Al-Qaeda: Decimated, on the run, and closing in on Baghdad
Obama’s latest foreign-policy triumph has taken the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, and is now bearing down on Baghdad. We live in a world set ablaze by this President’s ignorance, arrogance, and failure. He was eager to check off the “get out of Iraq” box on his to-do list, for the pleasure of his far-Left supporters, so he didn’t work out a status-of-forces agreement.
Which means there was no American presence to help when the al-Qaeda falsely described as “decimated” and “on the run” by Obama came calling, and the Iraqi government forces folded up in a rout, despite outnumbering the attackers by a good five to one. (One Mosul resident spotted Iraqi troops shucking their uniforms and slipping into track suits, to make running away more stylish and comfortable. “I asked one soldier why he was leaving,” said the eyewitness, quoted by McClatchy News. “He told me, ‘We came here for salaries, not to die.’”) Obama was warned the Iraqi forces weren’t ready, but he didn’t listen.
The perpetrators are an al-Qaeda terrorist group – now upgraded to a full-blown terror state, with “police forces, Islamic court systems and the ability to provide services such as electricity and trash pickup” according to McClatchy – known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. (It looks like Western media is still trying to decide whether it wants to change the acronym to ISIL, because it has also been rendered as “The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.”) As the name suggests, they’re the same terrorists Obama wanted to provide with air cover during their battle with the comparably evil Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad. Just imagine how well they’d be doing in Iraq right now, if Obama had gotten what he wanted in Syria.
Which is not to take away from decimated-and-on-the-run al-Qaeda achievements to date, which have left them with captured American equipment (they’ve been spotted tooling around in Humvees already, and there were reportedly U.S. Blackhawk helicopters in Mosul when it fell) plus a sizable treasury, having looted $429 million from captured banks. That makes them the best-funded, best-equipped terror group in history.
And now they’re in Samarra, just 70 miles from Baghdad. It looks like the Shiite-dominated Iraqi military is beginning to resist more effectively as the Sunni invaders move south, and threaten to take the Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf. Unfortunately, when the Iraqi military does fight back, it has a fondness for indiscriminate shelling and bombing that leave local citizens as frightened of their putative defenders as they are of the invaders. From the Washington Post:
Katheer Saeed, a 48-year-old truck driver, had left Mosul with his five children. He said he had been “excited” as he heard that the army had put down arms in the face of the ISIS advance.
He said he was fleeing because he feared a government air offensive rather than ISIS.
In western Iraq, the army has been accused of indiscriminate shelling and even using barrel bombs in its attempts to wrest back control of the city of Fallujah since it fell to insurgents in January.
Abu Mohammed, 50, agreed, saying he had left Mosul only because his father was sick. “ISIS just want to free the country from the unfair, sectarian government,” he said.
If the fighting reaches Baghdad, it is hard to see how a full-scale sectarian war can be avoided.
Among the worrisome signs to emerge Wednesday was a call by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, leader of the now largely inactive Mahdi Army militia, to create a new security force to protect Shiite holy sites. Sadr accused the government of standing on the sidelines “shocked and silent” as the country fell between the “jaws of terrorism and extremism.”
Well, it could have been avoided by having a better U.S. President who didn’t let things get this far, but that ship has sailed. For those keeping score, this is one of the many, many things Mitt Romney was right about.
It’s not just the Iraqi government standing “shocked and silent.” The Obama Administration was caught utterly flat-footed by these developments. The President was busy farting around with Version 6.3 of his ever-changing Bowe Bergdahl story, and hoping nobody ever asks him another question about the Department of Veterans Affairs. Maybe this would be a good time for Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to tell the Iraqi people that the greatest threat they face is global warming. That’s the kind of foreign policy speech they like to deliver. Has the State Department got a #BringBackOurMosul hashtag going yet? Have they chosen a YouTube video they can blame? Any selfies from State Department spokesdroids we can send to ISIS, to shame them out of attacking Baghdad?
ISIS kidnapped 80 Turkish nationals, including a number of diplomats, after seizing Mosul, so the Turks are understandably upset. “Right now we are engaged in calm crisis management, considering our citizens’ security. This should not be misunderstood. Any harm to our citizens and staff would be met with the harshest retaliation,” the Turkish Foreign Minister warned. The Iranians are nervous enough to send special-forces troops into Iraq.
The Kurds, who have their own autonomous region in Iraq, are getting hit with a flood of refugess from Mosul, and have begun moving security forces, Kurdish units of the Iraqi Army, and their own peshmerga militia into defensive positions. “It’s a disaster,” said one of their security officers. “We’re going to have to fight alone, because the Arab army and police units have fled.”
There aren’t many good options for the U.S. now. So far, the dazed Obama Administration hasn’t done much except “strongly condemn the attacks in Mosul,” as UN Ambassador Samantha Power put it. The White House also offered condemnation, with a side order of “condolences to the families of those killed,” followed by an underscoring of “our commitment to assist the Iraqi people as they confront the threat that ISIL poses to Iraq and the region.”
“Condemn the attacks?” They overran the city, kids. (It should be clear by now that “kids” is the appropriate way to address anyone associated with the Obama White House.) Or did President Obama not know about the fall of Mosul, because he hasn’t read the morning paper yet? As for that “commitment to assist the Iraqi people,” it evidently stops short of the air support requested by the Iraqi government last month, which the New York Times says was because the White House was “reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.”
Great – another political decision that had little to do with our national security interests. So now the new chapter will be opened by al-Qaeda, perhaps with a few pages contributed by Iran, and we’ll get drawn into it on their timetable, with maximum cost for minimum gain… long after so many of the gains made in Iraq before Barack Obama showed up have been squandered. Everything Obama said was wrong, everything he’s done has been a disaster, his assessment of every world crisis has been completely mistaken, American prestige is at an all-time low thanks to a series of embarrassments from Ukraine to the lopsided Taliban prisoner swap, American intelligence seems to be almost completely blind, and all the choices from here on out are terrible.
Now, would someone like to give me a good laugh to brighten up this gloomy morning, and tell me the joke about how Iran is so terrified of Obama that they wouldn’t dream of going nuclear?
Update: Here’s a picture of the ISIS boys posing with their new American wheels. What, no Obama/Biden 2012 bumper stickers? Ingrates.
Update: I doubt any heads will roll in the Obama Administration for getting caught unaware by this horror show, but heads are sure as hell rolling in Iraq. The UK Telegraph carries the account of a refugee from Mosul:
Abu Mustafa fled the Iraqi city of Mosul with his family after the armed men of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham executed his son-in-law with three shots to the head.
On the highway out, the family found others who had met the same fate: dozens of bodies, burned or shot, were strewn on the tarmac and left to rot.
“Then, as we left the city, we found corpses stuffed into the open boots of cars. Their hands were still tied behind their backs.” said the 57-year-old who, out of sheer terror of the jihadists now occupying his home, spoke using a pseudonym.
Before he left, Abu Mustafa rescued Jenna, aged one, and two-year-old Amira, the two infant daughters of his son-in-law from their home.
The Washington Examiner reports that “revenge beheadings have begun.” Hopefully the teenagers at the State Department can whip up the most extra-special super-awesome hashtag ever.
Update: Mark Steyn skips ahead to the last chapter in this horrifying farce. It’s a story we’ve seen before:
US Embassy in Baghdad readies for its Saigon moment – for the helicopters on the roof, and the executions of the “friends” they left behind.
— Mark Steyn (@MarkSteynOnline) June 12, 2014
Update: More sage advice from Mitt Romney, circa October 2011, courtesy of The Hill:
Mitt Romney condemned President Obama on Friday for his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, saying Obama is putting U.S. victory in Iraq “at risk.”
“The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government,” Romney said in a news release. “The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.”
The front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination has previously criticized Obama for not listening to his “generals on the ground” in announcing a troop drawdown in Afghanistan.
“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women,” Romney said.
You know who else was right about this? Jon Huntsman.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said Obama’s decision to totally withdraw troops from Iraq was a mistake. Huntsman said a better idea would have been to leave a small counterterrorism and training oriented force behind.
“President Obama’s decision, however, to not leave a small, focused presence in Iraq is a mistake and the product of his administration’s failures,” Huntsman said in a statement. “The president’s inability to reach a security agreement leaves Iraq vulnerable to backsliding, thus putting our interests in the region at risk. An ideal arrangement would have left a small troop presence that could have assisted with the training of Iraqi security forces and vital counter-terror efforts.”
You know how many “militants” were in the force that took Mosul? About 800. How many U.S. troops would it have taken to shut that down before it got out of hand?
Update: It turns out the guy in charge of ISIS, known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was in U.S. custody until Barack Obama took office… at which point he was released under somewhat murky circumstances. But don’t worry, I’m sure Obama’s Taliban Five won’t get into any trouble.
Update: House Speaker John Boehner: “It’s not like we haven’t seen this problem coming for over a year and it’s not like we haven’t seen, over the last five or six months, these terrorists moving in, taking control of western Iraq. Now they’ve taken control of Mosul, they’re 100 miles from Baghdad, and what’s the president doing? Taking a nap.”
As emphasized in my post above, these ISIS goons didn’t just materialize out of the predawn gloom like ninjas yesterday. They’ve been making moves for quite a while, and it’s been a month since the Iraqi government asked Obama for help. Nobody can nap through that without earplugs and a sleeping mask.