News / Middle East

Analysts Warn United Iraqi Effort Needed Against Islamic State Militants

Analysts Warn United Iraqi Effort Needed Against Islamic State Militantsi
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Ayesha Tanzeem
August 22, 2014 12:56 AM
While terrorism experts around the globe knew of the Islamic State militants in Syria -- also known as "ISIL" or "ISIS" -- they were taken aback at its rapid success in Iraq in recent months. ISIL used savvy messaging and political deal brokering to gain partners and take over a large territory. As VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports, regional security analysts say unified efforts are needed to counter the militants' message and stop their momentum.

Analysts Warn United Iraqi Effort Needed Against Islamic State Militants

Ayesha Tanzeem

While terrorism experts around the globe knew of the Islamic State militants in Syria - also known as "ISIL" or "ISIS" -  they were taken aback at its rapid success in Iraq in recent months. ISIL used savvy messaging and political deal brokering to gain partners and take over a large territory. Regional security analysts say unified efforts are needed to counter the militants' message and stop their momentum.

U.S. airstrikes against militant Islamic State fighters in Iraq have helped push them back from some areas. But many regional security experts say that airstrikes alone will not be enough to stop them.  

“Air power can be disruptive, but then again it really relies on the quality of intelligence that you have,” said Kamran Bokhari, with the intelligence firm Stratfor.  

Michael O’Hanlon, who specializes in security issues at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., said such intelligence can be hard to get.

“The only way to get that is with ground troops who are there to listen and talk to people. Get the information from the population," said O'Hanlon. "And then protect the population afterwards so that sources are not killed immediately in retaliation by the extremists.”

Ground troops

Both Bokhari and O'Hanlon say the ground troops should be Iraqi, not foreign. But Iraqi security forces seem to be in disarray. Iraqi units dissolved in the face of ISIL attacks, a failure blamed on the divisive politics of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“You have to understand that IS did its homework here. They successfully exploited the Sunni grievances against the Shia-dominated government, as well as the Kurdish regional authority in the North,” said Bokhari.

Domestic and international pressure forced Maliki out. Now the biggest challenge for the new prime minister, Haidar al Abadi, is to form an inclusive government addresses these grievances. IS gained territory by making temporary alliances with local tribes. O’Hanlon fears the militants will use those alliances as leverage to solidify control.    

“Can ISIS start to assassinate or otherwise marginalize some of these other power brokers to the point that it can hold on to power over the longer term?” asked O'Hanlon.

Bokhari said the other key to containing the Islamic State is to counter its propaganda. “What the other side needs to do, and this is again the job of mainstream Sunnis and their regional backers, is to reclaim the narrative, reclaim the discourse and basically tell people that this is not a caliphate and definitely not an Islamic State,” said Bokhari.

He says that ultimately, mainstream Sunnis must expand their hold on territory and persuade regional tribes to turn away from the Islamic State's ideology.

 

 

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by: Not Again from: Canada
August 22, 2014 1:25 AM
"security experts say that airstrikes alone will not be enough to stop them." If you look at the history of air power, one can observe that airpower can be an extremely effective component of destroying the military potential of an enemy force. The Kosova war demonstrsted what air power can do. WWII also demonstrated, beyond any doubt that air power can cripple the enemy. In Viet-Nam air power did not deliver the goods because of a lack of political will, at the highest level, to bring, sustain, and maintain the war on the enemy's territory. Korea failed to achieve results, for much the same reason as in Viet-Nam. If the same restrictions had been applied to air power in WWII, a victory would also have not been achieved. Essentially, the need exists to estimate if a war is worth fighting, if not it should not be initiated.
The US' history of warfare demonstrates great success, when the need to win was seen as absolute; this issue very much is observed in many other wars. If you look at the case of Afghanistan, the US with minimal boots on the ground, with the help of the rag tag Northern Alliance, and massive use of airpower, drove out the Taliban; then the strategy was changed, to the so called "soft approach- touchy feely" with massive limitations on US use of power; very much equalization of forces (US forces reduced to very limited use of power with a small advantage over the Taliban), and the sit appears to have been reversed; will see how it turns out in a few years.
Air power, if used, and the critical word is POWER, can be very effective, Iraqi forces need to be stood up to do the ground work. A soft approach is guranteed to fail, as it has in every other war the US has undertaken since WWII, and soft power was the dooctrine, it is a failed doctrine.
So the number one issue that needs resolution is,--> does this war against IS need to be won? if the answer is not, then getting involved with a soft power approach will fail, best not to get in it. Soft power essentially boils down to a war of attrition = lots of allied casualties.
The hard power, BIG AIR POWER delivering 100ths of tons of munitions on the enemy, used to drive out the Taliban resulted in few US casualties (wounded/dead); the soft power use that followed was disastrous, resulting in years of face to face small arms combat= un-necessary war of attrition given US mil capabilities ~ essentially a failure to destroy the enemy, through the use of small arms.


by: Moniq from: USA
August 21, 2014 11:08 PM
we would have to be certifiably stupid to provide additional military equipment to the Iraqis cowards... I still remember how they came groveling to our soldiers in Desert Storm... we spent Trillions of Dollars and over 4000 American lives in support of these scumbags. And, at the first sign of trouble... they ran away leaving all our high tech equipment behind and joined the ISIL... despicable Arabs.

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