Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

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.

This Week in Jihad for August 15, 2016

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Welcome to the return of this week in jihad! (And by “this week” I mean “since the last time I did a roundup.”)

  • Man harpooned in brawl over photo of women in burkinis in Corsica.” (Hat tip Instapundit.)
  • 91 killed by suicide bombers in Baghdad in July.
  • Two teenage Muslim “refugees” rape a five year old girl in Idaho while a third films the attack.
  • “Germany’s migrant rape crisis has now spread to cities and towns in all 16 of Germany’s federal states.”
  • Eleven Muslim separatist bombing attacks in Thailand in one day.
  • Could France be facing a civil war between natives and Islamic immigrants? Maybe, but it’s hard to put much credence in this article when he says “Benoit, a local olive farmer who owns more than a dozen rifles, pistols and shotguns, as well as an AK-47 assault rifle, admitted to me this weekend something much darker.” Fully automatic rifles are illegal in France last I checked, so I rather doubt “Benoit” has one, much less shows it to random Brits swanning about. Cue the journalists guide to firearms identification. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • “Muslim migrants want Islamization of Europe.”
  • Sharia Police” patrolling Hamburg?
  • Authorities in Norrtälje, Sweden are asking wealthy homeowners to give up their summer homes for “Syrian refugees.” (Hat tip: Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit.)
  • Islamic State in Libya loses control of Sirte.
  • LinkSwarm for April 22, 2016

    Friday, April 22nd, 2016

    As today is a made-up celebration called “Earth Day,” be sure to have beef for dinner…

  • Reminder: “Officials at VA’s Phoenix hospital manipulated wait-time data to make it appear they were connecting doctors and veterans seeking appointments much faster than they actually were. This was done so VA managers at the Arizona facility could keep getting generous performance bonuses. They got their bonuses but dozens of waiting veterans died.” So how did the VA address the problem? They hired someone accused of doing the exact same thing at another hospital.
  • Huge ObamaCare premium hikes are coming down the pike in 2017. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “The largest health insurer in the U.S. has started pulling out of select Obamacare exchanges.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Eight more ObamaCare co-ops are about to bite the dust.
  • Meanwhile, ObamaCare is helping enourage opioid addiction.
  • Thanks to Obama’s supergenius management, the Taliban are now winning in Afghanistan.
  • “The National Labor Relations Board suspended a top-ranking Philadelphia official after receiving complaints that he helped raise money from unions for his pro-union charity.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Following a congressional subpoena over Benghazi, Hillary’s state department staff hid requested files in another department. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Is Rhode Island closing 66% of polling places for next week’s presidential primaries? Something smells.
  • How Ted Cruz could beat Hillary Clinton. “Clin­ton is en­ter­ing the gen­er­al elec­tion with glar­ing vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies of her own. Her im­age is tox­ic to Re­pub­lic­ans and in­de­pend­ents, and her pop­ular­ity among Demo­crats is now at an all-time low as a pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate, ac­cord­ing to Gal­lup’s polling. It won’t take a top-tier Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate to win.” Also: “Cruz con­sist­ently runs far more com­pet­it­ively against Clin­ton than Trump does.”
  • “It’s not just Wall Street banks. Most companies and groups that paid Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to speak between 2013 and 2015 have lobbied federal agencies in recent years, and more than one-third are government contractors, an Associated Press review has found. Their interests are sprawling and would follow Clinton to the White House should she win election this fall.”
  • Donald Trump jumps on the social justice warrior tranny bathroom bandwagon.
  • Evidently accused pedophile Terry Bean is the one whose organizations are pushing tranny bathroom bills down America’s throats. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Trump convention manager Paul Manafort engages in the time-honored traditional rhetorical device know as “lying your ass off.”
  • Thomas Sowell on campaign lies and dodgy statistics.
  • “Although our panel’s original estimates had Trump finishing with 1,175 pledged delegates, my revised deterministic projections have him at 1,155, and the probabilistic version has him at 1,159.”
  • Ted Cruz has done heavy organizing in California.
  • Man indicted for selling school supplies to Detroit schools he didn’t actually deliver…with the connivance of several principles receiving kickbacks. Now, remind me: Which party has controlled Detroit for half a century?
  • Venezuela instituting four hours of blackouts a day, in addition to the previously mentioned three day weekends. That socialist paradise just keeps
  • Brazil impeaches their President.
  • Won’t someone please think of poor, penniless Boeing?
  • When low-fat dogma trumped science: hamburger study data showed exact opposite of study’s conclusions.
  • Navy chief starving Marine air corps.
  • What Women Really Want Is The Patriarchy.”
  • ‘White Privilege’ Is a Racial Slur.”
  • Walden is less a cornerstone work of environmental literature than the original cabin porn: a fantasy about rustic life divorced from the reality of living in the woods, and, especially, a fantasy about escaping the entanglements and responsibilities of living among other people.”
  • Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano erupts. Popocatepetl is less than 50 miles from Mexico City…
  • Goldman Sachs pays $5 billion fine to “settle claims that it misled mortgage bond investors during the financial crisis.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Pratt & Whitney pushing a B-52 engine upgrade.
  • The woman who can’t remember her own past. (Hat tip: Bill Crider.)
  • Lileks: “Who wouldn’t want to lounge around in a set from a 1970s failed Gene Roddenberry pilot?” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Son, that’s no way to treat steaks. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • That Was Quick

    Monday, February 16th, 2015

    Yesterday: The Islamic State releases a video in which they beheaded 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya. (Libya being the Obama foreign policy masterstroke that just keeps stroking.) Egyptian leader Sisi vowed revenge.

    It didn’t take long in coming.

    Today Egyptian planes hit ISIS targets in Derna, Sirte and Ben Jawad, in coordination with Libya’s own government.

    So while Obama dithers and moves forward with plans to do just enough to keep reporters from asking him about ISIS, Jordan and Egypt have both carried out quick retaliatory strikes against ISIS.

    At this point ISIS has managed to alienate almost all the other countries in the Middle East, and yet we see no signs that Obama or his State Department have forged an effective coalition among them to crush ISIS. Evidently he feels it’s more important to appease Iran and chase a chimerical Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty than to keep a radical Islamist terrorist state from metastasizing throughout the region.

    It seems that Obama’s grand role in history is to make George W. Bush look like a foreign policy genius by comparison…

    60 Minutes on Benghazi

    Monday, October 28th, 2013

    Well, this should break the story wide open. If you haven’t already, see the whole thing.

    And here’s the transcript.

    CIA Covering Up Benghazi?

    Thursday, August 1st, 2013

    This appears to be the case.

    CNN reports that there were allegedly “dozens” of CIA operatives on the ground during the Benghazi attack and the agency is doing its utmost to conceal its involvement.

    CNN’s sources say that, since January, some operatives that were involved in the agency’s mission in Libya are being polygraphed monthly to determine who, if anyone, is talking to Congress or the media. Sources describe the efforts as pure intimidation, and say there are threats to end the careers of unauthorized leakers.

    This makes Benghazi an ever bigger scandal than we thought, with a government agency actively undermining legitimate congressional oversight in order to cover up either real crimes or its own incompetence.

    It also suggests that the CIA was carrying out one (or possibly both) of the secret (and possibly illegal) operations that been widely rumored to be the real reason behind the Benghazi coverup:

  • They were already running arms (including surface-to-air missiles) to Syrian rebel, well in advance of Obama’s public declaration, or
  • Benghazi was an extrajudicial center for “harsh interrogation methods” of the sort Obama theoretically banned, as suggested by former CIA Director David Petraeus’ former mistress Paula Broadwell.
  • Either way, Obama lied, and Americans died to cover up Obama’s lies, and now even more people are being forced to lie, or at least refrain from talking to investigators seeking the truth, in order to cover up the coverup.

    LinkSwarm for June 28, 2013

    Friday, June 28th, 2013

    It’s supposed to hit a 106° in Austin today. Sadly, not all of these links will help you keep your cool…

  • 12 different IRS offices targeted conservatives.
  • Over 1,100 patients were starved to death at NHS hospitals in the UK. Funny, I don’t remember that being mentioned in the Olympic tribute to how awesome NHS is…
  • Marco Rubio aide: We need illegal alien amnesty because American workers suck.
  • Blue collar Americans having trouble finding jobs. I’m sure that has nothing to do with our ruling political elite’s decision to allow unlimited illegal immigration of unskilled workers…
  • Every Republican voting for amnesty better get ready for a primary challenge.
  • Obama camapign workers convicted of voter fraud in Indiana. This was for the 2008 Democratic primary, so it will likely be many years before see starting seeing convictions for the Obama campaign’s various 2012 voting fraud efforts…
  • Noam Chomsky attending the opening of Hezbollah’s “Death to Israel” theme park.
  • People told me that if I voted for Romney, the U.S. military would start blocking access to liberal news sources. And they were right!
  • The Atlantic says that Obama “succeeded” in Libya but is failing in Syria. If Benghazi was success, I’d hate to see what failure looks like.
  • And speaking of Benghazi, Libya just let one of the suspected attackers walk. Thank God we have Obama’s smart, sophisticated diplomacy in the Middle East…
  • Beer now unaffordable in Greece. And you thought they had riots before…
  • Second Colorado Democrat faces a recall election over gun control.
  • Magpul to give away 1,500 30-round magazines just two days before Colorado outlaws them.
  • By the way, there’s a Facebook page to show support for bringing Magpul to Texas. But most of the rumors I hear have them moving to Wyoming.
  • The Amarillo Globe-News has a message for gun manufacturers thinking of relocating to Texas: Come on down!
  • Texas executes its 500th murderer. Don’t mess with Texas. Or we will end you.
  • Speaking of ending you: Don’t try to commit armed robbery in a concealed carry state.
  • Nurse Bloomberg continues to underwrite anti-gun ads, shoot himself in the foot. (Hat tip: Alphecca.
  • In order to prove vegans aren’t a creepy cult, website seeks to out and harass lapsed vegans.
  • The Onion channels Jay Carney: “Well, Time To Go Out In Front Of A Bunch Of People And Lie To Them.”
  • The mystery of Lori Ruff, AKA Becky Sue Turner. No one know who she actually is…
  • Your Top Stories, All Mashed Together

    Friday, November 16th, 2012

    To much going on. Here’s a sampler:

    First up, Unions kill Hostess. By calling a strike against a company that was already in bankruptcy, against the advice of the Teamsters, who had already taken a look at the Hostess books, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union ensured that instead of a 6% pay cut, unionized workers would take a 100% pay cut. Way to go, unions!

    Israel still seems to be gearing up for a ground offensive in Gaza. And by firing rockets at Tel Aviv, Hamas pretty much guarantees that the only faction in Israeli politics urging restraint will retink their position. “I get a lot less liberal when you want to kill me.”

    Lefties are trying to boycott Papa Johns for daring to lay people off because of ObamaCare. “If this is anything like the Chick-fil-A buycott, and you want Papa John’s for dinner, you’d better get your order in now.” It’s amazing that any business in America ever has to declare bankruptcy, given there are so many liberals around who can tell them exactly how much profit they “need”…

    Former general and former CIA head David Petraeus testifies on Benghazi. He says his report said the attack was launched by al Qaeda, but higher-ups in the Obama Administration deleted the reference. The more we hear about Benghazi, the more it appears that Fox News was right.

    Missing Link Between the Benghazi Scandal and the Petraeus Sex Scandal

    Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

    If, as resigned CIA Director David Petraeus’ mistress Paula Broadwell mentions in the clip below, the attack on the Benghazi consulate was an attempt to free prisoners being held for interrogation, then it adds a new dimension to the scandal, as explained by Charles Krauthammer.

    If the interrogation story is true, there are at least four interlocking scandals here:

    1. The Obama Administration standing by watching while an American consulate was under attack for seven hours without lifting a finger to help as four Americans died.

    2. That same Administration lying about the cause of the attack to both congress and the American public.
    3. The same Administration has known about the CIA director being compromised by an extramarital affair since at least summer and did nothing about it for fear of jeopardizing Obama’s reelection campaign. The only other explanation is that everyone in the intelligence community is manifestly incompetent. (“Hey, should I tell Obama his CIA director is having an affair? Nah. He’s got that golf swing to worry about.”)
    4. Either the intelligence community, or else the Obama Administration itself, has been ignoring Executive Order 13491, issued January 22, 2009, which states (in part) “The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future.”
    5. I think the Administration standing by for seven hours while four Americans died without lifting a finger to help them is still the biggest scandal. Guess I’m just old-fashioned that way. Sadly, I get the impression that the last point is the one the Obama Administration was trying hardest to cover up.

      But all deserve investigation.

    LinkSwarm for October 30, 2012

    Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

    I was going to have an insightful, data-filed post on the Texas 23rd Congressional district race, but then I realized that the Los Angeles Times data I was relying on flipped at least one bit of information (NRA-ILA is doing independent expenditures against Pete Gallego, not against Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco), which means I can’t trust the rest. Super executive summary: Canseco has a huge cash on-hand advantage, $785,623 to $23,250, but assuming the other LA Times numbers are right, the independent expenditure race is a lot closer to even.

    Now on to a LinkSwarm a week before the election:

  • Obama is clearly winning the race for military endorsements, having 6 endorsements to Romney’s paltry 359.
  • Politico worried that Romney may let lobbyists “back” into the White House, conveniently ignoring the dozens of lobbyists Obama has on staff.
  • There’s a huge amount of outrage over the MSM trying to bury the Benghazi scandal to help Obama over the finish line.
  • Even Democratic pollster Pat Caddell is outraged:

  • Syrian rebels get antiaircraft missiles. What could possibly go wrong?
  • A Daily Beast piece on the decline of the left-wing Netroots.
  • Paul Sadler managed to raise more money for his 2004 Texas Senate race than his 2012 U.S. Senate race.
  • Remember Joseph Livoti, formerly the finance director for Ricardo Sanchez’s aborted Senate campaign? Probably not. Well, his current position is “Finance Director at Joe Miklosi for Congress”. And the Sanchez campaign doesn’t appear in his job summary. Funny that.
  • Given that Miklosi has raised about half of what his Republican opponent incumbent Mike Coffman has for the Colorado Sixth Congressional District race, but only has about one-fifth the cash on hand, Livoti seems to have retained his magic touch.
  • Michael Totten: The Islamist threat isn’t going away.
  • Some pictures of Sandy-related flooding.