This article by veteran expert middle east journalist Patrick Cockburn is troubling:
„US air strikes are failing to drive back Isis in Iraq where its forces are still within an hour’s drive of Baghdad.“
The statements and findings of Cockburn are both baffling and frightening.
How can it be that the best equipped airforce of the world does not make much difference against a lightly armed militia without airforce and almost without airdefense?
What are all the satellites, AWACS, armed drones and else achieving? Apparently not much, but the most important conclusion is the following which should be thought-provoking for every analytical and sane person:
– In Iraq the US army has been actively invited by the Iraqi government to help
– Despite all of it various shortcomings Iraq HAS already a numerically sizable army of at least 250.000
– In addition there are some (at least) 50.000 Guerilla trained and motivated Shia militias
– Then there are the (probably overhyped) „battle-hardened“ and disciplined Kurdish Peshmerga likely to number 100.000
– Last but not least there are at least some Sunni tribes (like the Dulaimis) hostile to ISIS
In total ISIS is facing forces numbering 500.000 men but still manages to not only hold ground but also even to make gains.
Now given this, what sense does it make to create yet another ostensibly „moderate“ Syrian Rebel army (lets call it „FSA 2.0“) with 15.000 men to fight ISIS when much bigger and better trained and more motivated forces have failed ( so far) even despite american air support?
More than IS is losing men due to casualties from air strikes their ranks are replenished by fresh (international) Jihad recruits, a possible „joint venture“ or „reunion“ with Al-Qaedas Syrian branch „Al Nusra Front“ and further defections from other Islamist rebels.
The idea behind FSA 2.0 reveals even more stupidity and lack of strategy when it is said that these forces after defeating IS will turn on the Syrian Arab Army and its allies, defeat them as well and thus „liberate“ Syria? The most battle-experienced and motivated major military entity in the Syrian war is the SAA with around 200.000 soldiers. In addition there are at least 50.000 National Defense Forces (NDF) and probably some further 20.000 loyalists such as the Arab National Guard and not to mention Hezbollah and Iraqi Shia militias, together likely to number 10.000.
It remains a mystery how an artificially created relatively small force should enter the Syrian battle field and change the dynamics.
The Americans are not seriously interested in an end of war and bloodshed in Syria because the Israelis and Saudis but also the Turks are opposed to it. If the US were sincere in their claimed desire for peace in Syria they would exert pressure on their Arab (Gulf) allies and Turkey to stop funding and arming the rebels and smuggling them into Syria. They would apply pressure on the rebels to attend peace talks without demanding ridiculous preconditions. So the Geneva conferences were doomed to failure and torpedoed in advance. The same will happen with the FSA series. The orginal FSA failed and FSA 2.0 will fail, too, but hey why not give it another try? And then another? Maybe FSA 4.0 will be ceremonially announced when 400.000 Syrians have been died.