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Thread: Beyond the frontline: watching ISIS

  1. #41
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Expanding this thread

    I have just copied over twentyseven posts from the current Iraq thread, back to pg.30 so approx. a month's review.

    Our resident SME Joel Wing no doubt has commentaries on ISIS on his own website:http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.co.uk/

    For those who want to look back before Mosul fell and a more strategic assessment I commend Clint Watts writing on FPRI:http://www.fpri.org/contributors/clint-watts and his own website:http://selectedwisdom.com/

    I am sure there are other SME and ones outside the USA. If you know of any please post a link.
    davidbfpo

  2. #42
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Two of the better articles seen today. First 'How to Beat the Islamic State' by Jeff Stein in Newsweek, which relies on those with experience, citing a number:http://www.newsweek.com/how-beat-islamic-state-267273

    The second 'Letís Keep ISIS in Perspective' is from a blogsite, the author Wayne White is a former INR officer and sounds caution:http://www.lobelog.com/lets-keep-isis-in-perspective/
    davidbfpo

  3. #43
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Islamic State's Risky Business

    Brian Jenkins of RAND has a short column:
    The threat al-Baghdadi poses shouldnít be dismissed, of course. But before the U.S. engages in what could be another messy military intervention in Iraq, one that may well extend into Syria, itís worth taking a closer look at Islamic State and its internal dynamics. Contrary to the rhetoric, Islamic State does not surpass every threat the U.S. has seen.
    Link:http://www.businessweek.com/articles...lnerability#p1
    davidbfpo

  4. #44
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Brian Jenkins of RAND has a short column:

    […] Contrary to the rhetoric, Islamic State does not surpass every threat the U.S. has seen.
    Link:http://www.businessweek.com/articles...lnerability#p1
    Duffel Blog scooped ’em on this one.
    If you donít read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. Ė Mark Twain (attributed)

  5. #45
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default ISIS Very Capable CNBC Interview Of Colonel Warden

    CNBC Interview from Montgomery,Al. Of retired USAF Colonel John Warden. "We have badly underestimated their capabilities"



    http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000300411#.

  6. #46
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default

    Two real SME on the situation. One, Dr. Omar Ashour, now @ Exeter University, I always listen to. Here he is interviewed by Voice of Russia Today, with two others from UK Muslim groups, and provides the context for what we see today. There is a podcast and transcript:http://voiceofrussia.com/uk/news/201...ic-jihad-2074/

    Here is one passage:
    In terms of ideology itís sort of interesting because the Islamic State is a fringe of a fringe. So, al-Qaeda is a fringe and it took even more extreme twist in a sense that they are using excommunication declaring others as infidels and apostates in a much wider way than al-Qaeda does.
    On intervention in Iraq, with some poignant pre-conditions:
    The problem is very complex. There is ISIS and there is a threat, but ISIS are there because of certain reasons and some of them have to do with how the Arab Sunni population was treated in the last few years mainly by the al-Maliki government in the aftermath of the US withdrawal and the US invasion in 2003 as well. Unless these core issues are resolved and unless you find an Iraqi elite that is willing on one hand to unite against this threat, and on the other hand, is willing to accept intervention to end it, and you have a population that is revolting against the Islamic State [Ö] Unless you have these conditions then I donít think an intervention would be quite successful. Maybe it will undermine it or set it back a bit but then the environment, if you have this level of oppression and this level of brutality and lack of freedom, ethnic groups and religious groups who are marginalised and repressed, then you create an environment where the Islamic State or other groups will emerge just as violent and extreme.
    Secondly there's Clint Watts (CWOT on SWC) in a long interview on CSPAN's Washington Journal, which I have yet to listen to:http://www.c-span.org/video/?321100-...-response-isis
    davidbfpo

  7. #47
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Part 2: One leader, One authority, One mosque: submit to it, or be killed

    In this article 'Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia', his second (the first is Post 34) Alistair Crooke he starts with:
    SIS is indeed a veritable time bomb inserted into the heart of the Middle East. But its destructive power is not as commonly understood. It is not with the "March of the Beheaders"; it is not with the killings; the seizure of towns and villages; the harshest of "justice" -- terrible though they are -- that its true explosive power lies. It is yet more potent than its exponential pull on young Muslims, its huge arsenal of weapons and its hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Its real potential for destruction lies elsewhere -- in the implosion of Saudi Arabia as a foundation stone of the modern Middle East. We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.
    Link:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alasta...b_5748744.html

    No wonder Iran and the Kingdom are talking.

    We know there are a number of deserters from the Saudi military to ISIS; IIRC on the separate Saudi thread:
    davidbfpo

  8. #48
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Savagery explained

    A short BBC commentary by Professor Fawaz A Gerges:
    Since the sudden appearance of the extremist Sunni Islamic State (IS), the group has seized headlines with a shocking level of blood-letting and cruelty - but can its savagery be explained...
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29123528

    Here's a taster:
    It is a conscious decision to terrorise enemies and impress and co-opt new recruits. IS adheres to a doctrine of total war without limits and constraints....
    davidbfpo

  9. #49
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Let them rot: Only ISIS Can Destroy ISIS

    Clint Watts of FPRI has a commentary, the full title being 'The U.S. Canít Destroy ISIS, Only ISIS Can Destroy ISIS Ė The Unfortunate Merits of the ďLet Them RotĒ Strategy' and draws upon the Algerian 'lessons learnt':http://www.fpri.org/geopoliticus/201...-rot-strategy#

    Given the hype in the media, some of which surely comes from within governments, I hazard that patience and following such an option is overwhelmed by those who advocate "tough action" and defeating ISIS. As if 'shock & awe' works against an insurgency.
    davidbfpo

  10. #50
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A book we may have missed?

    I read this 'Think Progress' story today and wondered if the SWC community was aware of the book behind the title 'The Book That Really Explains ISIS (Hint: It's Not The Quran' and there is a thread, with two posts in 2007 about the book 'The Management of Savagery':http://thinkprogress.org/world/2014/...not-the-quran/

    From the story:
    ... there is some evidence to suggest that ISIS’s overarching strategy is especially influenced by one book in particular — and no, it’s not the Qur’an.


    In 2004, a PDF of a book entitled “The Management Of Savagery” was posted online and circulated among Sunni jihadist circles. Scholars soon noticed that the book, which was published by an unknown author writing under the pseudonym “Abu Bakr Naji,” had become popular among many extremist groups such as al-Shabaab in Somalia, and was eventually translated into English for study in 2006 by William McCants, now the director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution. The book, McCants told ThinkProgress, was written as an alternative to the decentralized, “leaderless” approach to jihadism popular in the mid-2000s. Instead of using isolated attacks on super powers all over the globe, “The Management Of Savagery” offered an expansive plan for how a group of Muslim militants could violently seize land and establish their own self-governing Islamic state — much like ISIS is trying to do today.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-14-2014 at 09:32 PM. Reason: Copied from another thread as relevant
    davidbfpo

  11. #51
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The science behind Isil's savagery

    Carrying out beheadings and other extreme acts is unthinkable for most people, but the right cocktail of factors can make anyone an extremist, says neuroscientist Prof Ian Robertson
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/1...-savagery.html
    davidbfpo

  12. #52
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Islamic Stateís Vulnerability

    An analysis 'The Islamic Stateís Vulnerability' by:
    Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University's security studies program.
    Link:http://warontherocks.com/2014/09/the...lnerability/#_

    He ends with:
    The Islamic Stateís many weaknesses will soon become apparent, if they arenít already. This doesnít mean that the group will inevitably collapse; and even if it does, its collapse might just mean that its fighters are driven back into the hands of an old familiar foe, al-Qaeda, or other Syrian and Iraqi non-state actors. The United States should approach this fight strategically, understanding both the Islamic Stateís weaknesses and also the broader context of the fight.
    davidbfpo

  13. #53
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    Default ISIS Strategy - DOA

    Bill Lind's latest (I know he has both detractors and diehards here at SWC):

    https://www.traditionalright.com/the...olympus-d-o-a/


    The LAR footnote is an interesting thought experiment, at the least:

    A long footnote: In my last column, I noted that the Pentagon should be able to give the pesident the option of sending a small, competent, fast-moving ground force that could rout ISIS in a campaign of days, or, at most, weeks. In theory this force exists, in the form of three Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) battalions. The original concept behind the LAV (I know because I am one of the three people who, as a staffer to Senator Gary Hart, initiated the LAV program; the other two were a Senate Armed Services Committee staffer, Steve Dotson, and a Marine one-star named Al Gray) was to create one or more LAV regiments that could serve as Soviet-style Operations Maneuver Groups in third-world situations. Only once in the 25-plus years since have the LAV battalions been used this way, when they were grouped for an operational advance on Tikrit immediately after the fall of Baghdad. We should not go in on the ground against ISIS, but should the president decide to do so, that would be the way to do it. It would require a commander who knows operational art from pachinko, of which we have very few. But one who could easily do it is Marine four-star General John Kelly. By putting a four-star in charge, the Pentagon would ensure the LAV operational maneuver group got support when it needed it. Pitting regular light cavalry against irregular light cavalry in a campaign of rapid maneuver, the regulars should easily come out on top, if only because their skill at techniques should be much higher. Of course, if the president were to ask the Pentagon for this option, it would immediately say it is impossible, because a success by a small, fast force using maneuver warfare would not justify larger budgets and force structures. At senior levels, the budget war is the only war that matters.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-14-2017 at 05:03 PM. Reason: 15k views before merging as a stand alone thread

  14. #54
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Theology and Strategy

    Two contributions to assessing ISIS. First this in the NYT 'ISISí Harsh Brand of Islam Is Rooted in Austere Saudi Creed' and looks at the theological or ideological aspects.

    Link:http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/25...html?referrer=

    The second is an email based exchange between SME, with the title 'Around the Halls: What is ISIS' Strategy?' hosted by Brookings:http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/iran-...-isis-strategy

    The final comment by Charles Lister is a good read, especially on the reaction of 'moderate' Syrian groups - hardly encouraging.
    davidbfpo

  15. #55
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Ten Things to Watch for in the ISIS War

    A reasonable check list on The American Conservative, by former DoS "whistle blower" Peter van Buren:
    A guide to the spin, empty gestures, and behind-the-scene players that will determine the fate of America's re-entry into Iraq.
    Link:A guide to the spin, empty gestures, and behind-the-scene players that will determine the fate of America's re-entry into Iraq.

    Elsewhere I've read comments by ret'd US military leaders that it will take up to three years to rebuild the Iraqi state forces and the FT has an excellent article (behind a reistration wall) using the fall of an army base as an illustration:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/ceb48014-4...#axzz3EoJ2hviA
    davidbfpo

  16. #56
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    ISIS reportedly has a powerful social media component. How much of that is driven by disaffected (or bored) wealthy sympathizers or their youth in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere? One of the things that strikes me about Saudi Arabia is that their analogy of the youth living in their mother's basement is actually quite widespread - except their youth are much more socially isolated but by virtue of their wealth have virtually unlimited access to social media.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  17. #57
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Default

    I can't say where the 'youth' or 'wealthy sympathizers' (in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere) are living, or if they are disaffected or simply bored. But, from monitoring several Arab forums that are (at least in theory) dedicated to 'defence'-related issues, I would say there are indeed a lot of them. And some of them are actually serving (whether in Saudi or in other of local militaries).

    Although some of moderators are - time and again - trying to curb corresponding activity (i.e. postings with pro-Daesh content), most of the times they're letting them do, and the 'sympathizers' are returning and posting their stuff. Alternatively, they're posting derogatory remarks on activity of US and allied militaries, like LOLs about RAF Tornados returning from a mission over Iraq without firing a single shot, two nights ago; or, congratulations for Daesh claim to have shot down one of French Rafales during their first sortie over Iraq (apparently related to the extremists actually downing one of Iraqi UAVs).

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    One of the things that strikes me about Saudi Arabia is that their analogy of the youth living in their mother's basement is actually quite widespread - except their youth are much more socially isolated but by virtue of their wealth have virtually unlimited access to social media.
    One of bizzare issues about the Saudi society is that marriages got extremely expensive: even quite wealthy families simply can't afford them. Major reason is that brides are going at very high prices, literally.

    That said, there is plenty of 'clandestine socializing' (outside, though with help of social media), while the amount of access to the social media is actually much more curbed (by security authorities) than usually thought.

    For example, it's easier to arrange a (clandestine/private, of course) meeting by driving your car - slowly, very slowly - around some mal with semi-opened windows, so the girls can drop their 'business cards' with telephone numbers, then via the social media. Something similar can be said about the ways Saudi atheists are arranging their meetings too (being an atheist is worse than being a non-Moslem in Saudi Arabia).

    I would say that plenty of activity related to supporting extremists is taking place in similar fashion too.

  18. #58
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default How Not To Understand ISIS

    A short,, thoughtful article by Alireza Doostdar, an Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and the Anthropology of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School:https://divinity.uchicago.edu/sighti...ireza-doostdar

    A few passages:
    We see ISIS as a unitary entity because ISIS propagandists want us to see it that way. This is why it is problematic to rely on doctrines espoused in propaganda to explain ISISí behavior....Focusing on doctrinal statements would have us homogenizing the entirety of ISISí military force as fighters motivated by an austere and virulent form of Salafi Islam. This is how ISIS wants us to see things, and it is often the view propagated by mainstream media.... But ISIS emerged from the fires of war, occupation, killing, torture, and disenfranchisement. It did not need to sell its doctrine to win recruits. It needed above all to prove itself effective against its foes.
    davidbfpo

  19. #59
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Pakistan: The Allure of ISIS

    Ahmed Rashid has a short review of the impact of ISIS in Afghanistan and Pakistan:http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog...6/allure-isis/

    He ends with:
    If the war in Afghanistan drags on without a decisive victory or a political solution, the danger grows that younger Taliban will become more attracted to ISIS. And the possibility of ISIS wielding growing influence among the Pakistani or Afghan Taliban is heightened by the generational shift taking place among the Taliban themselves.

    Unless Pakistan and Afghanistan are able to quickly end the extremism by Taliban groups that has plagued them for years they are likely to find themselves facing a far more militarized, radicalized, and extremist youth movement. The danger then is that these countries could find themselves ceding major territory to extremist groups, in a repeat of what ISIS has done in Iraq and Syria.
    davidbfpo

  20. #60
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A diabolical marketing strategy

    A fascinating article, the headline 'The Making of the World's Scariest Terrorist Brand', although the sub-title is quite telling:
    ISIS mixes new-media savvy with medieval savagery. Itís a diabolical marketing strategy that led us right back into waróand one that future terror groups will surely copycat. Or try to top.
    Link:https://medium.com/matter/the-making...d-92620f91bc9d

    It ends with:
    We can bomb them one truck, one convoy, one Levant at a time. But even if the Islamic State is scoured from the face of the Earth, no future terrorist army will forget its media. Its innovations in branding and marketing will live on, only imprinted with different logos, different actors. After all, itís just an ad campaign. Just a bloody ad campaign. And weíre buying.
    davidbfpo

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