Fighting the ISIS is a Long Drawn Affair and Victory is not Assured
Targeting the ISIS
ISIS is like the 12 head Hydra. Like the Hydra, it is difficult to kill. It is a formidable enemy. It all started with the Bush obsession with Iraq. He launched an invasion on the basis of a lie; WMD. There were none, but it was an excuse to wage war to topple Saddam as he had become inconvenient. Saddam was later murdered after a kangaroo trial for which again Bush must be held responsible. Now comes the operative part.
The Americans withdrew from Iraq. A vacuum was created as a Shia-dominated government took control. This was a sure shot recipe for disaster and the Sunni'sstruck back. The ISIS emerged and it occupied large tracts of land in Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi army was defeated as it occupied an area equal to France. Tha's some achievement. They also captured key areas in Syria.
Al-Baghdadi the ISIS leader was sitting on a high till the Russians and Americas intervened. The Russian seeing their protege Assad in danger of being defeated stepped in. A heavy bombardment commenced. Their aircraft carrier also joined the bombing from the Mediterranean Sea. The attack on the ISIS began
Americans Come Back
After the defeat of the American-trained Iraqi army, the ISIS overran 90% of Iraq. Obama perhaps in hindsight committed a blunder when he ordered the withdrawal from Iraq. With Iraq under the sway of the ISIS, there was no choice for the Americas but to come back and support the tottering regime in Baghdad.
US advisors were sent to help the Iraqi army and the USAF began operations against the ISIS. The Iraqi army began to slowly push back the ISIS fighters. The tenacity of the ISIS fighters has made the task tortuous and now the Iraqi army is trying to wrest Mosul, the headquarters of the ISIS.
Attacks on Mosul and Palmyra
The ISIS are ferocious fighters and in October last year despite Russian bombing recaptured Palmyra. This was a signal that Assad needed more support. Putin ordered a heavy air bombing with his TU-22 and MIG warplanes. Some of them even operated from Iran. the first city reduced was Aleppo. Now under cover of heavy bombardment, the Army of Assad has been able to recapture Palmyra. Unfortunately, all the priceless historical sites have been destroyed by the ISIS. The ISIS channels have fallen silent and are a clear indication of a mass retreat. The Russian president was informed about the recapture of Palmyra.
The Iraqi army has made some headway. But the Shia-dominated force is facing determined Sunni fighters. The battle is on and a heavy bombing is on by the USAF. The Americans have about 5000 advisors on the ground and they are now engaging the ISIS fighters on the front lines. Mosul is the last stronghold in Iraq of the ISIS and its capture is important.
The Road Ahead
The capture of Palmyra and Mosul is not going to finish the ISIS. The ISIS has a strong network which is global and it has tremendous appeal to Sunni Muslims. The dream of an Islamic Caliphate beckons them. The ISIS will in all probability just filter away. But once the Americans leave Iraq, the status quo may be restored. In that case, the only option is an American presence for another decade or more. This could be the making of another Afghanistan.The only real possibility of defeating ISIS is if Russia and America join forces. This will not happen as there are many hawks in the US cabinet who do not want a rapprochement with Russia. For them Russia is enemy number 1 and Donald Trump despite his best of efforts is restricted. One does not see him taking a line to join Russia in fighting ISIS.
Donald spoke about joining forces with Russia during the campaign trail and now he can make it a reality. But there is a witch hunt on and Russian phobia created mainly to corner the president. He just cannot talk about a joint alliance with Russia against the ISIS. The hawks in his cabinet led by Mattis cannot allow this. Nor will the opposition which has its sights on a Donald impeachment on the Russian connection.This is the chink and the ISIS will survive to fight another day