During the US election campaign, Hellery Clinton responded to challenges on what she was going to do to win the war against the Islamic terrorists -- the ones she wouldn't call by name -- by saying that she had a plan, which included the capture of Mosul, which would fall in a matter of days. Donald Trump said that even if the anti-ISIS "coalition" succeeded in liberating Mosul, they'd find the IS leaders long gone, precisely because La Clinton had given them plenty of notice, plus details of President 0's plans to "degrade" the soldiers of the Prophet.
As I pointed out a few days ago, in "Meanwhile, in the Middle East...", predictions of the capture of Mosul turned out to be premature. Latest reports are that the Kurds, advancing from the area they control in northern Iraq, are stalled at the gates of the city. The alleged Iraqi National Army, coming up from the south, has been unable to prevent ISIS fighters from breaking out to the west and south, heading for Syria. Enough of the terrorists remain in Mosul to make its fall uncertain at best.
Meanwhile, the eyes and ears of the world have turned toward Syria, where ISIS has retaken the ancient city of Palmyra, which it lost some nine months ago. Turns out this great victory for the "coalition" was, errr, of a temporary nature. As in Afghanistan and Iraq, "we" learned that occupying and securing a given area is rather more difficult than taking it in the first place. I can almost hear the cries of "They're baaaack!"
If you believe the propaganda dished out every day by the lamestream media, the retaking of Palmyra by ISIS isn't that big a deal. What is a big deal is the fall of Aleppo -- once Syria's biggest city -- not to ISIS but to [SHOCK! HORROR!] the forces of the evil, devilish, inhuman Bashir al-Assad! With more than a little help in the form of airstrikes by the Russians, Syrian government forces have entered and taken control of 99% of the eastern part of Aleppo, which had been held by rebel militias for years. MORE SHOCK! MORE HORROR!
The chattering classes and spokesthingies for liberal democracy are engaging in an orgy of handwringing, pissing and moaning that almost defies description. Here's a sample, written by someone called Terry Glavin [Who he? Ed.] in today's Emotional Post. "J’accuse! May Allah look down in his mercy upon Aleppo — no help is coming from us. This is what we have become. This is the depravity to which we have all sunk. Aleppo has fallen and so has humanity. We are disgraced."
Walt doesn't see it quite that way. There have been some civilian casualties in the battle for Aleppo, to be sure, including women and children. Hundreds, not thousands, have been killed, but those numbers pale in comparison to the numbers executed -- not killed in fighting, but executed -- by ISIS. So why is it the "end of civilization" when Syrian government forces do the killing, but not when atrocities are committed by the Sunni Muslim rebels and the Islamic extremists of ISIS? Answers on the back of a postage stamp, please, to the usual address.
As of this morning, the Assad government controls most of western Syria, which is the only part of the country worth having. The Kurds have most of their homeland in northern Iraq. ISIS holds their capital, Raqqa, as well as Mosul (still) and Palmyra (again). The alleged Iraqi government has a tenuous hold on Baghdad, but not much else. Their ill-trained and timorous army is (sometimes) fighting it out with ISIS for eastern Syria and south-central Iraq. I'll go out on a limb here and predict that there will be no significant change of any kind in the year to come. Lifetime pct .985.
What, then, should the USA, soon to be under new management, do about the Middle East? I've given it a lot of thought [All this week? Ed.] and can come up with no better plan than to bug out and let the Muslims duke it out amongst themselves. That, in essence, is what Ron Paul has been saying for years. The Syrian armed forces, with the help of the Russians, will keep pushing eastward, while the Kurds, helped by the Iranians, will keep pushing down from the north. Let them destroy the Sunnis (ISIS plus assorted rebel militias) if they can, and good luck to them. We’ve got no skin in that game.
Further reading: "Some Perspectives on the War on Terror: Anyway you look at it, it's a failure", by Philip Giraldi, in The Unz Review, 20/12/16.