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A NY Times Xmas Fairy Tale: Baghdad Has ISIS on The Run

Iraq's Retaking of Ramadi was a Staged Photo Op; ISIS Barely Put Up a Fight.

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Readers may wish to glance over this from the December 28 New York Times, just for laughs.

Feel free to ignore the little inanities, including reference to one “Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Belawi, the leader of a battalion of Sunni tribal fighters.”

<figcaption>Iraqi "Special Operations Forces" in action.  Actually this shot is from 2014, but guys firing blind over a wall gives you a sense of the quality of Iraq's so-called army.</figcaption>
Iraqi "Special Operations Forces" in action. Actually this shot is from 2014, but guys firing blind over a wall gives you a sense of the quality of Iraq's so-called army.

(Depending on the country, a Brigadier General commands a brigade or regiment [1500-2500 men] or is second-in-charge of a division [10,000-plus men.]  What's this one doing running a battalion [typically just 200-400 men available for duty, again depending on the force in question]?  Sounds like the Iraqis have some serious rank inflation going on.  Either that, or al-Belawi was pulled out of oblivion and allowed to “keep” his Saddam-era title, in support of the pretense that Iraq's Sunnis are fighting ISIS, too.)

Instead, focus on what's not said.  Or shown.  Not by the Times or anyone else.

Where are the hundreds of ISIS bodies?  Or even twenty bodies?  OK, I'll take ten.  Ten?  (Including the five everyone already saw here—so we need five more.)

(If ISIS put up a losing fight to defend this almost Stalingrad-sized city of 400-plus thousandthe core of which is at least 10 square kilometers, judging by this mappresumably it would have cost them at least ten guys.)

Or how about a few prisoners?  Maybe just one wounded guy who didn't have the strength to pull his grenade pin?

Where are the abandoned Abrams tanks and armored Humvees (of which ISIS is known to have thousands)?

Actually, if you read the Times piece carefully, you see a few references to ISIS fighters just skipping town.

And yet, the Times allows this to be portrayed as a great victory, also mentioning the Iraqi prime minister's intent to take Mosul.

Good luck with that.

I think they can forget about Mosul for the time being.

Relative to Iraq's Shi'a government taking Mosul anytime soon, it is more likely to lose Ramadi again in the coming months, with ISIS sneaking-in to take up initial positions while the state garrison sleeps or plays with apps on its phones, much as what happened last time.

Just keep in mind that the Iraq situation is not World War II or even Syria.  Whereas the quasi-Soviet state built up by the USSR in Syria still—barely, but still—exists, Iraq's ability to conduct any kind of serious military operations, even within its own borders, was utterly destroyed in 2003 (when its Soviet-trained Republican Guard and the rest of its military was disbanded), if not 1991.

Now it seems to be just a bunch of ayatollahs and tribes and militias and a lot of smartly-dressed officers posing for photo-ops, then perhaps sneaking away for some long naps.

So take news of their Glorious Victories with a few licks of salt.

Also remember, the Times merely conveys propaganda.

If something fits the Government narrative of "mission accomplished" in Iraq (i.e. Uncle Sam standing up the brave Iraqi forces), if Colonel Warren in Baghdad's Green Zone says it's great, then it's great, and the Times will find some "experts" to second that opinion, of course letting one of them have the last words of its article.

Then, as before, everyone will be shocked, shocked at the next great reversal.

That's just how the machine works.

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