Posts Tagged ‘Kurds’

Battle of Raqqa Grinds On

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

News from the Battle of Raqqa is hard to come by.

U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have reportedly linked up to completely surround Islamic State forces. The Islamic State had already been surrounded on land, but their access to a small stretch of the Euphrates allowed some passage of fighters and supplies. That’s now gone.

Here’s another Livemap screen cap:

Compare that with this screen cap a month ago:

It’s obvious that the SDF have taken more of south and southwestern Raqqa.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State itself is making claims of a successful counter-offensive…that seemed to consist of four car bombs.

Here’s an interview that suggests that conditions for remaining residents of Islamic State-held Raqqa are desperate, which is exactly what you would expect of modern urban warfare in a besieged city.

The battle is an urban street fight where IS relies on snipers and traps [IEDs]. From what I’ve been able to gather, Islamic State numbers do not exceed 400 fighters.

The SDF is slowly advancing with air support from the coalition.

It’s clear that IS has no intention of giving up easily.

That 400 fighters would be encouraging, if true, but it’s probably too low. Yesterday’s fighting reportedly killed 95 Islamic State fighters, which would suggest they’re quickly running out of fighters, but given the lack of a sudden collapse in Islamic State resistance, this seems unlikely.

Indeed, Syrian Kurdish commander Haval Gabar says that the capture of Raqqa could take up to four months:

“We’ve cleared about half of Old Raqqa … and we’re advancing on all axes,” said Haval Gabar, the 25-year-old commander from the Kurdish YPG militia who is directing the assault on the Old City front in Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold.

Units of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance dominated by the YPG, fully linked up in Raqqa’s southern districts on Tuesday, encircling the militants in the city center which includes the Old City.

“The day before yesterday there was still a small gap,” Gabar said on Wednesday. “Yesterday it was closed. We are now pressing towards Mansour and Rashid districts.”

If you wonder why those northern battle lines seem static, it’s evidently because they’re heavily mined.

Gabar said that despite resistance, several hundred militants had surrendered themselves, and estimates not more than 1,000 are left. He believes their morale “is zero”.

“Maybe 600 Daesh have surrendered. It’s mostly foreign fighters left in the city now. Those with families tend to be the ones to hand themselves over.”

Gabar said that Chechen snipers were especially deadly.

Supposedly even the Russians are helping out:

After a sweeping Syrian military advance to the edge of the besieged Isis “capital” of Raqqa, the Russians, the Syrian army and Kurds of the YPG militia – theoretically allied to the US – have set up a secret “coordination” centre in the desert of eastern Syria to prevent “mistakes” between the Russian-backed and American-supported forces now facing each other across the Euphrates river.

That piece is by Robert Fisk, who says he thinks the Syrian army will be heading toward Deir ez-Zor, where Syrian army units have been besieged by the Islamic State since 2014. But keep in mind this is the man for whom the word “Fisking” was coined, so add as many grains of salt as you see fit…

LinkSwarm for July 14, 2017

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Since I just topped up my Strategic Dog Reserve, blogging may get light at some point. But in the meantime, enjoy another Friday LinkSwarm:

  • This may be what’s driving some Democrats’ idee fixe on Russia: a guilty conscience:

    Radical left-wing icon former California Democratic Rep. Ron Dellums was a hired lobbyist for Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. June 9, 2016, the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.

    Dellums, who represented liberal San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., is a long-time darling of left-wing political activists. He served 13 terms in Congress as an African-American firebrand and proudly called himself a socialist. He retired in 1996.

    The former congressman is one of several high-profile Democratic partisans who was on Veselnitskaya’s payroll, working to defeat a law that is the hated object of a personal vendetta waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    A national outcry has erupted in the establishment media about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Veselnitskaya. But there has been little focus on the Democrats who willingly served for years on her payroll helping to wage a Russian-led lobby campaign against the law. Congress passed the legislation, the Magnitsky Act, in response to the murder of Sergei Magnistky, a Russian lawyer who alleged corruption and human rights violations against numerous Russian officials.

    According to a complaint filed to the Department of Justice Foreign Agents Registration Act division last July, Dellums failed to register as a foreign agent representing a Russian-driven effort led by Veselnitskaya to repeal the Magnitsky Act.

    Add Dellums to a list that includes Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Podesta brothers of high profile Democrats who have documented financial and lobbying ties to Putin’s government.

  • Democrats intentionally used disinformation from Russia to attack Trump, campaign aides.”
  • Russian journalist on how American journalists cover Russia, especially the Russian hacking story. “The way the American press writes about the topic, it’s like they’ve lost their heads.” Also: “Putin seem to look much smarter than he is, as if he operates from some master plan.” He’s actually a bumbler…
  • You know the Obama Veterans Administration that was only too happy to look the other way while veterans were dying on the waiting list? President Trump’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin has helped implement a number of reforms:

    In Shulkin’s five months on the job, the VA has been a whirlwind of activity:

    • The department announced last week that between President Trump’s inauguration and July 3, it had fired 526 employees, demoted another 27, and temporarily suspended another 194 for longer than two weeks.
    • In April, the department launched a new website that lets veterans compare the wait times at its facilities and view Yelp-style reviews of each facility written by previous patients.
    • Veterans Health Administration’s Veterans Crisis Line — designed for those struggling with PTSD, thoughts of suicide, and other forms of mental stress — is now answering “more than 90 percent of calls within 8 seconds, and only about one percent of calls are being rerouted to a backup call center.” A year ago, an inspector general report noted that “more than a third of calls were being shunted to backup call centers, some calls were taking more than a half hour to be answered and other callers were being given only an option to leave messages on voicemail.”
    • At the end of June, Shulkin unveiled the world’s most advanced commercial prosthetic limb — the Life Under Kinetic Evolution (LUKE) arm — during a visit to a VA facility in New York. Veteran amputees demonstrated the technology, a collaboration among the VA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the private sector. (The name alludes to the lifelike robotic hand that Luke Skywalker is fitted with in The Empire Strikes Back.)
    • In May, Shulkin said the department had identified more than 430 vacant buildings and 735 underutilized ones that cost the federal government $25 million a year. He said that most of the buildings are not treatment facilities and could profitably be closed or consolidated. Of course, if he actually attempted to close or consolidate some of the buildings, he might face a controversy along the lines of those touched off by military-base-closing announcements in recent decades.

    Shulkin has also gotten some help from Congress during his short time on the job. At a time when Republican legislators have had enormous difficulty passing big pieces of legislation, they’ve made great progress on VA reform.

    One particular law designed to make the VA more accountable is arguably the most consequential legislation President Trump has signed so far. It establishes speedier procedures for firing employees, gives the department the authority to recoup bonuses and pensions from employees convicted of crimes, adds greater protections for whistleblowers who report errors and scandals, and expands employee training.

  • New Senate GOP bill to repeal ObamaCare has tiny flaw in that it doesn’t repeal ObamaCare.
  • The One Sentence That Explains Washington Dysfunction: “I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win.” So no one was ready to do anything policy-wise once he did. “Among those consequences: The expectation that Republicans might actually try to keep the promises they’ve made to voters over the last eight years.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • No matter which party is in charge of Washington, rain or shine, summer or winter, the deficit keeps growing. “Real monthly federal spending topped $400 billion for the first time in June.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • An appeals court vacated the conviction of former New York Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, just the latest in a long line of appeal reversals for former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara. How much of Bharara’s once-sterling reputation was real, how much was showboating, and how much was good press from working at MSM-saturated New York City? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “ICE Director: There’s No Population Of Illegal Aliens Which Is Off The Table.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Mexico is reportedly very upset that both the united States and Texas are actually enforcing border control laws.
  • Remember: When you see an anti-Trump or anti-border control march, there’s a good chance it consists mostly of paid Soros shills.
  • Speaking of Soros:

    What we are actually witnessing — in Hungary, in the United States and in many other countries in recent years — is a populist reaction against the elite “progressive” consensus of which Soros is a prominent symbol. There is an international clique of influential people and organizations who share certain ideas about the future direction of political, social and economic policies, and who don’t want to be bothered with debating the merits of these policies. The ordinary people whose lives would be affected by the agenda of the elite aren’t being asked for their approval, and popular opposition to the elite agenda (e.g., the Brexit vote, Trump’s election, Hungary’s anti-“refugee” referendum) is treated by the elite media as evidence of incipient fascism. Never does it seem to have occurred to George Soros, or to anyone else in the international elite, that perhaps their policy ideas are wrong, that they have gone too far in their utopian “social justice” schemes. Unable to admit error, the progressive elite therefore resort to cheap insults and sloppy accusations of “fascism” to stigmatize opposition to the Left’s agenda.

  • Bernard-Henri Lévy makes the case for an independent Kurdistan. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • For ABC, religious liberty organization = hate group.
  • Seattle decides that they want to drive the affluent out of the city. I’m sure many cities in Texas would be happy to welcome them with open arms…
  • And just in case you thought that was going to be the craziest story out of Seattle this week: “Seattle Councilman Objects to Hosing Excrement-Covered Sidewalks Because It’s Racist.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • China’s housing bubble continues to expand. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Kid Rock is running in the 2018 Michigan Senate race. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
  • On the same subject. “Rock is arguably much better positioned than Trump for a successful political run.”
  • “The man running Sweden’s biggest security firm was declared bankrupt this week after his identity was hacked.”
  • Flaccid NFL ratings lead to Viagra and Cialis pulling out as sponsors. Maybe if they stopped focusing on politics, the NFL’s ratings wouldn’t be as soft….
  • Austin attorney “Omar Weaver Rosales, who filed hundreds of lawsuits against local small businesses alleging technical violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, has been suspended from practicing law in the Federal Western District for three years.”
  • Maine Democratic state rep threatens to kill President Trump, calls gun owners “pussies.”
  • Connecticut now requires a criminal conviction for civil forfeiture. Good. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • “Bad move, Mongo! Moonshine has powerful friends in the slam.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Clint Eastwood, when looking to cast American Paris train heroes Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone for a movie he’s directing, decided to cast Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone.
  • Radiohead gives the finger to anti-Israel BDS movement. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Was Shia LaBeouf always this big an asshole, or did he get worse after Trump and 4Chan broke him? “I got more millionaire lawyers than you know what to do with, you stupid bitch!” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Alyssa Milano is too busy as a member of “the Resistance” to take care of trivia like paying her taxes. Or her share of her employee’s taxes.
  • Woman climbs Mt. Everest to prove that vegans can do anything, dies. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • There’s a Friends of NRA Fundraiser on August 3rd in Georgetown.
  • AMC releases emails from fired Walking Dead producer Frank Darabont in which he states how he’s boiling with rage over subpar efforts by various production team members. It’s not a good look, but if you directed The Shawshank Redemption, I’m inclined to cut you more than the usual amount of slack over your film-making methods…
  • Marvel is actually doing a live Squirrel Girl TV show. Sure, it’s called New Warriors, but we all know what the real attraction is there…
  • A sailor-eye history of the USS Nevada battleship during World War II.
  • Speaking of World War II, here’s a history of the Mulberry artificial harbors that were crucial in unloading supplies right after D-Day.
  • From the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas: Proof that Bill Clinton doesn’t understand the power of metaphors in image form:

  • “Millions Of Policy Proposals Spill Into Sea As Brookings Institution Think Tanker Runs Aground Off Crimea Coast.” (Hat tip: JenDinnj’s Twitter feed.)
  • How did I miss this last week?

  • The State of the War Against the Islamic State

    Thursday, July 13th, 2017

    The coalition of forces fighting the Islamic State continue to make steady advances on a number of fronts:

  • Mosul is liberated, though mop-up operations against tiny pockets of resistance continues. They just pulled 28 mostly foreign born militants out of tunnels. That sort of thing can continue for a while. The Washington Post has a nice overview of the campaign to retake Mosul.
  • Islamic State forces are completely surrounded in Raqqa, as coalition aircraft pound militant positions in the capital of the crumbling caliphate and the Syrian Democratic Forces continue to grind them down in street-to-street urban warfare. Here’s the livemap snapshot:

  • There are consistent but unconfirmed reports from a number of sources that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. As in past cases of jihadis reported dead long before they actually reached room temperature, a large dollop of caution is in order. Though this quote from a coalition spokesman (relayed via Stephen Green at Instapundit) is pretty glorious: “We strongly advise ISIS to implement a strong line of succession, it will be needed.”
  • Given the investment of Raqqa, there are conflicting reports as to where the Islamic State’s defacto capital is now: Some say Deir ez-Zor, others say Al Mayadin, AKA Mayadeen, which is all of 44km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, both in Syria on the Euphrates near what used to be the Iraqi border.

  • How President Trump’s strategy against the Islamic State differs from Obama’s:

    Under President Obama, U.S. Army Special Forces assigned to Syrian Democratic Forces needed special approval from Washington for virtually all tactical moves amid the politically complex theater of Americans, Arabs, Kurds, Turks and Syrians.

    In Tabqa, where the city, its dam and its airfield were the objectives, the Green Berets decided they needed an airlift. Suddenly minus red tape, Arabs, Kurds and Americans were helicoptering into battle, and they quickly seized territory.

    Under Mr. Obama, Islamic State terrorists could at times retreat from towns, immune from airstrikes if they used civilians as cover. The battle for Manbij in August became infamous when the SDF let 200 Islamic State fighters turn in their weapons and escape because they had threatened to kill town residents if they were not allowed to run away.

    The new Trump strategy calls for surrounding towns, as opposed to pushing from one end or one side to another, in order to isolate Islamic State fighters and annihilate them.

    Brett H. McGurk, special U.S. envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State who performed the same role for Mr. Obama, talked of “the delegations of authority which has made a difference in terms of the speed of execution. I think Tabqa was an example of that.”

    “Our military people on the ground saw an opportunity to kind of surprise ISIS with a helicopter, moving them by helicopter, surprise them from behind and seize the airport, the dam and the town,” Mr. McGurk later told reporters at the Pentagon.

    After Tabqa’s liberation, Mr. McGurk spoke to the city’s mayor, who gave a brief description of the war of annihilation.

    “He also said he believes that most of these foreign fighters are now dead,” the diplomat said.

    Mr. Mattis said: “No longer will we have slowed decision cycles because Washington, D.C., has to authorize tactical movements. I’ll leave that to the generals who know how to do those kind of things. We don’t direct that from here. They know our intent is the foreign fighters do not get out. I leave it to their skill, their cunning, to carry that out.”

  • Some videos:

    House-by-house clearing in Raqqa:

    The ruins of the Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul, from which al-Baghdadi declared his short-lived caliphate:

  • The Islamic State is by no means destroyed, but they’re definitely on the ropes. The defeat of the Islamic State won’t end transnational Islamic fundamentalism, but it will certainly take the wind out of their sails.

    Not included in this roundup: Groups outside Islamic State territory that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. I hope to have a separate roundup on them Real Soon Now.

    Note: Post updated to remove embedded video on improvised weapons of the Battle for Mosul, as it’s been taken down for “violating YouTube’s Terms of Service,” possibly because it included Islamic State propaganda videos of weapon-making among the footage.

    Mosul (Mostly) Liberated

    Sunday, July 9th, 2017

    Iraqi forces have declared victory over the Islamic State in Mosul, although evidently a small pocket of resistance right up against the Tigris remains.

    Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi has visited Mosul to congratulate Iraqi forces for their victory over IS in the city.

    Mr Abadi was there to announce the city’s full “liberation”, his office said in a statement.

    Iraqi forces, backed by US-led air strikes, have been battling to retake Mosul since 17 October last year.

    Islamic State militants seized it in June 2014 before taking much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland and proclaiming a “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria.

    Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen have also been involved in the gruelling battle.

    This map from ISIS Livemap shows a slightly larger area of Islamic State control in Mosul, including a remaining section of the old city.

    Some videos showing the fighting and destruction:

    Video from the Battle for Raqqa

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017

    The battle for the Islamic State capital of Raqqa continues. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces continue to advance, but recently met a fierce counterattack featuring drones, snipers, car bombs and minefields.

    Here are some videos on the fighting, all from foreign sources, since the American MSM evidently cant be arsed to spare anyone from their Russian Conspiracy Story divisions to cover an actual war American-backed forces are fighting.

    Reportedly the Syrian Democratic Forces are just a few hundred meters from the old city, where the Islamic State has dug in for a final battle, and has a network of tunnels to move throughout the city.

    This is a longer video from about a week ago that also includes an interview with a French Middle East expert on the situation.

    U.S. Backed Forces Enter Islamic State Capital of Raqqa

    Saturday, June 10th, 2017

    While the media was presenting wall-to-wall coverage of the Comey hearing, something a lit more momentous was happening in Syria: U.S.-backed forces entered the Islamic State capital of Raqqa:

    At Raqqa’s eastern edge, a handful of Syrian fighters cross a river by foot and car, all the while relaying their coordinates to the U.S.-led coalition so they don’t fall victim to friendly fire.

    This is their only way into al-Mishlab, the first district the Kurdish and Arab militias have swept into, in what the coalition says will be a long and difficult battle for Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto “capital” in Syria.

    The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched their assault to capture the city this week.

    As artillery and coalition aircraft pounded targets in the city, SDF fighters moved in small groups into the district during a media trip organized by the SDF.

    “The comrades are advancing and Daesh forces are collapsing in front of us, but there are snipers obstructing our movements, and they are also shelling our positions with mortars,” said an SDF fighter who gave his name as Khalil.

    For months, air strikes and special forces from the U.S.-led coalition have helped them encircle Raqqa, which Islamic State seized in 2014 and has used as a base to plan attacks abroad.

    In a statement sent to Reuters, coalition spokesman Colonel Joseph Scrocca said the militants’ resistance had been “minimal” outside the city and that they were retreating “to protect their fortifications inside the city”.

    More from The Guardian:

    Kurdish and Arab forces backed by the US have entered Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, setting the stage for what could be a months-long campaign to reclaim the militants’ largest stronghold in Syria.

    The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters, breached the outer city limits of Raqqa, seizing a 1,000-year-old fortress in the west and a neighbourhood on the eastern side of the city, two days after announcing the start of the offensive.

    “Raqqa to them is the capital of the caliphate, and they [Isis] have fortified it to a great extent,” Nouri Mahmoud, a spokesman for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish militia taking part in the assault, told the Guardian.

    The operation – codenamed Operation Wrath of Euphrates – to reclaim Raqqa is led by the SDF, whose largest component is the YPG, and is backed by US air power. If successful, it would deprive Isis of its second largest city, with a simultaneous campaign to take back Mosul in Iraq also under way.

    ISIS Livemap had this snapshot of the battle:

    Here’s an AFP video showing some of the fighting and devastation on the road to Raqqa:

    And here’s video from Kurdistan 24:

    It used to be that entering an enemy’s capital city was a big deal in the media, but information in U.S. outlets seems fairly scanty…

    LinkSwarm for May 12, 2017

    Friday, May 12th, 2017

    Lots of border control news at the top of today’s LinkSwarm:

  • “According to figures released yesterday, the number of illegal aliens crossing the U.S. southwestern border has dropped by an astonishing 76% since President Trump took office.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Authorities Arrest 1,378 in ICE-Led Operation Targeting Gangs.” More: “The majority, 955, of those arrested were U.S. citizens, while 445 were foreign nationals from around the world.” Also: Three were Obama’s “Dreamers.”
  • “If the Trump administration is serious about controlling illegal immigration and illegal alien driven crime, it should begin by going after employers who hire illegal aliens. The move would not only help to prevent the exploitation of illegal immigrants, but it would also help to foster higher-paying jobs for American workers.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Maryland Democrats shocked, shocked to discover that legal immigrants who followed the rules aren’t wild about sanctuary city BS for illegal aliens. (Hat tip: Louder With Crowder via The Other McCain.)
  • “James Clapper: Still no evidence of any Russian collusion with Trump campaign.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • From the House to the Big House: Former Florida Democratic Representative Corrine Brown was found guilty on fraud and tax evasion charges.
  • Democrats had a real shot at winning the Omaha Mayor’s race…until the DNC came in and pulled all support to punish pro-life heresy.
  • “Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, has announced that it will exit all Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2018 after experiencing massive losses in 2016 and 2017.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • On the Democratic Party’s civil war:

    If Obama is really responsible for Democrat losses, then the party and its donors just bought first class seats on the Titanic. That’s why Democrat autopsies of the defeat remain so explosive. Blame can be apportioned to white people, to racism, Islamophobia and to Global Warming, but not to Barack Obama.

    Keith Ellison was the best messenger Sanders had to take a shot at Barry. Black loyalty to Obama is still the third rail of politics. And Ellison is one of the few black people in the Sanders inner circle. Obama’s pricey Wall Street speech offered the opportunity for a more direct attack from Bernie Sanders.

    “I just think it is distasteful,” Bernie slurred on CNN. “At a time when we have so much income and wealth inequality … it just does not look good.”

    The attack went to the heart of his differences with Obama. Unlike the Clinton era, the split is no longer between the left and the radical left. Obama and Sanders are both representatives of the radical left.

    But they don’t represent the same radical left.

    Bernie embodies the old left. Its mantra is class warfare. There is a great deal of talk about billionaires, working people and the ruling class. Obama pays lip service to that same rhetoric, but his is the program of the intersectional left. The intersectional left is far more interested in identity than class. It defines its organization around a coalition of racial, sexual and other minorities. Where Bernie wants to talk to the working class, the intersectional left wants to hear from transgender Muslim women of color.

    The differences aren’t just intellectual. They define the tactics and agenda of the Democrats.

    When Tom Perez, Obama’s DNC boss, recently read pro-life Democrats out of the party, he was following the Obama blueprint. Bernie meanwhile went on campaigning for a somewhat pro-life Dem. Bernie does not really care about abortion, gay rights, transgender bathrooms and the social issues of the intersectional left. The old Socialist follows the older slogan of the hard left. No war, but class war.

    Snip.

    Democrats and the left had long ago replaced pure class warfare with identity politics warfare. Intersectionality entirely displaced and demonized the old Dem white working class base.

    And the Dems paid the price.

    Obama’s reign torched most of the last of that white working class base. Trump’s victories would not have been possible if the Dems had not become a party of wealthy bicoastal urban and suburban elites who were out of touch with the South and the Rust Belt. And who were proud to be out of touch with a bunch of “ignorant racist, sexist homophobes” still “clinging to their guns and religion”.

    The clash between Bernie and Obama is also over the autopsy of Hillary’s defeat. Did the Dems lose because they failed to turn out the base as effectively as Obama had or because former Obama voters had come out for Trump? Should the Dems try to appeal to working class whites with a class warfare pitch or work harder to turn out the intersectional coalitions of minority voters?

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • The U.S. is arming Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State despite Turkish opposition. Good. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • 10% of French voters turn up at polls only to spoil their ballot in disgust.
  • Mark Steyn covers the French election:

    The French have voted to postpone their rendezvous with destiny. But kicking the croissant down the road means another half-decade of demographic transformation that lengthens the odds against ever winning the numbers to halt it….

    Yet the fact is that, with the arrival of President Macron in the charmed circle, the leaders of Europe’s biggest economies and of all the European members of the G7 are childless: Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s Theresa May, Italy’s Paolo Gentiloni, and now France’s Macron.

    This would have been not just statistically improbable but all but impossible for most of human history. Whatever Euro-politics is about, it’s not, as Bill Clinton was wont to say, the future of all our children. Indeed, of the six founding members of the European Union – France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg – five are led by childless prime ministers: joining Merkel, Gentiloni and Macron at the no-need-for-daycare Euro-summit are the Dutch PM Mark Rutte and the Luxemburger Xavier Bettel. Mark Rutte is single and childless. Xavier Bettel of Lux is married, but gay and, hélas, for the moment without progeny….

    That’s the demographics of Western Europe writ small. The Eurocrats are a Continental version of the Shakers: They’re apparently forbidden to breed, and can only increase their numbers through conversion. From Nice to Cologne to Rosengård, a significant proportion of New Europeans seem to think that, au contraire, they’ll be the ones doing the converting.

  • Sally Yates was the real blackmailer.”
  • Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto wants choose senators based on diversity rather than all those annoying elections. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Canada arrests 104 men on child sex trafficking charges. The Other McCain notices a certain pattern to the names of those arrested that will be familiar to those that followed the Rotherham child sex trafficking scandal:

    Suresh Patel, 49; Muhammad Jaffer, 22; Muhammad Sarchami, 31; Hernando Carvajal, 29; Intekhab Shaikh, 42; Sakhi Alekozai, 29; Shamim Abowath, 54; Ruchir Shah, 34; Nima Latifpour, 25; Sanjay Ninan, 42; Jaipal Sidhu, 26; Adeniran Adekola, 33; Ming Wong, 39; Zan He, 33; Segundo Fernandez, 54; Anpalagan Kanapathipillai, 39; Navaneetharan Packianathan, 25; Rajorshi Bhaumik, 34; Miguel Feliciano, 38; Virushan Premanathan, 25; Suhayl Rajan, 24; Sivanesan Veerasingam, 50; Jamshid Jalilian, 25; Zhi Situ, 22; Tejash Patel, 33; Quang Tran, 37; Ravikumar Ghandhi, 31; Ahmad Hassan, 21; Anshu Manocha, 33; Sivaratnam Sinnappillai, 39; Naidu Matas, 54; Paramjit Sandhi, 35; Hari Bhaskar, 55; Ramy Kawar, 39; Zu Liang Xiao, 28; Ali Mansourinajand, 24; Ramiz Multani, 25

  • AC-130 gunship now comes with a 105mm Howitzer option. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Wargaming a second Korean war. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • U.S. Air Force’s robotic X-37B space plane finally lands after circling Earth for “an unprecedented 718 days.”
  • UT stabbing spree followup: The stabber “was suffering from mental illness and didn’t seem to be targeting anyone in particular during his Monday afternoon spree, police said Tuesday.”
  • “‘Chicago Is A War Zone’: Police Suicide Rate Surges To 60% Above The National Average.”
  • Gun-blogger Bob Owens dead of apparent suicide. Unlike many in the blogsphere, I didn’t know Owens personally, but we did follow each other on Twitter. RIP.
  • Windows 10 on ARM supports x86 apps, and Microsoft says your 32-bit applications should run just fine. Won’t make me use it, but for some people…
  • Behold the #BowWowChallenge.
  • Bucket-eye view of critters drinking water.
  • Intervening in Syria is STILL a Bad Idea

    Thursday, April 6th, 2017

    Note: This post is 75% rerun by weight from this piece, because pretty much all the reasons listed there are still valid.

    Following a new report of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime in Syria, certain factions of the Washington establishment are demanding that President Trump “do something” to “punish” Assad.

    To which I reply: Why?

    Even assuming the report is true (at least some observers think the chemical attack report is a false flag), last time I checked, the United Nations had not made the United States the designated enforcer of Security Council Resolution 2118.

    We can’t back the good guys in the Syrian civil war because there are no good guys. Assad’s ruling faction are scumbags. The Russians backing Assad are scumbags. Hezbollah, fighting on Assad’s side, are scumbags. The Iranian mullahs backing Assad are scumbags. Turkey is currently ruled by Erdogan’s Islamist scumbags, and Turkey is more interested in attacking the Kurds than the Islamic State. The Free Syrian Army is riddled with Islamist scumbags. The al-Nusra front are scumbags. The Islamic State is made up of the very worst scumbags in the region (and world). The only notable faction that aren’t scumbags are the Kurds, who, as an ethnic and geographic minority, are in no position to rule Syria, or even a significant fraction of it.

    To the extent that Obama’s imaginary red lines and desultory, ineffectual backing of Syrian rebel groups harmed America’s reputation for competence in the region, the damage has already been done. (Indeed, the Obama/Clinton/Kerry strategy for fomenting regime change in the hope that things would turn out better, like a liberal funhouse mirror distorted reflection of George W. Bush’s far more limited regime change goals in Iraq, have made things worse across the region.) We have no pressing national interest at stake in the Syrian civil war, there’s not a contending faction (outside the peripherally-involved Kurds) worth backing, and it’s not apparent what such an intervention might reasonably achieve.

    All of which makes me incredulous when I read pieces that suggest that President Trump is considering military actions in Syria.

    Even some on the right have been agitating for the United States to “do something” in Syria, and S. E. Cupp’s Twitter timeline has (yet again) gone to an “all heart-tugging photos of Syrian children” format without saying why it is the United State’s interest to intervene in Syria or proposing anything concrete as to what form that intervention should take beyond vague talk of “safe zones.”

    A large part of the latest push to intervene in Syria still seems to be coming from an interest group called The Syria Campaign. Who is behind it?

    From that Zero Hedge piece:

    A careful look at the origins and operation of The Syria Campaign raises doubts about the outfit’s image as an authentic voice for Syrian civilians, and should invite serious questions about the agenda of its partner organizations as well.

    A creation of international PR firms

    Best known for its work on liberal social issues with well-funded progressive clients like the ACLU and the police reform group, Campaign Zero, the New York- and London-based public relations firm Purpose promises to deliver creatively executed campaigns that produce either a “behavior change,” “perception change,” “policy change” or “infrastructure change.” As the Syrian conflict entered its third year, this company was ready to effect a regime change.

    On Feb. 3, 2014, Anna Nolan, the senior strategist at Purpose, posted a job listing. According to Nolan’s listing, her firm was seeking “two interns to join the team at Purpose to help launch a new movement for Syria.”

    At around the same time, another Purpose staffer named Ali Weiner posted a job listing seeking a paid intern for the PR firm’s new Syrian Voices project. “Together with Syrians in the diaspora and NGO partners,” Weiner wrote, “Purpose is building a movement that will amplify the voices of moderate, non-violent Syrians and mobilize people in the Middle East and around the world to call for specific changes in the political and humanitarian situation in the region.” She explained that the staffer would report “to a Strategist based primarily in London, but will work closely with the Purpose teams in both London and New York.”

    On June 16, 2014, Purpose founder Jeremy Heimans drafted articles of association for The Syria Campaign’s parent company. Called the Voices Project, Heimans registered the company at 3 Bull Lane, St. Ives Cambridgeshire, England. It was one of 91 private limited companies listed at the address. Sadri would not explain why The Syria Campaign had chosen this location or why it was registered as a private company.

    Along with Heimans, Purpose Europe director Tim Dixon was appointed to The Syria Campaign’s board of directors. So was John Jackson, a Purpose strategist who previously co-directed the Burma Campaign U.K. that lobbied the EU for sanctions against that country’s ruling regime. (Jackson claimed credit for The Syria Campaign’s successful push to remove Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s re-election campaign ads from Facebook.) Anna Nolan became The Syria Campaign’s project director, even as she remained listed as the strategy director at Purpose.

    From The Syria Campaign’s own website:

    The Syria Campaign is a non-profit organisation registered as a company in the United Kingdom as The Voices Project—company number 8825761. (You can’t be a registered charity in the UK if most of your work is campaigning.)

    We have a Governing Board who are legally responsible for the organisation and oversee strategy and finance for The Syria Campaign. The board members are Daniel Gorman, Ben Stewart, Sawsan Asfari, Tim Dixon and Lina de Sergie.

  • Jeremy Heimans co-founded “a campaign group in the U.S. presidential elections that used crowd-funding to help a group of women whose loved ones were in Iraq hire a private jet to follow Vice-President Dick Cheney on his campaign stops, in what became known as the “‘Chasing Cheney’ tour” among other leftist activism.
  • Daniel Gorman heads “the UK’s largest festival of contemporary Arab culture.”
  • Ben Stewart is a Greenpeace activist who has a grudge against Russia for detaining 30 of his fellow travelers.
  • Sawsan Asfari is “active in various charities that help Palestinians across the Arab world” and is the wife of Syrian-born British billionaire Ayman Asfari.
  • Lina de Sergie seems to more commonly go by Lina Sergie Attar. “She is a Syrian-American architect and writer from Aleppo. She co-developed Karam’s Innovative Education initiatives: the creative therapy and holistic wellness program for displaced Syrian children and the Karam Leadership Program, an entrepreneurship and technology program for displaced Syrian youth.” Yes, I’m sure “holistic wellness” is a big priority for Syrian refugees. Karam’s Mission Statement: “We develop Innovative Education programs for Syrian refugee youth, distribute Smart Aid to Syrian families, and fund Sustainable Development projects initiated by Syrians for Syrians.”
  • Tim Dixon has quite an extensive resume, being a former speechwriter to two Australian Labor Party Prime Ministers and involved in a large number of causes:

    – a large-scale initiative to help change hearts and minds on the global refugee crisis;
    – The Syria Campaign, to move the world to action on the humanitarian crisis in Syria;
    – Everytown, the movement to tackle gun violence in America

  • Etc.

    So, to summarize: It’s run by international left-wing activists in favor of Europe accepting more “Syrian” “refugees”, soft jihadis, and gun banners.

    These are not the sort of people I want driving American national security decisions.

    The situation in Syria is horrible, but outside territory held by the Islamic State, it’s the same type of horrible that has plagued the Middle East pretty much constantly absent control by a ruling power with sufficient force to keep the endemic ethnic strife under wraps. Wars there are fought under Hama rules, not those of the Geneva Convention.

    It is not in the best interests of the United States to intervene militarily in Syria. We have no compelling national security interest in Syria right now, there’s no faction worth backing, and trying to “create safe areas” or “establish no-fly zones” would be dangerous, cost-prohibitive and unlikely to succeed.

    The fact that Barack Obama and John Kerry screwed up, drew a red line they were unwilling to enforce, pretended they got Syria to give up all their chemical weapons, and then walked away from their latest foreign policy disaster while loudly declaring victory doesn’t obligate President Trump to clean up their mess. Assad is a complete and utter bastard, but there is still no plausible candidate to replace him with that we could say with 100% certainty wouldn’t be just as big (or bigger) a bastard.

    Retaliating against Assad would be a huge distraction from something that is a compelling American (and world) interest: crushing the Islamic State so completely and thoroughly that it will arise again in our lifetime.

    Military intervention in Syria is still an amazingly foolish idea.

    Sometimes the best choice is doing nothing at all.

    Update: President Trump just launched a cruise missile strike at Syria. I suspect I hit post while the missiles were literally in the air. Word is this is a limited one-time strike. Is that’s the case, it may have a salutatory effect on the other bastards of the world like Kim Jong-Un, putting them on notice that President Trump is a whole lot more serious about using force than Obama was. If that’s the end of it, it may. turn out to be a net positive. But that’s a big if, and intervention in Syria is still a bad idea, for all the reasons listed above…

    LinkSwarm for March 10, 2017

    Friday, March 10th, 2017

    Welcome to Friday! (And welcome Instapundit readers coming in off Stephen Green’s link to yesterday’s border security roundup.)

    First up: Liberalism’s continued idée fixe on the “Russians hacked the election” fantasy.

  • If Trump had actually been in the pay of the Russians, Wayne Barrett, who worked the Trump beat for the Village Voice for 40 years, would have known about it. “Wayne Barrett had this file for 40 years, and if neither he nor the reporters he trained got this story, it’s not a story.”
  • Even some liberals are now seeing the Russian fantasy as a dangerous distraction that helps Trump.
  • Lefty Glenn Greenwald agrees:

    This obsession with Russia conspiracy tales is poisoning all aspects of U.S. political discourse and weakening any chance for resisting Trump’s actual abuses and excesses. Those who wake up every day to hype the latest episode of this Russia/Trump spy drama tell themselves that they’re bravely undermining and subverting Trump, but they’re doing exactly the opposite.

    This crazed conspiracy mongering is further discrediting U.S. media outlets, making Washington seem even more distant from and irrelevant to the lives of millions of Americans, degrading discourse to the lowliest Trumpian circus level on which he thrives, and is misdirecting huge portions of opposition energy and thought into an exciting but fictitious spy novel – all of which directly redounds to Trump’s benefit.

    Snip.

    Above all else, it’s because it’s an offensive assault on reason. This kind of deranged discourse is an attack on basic journalistic integrity, on any minimal obligation to ensure that one’s claims are based in evidence rather than desire, fantasy, and herd-enforced delusions. And it’s emanating from the most established and mainstream precincts of U.S. political and media elites, who have processed the severe disorientation and loss of position they feel from Trump’s shock election not by doing the work to patiently formulate cogent, effective strategies against him, but rather by desperately latching onto online “dot-connecting” charlatans and spewing the most unhinged Birther-level conspiracies that require a complete abandonment of basic principles of rationality and skepticism.

  • The timidness of the House GOP ObamaCare repeal plan shows that liberalism has already won.
  • Liberals threaten to primary Democratic senators who vote for cloture on Neil Gorsuch. I’m sure there’s no way that supergenius plan could possibly backfire on them…
  • Speaking of Gorsuch, “the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary voted unanimously to rate Neil Gorsuch as “well qualified” to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” the highest rating possible. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Nate Silver at 538: “There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble.” Silver comes to many of the same conclusions about MSM blinders that conservatives have been making for years. A few samples:
    • “Much of The New York Times’s coverage, for instance, implied that Clinton’s odds were close to 100 percent.”
    • “In a country where educational attainment is an increasingly important predictor of cultural and political behavior, some 92 percent of journalists have college degrees. A degree didn’t used to be a de facto prerequisite7 for a reporting job; just 70 percent of journalists had college degrees in 1982 and only 58 percent did in 1971.”
    • “The political diversity of journalists is not very strong, either. As of 2013, only 7 percent of them identified as Republicans.”
    • “All things considered, then, the conditions of political journalism are poor for crowd wisdom and ripe for groupthink.”
  • The headline is “Battle for Manbij shows Syria’s civil war is almost over – and it looks like Bashar Assad has won.” And that’s part of it. But there’s a lot of information on just how complex the Syrian-Iraqi battlespace is:

    Winners and losers are emerging in what may be the final phase of the Syrian civil war as anti-Isis forces prepare for an attack aimed at capturing Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital in Syria. Kurdish-led Syrian fighters say they have seized part of the road south of Raqqa, cutting Isis off from its other territory further east.

    Isis is confronting an array of enemies approaching Raqqa, but these are divided, with competing agendas and ambitions. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main fighting force is the Syrian Kurdish Popular Mobilisation Units (YPG), backed by the devastating firepower of the US-led air coalition, are now getting close to Raqqa and are likely to receive additional US support. The US currently has 500 Special Operations troops in north-east Syria and may move in American-operated heavy artillery to reinforce the attack on Raqqa.

    This is bad news for Turkey, whose military foray into northern Syria called Operation Euphrates Shield began last August, as it is being squeezed from all sides. In particular, an elaborate political and military chess game is being played around the town of Manbij, captured by the SDF last year, with the aim of excluding Turkey, which had declared it to be its next target. The Turkish priority in Syria is to contain and if possible reduce or eliminate the power of Syrian Kurds whom Ankara sees as supporting the Kurdish insurrection in Turkey.

  • “The U.S. military is sending an additional 2,500 ground combat troops to a staging base in Kuwait from which they could be called upon to back up coalition forces battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.” So instead of following Obama’s strategy of losing slowly and expensively, President Trump’s goal appears to be to crush the Islamic State entirely.
  • “Marine Le Pen: ‘France Isn’t Burkinis on the Beach, France is Brigitte Bardot.'” France is a lot of things, but they could certainly do worse than Brigitte Bardot…

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • 40% of households in Philadelphia can’t pay their water bill.” Remind me again which party runs Philadelphia… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • School restages Trump-Clinton debates, but with a woman playing Trump and a man playing Hillary. Result: Hillary loses even more badly than before. “It seems to me that Hillary’s gender actually covered up her flaws, such as inauthenticity, scriptedness, recitations of pablum, and fake-smiling, while, when she was played by a male actor, those flaws were suddenly very visible to the people who think of themselves as ‘gender-woke’ but maybe should just think of themselves as gender partisans.”
  • Orrin Hatch reneges on retirement promise. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Social Justice Syndrome: “Rising Tide of Personality Disorders Among Millennials.”
  • “100 of the 544 Women’s March partners received a total of $246,637,217 from [George] Soros between 2000 and 2014. Soros gave more than $1 million to 36 of those partners, including the Center for Reproductive Rights, MoveOn.org, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.” (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Washington Examiner writer finds the perfect place to visit on the “Day Without Women”: Hooters. I guess that’s an excuse to break out this classic:

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Charles Murray on what it was like to be in the middle of a violent crowd trying to assault him.
  • Lawsuit of man wrongly expelled from Amherst for a “rape” that consisted of him receiving a blowjob while he was passed out can move forward after a judge’s ruling.
  • “Defense contracting firm owners Jeffrey Harrington and Michael Mayer, and employee sisters Kimberlee Hewitt and Natalee Hewitt, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in California to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and file false claims for using their companies — Veteran Logistics, Inc., Industrial Xchange, Inc., and Boston Laser Technology, Inc. — to sell the government $45 million worth of mostly incorrect and overpriced products.” As far as I can tell, this naval contracting scandal is unrelated to the Fat Leonard naval contracting scandal. Did the Navy just forget to hire auditors?
  • What’s a little rape to Democrats if there are pipelines to be protested?
  • Lynne Stewart, the radical lawyer and convicted felon who represented murderous anti-American scumbags pro bono, has died.
  • Another day, another fake hate crime exposed.
  • CNN’s new frontier in tastelessness: Cannibalism. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Speaking of CNN: “CNN cuts feed on guest after he cites jihad terror cases involving ‘refugees.'”
  • “Trump Immigration Order Requires Govt Report on ‘Honor Killings‘ by Foreign Nationals.”
  • Don’t believe everything you read about the CIA Vault7 leak. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Radio Shack to close another 187 stores. In other news, Radio Shack still has stores to close. I also ask your forgiveness in advance when I rerun this joke next year. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • In prison, mackerel can be exchanged for goods and services.
  • Brings an entire new meaning to the phrase “Got wood?”
  • Japanese man dies after being crushed under six tons of pornography. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Note that I now have a Gab account in addition to my Twitter account.
  • What’s Happening in the War Against The Islamic State?

    Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

    The twists and turns of the election, Hillary’s corruption, liberal derangement over Trump’s triumph, etc. have pushed a lot of other news stories onto the back-burner.

    One of the big ones being: What the hell is happening in the war against the Islamic State?

    It looks like I’m not the only one to have taken my eye off the ball. Back when Bush was President, there was heavy mainstream media reporting on conflicts in the Middle East. But ever since Obama’s Iraq pullout engendered the rise of the Islamic State, American reporting on the conflict has been (at best) sporadic.

    Which is why I was surprised to see reports that Kurdish-led fighters were closing in on the Islamic State’s de-facto capital of Raqqa:

    As the Mosul offensive drags into its second month, another fight is raging 450km to the west around Islamic State’s de facto capital at Raqqa, on the Euphrates River in northern Syria. The battle is already a tragedy for Raqqa’s 320,000 civilians, who’ve suffered under brutal Islamic State occupation for more than three years. Many have fled, with thousands crowding into already overflowing refugee camps since the latest fighting began, and others fleeing across the hills towards the Iraqi border even as night-time temperatures plunge below freezing. Their lives, like those of families still in the city, are about to get even harder.

    The battle for Raqqa will shape the Syrian war throughout the coming year. Though smaller than the vast offensive around Mosul, it will be even more significant. It may decide the fate of Islamic State’s “caliphate” in Syria and will set the tone for the incoming Trump administration’s dealings with Turkey and Russia, two critical relationships that will drive events in the region and beyond.

    During a visit to the Middle East last week, I spoke to Syrian, Kurdish, Iraqi and American leaders involved in the campaign. They told me that while the military offensive is progressing about as well as anyone expected, the politics are proving characteristically complex.

    The troops fighting Islamic State in Raqqa come from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a rebel coalition backed by the US, among other countries. SDF units have received a stream of weapons, training and advisers since last year. Supported by coalition airstrikes, they attacked Raqqa early last month, timing the offensive (known as Operation Euphrates Wrath) to coincide with the Mosul assault, to stop Islamic State shifting reinforcements between fronts.

    The SDF has achieved considerable battlefield success. In the past month it has cleared 600sq km of rural terrain in Raqqa province, recapturing 45 villages and expelling hundreds of Islamic State fighters. Many recovered settlements are ruined, however, their populations massacred or driven off by Islamic State, or bombed out by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in previous fighting.

    The frontline sits just north of Raqqa city, in Ayn Issa district, where heavy combat (including coalition airstrikes called in by observers on the ground) has killed as many as 200 Islamic State fighters in the past two weeks.

    In the same timeframe, SDF spokesmen announced the recapture of the towns of Hazima, al-Taweelah and Tel al-Samman, north and west of Raqqa, bringing the SDF main force within 25km of the city’s outskirts, with reconnaissance teams pushing forward to the edge of town.

    Islamic State resistance is increasing as SDF advances, and most commanders expect a ferocious fight against a determined enemy once they reach the fortified downtown area.

    As the investment of Mosul has been going on for weeks, the battle for Raqqa will probably be at least equally slow and grinding, especially given the difficulties inherent in managing a diverse force of various factions:

    More than 25,000 SDF members — by far the largest faction in a force of about 30,000 — come from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the affiliated Women’s Protection Units (YPJ, an all-female combat brigade of 7000 troops). SDF also includes a few hundred Arab fighters from the Shammari tribal confederation, plus an Assyrian Christian militia and a small ethnic Turkmen force. The Shammari have a longstanding blood feud with Islamic State, which has massacred their men and boys and enslaved women and girls as it seeks to intimidate tribes in its region of influence. Christians and Turkmen are fighting for survival against Islamic State, which has engaged in genocidal slaughter against both groups wherever it has gained control. There also is a small secular nationalist force drawn from regime military defectors, the Free Officers Union. But these are minorities, perhaps 15 per cent altogether, in an alliance that is overwhelmingly Kurdish.

    Evidently the fighting is going poorly enough for the Islamic State that their spokesman urged their own soldiers not to flee Raqqa and Mosul. (That would be their new spokesman, the old one having been removed from office by a Hellfire missle.)

    There’s also indications that the Iraqi forces closing in on Mosul have cut off escape routes for Islamic State fighters, though Islamic State forces just launched a counterattack.

    Some have suggested that the Islamic State is preparing to retreat to a desert stronghold, in Wilayat al-Furat near the Iraq-Syrian border if it’s ejected from both Raqqa and Mosul. (This, as far as I can figure, is about where it is.)

    isis-desert-fortress

    More far afield, Libyan militias backed by American airstrikes said they have cleared Sirte, the stronghold of the Islamic State in Libya.

    One thing that may be making battlefield progress against the Islamic State possible: Cheap oil prices. Without excess petrodollars to spend, the Islamic State’s backers on the Arabian peninsula (not to mention Anatolia) may not have the spare cash to prop up their miniature caliphate.

    That said, the war against the Islamic State is far from over, and expected it to drag on into the Trump Presidency.