Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, October 11, 2019

History Lesson

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been closely following events in Iraq since shortly after the U.S. invasion, as I first contributed to, then took ownership of the blog Today in Iraq. We have a reader who thought that changing the subject from the Residents recent abandonment of the Syrian Kurds to the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011 would place the blame for the rise of Islamic State on Barack Obama.

In fact the so-called Status of Force Agreement that required U.S. forces to leave Iraq by the end of 2011 was signed by President George W. Bush in 2008. The Obama administration attempted to negotiate a new agreement that would allow a small contingent of military advisers to remain, but the Iraqi parliament would not agree to it. U.S. forces therefore departed Iraq before the end of December 2011, although a contingent of some 5,000 U.S. mercenaries remained, along with marines guarding the U.S. embassy and consulates.

The absence of U.S. forces in Iraq, however, had nothing to do with the formation and rise of the Islamic State. That occurred in Syria, where individuals radicalized by the U.S. invasion of Iraq took advantage of the power vacuum caused by the Syrian civil war to seize territory. When IS forces subsequently crossed the border and attacked Iraqi territory in Anbar and Salah U'din provinces, the corrupt and inept Iraqi army fled. Iraq thereupon invited limited U.S. forces in to assist in the campaign to recover the lost territory.

The Obama administration recognized that the Iraqi people did not want U.S. forces engaging in large scale fighting or seizing territory in their country. Therefore the U.S. provided weapons and other assistance to the Peshmerga -- the army of Iraqi Kurdistan -- and assisted the new, professional leadership of the Iraqi military in rebuilding an effective army. They also tacitly coordinated with Shiite militias supported by Iraq. The U.S. provided aerial surveillance and artillery support to the various local forces in the campaigns to retake Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul and the Yezidi lands. The campaign against IS in Iraq essentially concluded in July 2017 with the recapture of Mosul, shortly after the end of the Obama presidency. Fallujah and Ramadi had been recaptured while he was in office.

The campaign against IS in Syria, which was also conducted by indigenous forces with U.S. assistance, began at about the same time but did not become effective until U.S. commanders came to understand that they could not depend on Arab militias and that the YPG -- the Kurdish militia in Rojava -- was their only reliable partner. The joint U.S.-Kurdish campaign against IS was well underway before Obama left office. Indeed, Raqqa, the capital of the self-declared Caliphate, also fell in 2017. However, smaller IS enclaves were not eliminated until later. Just so we are clear.


Cervantes said...

Porky -- if you can provide a link to the actual UN report I'll take a look at it. In case you didn't know, Middle East Monitor is a publication of Hamas, and I'm not going to link to it directly. Reliable sources, please.

Dr Porkenheimer said...

Fair enough...

You might start with page 26 under the heading of "Grave Violations".
Specifically #184, #185, #188 and #192 and #193 if you have the time.

Cervantes said...

For those who don't have time to read, this is a UN report on the impact of combat on children around the world. It reports on recruitment of children as combatants in numerous countries, in Africa, South America, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East. In Syria, essentially all parties to the conflict are implicated to one degree or another. YPG forces are said to have recruited 224 children as combatants. YPG forces number about 60,000, for context.

You may want to read the whole thing, in case you ever forget that war is hell. The Syrian civil war was a horror show in every way, that's for sure.

Cervantes said...

Honestly Porky, I have no idea what point you are trying to make or why you think this is relevant. The YPG is not a national army, it doesn't have a central recruitment command. It's essentially an amalgamation of village militias, kind of like the situation when the 2d Amendment was written. They were facing mortal danger for their families and communities from a fanatical death cult and a few of them allowed 16 year olds to enlist. No, you aren't supposed to do that according to the UN. Therefore, apparently, you want us to conclude that it is appropriate for the U.S. to abandon them all and allow them to be slaughtered? Everybody in that region has underage soldiers. That's just how it is. It's unfortunate but you apparently have no idea what conditions in Syria are like.

I don't understand you at all.