Thursday, October 09, 2014

What game is the US playing in Iraq and Syria?

What strikes me about the role of the US air force in Iraq and Syria is that its role is so restricted. It only drops very expensive precision bombs. It never carpet bombs areas, it never strifes hostile forces from a plane with machine guns and it never drops supplies on allied forces that are surrounded. Coordination with allied forces seems to be minimal. The first days when the US air force operated in synch with the Kurds were an exception. Nowadays it seems to fulfil its own program of targets that has hardly any relationship with the needs of the allied troops on the ground.

Kobane's chances would much improve if the US supplied the Kurdish fighters there with anti-armor arms.

The Yazidi's are still fighting against the IS and complain that they hardly get any support from the US air force.

Soldiers from the fallen Iraqi base of Camp Saqlawiyah complained of lack of food and water - things that easily could have been supplied from the air.

The allies
Formally The Gulf States and Turkey are allies in our fight against ISIS. I don't believe it for a moment. They just have concluded that - as the US will attack anyway - they better be involved so that they can minimize the "harm" (as they see it) that the US is doing. Erdogan has gone as far as saying that he considers the PYD (the ruling Kurdish party in Kobane) equally harmful as ISIS.

There are lots of theories about what Turkey and the Arabs want to achieve. They keep pushing for more active US involvement against Assad. They might well believe that a massacre in Kobane would be beneficial to draw the US closer into the Syrian conflict.

Turkey wants now a buffer zone inside Syria that would give the rebels a home base. Conveniently it would also allow Turkey to crush the zones that are now controlled by the PYD. Predictably the Kurds oppose the idea.

One can only hope that one day Obama will realize that his whole Arab Spring project was madness disguised as policy. And that he finally will bring up the courage to say that regime change is not inside his job description. Unfortunately until now he is behaving like a servant to the belligerent anti-Assad rhetoric from the Gulf States and Turkey.

Many have noticed that Obama only became interested in attacking ISIS after it had killed some American journalists. This suggests that Obama is more influenced by opinion polls than by a clear vision in such an important issue - a devastating conclusion that suggests incompetence.