Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 20th Iraq SITREP by Mindfriedo: Resilient Daash

Quote of the Day, German Development Minister Gerd Muller: Who is financing these forces? I think it is Qatar
Thought of the day: Murder will out

19th Aug: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights states that Daash has more than 50000 fighters in Syria and another 30000 in Iraq. It has recruited 6000 fighters in the last month alone and of these 1000 are foreign fighters.
Daash's strength in Syria is expected to grow as more and more fighters from rival rebel groups join its ranks and it's supporters abroad make it to the shores of its crazy Caliphate.
20th Aug: Iraqi Shia Marja from Kadhmain, Hussein Ismail al-Sadr replies to queries by Shia believers that the protection of the lives, property and well being of the Yazidis is a humanitarian and religious obligation irrespective of the fact that they are not people of the book. He stated that the doors of Kadhmiya are open to those displaced and calls the persecution by Daash as unIslamic.
20th Aug: The Iraqi army is drawing up plans to dislodge Daash fighters from their siege of Amerli in Salah Al Din province. The plan involves opening up of a road link to Amerli by bombing Daash positions with airstrikes. Daash has laid siege for Amerli after it was unable to invade and occupy the area.
20th Aug: Peshmerga advances towards Rabia, 95 km north west of Mosul, has led to an exodus of Sunni Arab families that are heading towards the Syrian border. A similar exodus took place when the Peshmergas approached Wana, 25 km north west of Mosul. The Sunni Arab refugees are heading toward the west or Daash held territory as opposed to towards Kurdistan in anticipation of heavy fighting that is expected.
20th Aug: Outgoing Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki instructs The officials responsible to make sure that displaced people from Amerli are supplied with food rations, refugee accommodation, medical supplies and other compensation. Those that need medical treatment abroad can have their travel facilitated.
20th Aug: Ibrahim Mohammed, a leader within the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP) in Kirkuk is assassinated at his residence by unidentified gunmen.
20th Aug: 25000 Iraqis are travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj/pilgrimage.
20th Aug: After brutally executing Foley, Daash warns Obama that the fate of another American Stephen Gul Sutlov, depends on Obama's future course of action.
Cali Foley, sister of slain journalist asks for people to respect their families' privacy in their hour of grief. YouTube remove the video of the scribes brutal execution.
20th Aug: Kurdish Parliamentarians return to their government posts in Baghdad. The Kurds had withdrawn on the 8th of August following comments made by Nouri Al Maliki that the Kurds were harbouring Daash. Kurdish politician Hoshiyar Zabari has also returned as Foreign Minister after Maliki called on all sides to help the new administration.
20th Aug: The Iraqi Air Force carries out air strikes on Daash positions in Anbar, Salah Id Din, and Babil provinces. 35 Daash fighters are reported killed and 11 vehicles destroyed.

20th Aug: Armed Houthi rebels enter Sanaa and set up protest camps. Armed Houthi rebels have set up checkpoints around their camps and are demanding that the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi resign over increasing prices, in particular those of fuel.

Short Analysis: What has been the outcome of Daash's advance for Iraq's different sects and players?
Daash's advance has primarily resulted in the ethnic cleansing/division of Iraq. Iraq now resembles Baghdad after its sectarian violence of 2006. The Shias in the north can never return and will be resettled in the South. The Kurds will also head to their enclave and almost all Sunni Iraqis will leave areas where Shias and Kurds dominate.

The return of communities is next to impossible. There is no force that can guarantee the protection of Iraq's ethnic groups in places where they are either a minority or surrounded by other communities.

The Kurds have been the clear winners so far. Politically, militarily, and territorially. They can now bargain for confessions like never before. They will likely gain economic autonomy and will continue to pump oil through Turkey. Their armed forces will grow stronger and their relations with the rest of the world will improve at the cost of Iraq. Their move away from their demand of independence has been a calculated one. They gain more by staying than by leaving. They can always leave when Iraq is collapsing or disintegrating in the future; a very real and foreseeable outcome now that the country is segregated. And they can build their strength by then.

The Shia militias have gained/will gain power in the south like never before and through them Iran's influence will grow. The Iraqi state owes its survival to militias and volunteers that answered Sistani's general call to arms. Most militia fighters will join different branches of the Iraqi Armed forces and will become a state within a state. The recent dependence of the Iraqi state on the Shia militias will make it even harder for any measures to be taken to curtail their growing power. An exception has been Moqtada Sadr's militia that has lost ground because of its aversion to sectarian violence.
The power of the militias will be a contentious issue and Sunni Arab politicians will press on the next government to act against sectarian forces. And this will probably be one of the reasons why any future government will dither and fall or at least stop functioning effectively.

The Sunni Arabs will now start to fight Daash in their territory. If they leave the fight for the Iraqi government, most of Anbar will resemble most of Syria. The invasive Shia Iraqi Army will not have affinity for local architecture and will not try to fight door to door. They will prefer bombing it all and protecting themselves. Also for most Sunnis the dilemma of acting against Daash that claims to be championing their interests will be similar to the dilemma of the Iraqi government if it had to fight Shia militias. Their future for now seems bleak. They don't face suicide bombings or car bombs, but they do face air strikes and artillery in the near future.

The absolute losers so far have been the minorities that have no internal or immediate strength/backing: the Christians and the Yazidis and the Shabaqs. Most of these sects will either now abandon Iraq or live on the margins of the Kurdish state.

The Peshmergas whose name translates to those that rush towards death/face death/stay in front of death or any other mythical characteristic abandoned their positions in Sinjar and fled the onslaught of Daash leaving the locals to fend/face death for themselves. These locals had asked to leave but the Peshmergas, comfortable in the assumption that Daash was fighting Baghdad, had promised to fight and protect them. A betrayal less dastardly than the US betrayal of both the Shias and the Kurds during the first Gulf War because America's betrayal was calculated while that of the Kurds was out of self preservation.

The simple reason why the Shias fight better in the south and the Kurds better in the north against Daash is because they belong there. The Iraqi Shia army had no real motivation to stay and fight in Mosul and compared to the Kurds, they were completely demoralised by the corruption of their higher ups. The Kurds on the other hand were willing to die for their homeland. Sinjar was not their homeland.

Daash has also achieved something unique. It has brought out the most vicious aspects of Saudis/Qatari/UAE brand of Islam and forced even these countries to introspect. It has distinguished for most intelligent Muslims the big line dividing Shia Islam and Sunni Islam, the thin one dividing Orthodox Sunni Islam and Salafism (it is not that the difference is minor, but the shifting from one belief system to the other has been an easy one for most Sunnis; for instance it is easier for a Sunni to change his views to that of a Salafi than for him to even consider the Jafari school of thought) and the blurred thin line between Wahabbism and Takfir.