Claims of defeat of ISIS in Iraq, Syria

Iraq claims to have driven ISIS out of the country, and Russian claims to have defeated ISIS in Syria.

Reuters: Islamic State completely ‘evicted’ from Iraq, Iraqi PM says

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that Iraqi forces had driven the last remnants of Islamic State from the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory.

The Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under IS control along the border with Syria, state television quoted Abadi as telling an Arab media conference in Baghdad.

Several squadrons of Iraqi helicopters flew over Baghdad carrying Iraqi flags at noon, in an apparent rehearsal for a victory parade that Iraq is planning to hold in the coming days.

“Commander-in-Chief @HaiderAlAbadi announces that Iraq’s armed forces have secured the western desert & the entire Iraq Syria border, says this marks the end of the war against Daesh terrorists who have been completely defeated and evicted from Iraq,” the federal government’s official account tweeted.

In a separate tweet later, Abadi said: “Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border. We defeated Daesh through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people.”

New Zealand has helped with the training of Iraqi military in their fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh: Announcement of New Zealand Defence Force personnel being deployed in a non-combat training mission to Iraq

On 24 February 2015, the government announced that the New Zealand Defence Force will deploy to Iraq in a non-combat training mission to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Up to 143 New Zealand Defence Force personnel were approved by Cabinet to deploy on a training mission, with the main body of the deployment expected to deploy in May 2015. The training of Iraqi security forces at Taji will cover a broad range of individual and organisational military skills so that Iraqi security forces can eventually assume responsibility for delivering their own training programmes.

Extension of the Iraq Deployment

On 20 June 2016, the Government decided to extend New Zealand’s contribution to the Building Partner Capacity mission to 30 November 2018.

The Minister of Defence’s press release regarding the extension.

Rudaw: Russia declares Syria ‘completely liberated’ from ISIS

Russia’s defence minister has informed President Vladimir Putin of the defeat of ISIS in Syria and the “complete” liberation of that country.

“All ISIS formations in Syria have been defeated. Syria has been liberated from terrorists,” General of the Army Valery Gerasimov stated Wednesday evening, adding that Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Putin of this “about an hour ago.”

Announcing the liberation of four villages in Deir ez-Zor province, “there are no territories controlled by ISIS in Syria today,” Gerasimov said.

The military operations were overseen by Russian military advisers “operating in every grouping of the government troops,” according to a statement from Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

“Units of Kurdish militia and tribes from the East Euphrates operating under the leadership of the joint staff and Russian military advisers have made a large contribution to the liberation of territories located to the east from the Euphrates,” Gerasimov added.

On Sunday, in a joint press conference with Russian military officials, the Kurdish armed force YPG announced the defeat of ISIS in the rural areas of Deir ez-Zor province, east of the Euphrates River.

These are major victories and will have significantly reduced the power and influence of ISIS, but I doubt it will be the end of ISIS related terrorism, which may now be be one of it’s only ways of trying to continue their aims.

ISIL or Daesh?

The group involved in the extremist Islamic insurrection in Syria and Iraq has been called a number of things. They are commonly referred to as Islamic State, ISIS or ISIL:

  • ISIS: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
  • ISIL: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The Levant refers to a wide area of the Eastern Mediterranean, coming from a French word meaning ‘rising’ (as in the sun rising in the east). ‘Levant States’ referred to the French mandate over Syria and Lebanon after World War 1.

Some don’t like terms involving ‘Islamic State’ because they are not a state, they have taken over parts of two states or countries but are not a legitimate government. Forces in both Syria and Iraq are trying to defeat and eliminate them from their territories.

There are some attempts to re-label them with something less complementary, and Daesh is favoured by some for this. Yahoo News reported:

If You Hear President Obama and John Kerry Call ISIS “Daesh,” Here’s Why

Daesh, however, seems opaque and out of place. The reason more and more world leaders are climbing on the Daesh wagon, however, may simply be because the Islamic State doesn’t like it.

Daesh is technically an acronym for the Islamic State’s proper Arabic name, al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, and was used by ISIS members for a period of time. The word Daesh is now forbidden within the territory controlled by the Islamic State: If you say it, you run the risk of having your tongue cut.

By their barbaric standards that’s a minor level punishment, bot horrific nevertheless.

The term fell out of favor among the militants after a rebranding by the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in July. Part of the reason is because in Arabic the word “Daesh” can be taken as a play on words to mean something along the lines of “a bigot who imposes his view on others” or “to trample down and crush,” the Boston Globe reported.

With propaganda being essential to the ISIS strategy of recruiting foreign fighters, it comes as no surprise that the group has moved to expunge all the negative associations inherent in Daesh.

Propaganda also plays into another reason why leaders are beginning to forswear terms like ISIS and Islamic State. By talking about the group using its own terms, those fighting it convey a de facto sense of legitimacy on the Islamic State’s aims.

The Islamic State, of course, is not actually a state, but rather of collection of terrorists operating from seized territory in Mesopotamia. No “Islamic State” in that territory has ever been recognized by any government as representing any actual country.  World leaders repeatedly calling it a “state” potentially play into ISIS’s hands.

Daesh. Use it — annoy a terrorist.

We can annoy terrorists in rel;ative safety from a distance.

However I have just heard President Obama referring to ISIL several times in a news report on TV.

Whale Oil – pro-ISIL Islamaphobic hate site

There are important issues around some extreme Islamic groups and their use of their interpretation of religious texts to justify horrific violence and atrocities – as the Islamic Council of New Zealand pointed out in a media release in response to the Paris atrocities,  “No true divine faith teaches violence” – or at least it shouldn’t.

But the extremist Muslims are aided in their aims of religious division and fear by over-reactions and suggestions of extreme responses from Islamaphobes. And Whale Oil seems to have become an Islampahobic hate site.

They have been running a daily string of ranty posts against all Muslims. They have become promoters of ISIL aims, apparently ignorant of the damage they are trying to cause.

It’s sad to see this happening on a prominent New Zealand website but that’s what is happening.

Yesterday Whale Oil had the following posts that target Muslims and Islam.

  1. Face of the day
    “Members of the Muslim community, the Muslim ‘family’ in France did massacre French civilians and they did do it in the name of Allah. Stop sugar-coating the unpleasant truth Susan. You are fooling nobody.”
  2. How gun control helped the French avoid a massacre…oh wait
    “We are in a war with Islam. They want to destroy our civilisation and replace it with theirs. We need to fight, hard.”
  3. Islamic Council says there are no Israeli victims of terrorism
    For the Islamic Council to ignore that while crying crocodile tears of sympathy for Paris and Lebanon shows just exactly what we are dealing with here.
  4. Key confident our Islamic refugees won’t be those kind of “refugees”
    “Meanwhile we need to re-think Islamic immigration in this country…seriously. As in halt it for now. There are plenty of Christian Syrian refugees we could take. They should get priority.”
  5. We are at war with an ideology, not a nation state, and the enemy lives among us
    That headline says enough.
  6. French start bombing ISIS stronghold in Syria – let’s call it a good start
    “Next, we need to hunt down all the Jihadis who are already in Europe.   No mercy.   No touchy feely.”
    As if that’s not already being attempted. It’s not as easy as an annihilation aiming armchair warrior thinks.
  7. Is the latest Paris attack Europe’s “Pearl Harbour”?
    “Western governments have systematically disarmed its populace under a social contract that promised to keep the people safe.   This social contract is clearly broken when people who have no interest in guns are starting to think about having one – it’s the first sign that a population is living in fear and it does not believe it can rely on the government.”
    “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
  8. I don’t want to appear ungrateful for their support, but…where are the men?
    “Yes we can defeat them, but so-called moderate Muslims need to assist and that means the menfolk too.”
  9. Not could or would or might happen, but when
    “At the moment Muslims are a small percentage of the population, but as that grows so too do the problems. Once Muslims reach 5% of the population then real trouble starts. At the moment there are around 46,000 Muslims in New Zealand or around 1% of the population”
  10. Knock me down with a feather: NZ academic speaks truth about Islam
    “These people are out to kill us.  Clearly.   There is some hard proof of this.
    And the only way to stop them is to kill them before they kill us.”
  11. FIANZ spokeswoman Dame Susan Devoy needs to read this
    “It’s brutal, but so is Islam. When people like Dame Susan Devoy are more concerned over the hurty feelings of one group of people than over the acts of terrorism that have hurt many more then you know we have a problem in our society.
    To defeat Islamic terrorism we need to cut off their money, then we need to cut off their heads.”
  12. Polish Foreign Minister lambasts the ‘crazed leftists’ and liberal elite hand-wringers over Paris
    We are in a war and tossers on tumble-weed blogs might like to dream that we are not in a war, but unfortunately for him and our civilisation our enemies think and act otherwise.Hugs and cuddles aren’t going to cut it. Bombs, bullets and boots are what it is going to take to end Daesh.

    Countries have borders for a reason, to keep the enemy out, we have armies to enforce those borders and the wombles of left have been encouraging a border-less society. I wonder though how that is working out for the people of Europe as they come under siege from an alien culture.

    The sooner we realise that liberalism and terror cuddling is going to get a whole lot of us killed the sooner we can set about sorting out these bad wogs once and for all.”

There is little else of substance on Whale Oil yesterday.

Now amongst all this there are some issues that are of legitimate concern. But that is overwhelmed by the onslaught of division and hate mongering. ISIL will be pleased with this, they are succeeding in part.

It’s possible to combat ISIL and terrorism without promoting terror, division and hate.

It’s far easier (although still very difficult) to fight against tens of thousands of Islamic fanatics largely contained in a small part of the Middle East than to make enemies of one and a half billion Muslims and try and deal with a self inflicted massive escalation.

Dunne on the futility of military action against ISIL

Peter Dunne has blogged on his views on the futility of getting involved militarily against ISIL in the Middle East. His main objection is that Western history in the Middle Easy has been notable for it’s failures and not it’s successes.

Dunne’s experienced views on this are an important additiion to discussion we should be having on getting more involved in a part of the world that is extremely difficult to deal with from the outside, and extremely complicated and difficult to deal with on the inside.

I have one major reservation due to the apparent aim of ISIL to take their fight to ther world, so whether we like it or not what they manage to do is likely to impact on us in some way.

So why will it be any different this time? The Middle East’s a bloody mess that has generally only been made messier by Western meddling.

Not preventing the spread and growth in power of ISIL may have serious repercussions, but so might getting into the middle east of a shit fight.

Dunne Speaks

19 February 2015

Most New Zealanders will have never heard of the Nairn brothers. But from 1923 until the late 1950s, these two New Zealanders operated the famous Nairn Bus to Baghdad. At the time, it was “the” way to make the 1,040 kilometres journey over often dusty desert roads from Beirut to Baghdad. While the Nairns have long since passed on, it still seems to be a case of all roads lead to Baghdad, as far is New Zealand is concerned.

Within the week, New Zealand will decide on a military deployment to Iraq to combat the rise of ISIL. Of course, no formal decision has been made as yet, but all the signs are pretty obvious, and when I overhear young soldiers at Auckland Airport talking about how exciting their role in Iraq will be, I know our forces are as good as on their way. And forget the niceties – regardless of whether they are just training advisers, or whether they are under the protection of the Iraqi armed forces, they are in fact military personnel and will thus be subject to all the perils that implies. And remember too, that the innocuous term “trainer/adviser” seldom stops there. Kennedy sent a few hundred advisers to help South Vietnam in the early 1960s – by the time the Vietnam War ended in (in American  defeat) in 1975, over 210,000 young Americans and more than 220 young New Zealanders had been killed or wounded.

I have been a keen student of Middle Eastern politics since the early 1970s. The intervening years have seen massive upheaval and changes in the region, the fall of old regimes and dynasties and the rise of new ones. But no matter how the lines on maps have been drawn, or which governments have been backed by the West, and which have not, the one constant has been the failure of Western policy. Mainly, this has been the fault of the United States, although the British and the French must also take their share of culpability.

In their heyday, the Nairns had to battle all manner of political and other obstacles, from the inhospitably hot weather to the marauding intentions of hostile Bedouin tribesmen (who were even then subject to RAF bombing and strafing in Iraq). Nearly 90 years later, not a lot has changed, except that the brutality and precision intensity of weaponry has increased dramatically. ISIL and its ambition to establish a new Caliphate is hardly new either. The Rashidun Caliphate was established almost 1,400 years ago. The Ottoman Caliphate lasted from the sacking of Constantinople in 1453 until 1924. The Crusades of the 11thand 12th centuries were Christian Europe’s first ultimately unsuccessful response to the rise of Islam. ISIL, whatever one thinks of its depraved brutality, is the modern expression of those traditions. History suggests it is not going to be bombed or blasted away.

I oppose New Zealand becoming militarily involved in the ISIL campaign for one simple reason – it will not work. In doing so, I am not condoning ISIL’s atrocities or barbarism in any way. But external intervention as now proposed will be ultimately unsuccessful and much innocent blood on all sides will be spilled in the process. Whether or not ISIL’s desire to establish the new Caliphate succeeds depends far less on the exercise of external military might than it does on the support of the people in the region to let it happen.

So any intervention we feel obliged to make should be at the diplomatic and humanitarian aid ends of the spectrum, working with and alongside local people to strengthen civil society. And if the international system is to count for anything (and given our role on the UN Security Council should we not be doing our best to ensure it does?) any such action should be under a UN Mandate.

We can hardly expect others to play by the international rules, if we are not prepared to do so ourselves.