Friday, July 01, 2016

The Iraq Portion of the Caliphate is Ripe for Collapse

If we assume the fight for Mosul will be difficult, what is it based on? Because for the last eight months or so, ISIL jihadis haven't seemed like they have the will to fight in Iraq.

Before the Fallujah battle, I asked what gave us reason to believe this time resistance would be stiff after we've witnessed jihadis breaking and running many times in recent months?

Is the Fallujah-based ISIL force, which could be a source for those bombings [in Baghdad], really an exception to recent history of Iraqi ISIL's poor morale or are the Iraqi forces being overly cautious to avoid casualties?

And as the battle stalled a couple weeks ago, I asked why?

[One] explanation has it that the defenders are stopping the offensive because the ISIL jihadis are ready to fight to the death.

I ask whether the latter is the real explanation because since ISIL lost Ramadi, I question whether ISIL has really managed to put 1-2,000 die-hard defenders in Fallujah when there seems to be a lack of die-hard defenders in the ISIL ranks since then.

As the ISIL defenders broke and ran, I seem to have been the only observer not shocked by that development.

ISIL appears to have suffered in Fallujah what plagued Iraqi units in 2014 and all the way to summer 2015 when Ramadi was lost--bad leadership that abandoned the troops:

The insurgents earlier this month mounted limited resistance to Iraqi forces inside Falluja before scattering after some commanders abandoned the fight, according to Iraqi officials. ...

The military's swift advance surprised many who anticipated a protracted battle for Falluja, a bastion of Sunni Muslim insurgency where some of the fiercest fighting of the U.S. occupation of Iraq took place in 2004 against Islamic State's forerunner, al Qaeda.

A British major general briefing reporters would not say the fight was easier because of lack of enemy will to fight:

GEN. CHALMERS: I think, as I said, I think there's really three factors, I think, that will bring it into there.

One is that, better coordination between the elements. We sort of had federal police, the counter-terrorism service, and one of the commando elements. And that coordination between the three was very good, actually, in terms of bringing that through.

Two, I think the confidence of those involved was better. And three -- and I mentioned this the last time we sort of spoke, that, you know, war is often trial and error. And you see how the Iraqi Security Forces have learned how to deal with some of these Daesh obstacles and how they fight. They have adapted as well.

And the fighting was -- to get into Fallujah, it was probably some of the fiercest I think I've probably seen, particularly to break through some of the defensive belts on the southern side. And how the Iraqi Security Forces worked their way through that, once they made their way through that, how they then sustained momentum.

So, I put it down to three things: better coordination, adaption and lessons learned from previous clearances, which led to confidence.

He has a point.

But all those things shouldn't have made the ISIL defenders less willing to fight to the death inside Fallujah no matter how much better the attacking Iraqis are now. Better Iraqi attackers should just mean that the jihadis die in a losing battle rather than winning the battle.

To put it in terms the British general should understand, from ISIL's point of view there seems to be something wrong with our bloody jihadis today.

I think that when the Mosul offensive finally gets rolling, it will start sooner than people think and move faster than people think it will.

And if not, why not? What might change the startling absence of a willingness to die among ISIL forces that we've seen the last 7 or 8 months in Iraq?

UPDATE: I don't think that it is a case that people care less about the recent Baghdad bombing by ISIL than the Bangladesh and Turkey bombings, but that the latter two took place in countries not at war. Sadly, we're used to bombings in Baghdad.

But then again, the author tosses out the notion that we "bungled" the post-war in Iraq when in fact we defeated a series of threats in only 5-1/2 years of fighting.

What was bungled was the victory we won when we abandoned Iraq in 2011 which gave ISIL the opportunity to rise up in Iraq, exploiting renewed Sunni Arab fears of the Shia majority (briefly checked by the Awakening), which was then unchecked by an American military presence after 2011. Yes, my cautions about the future in that latter post certainly--and tragically--came true.