Even though Obama has been crowing about ISIS being contained, the war in Syria is far from over. ISIS still controls a vast amount of territory and there are many other groups fighting as well.
But what is normally looked at as a war between ISIS and the US led coalition, has actually become more of a free-for-all with many different sides fighting with and forming unsteady alliances with each other.
To start with, there’s the Syrian government itself; the one Obama threatened with his blurry red line in the sand that didn’t accomplish anything. Then, of course, there’s ISIS, the main militant insurgents trying to take over Syria. But there are other militant groups as well, many of which are fighting against both the government and ISIS.
Then there are local groups who are fighting ISIS purely for their own protection, without any stated intent to topple the government. On top of all this, we have the US led coalition, which really isn’t accomplishing a whole lot, and the Russians, who have joined the fray in support of the Syrian government.
This vast number of players has made this one of the most confusing wars in history. While there were more countries involved in World War II, than there are in Syria, there were only two real sides. That made it fairly easy to tell which side everyone was on; this war makes that all but impossible without a program to tell you who everyone is.
Why Hasn’t ISIS Been Beaten?
So, with all this vast military might available, why hasn’t ISIS been beaten and peace restored to the region? They currently claim to have more than 200,000 soldiers, making it clear that they are far from beaten.
Part of the problem has been the way that the war has been waged. While there are supposedly 60 nations involved in the coalition, that doesn’t mean that there are 60 nations fighting. Of those, only a dozen have conducted air strikes, and only a few have actually put “boots on the ground” with troops to fight against the terrorist organization. The rest have provided some military aid, some humanitarian aid and a lot of verbal support, but no real practical support.
The United States has used air power effectively in the past two Gulf wars, striking targets in Iraq and destroying much of their military’s ability to wage war before committing troops to the field. But that was done under military direction and with specific military goals in mind. That’s not what’s happening this time. Rather than allowing the military to run a true military air campaign against ISIS, Obama is micromanaging it from the White House.
Obama is no military strategist, knowing little of the operation of the military, yet he is demanding that the military present every mission to him personally for approval. That has largely eliminated the effectiveness of our air strikes, especially when you consider that Obama’s main objective in passing approval is to ensure that his buddies in ISIS aren’t harmed by the strikes.
As has been usual under Obama’s presidency, he has put rather extreme restrictions on the rules of engagement that our military is allowed to operate under. That’s why I say that his main goal seems to be protecting ISIS, rather than defeating them.
Many of the strikes that were supposed to be against ISIS have actually been committed against the other militia groups that are fighting ISIS and in cases where ISIS resources are being attacked, he is requiring them to be warned first, so there won’t be any loss of life.
Apparently, the Commander in Chief doesn’t have the guts to get enemy blood on his hands; unless, of course, those are domestic political enemies. Then it seems he doesn’t mind all that much.
But, I digress; wars are not won by air forces. It takes infantry troops to take and hold the ground. This has been true throughout the history of warfare. That’s why the infantry is the center of every nation’s military, regardless of their ideas about warfare or their military strategy.
Obama has insisted that there would be no US boots on the ground in the war against ISIS. The only troops who have been sent over have been a few special forces troops, to train and equip the Kurds. Other than that, the on the ground fighting has been left in the hands of others.
This means that most of it has been left to the local people; quickly gathered together, trained and equipped. The biggest group has been the Kurds, who have also received the brunt of ISIS’ cruelty. In response, the Kurds have been quick to join the war, carrying the fight to ISIS. They have been joined by Christians, who ISIS slaughters out of hand and even women who have escaped from ISIS captivity.
These women are some of the fiercest fighters against ISIS, perhaps because it is a personal fight for them. Some are family members of the young men who are fleeing Syria for Europe, as part of the supposed refugee migration. Others have been captured and used as ISIS sex slaves, giving them a very personal reason to fight. Their resentment and anger has created some of ISIS’ most dangerous enemies; enemies who want nothing more than to kill those who have so mistreated them.
One of the true beauties of these women fighting ISIS is that a Muslim man who is killed by a woman does not get into paradise, even if he died in jihad. This strikes fear into the hearts of ISIS warriors, as part of their motivation is the promise of paradise and their 72 virgins.
All this fighting has done little to defeat ISIS, as they seem stronger than ever. Their ranks are swelling, as fighters from around the world travel to join them. While some have been killed off, the death toll hasn’t come close to matching their recruitment efforts.
And Then Russia Joined The Fight…
The lack of effectiveness of the coalition has led Russia to join the fight. Russia has not joined the coalition though, but rather is fighting in support of the Syrian government, who they have always supported. In true Russian fashion, they have sent in massive amounts of air strikes, destroying more than the US led coalition has.
Russia is now upping the ante in this war, sending in more planes and possibly troops. Their newest fighter, the SU-35S Flanker, is joining the fray. I’m not exactly sure what good that’s going to do, as the Flanker is not a ground-attack fighter, but they must have plans for it.
They are also making extensive use of their satellite resources to track ISIS units on the ground, as well as develop their targeting list. In essence, the Russian Air Force is using the same tactics that the United States used in the last two Gulf Wars, to attack ISIS much more effectively than anyone else.
There is also talk about Russia mobilizing 150,000 troops for deployment to Syria. While that has not been confirmed and there is no evidence that any troops are on the ground yet, it takes time to mobilize troops for overseas deployments. This could be something currently in the works and the troops could be on the ground in a matter of weeks.
Countering this, there have been confirmed reports that ISIS has developed the ability to use chemical warfare agents, specifically mustard gas. While the use of chemical agents is not allowed under the rules of land warfare and several treaty agreements, ISIS has obviously not been part of any of those treaties.
While they claim nation-state status, they are really nothing more than terrorist thugs. So, they would not consider themselves limited by international convention for warfare, especially considering that the weapons arrayed against them are stronger than those that they themselves have. There is no question whether ISIS will use their mustard gas or not; they already have. The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, confirmed this to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
This is somewhat ironic, as Obama’s line in the sand was about the use of chemical weapons. Now, rather than the government using those weapons against the insurgents, we have an insurgent group using them. Who they are using them against is still closely held information, but there is no question as to whether or not they are being used. Does this mean it’s time for Obama to draw another line in the sand?
But he won’t do that. After all, ISIS is just the JV team and they aren’t Islamic. At least, that’s what Obama says. Perhaps he’ll wake up one of these days and realize that he has created a monster and that said monster is a true threat to the world.
If not, whoever wins the elections in November had better be ready to deal with it.
This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia.