Assad is still there..

    You know that those aren't mutually exclusive?

    You do remember that (nearly) every Republican lawmaker voted to prevent him from doing anything militarily about that, don't you?

    [Obama] said that Assad using chemical weapons is a "red line".. Assad is STILL using chemical weapons.

    You do remember that (nearly) every Republican lawmaker voted to prevent him from doing anything militarily about that either, don't you?

    You can't tie someone up and then complain that he can't do jumping jacks. Ask Mitch McConnell why Assad isn't gone; he's as responsible as anyone for it.

  35. [35] 
    Michale wrote:

    You do remember that (nearly) every Republican lawmaker voted to prevent him from doing anything militarily about that, don't you?

    You can't tie someone up and then complain that he can't do jumping jacks. Ask Mitch McConnell why Assad isn't gone; he's as responsible as anyone for it.

    So, it's the Republicans fault..

    Odumbo is blameless...

    WOW.. I NEVER would have thought you would say that... :^/

    That was ALSO sarcasm, in case you missed it..

    I wish you could step back and objectively see how much your nose is up Odumbo's ass....

    It would be an eye-opening experience for you...

    Michale

  36. [36] 
    Michale wrote:

    So, a POTUS can launch a nuclear strike totally and completely on his own, but your Odumbo cannot tackle a pissant tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood without Congress carrying the water..

    Do you realize how utterly contradictory ya'all are?? :^D

    Michale

  37. [37] 
    Michale wrote:

    Do you have a link for that, Balthasar?

    Liz, don't be silly..

    *I* am the only one who MUST have links for every utterance..

    The WPG can spout off any BS they want, totally free of ANY substantiation whatsoever...

    "Don't you know!?"
    -Edith Keeler

    :D

    Michale

  38. [38] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    It is doubtful that Mosul will be a defining issue. If given a multiple choice, most people would probably guess that Mosul is a squirrel from Latvia that came to America in a Disney movie that is trying to adjust to the different customs and gain acceptance from the indigenous squirrels in Central Park.

  39. [39] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Sorry, Balthasar but, it sounded as if a bit of attribution might have been in order there [29] ...

  40. [40] 
    Michale wrote:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/2016_elections_electoral_college_map.html

    Looks like Clinton's Big Blue Wall is crumbling... :D

    Who could have predicted this!???

    Oh.... wait..... :D

    Michale...

  41. [41] 
    John M wrote:

    Michale wrote:

    "So, a POTUS can launch a nuclear strike totally and completely on his own, but your Odumbo cannot tackle a pissant tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood without Congress carrying the water..

    Do you realize how utterly contradictory ya'all are?? :^D"

    NOT IN THE LEAST MICHALE. You do realize that the POTUS already has all the authority and capability to launch nuclear weapons without any further input from Congress?? While on the other hand, in order to wage war on the ground or in the air in Syria against a dictator like Assad, the POTUS BOTH requires and needs further authorization and funding beyond a certain point from Congress??

  42. [42] 
    altohone wrote:

    Balthy
    29

    The Kurds (and the smaller minority groups in the areas they control) are the only ones in the conflict who deserve our support, but if you think they are the only ones we are supporting, you are seriously misinformed.

    The efforts you are referring to are a Pentagon program that includes weapons, training and US special ops boots on the ground. The covert actions by the CIA began two years earlier and operate out of southern and eastern Syria with training bases in Jordan, and in NW Syria from a base in Turkey.

    Our support for the Kurds doesn't (as you falsely claim) disprove our support for the Wahhabi Sunni militants dominated by foreign (non-Syrian) fighters.

    The NYT ran a little story about the CIA effort about a year after it began and the LA Times had a story about how our CIA backed Sunni militants were attacking our Pentagon funded groups in NE Syria. The effort isn't exactly covert any longer as Obama publicly admitted that we were air dropping ammunition to these "good rebels" about two years ago if I remember correctly, but it is still being run by the CIA and few details beyond the $1,000,000,000 annual budget are available as journalists are not safe or welcome in the areas the "rebels" control.

    It is true that the Saudis, Qataris, and Jordanians are ALSO supplying these Wahhabi Sunni "rebels" (with Israel providing "non-lethal" supplies and medical care to the wounded in Jordan). The efforts by our "allies" include supplying al Qaida (I won't endorse their rebranding effort)... but it should be noted that they are doing it with US weapons we sell them and with our knowledge.

    And since the "good" Wahhabi Sunni militants who want to create a theocracy in Syria are ideologically identical to al Qaida, and collaborate with them in battle, pretending the entities are separate is just PR.
    And Hillary is fully aware and supportive of our regime change war, and has publicly stated we should be intervening even more by imposing a no-fly zone... which, you may recall, was the excuse she and Obama used for our bombing campaign regime change war in Libya that blatantly violated the UN authorization.

    In case you missed it, Obama and the Pentagon recently issued an ultimatum to the Kurdish militias to withdraw from areas along the Turkish border west of the Euphrates (basically stabbing our only allies and best anti-IS fighters in the back) in order to placate Turkish concerns.

    As for the claims about Assad using chemical weapons, the original claims coming from militant Sunni "rebels" were deemed false by a UN investigation.
    They were trumped up just like the WMD claims in Iraq that Hillary went on TV to help sell.
    The "rebels" used Sarin on innocent Syrian civilians in a thankfully failed effort to get the US to intervene militarily against Assad.

    Obama was absolutely correct not to buy into that bullspit, but the neoliberals and their breathless supporters keep trotting out the false claims.
    You claim to support Obama, but you are stabbing him in the back by repeating them.

    A recent chlorine gas attack in a little town NW of Aleppo was attributed by the UN to Assad about two months ago, but the area is controlled by al Qaida and no independent credible investigation could take place.

    An even more recent chemical weapons attack by IS against Iraqi and American forces was reported, but that only confirms that the Wahhabi Sunni militants are willing and capable of such things.

    I don't post links, but if you have any trouble finding the stories in the NYT or LAT, I am willing to assist. I hate for people to be uninformed about what our country is doing to Syria.

    A

  43. [43] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [39] Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Sorry, Balthasar but, it sounded as if a bit of attribution might have been in order there [29] ...

    Of course, I understand. Alas, Wikipedia is the answer. I hope that I don't end up eating crow for using such non-primary sources (a modern professor might certainly flunk me for that), but since all of the links were provided on the map that I was describing, I'm going with the endorsement of the map makers for veracity, at least until I can find better sources for myself.

    And if I do end up eating crow on any of that information, perhaps I can pass on a good recipe to Michale, who will need it come November. Heh.

  44. [44] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hi Liz

    You seem like you're upset, or trying to say something.
    Care to share?

    A

  45. [45] 
    Michale wrote:

    And if I do end up eating crow on any of that information, perhaps I can pass on a good recipe to Michale, who will need it come November. Heh.

    Wanna bet??? :D

    Michale

  46. [46] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [42] altohone wrote: The Kurds (and the smaller minority groups in the areas they control) are the only ones in the conflict who deserve our support, but if you think they are the only ones we are supporting, you are seriously misinformed.

    Right now, like most Americans, I am seriously UN-informed, but I'm doing my best to catch up. Think of my post [27] as a 'who's who' for those who haven't been paying attention (like myself). For me, assigning blame and assessing ulterior motives will have to come later, when I know more about it.

    I don't post links, but if you have any trouble finding the stories in the NYT or LAT, I am willing to assist. I hate for people to be uninformed about what our country is doing to Syria.

    I am always happy to become better informed. Throw those links my way anytime, but try to avoid anything that attempts to assign ulterior motives for now. Thanks.

  47. [47] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [45] Michale wrote: Wanna bet??? :D

    Don'tcha think that having to live through the other fellows' candidate's administration will be punishment enough?

    The hit to my investments alone will make me cry..

  48. [48] 
    Michale wrote:

    http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/09/30/watch-hillary-clinton-steady-going-stairs/

    Hillary can't even navigate stairs without help.. :^/

    Jeezus...

    Michale

  49. [49] 
    altohone wrote:

    Balthy

    Like I said, I don't do links.

    Google search- NYT- "CIA Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Rebels"
    Jun 21 2012

    Google search- LAT- "In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA"
    May 27 2016

    Google search- Haaretz- "UN reveals Israeli links with Syrian rebels"
    Dec 7 2014

    - Haaretz- "Israel halts medical treatment for members of Syria's Nusra Front" (aka al Qaida)
    Jul 20 2015

    Now, if you are willing to learn about the original CIA weapons shipments to the Sunni Wahhabi "rebels" from sources that Liz doesn't deem trustworthy (sorry Liz, I hold grudges like a champ)

    Google- Oriental Review- "Syrian rebels get arms from Kosovo, Bosnia"
    Feb 23 2013

    If you want to learn about how the violence actually started-

    Google- RT.com- "Syria, the hidden massacre"
    May 7 2014
    - reports on early attacks on Syrian military forces, mentions earlier attacks on police and security forces

    Google- consortium news-"Hidden origins of Syria's civil war"
    Jul 20 2015
    - a balanced report on the origins that debunks that the protests were peaceful

    For more background info on the origins-

    Google- global research- "the march to war against Syria"
    Feb 5 2012

    A

  50. [50] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hi Al ... always a pleasure! :)

  51. [51] 
    Michale wrote:

    Don'tcha think that having to live through the other fellows' candidate's administration will be punishment enough?

    The hit to my investments alone will make me cry..

    And add to that seeing me every other day with a constant reminder...

    Touche'... You got me on that one.. :D

    Michale

    Michale

  52. [52] 
    Michale wrote:

    Balthasar,

    Re: #49

    The funny thing is, Big Al is making the EXACT same kinds of arguments y'all have made against Bush and the Republicans.. :D

    How does it feel to be on the receiving end?? :D

    Michale

  53. [53] 
    Michale wrote:

    Here's what's so funny...

    Imagine that Fox News announced that for them, it is so important to this country that Hillary be defeated in this election, that the Fox News journalists are going to throw away all pretext of fairness and objectivity and journalistic ethics.... They are going to just chuck all that out the window and actively work against Hillary to ensure she is defeated..

    What would ya'all's reaction be??

    Ya'all would collectively lose yer frakin' minds....

    Ya'all would like Sheldon when Colonel Williams mocked Raj and Howard about the "Death Star from Star Trek".... Except a thousand times worse...

    And yet, when the Leftist MSM stood and proclaimed THAT EXACT SENTIMENT....

    It didn't garner even a mention...

    If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would have not thought it possible...

    Michale

  54. [54] 
    Michale wrote:

    It is doubtful that Mosul will be a defining issue. If given a multiple choice, most people would probably guess that Mosul is a squirrel from Latvia that came to America in a Disney movie that is trying to adjust to the different customs and gain acceptance from the indigenous squirrels in Central Park.

    Heh

    Now THAT was funny.. :D

    Michale

  55. [55] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Another day, another map:

    https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/files/2013/08/Levant_Ethnicity_lg-smaller1-zoom.jpg&w=1484

    I think this map is a useful supplement to Balthasar's posts 27, 29.

    A general rule of thumb about Middle East Politics:
    Scratch the surface and you hit tribalism.

    Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian Government:Alawites

    JAF and JFS: Sunni, Turks

    SDF/QSD: The rest of the ethnic groups.

    The war is fought enclave against enclave.

  56. [56] 
    TheStig wrote:

    NYpoet22:

    Sykes–Picot Agreement, WWI secret agreement that carved defeated Turkish Empire

    CW - my post before this one seems to be caught in the filter.

  57. [57] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Al [49] Thanks for the info.

    Michale [53]: are you talking about pointing out inaccuracies, as in: "I'm sorry, you're mistaken, sir - most Mexican immigrants don't have calves the size of cantalopes"? or "I'm sorry, but Donald Trump is not an Oomploompa"?

    You've already said that even you don't believe some of the stuff that Trump says. News organizations can't be expected to simply pipeline complete horseshit to their audiences.

  58. [58] 
    altohone wrote:

    Balthy

    Glad to help... hopefully I won't hold a grudge over that "far from the truth" line for too long.

    A

  59. [59] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hi Liz

    Just so you know, the articles I listed for Balthy do not include all of the ones I wanted to share with you.

    Google proved to be decidedly unhelpful in tracking down some articles from a Lebanese journalist who documented the infiltration of foreign militants to initiate the conflict in Syria.

    I know they wouldn't be in your "reliable" category, but I was hoping to find them just in case you felt like going slumming.

    A

  60. [60] 
    Michale wrote:

    You've already said that even you don't believe some of the stuff that Trump says. News organizations can't be expected to simply pipeline complete horseshit to their audiences.

    News Organizations report the news.. NOT their opinion of the news...

    At least, that's the way it USED to be... That's the way it SHOULD be...

    Of course, you don't agree because the MSM is in the bag for your candidate, so you like the MSM just the way it is..

    Michale

  61. [61] 
    Michale wrote:

    But, as usual, you ignore the main point...

    What would YOU say to a news organization who flat out says "We feel that Hillary should not be president so we're going to game the news to protect and elect Donald Trump."

    You would lose yer frakin' mind....

    Which simply proves what I have always said..

    In the dictionary, under HYPOCRISY, there is a picture of the WPG...

    Michale

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