Everyone has left Washington D.C. while President Obama frets over who gives him birthday wishes before he heads off to Martha’s Vineyard. It’s recess for the folks supposedly running our country, but the bad guys aren’t taking the summer off – especially the Islamic State. In fact, they’re working overtime.
As reported by the Long War Journal, “The Islamic State is reported to have taken control of the city of Sinjar as well as the Mosul Dam, at least one oil field, and a handful of towns in northern Ninewa province after Kurdish forces withdrew from the area this weekend.”
“Islamic State fighters first took control of Zumar, a town east of the Tigris River and about 50 miles south of Mosul, after attacking today “from three directions in pick-up trucks mounted with weapons,” Reuters reported. Kurdish forces withdrew after fighting for 24 hours.”
“After seizing Zumar, Islamic State fighters today reportedly took control of the city of Sinjar, which sits near the Syrian border and is west of Tal Afar and Mosul, two cities currently under Islamic State control. In Sinjar, Kurdish forces retreated after putting up “little resistance.” Islamic State fighters also took over the Mosul Dam.”
The Mosul Dam controls the water flow of the Tigris River as well as being a major hydroelectric power producer along the Tigris River valley. That means the flow of water for irrigation — or even worse, intentional flooding – is now in the control of an Islamic caliphate: a terrorist organization.
The fact that IS was willing to take on the Kurdish Peshmerga forces indicates they have no plan to cease operations and consolidate but rather expand and potentially seize all of Northern Iraq. It shows that IS fears nothing. The Islamic State senses that the Kurds are isolated due to lack of support from the Shiite-controlled Iraqi government. And IS is supported by the Islamist government of Turkey — Obama’s pal Recip Erdogan — which could provide a pincer movement supporting IS.
I can attest, having been in Kirkuk, that the Kurds are strong American supporters and want to increase our bonds. After Desert Storm we abandoned them. Will it happen again? If we don’t isolate and destroy IS now, we will have to contend with a formidable enemy in the near future. It is an enemy that will not stop and will export its jihadism far and wide.
The Long War Journal reports “it is unclear if the Peshmerga are abandoning the areas, which have been held by Kurdish forces for years, or withdrew temporarily to organize their forces. A Peshmerga spokesman said today that Kurdish forces are preparing to go on the offensive after receiving heavy weapons. One official said the Peshmerga are preparing to retake Sinjar by attacking “from four different directions.”
This map provides a visual representation of the scope by which IS has advanced. The Islamic State’s takeover of Sinjar, Zumar, and the Mosul Dam constitutes the group’s first major gains after a blitzkrieg offensive launched on June 10 in conjunction with allied groups that put it in control of Mosul, Tikrit, and a number of cities and towns in Salahaddin, Ninewa, and Diyala provinces. That offensive stalled on the outskirts of Samarra, just north of Bagdad. Meanwhile, the Islamic State controls most of Anbar province and much of northern Babil province.
So what’s the solution?
1. I would deploy a task organized force of USAF A-10 Warthog’s, F-16s, and Attack Helicopters to be used in close air support coordination with Kurdish Peshmerga offensive operations.
2. I would also consider Special Operations forces to work with Kurdish forces in securing key infrastructure sites such as airfields, oil fields, and the Mosul Dam — of course before any sabotage can be implemented.
3. I’m not concerned with the Iraqi government but would be totally focused on the destruction of this jihadist force — which has launched an attack east into Lebanon and seized a city there.
4. Finally, I would concede that land recovered would be the basis of a Kurdistan.
This is not about nation-building but an enemy-focused operation to find, fix, engage, destroy, and pursue IS until it is defeated in detail. And I hope Obama and his minions aren’t planning to air drop MREs and socks as they did for the Ukrainian army.
Let me say this again, we kill them now or pay dearly for our reticence later.