Tag: paul rogers

ISIS’s war: real to virtual, far to near

A series of attacks beyond its core territory reveals Islamic State’s capacity to adapt and to plan for the long term.

In Libya and Iraq, military campaigns against ISIS are intensifying. But in assessing the movement’s condition, a wider view is also needed.

On the second day of the new round of air-attacks against ISIS forces in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, United States marine corps AV8B strike-aircraft were launched from the USS Wasp, an amphibious-warfare vessel. Military sources say that the operation would most likely last weeks, and only end when those Libyan militias loosely aligned to the government of national accord in Tripoli succeed in taking control of the city.

Mission creep or mission rush?

The assault on Fallujah has begun. United States-trained Iraqi army units supported by Shi’a militias and Iranian military personnel are attempting to dislodge Islamic State operatives who are deeply embedded in the Iraqi city, west of Baghdad. Some initial reports of success by the attacking forces were quickly modified. These are a salutary reminder of what happened in the similar assault on Ramadi in August 2015. Then, early optimism that the city would fall in a couple of weeks turned out to be hugely overblown. The siege ended uplasting for more than four months, and by the end of it much of the city lay in ruins.

There are many gaps in the current reporting. There are no accounts of the intensity of the US air operations, nor of their direct support of operations byShi’a militias – something that they avoided when Tikrit fell in April 2015. The caution is most likely because the Pentagon is only too well aware that the Saudis are getting agitated over the extent of Iranian involvement across their northern border, and especially the collaboration between Washington and Tehran.

All the attention being focused on Fallujah carries the danger of missing another significant element in the western media’s coverage of the war. This is the extent of the direct involvement of US troops on the ground, not least as casualties begin to mount.