Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 01, 2015

Iraq: A Russian Alternative To Washington's Bumbling Anti-IS Campaign

The U.S. has been pressing Iraq to accept its orders on how to fight the Islamic State. It prohibited the use of quite effective, though mostly Shia, Hashd al-Shabi militia against IS in Ramadi and other places and instead wants to (again) retrain a hopelessly useless Iraqi army and a few tribal Sunni militia. The U.S. also held back long ordered weapons for the Iraqi army and air force and its bombing campaign against IS targets in Iraq is rather lackluster. By accident Hashd al-Shabi militia attacking IS positions have been hit by U.S. air strikes several times.

The public opinion in Iraq is that the U.S. has (again) nefarious aims and is neither committed to a united and sovereign Iraq nor to eradicating the Islamic State.

But now Russia offers an alternative. An intelligence operations room was opened in Baghdad in which Iraq, Iran, Syria, Russia and Hizbullah (the 4+1) develop and exchange intelligence about the Islamic State and possible targets for coming attacks. It looks pretty bad for the U.S. to not be trusted enough to take part in it.

But that is not enough yet. After Russia started its anti-terrorist air campaign in Syria yesterday despite U.S. protests it is now setting the mark even higher. Against a onslaught of dumb U.S. propaganda it is expertly trolling the U.S. over its lack of legitimacy:

Micah Zenko
LOL Lavrov, "We are polite people, as you know. We don't come if not invited."

Lavrov also trolled the U.S. by making an offer to Iraq and that offer was received rather friendly. From my feed timeline:

Sky News Newsdesk @SkyNewsBreak
Reuters: Russian foreign ministry says it would consider any request from #Iraq to conduct airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq

Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai
#Russia informed #Baghdad inofficially ts readiness 2bomb #ISIS in #Iraq. I am not sure PM Haidar Abadi would dare 2ask for Russian support.

Marc Perelman @mperelman
#Iraq Pm #Abadi @FRANCE24: #Putin told me Russia fighting #ISIS in Syria and I trust him, I'm open to Russian airstrikes vs Daech in Iraq

Loveday Morris @LovedayM
Abadi tells France24 there are no talks with Russia on strikes in #Iraq - yet. "If we get the offer we’ll consider it.. I would welcome it"

Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai
Abadi wouldn't dare now. He is halting Hashd al-Shabi following a #USA request. I can't see U.S & Russia collaborating in Iraq

I for one can see Abadi changing horses. Why rely on the U.S. when all it does, preferring the Kurds and Sunni militia while holding back effective Shia militia, seems to be against a unified Iraq and when the U.S. fight against IS is at maximum halfhearted. But even if Abadi will not kick out the U.S. and invite the Russians he can at least use the Russian offer to pressure the U.S. into a different behavior. It now has to respects the will of the Iraqi government and must wages an effective war against IS. Or it can leave.

It is always good to have an alternative when negotiating with a superior partner. Abadi now has one. And Abadi isn't the only one who is interested to change horses:

The largest pro-Kurdish group fighting in Syria has said it is ready to co-operate with Moscow, after Russian jets began launching airstrikes in the country.

After Russia began a series of 20 strikes in the north of the country on Wednesday night, the leader of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) called the move “an important step”.

Sipan Hemo, general commander of the YPG, told Russian news agency Sputnik that his fighters want to co-operate with Russia against the forces of Islamic State (IS).
In his statements to Sputnik [..] Hemo said he would support Russian strikes targeting al-Nusra Front as well as IS.

“Russia should fight not only against IS, but also against al-Nusra. There is no difference between Nusra and IS – they are both al-Qaeda,” Hemo is quoted as saying.

It now seems that every U.S. "ally" on the ground, except the now finally acknowledged CIA trained friends-of-Nusra-and-IS, would prefer to work with Russia instead of working under hapless U.S. policies.

That is some well deserved egg in the face for the Obama administration and its duplicity within its anti-Syria and anti-IS campaign.

Posted by b on October 1, 2015 at 18:29 UTC | Permalink

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I think there's a generalized "stunned" reaction -- the world has lived with the mythos that it is extremely dangerous to defy the American Will -- so everyone is waiting to see what happens "when dad gets home" and it's not clear that there will be a whuppin' in the offing.
I read or heard some pundit a few weeks ago -- in anticipating to Obama acting wrt Syria -- that so much of American involvement has been done secretly with so little public awareness, much less consultation -- that he would have difficulty rousing much popular support ... Americans have been told for the last almost 15 months that the war on ISIS would take a long time, even be "generational" and as a result I suspect many American feel "better them than us" however, it's refreshing to hear the Russians explain that their first priority is to open up and secure that vital highway that has been increasingly encroached upon by ISIS. A clearly stated objective, imagine!

The BBC's coverage of Afghanistan is ongoing and also represents I suspect some sort of difference in national identity. There are Brits in the allied forces serving in Afghanistan (and thousands of veterans) so -- of course -- the BBC is going to cover what's happening, even when the news is DISMAL. Oddly I don't recall them dwelling on the ISIS in Afghanistan was American news seems to -- they conducted a quite tart, even belligerent interview with Ashraf Ghani yesterday ... who expressed even more helplessness than Karzai was wont to do. I remember Vietnam vets feeling like they'd landed on another planet once they returned to civilian life -- no one knew or cared what they'd endured.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Oct 2 2015 17:52 utc | 101


Aug. 2013 --- ISIS Takes Raqqa

Sep. 2014 --- U.S. Begins Air Strikes on ISIS

Oct. 2015 --- ISIS Still Very Much At Home In Raqqa Until Russian Airstrikes Send The Rats Fleeing.

Putin Exposing Failed U.S. Policy With Every Bombing Run.

Posted by: David2220 | Oct 2 2015 18:03 utc | 102

b, you were correct on your last thread that 'the barrel bombs' would surface again; they did, but with a Guardian twist:
'People are angry and boiling': Syrians tell of Russian airstrikes; Terrorised for years by crude barrel bombs launched by Assad regime, those in rebel-held territories now face more precise, but destructive Russian weapons'

And with a bit of help from Neil Clark at RT: 'Good Bombs v. Bad Bombs in the MSM; a Storify by Tweet'

Posted by: wendy davis | Oct 2 2015 18:13 utc | 103

@98 charles drake.. i enjoy your posts.. the bottom link in your last post doesn't work.

@101 David2220.. exactamundo..

@102 wendy.. thanks for the bottom link.. that sums it up pretty well.. glad some folks are paying attention.

Posted by: james | Oct 2 2015 19:03 utc | 104

Now I understand why Putin wasn't showy at the UN last Monday. I guess this is the Russian style: they don't make threats; they just act.

Mike Whitney characterizes this development pretty well:

Do you think [the people in the White House] grasp that Washington’s role as guarantor of global security has just been transferred to Vladimir Putin who has put himself and his country at risk to defend the fundamental principles of international law, national sovereignty and self determination?

Posted by: Demian | Oct 2 2015 19:16 utc | 105

Of course, Counterpunch had to publish the usual peudo-leftist claptrap equating the US and Russia. That's actually the reason I went there, to see that they don't like what Russia is doing much more than so-called liberals do.

Joshua Frank: The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria

Posted by: Demian | Oct 2 2015 19:30 utc | 106
U.S., allies demand Russia halt Syria strikes outside IS areas

Russia bombed Syria for a third day on Friday, mainly hitting areas held by rival insurgent groups rather than the Islamic State fighters it said it was targeting and drawing an increasingly angry response from the West.

The U.S.-led coalition that is waging its own air war against Islamic State called on the Russians to halt strikes on targets other than Islamic State.

"We call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus its efforts on fighting ISIL," said the coalition, which includes the United States, major European powers, Arab states and Turkey.

"We express our deep concern with regard to the Russian military build-up in Syria and especially ‎the attacks by the Russian Air Force on Hama, Homs and Idlib since yesterday which led to civilian casualties and did not target Daesh," it said.

Posted by: okie farmer | Oct 2 2015 20:51 utc | 107

Noirette @ 85,

re: stopping the munitions flowing over the borders at Jorday & Turkey. I think Jordan may be already stopped or close to it. I posted somebody's expert opinion on it either this thread or the previous one. As I recall, the battle for Dar'a near the Jordanian border was given up for lost after five failures & the Jordanian center for jihadis closed down. I believe this was a direct Saudi op. By this time I imagine the customary passage for arms from Jordan is totally secured. Of course, over the desert might be a different story.

Turkey: I asked for info here on the website & have ungratefully forgotten the name of the man who gave it, but he explained that the munitions were passing over between the Euphrates & Azaz. (Looks like about 100 miles). I think the Syrian Kurds, who are armed & paid soldier salaries by Assad, control the rest. I don't know the latest on the control of that 100 mile stretch. But it wd surprise me greatly to find that Erdogan is still facilitating arms shipments over the border-- even in return for bargain oil. His every brain cell must be scheming for the Nov election.

I wd guess both J & T frontiers are drone-patrolled, so that any trucks of supplies are apt to be blown up. Because of distances, flying times, Southfront says they will soon recapture Kuweires Airport, well east of Latakia. If Iraq alliance comes thru, probably Dei Ez Zour airport in Iraq. I've never had any doubts about the relative ease of restoring Syria, altho I wonder how long it will take them to entice so many Syrians from abroad. I don't know anything about Iraq except that the Kurds there are very strongly affiliated w the Israelis, also the US. Even absent the Kurds, I don't know if the Iraqi people can still come together; US did a thorough job of destroying their institutions-- even the army & police.

Lebanon I also don't understand well, but there are some signs they may soon cure their stalemate and actually form a govt. ISIS is active there too, and when I was giddy w sleepiness last night I'm sure I read that there is already action being taken there too.

Sorry to be so lengthy; I'm using you to organize what I think I know, and you probably are aware of all of it-- but perhaps someone else isn't.

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 2 2015 21:46 utc | 108

Ben @ 86,
"Are the BRICS folks, and the "new alliance" people in the ME, " meet the new boss, same as the old boss"? The world needs to find out."

You're asking the right question. When you sign a contract, you don't wait to find out if the other party is honest. You set up the contract so that its institutional mechanisms protect you. In the current world order we KNOW that these mechanisms have allowed the rise of tyranny, so we need to change -- not just personnel-- but the institutions of power.

The neoliberal economic system is not just an ideology, it is a STRUCTURE of institutions and treaties which central power-- predominantly financial and trade power. That is, it usurps powers that prior to WWII belonged to the nation-state. If there is one thing our experience shd have told us it's that decentralization of power is safer. I will write much more on this in the coming days, but the summary is: re-empower the nation-state, including its ability to issue currency & protect its agriculture & industry. Then decentralize w/in that nation-state to empower people. Obviously, the money has got to be gotten out of elections.

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 2 2015 21:59 utc | 109

Susan Sunflower @ 93,
You mention a power sharing agreement in 2012. Here is the link to the Geneva communique & the ONLY paragraph which mentions it. Kerry the fibber repeatedly mis-characterized it in the press. This is the only communique as nothing came out of Geneva II. In the next day or two I'll post what Assad did to implement Geneva I. Rebels did nil.

GENEVA COMMUNIQUE June 2012 "The establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which the transition can take place. That means that the transitional governing body would exercise full executive powers. It could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent. " The entire doc is only 2-3 pp.

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 2 2015 22:05 utc | 110

Penelope -- my rather oblique point is that I think Russia was willing to "discuss" and back Assad "power-sharing" years ago ... so that claim is true ... but it was to discuss a transition ... but this was rejected out of hand before it could be proffered because of America/KSA's "Assad must go" hardline ... which was then followed by a massive ramping up of support for the Jihadi/Salafi "rebel" armies (did "we" -- KSA/USA -- take it as a sign of Assad's weakness, I dunno)

As I understand it from Stephen Cohen on Batchelor, the current telling of this story by a senior Russian diplomatic member was meant to show how REASONABLE and not-hard-line Russia had been for years ... however, it's repetition by others is more likely meant to cast doubt on Putin/Russia's "support" for Assad. so, it's also true that there was "offer" -- beyond a willingness. So, the Denial of an Offer, or of an Offer Rejected -- officially denied by Russia -- is also true .. In fact, Russia has been emphasizing that it is acting to protect Syria and NOT Assad

It has been -- and continues to be KSA who insist that Assad must go ... with a chorus of "human rights advocate" who have no doubts at all about various (alleged) atrocities ... in rather Alice in Wonderland fashion. The issue of sovereignty is interesting because the first duty of the state is to maintain the state and the second is to defend the citizenry. American's really don't understand that Assad would have "won" the civil war in and around 2012-13, as the rebels wearied and infighting erupted stemming from KSA"s "support" of the jihadi/salafi's and the killing of the nationalists by the salafis.

It stopped being a "civil war" or "internal conflict" when it became a very well funded proxy war that drained the life-blood out of the Syrian side while the anti-Assad side was being transfused by Salafis and largess from the KSA/Gulf State coffers. The American Civil war was also 4 years long ... but it affected (devastated) only the south, and only parts of the south. So much of Syria has been devastated and depopulated and now DAEASH/ISIS has brought in recruits/homesteaders and the Syrians who remain are willing to accept even Daesh if it means "peace" -- Assad and the central government's "share" of Syria seems "small" or at least diminished.

as of January: [ ]

""The Syrian government currently controls around 50 percent of the territory, but it rules between 55 and 72 percent of the population left inside Syria. The rebels control 45 percent of the territory and 17–34 percent of the population, while the Kurds control no more than 5 percent of the territory with 5–10 percent of the population.

Because both UNHCR reports and other data show that a large majority of refugees and internally displaced persons come from the rebel-held zones, we may refine our figures a bit and conclude that more than two-thirds of the Syrian population still left in the country resides in government-held territory and less than one-quarter in the rebel-held zone. But it is difficult to be any more exact than that.""

The internally displaced people make up the difference and the above considers 3-4 million refugees out of the county ...

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Oct 3 2015 3:27 utc | 111

@75 Noirette

That is good and interesting news, hope its true.

@81 Virgile

' As the USA's suspicions on Iran's nuclear weapon ... have faded away, Iran is now considered as 'safe' and its influence in Iraq acceptable.

' Therefore there is no need anymore for the USA to have a presence in Iraq other than to secure the oil. '

I don't think the US ever thought Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons, do you, really? No other reason than the oil ... but hey! that's what put 'em there to begin with! That and the dollars and cents for their droogies, and the sheer terror they brought to everyone else with their shameful, murderous 'shock and awe'.

Putin put it right ... 'Above all, I believe it is of the utmost importance to help restore government's institutions in Libya, [to] support the new government of Iraq, and to provide comprehensive assistance to the legitimate government of Syria. '

And he was responsile for none of the DD&D of all that ... nevertheless, suiting actions to words that just what he's doing. First step is to shut down the US/KSA/EU/Israeli war there.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 3 2015 5:35 utc | 112
Tony Cartalucci

The New York Times in its recent article, “Russians Strike Targets in Syria, but Not ISIS Areas,” attempts to frame Russia’s recent actions in Syria as dishonest and dangerous. It reports:

Russian aircraft carried out a bombing attack against Syrian opposition fighters on Wednesday, including at least one group trained by the C.I.A., eliciting angry protests from American officials and plunging the complex sectarian war there into dangerous new territory.

Posted by: okie farmer | Oct 3 2015 6:59 utc | 113
US should shoot down Russian planes over Syria (video)

Posted by: okie farmer | Oct 3 2015 7:18 utc | 114

@114 okie

' ... including at least one group trained by the C.I.A. ... '

This is the NYTimes trying now to convince Americans that the CIA are not the lowest of the world's lowlife. Good luck with that.

The CIA, Graham Fuller, invented al-CIA-da in Afghanistan, Obama bin Laden was their poster boy. Al-CIA-da was born to kill Russians and it's still doing it today ... Reagan, Bush XLI, Clinton XLII, Bush XLIII, Obama ... thirty-six years of CIA-supported terror. And sometimes, as with the 9/11 bombers and the Tsarnaevs, they kill Americans in America.

Let them tie al-CIA-da to the groups funded and trained in Turkey/Syria. It will not have the effect they are trying to project. Everyone now knows what most only suspected over the past sixteen years, at least.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 3 2015 9:22 utc | 115

Penelope at 109, thanks for your response, good info. It is all these details that are hard to pull together and judge as to their scope, effectiveness.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 3 2015 10:18 utc | 116

John @31,

"I feel that much of this strife in the Middle East - namely Syria currently - is in regards to western gas security, especially in light of a potential peak in world oil production."

Peak oil is a big fat hoax-- a lie by the power structure as another strategy to stifle development, especially in the 3d World. This strategy has been mostly superceded by the "climate change" hoax. I am going to give you Wm Engdahl links. I attempted to summarize them for you, but I kept including dramatic bits that I didn't want you to miss & it got to be too long. Please read at least the first link, on Haitii; it's quite exciting. Remember that the US staged a "drill" for earthquake rescue close to Haiti just one day before the earthquake & that Bill Clinton is a Noble Oil lobbyist now in charge of (nonexistent) aid to Haiti, amid vast corruption.
The proofs:

1. There have been vast new discoveries of oil & gas that the peak oil people haven't been able to hide. Re: oil 6 new "Supergiant fields" since 1996.

2. These are so great that the financiers have already said they expect some to be "orphaned" for lack of capital development. They give as their reason for nondevelopment concern over climate change, but you know that even if climate change were real, money is more important to them.

3. The real reason for the "orphaning" of some new discoveries is that oil/gas SECURITY is not the goal-- rather it's CONTROL over this strategic resource. One of the means for those who seek to tighten their control of the world has been to seek to control all the petrochemicals and all the pipelines.

4. A final reason why there is no scarcity of oil & gas is that it is a natural, renewable product of the earth. If you drill deep enough, in a great many locations you'll hit gas or oil. As Wm Engdahl says, how cd there possibly be that many dead dinosaurs and how could they have gotten so deeply buried? The abiotic theory of oil: Russian oil is the fruit of this Russian technology. Engdahl. Haiti & Cuba. Russia steals a march. Abiotic explained. Russia Maps & facts. Engdahl. Mediterranean. Greece, Cyprus, Syria, The Aegean.

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 3 2015 19:43 utc | 117

The two strongest militias attacked by Russian air strikes are al-Nusra which has "apostolic succession" from al-Qaeda and Ahrar ash-Sham. Below I paste from Wikipedia:

“The Islamic Movement of Free Men of the Levant is an Islamist, reformist, innovative and comprehensive movement. It is integrated with the Islamic Front and is a comprehensive and Islamic military, political and social formation. It aims to completely overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and build an Islamic state whose only sovereign, reference, ruler, direction, and individual, societal and nationwide unifier is Allah Almighty’s Sharia (law)”. - original Arabic text from Ahrar ash-Sham's website at, translated into English by Malak Chabkoun at the Al Jazeera Center for Studies.

Hassan Aboud condemned democracy in an interview with Al-Jazeera, saying that Democracy is people governing people, according to rules they please, We say that we have a divine system whose law is Allah's for his creatures and his slaves who he appointed as viceregents on this Earth.

The United Arab Emirates has designated Ahrar ash-Sham as a terrorist organization.

Although they coordinate with other groups, they maintain their own strict and secretive leadership, receiving the majority of their funding and support from donors in Kuwait.


One confusing aspect about Islamist movements is that they have sponsors among Gulf potentates, and in the same time they form anti-monarchic opposition. For that reason all Gulf monarchies except Qatar hate Muslim Brotherhood, and as we see, Kuwait supported Ahrar ash-Sham got afoul of UAE. Each of the Gulf states is theologically distinct, and actual sympathies of the princes are yet different. That explains a bit why the most successful Islamic outfit has "F..k them all" attitude to foreign sponsors (this aid from KSA, Qatar, Kuwait etc. also means accepting some meddling that goes in opposite directions and hinders coordination).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 3 2015 19:47 utc | 118

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