World View: U.S. Military Returns to Iraq, Almost Three Years After Withdrawing

World View: U.S. Military Returns to Iraq, Almost Three Years After Withdrawing

This morning’s key headlines from

  • U.S. military returns to Iraq, almost three years after withdrawing
  • Concerns grow over possible Russian invasion of Ukraine
  • Russia imposes its own sanctions, to counter Western sanctions

U.S. military returns to Iraq, almost three years after withdrawing

President Obama on Thursday evening announced “targeted air strikes”in Iraq, to protect American soldiers in Iraq and to prevent militiasfrom the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) fromcommitting genocide on 140,000 Christians and Yazidis in Iraq.

Almost three years ago, President Obama pulled all troops out of Iraq,saying, “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliantIraq.” However, with inaction by the United States in the three yearssince the war in Syria began, we’ve seen the actions of Syria’spresident Bashar al-Assad, aided by an unlimited supply of heavyweapons from Russia, attempt to exterminate all Sunnis in Syria. This has turned Syria into a “jihadist magnet,” drawing jihadists and jihadisttrainees from around the world, including America and Europe. In thelast few months, the jihadist opposition to al-Assad has metastasizedinto ISIS, a powerful jihadist army that’s now in control of largeswaths not only of Syria but also of Iraq. 

President Obama came into office with no foreign policy doctrineexcept to do the opposite of anything President George Bush did,claiming that an “apology tour” and diplomacy would bring peace to theworld. Obama has learned many, many harsh lessons since then, and thecomplete collapse of his Iraq policy, at the same time that hisAfghanistan policy is threatened with collapse, is probably the mostbitter lesson so far, with more to come. 

President Obama has been practically paralyzed with fear of adverseconsequences of military actions but is now forced against his willto send the military back into Iraq because the crisis is rapidlyworsening in a way that he said was impossible when the US troops werewithdrawn. 

Major components of the worsening crisis are as follows: 

  • ISIS is threatening Erbil (Irbil), the capital of the Kurdish region, which was considered completely safe until just a few days ago. The administration says that it’s going to be “aggressive” in defending the Kurds with air strikes.
  • The highest priority will be protecting 40 U.S. soldiers in Erbil, who are serving as advisors to the Kurds. Saving them will be accomplished either by evacuating them or by protecting them with air strikes. There are also several hundred other American soldiers in Iraq around Baghdad serving as advisors, but they are not currently in danger.
  • Some 100,000 Christians, a quarter of all of Iraq’s Christians, were driven out of the town of Qaraqosh by ISIS militias, leaving Qaraqosh practically empty. Many had formerly fled to Qaraqosh when ISIS attacked their former homes in Mosul. These Christians are facing their own humanitarian disaster. They’re fleeing in the direction of Erbil, where many are hiding out in Saint Joseph’s Church.
  • As we reported yesterday, there are 40,000 people of the ancient Yazidi sect trapped on top of Mount Sinjar, without food or water, and imminently threatened by ISIS. Obama announced that humanitarian airdrops of food and water have already begun to Mount Sinjar, and that airstrikes will be used to protect the Yazidis.
  • ISIS claims to be in control of the Mosul dam, the country’s biggest dam. This gives ISIS several choices — they can control electric power to much of the country, they can control the water supply, or they could use it as a “weapon of mass destruction” by blowing it and let the water drown numerous villages.
  • ISIS completely outguns the Iraqi army, because ISIS has captured much of the army’s large stores of American-supplied armored vehicles and heavy weapons. According to reports, the Iraq army has only what it inherited from the Sadaam Hussein regime.
  • Less imminently, concerns are growing for a potential ISIS attack on the city of Baghdad. Already, 150,000 Iraqis have been displaced by ISIS, and the worst may be yet to come.

The Obama administration says that there will be no “boots on theground,” a statement that ignored the hundreds of advisors that arealready there. Analysts are mixed as to whether it will be necessaryto introduce combat troops in the future. Washington Post and BBC

Concerns grow over possible Russian invasion of Ukraine

On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visitedKiev, the capital of Ukraine, and promised “unwavering” support fornot particularly credible, since Russia has already annexed Ukraine’speninsula of Crimea, and the annexation is rarely even mentioned. 

Rasmussen blamed Russia for continuing to destabilize Ukraine, havingintervene any further.” According to Rasmussen: 

So I call on Russia to step back from the brink. Stepback from the border. Do not use peacekeeping as an excuse forwar-making. I urge Russia to follow the genuine path to peace. Tostop its support for separatists. To pull pack its troops fromUkraine’s border. And to engage in a sincere dialogue for apeaceful solution.

NATO’s support for Ukraine is strong, and to prove it, NATO announcedthat it will hold a meeting next month. I assume that if Russiainvades Ukraine, then NATO will retaliate by holding further meetings.NATO News

Russia imposes its own sanctions, to counter Western sanctions

Russia retaliated against western sanctions with a sweeping ban onfood imports — meat and poultry, seafood, milk and dairy productsincluding cheese, fruit, vegetables and vegetable oil-based products– from countries that have imposed their own sanctions on Russia forthe annexation of Crimea, including the U.S., European Union,Australia, and Norway. 

However, it may be that Russia’s sanctions willpunish Russia more than the West.  Russia imports 40% of the food itconsumes. It’s likely that Russia does not have the know-how orinfrastructure to keep and distribute fruit and vegetables during thelong winter, while the Russian fish and seafood industry, as well asthe Russian dairy industry, are too underdeveloped to effectively takeover the market freed from Western producers. However, Russia hopesto cover the emerging gap by importing more from Brazil, Israel,Turkey, China, and other Asian nations. Jamestown and LA Times

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Iraq, Mount Sinjar, Yazidis, Kurds,Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL,Qaraqosh, Christians, Syria, Bashar al-Assad,Russia, Ukraine, NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen 

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