Skip to comments.ISIS's Secret Allies
Posted on 06/13/2014 8:52:57 PM PDT by xzins
All eyes have been on ISIS as the jihadist group, in a matter of days, cut Iraq in half and declared its own state in the cities it captured. With fewer than 10,000 fighters ISIS forced the retreat of the better-armed Iraqi army forces many times its size. Their incredible success on the battlefield has fed into a growing lore about the group: the small band of fanatics that can take down a country. The truth is more basic and it's something ISIS doesn't want to admit--they weren't acting alone.
It wasn't having God on their side that let ISIS conquer Mosul and Tikrit with hardly a fight, analysts say. It was the other Sunni insurgent groups that were there alongside them, unacknowledged partners in the coalition. Those groups have deep organizational roots and were instrumental in the takeover but have been largely overshadowed by ISIS.
The standoff in Iraq isn't between a single militant group and the government. There is a broad coalition of Sunni groups--both nationalist and Islamist--who had been plotting against Iraq's Shia government for years before ISIS's rise provided the chance to strike. ISIS and its partners are unnatural allies. Maintaining their unity was the key to their early success, and is the only way they can hold the ground they have taken, but that incentive may prove to be weaker than the force of their natural hostilities.
"ISIS control in Mosul is contingent on political alliances they have made with the Baathists and the tribal groups," said Brian Fishman, a fellow at the New America Foundation, who has been following ISIS since the group's early days during the Iraq war.
"This alliance marching on Baghdad is not a natural one," Fishman added. "We can understand how it was put together in opposition to the government but what exactly is holding it together, and how sturdy it is, is an open question," he said.
The anonymity of the non-ISIS members in the anti-government faction wasn't by choice. Some have used social media to broadcast their war exploits and document their control of conquered territories. It could be an early sign of fissures in the coalition that beat back Baghdad's army.
If the rebel groups begin fighting against ISIS and each other, even as they remain at war with the government, it could lead to something like Syria's war of all against all. Iraq may not descend into the kind of protracted conflict that has ground up Syria and its people, but the days ahead will invariably be filled with bloodshed.
Hassan Hassan, an analyst at the Delma institute in Abu Dhabi, was one of the first observers to point out ISIS reliance on cooperation with Iraqi insurgent groups.
"Non-ISIS groups played a central role in the takeover," Hassan said.
Tactical details from the past week's offensive are hard to come by. But Hassan says the groups that cooperated with ISIS include: "The Sufi-Baathist militia known as the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order, which has former members of the Iraqi army during Saddam Hussein's reign. The Al Qaeda-originated Ansar al-Islam, and provisional tribal councils, many of the which are actually front groups for the Naqshbandis," according to Hassan.
The coalition seemed--initially, at least--to have tempered ISIS' severe approach to governance, which traditionally relied on public execution as a staple of justice.
"The involvement of these groups can be felt through the way the fighters treated the local population fairly well, compared to the usual notoriously brutal behavior of ISIS," Hassan said.
It's a point echoed by Fishman. "There has been genuine learning from this organization about how to interface with populations," Fishman said, referring to ISIS' experiences in Iraq and the areas it currently controls in Syria.
Because Mosul fell so quickly, with little fighting from the Iraqi army, the city appears to have been relatively unscathed by the assault that wrested it from government control. With ISIS and other anti-government insurgent factions long entrenched in Mosul they seem to have been able to quickly restore some basic services in the city. One photo captured by Middle East scholar Aymenn al-Tamimi, who collects tweets from Iraqi insurgent groups including ISIS, shows garbage trucks collecting trash in eastern Mosul on Thursday.
For all its genuine learning and operational acuity, ISIS' conception of itself as the embodiment of God's will is hard to reconcile with practical compromise.
The relative moderation evidenced early on may be necessary to maintain the population's support and preserve the coalition, but ISIS has begun to impose its fundamentalist approach.
Already, the group has declared itself the sole authority in Mosul and released a set of religious laws for the people of Nineveh province. The laws laid out are no one's idea of moderate:
For women, dress decently and wear wide clothes. Only go out if needed. Our position on Shrines and graves is clear. All to be destroyed basically. Gatherings, carrying flags (other than that of Islamic State) and carrying guns is not allowed. God ordered us to stay united. For the police, soldiers and other Kafir institutions, you can repent. We opened special places that will allow you to repent. No drugs, no alcohol and no cigarettes allowed.
There are more rules on the list, but that gives a pretty good sense of their severity.
Hassan, who has been observing ISIS said, "It is expected that ISIS would try to impose itself, considering that it brands itself as a state and that it alone has the legitimacy to rule."
"The group's propensity for imposing its will regardless of the consequences will likely lead to confrontation and clashes with other groups," he said. "The offensive was planned together but that does not mean the old rivalries will not come up again. It is very likely that rivalry will lead to clashes."
Basically, they're being supported by Iraqi Sunni groups.
Interesting that the Sunni Saudi Arabian government doesn’t get mentioned.
I’ve got one secret ally of theirs
Just saw a Video Clip on O’Reilly. Looks like ISIS has captured an M-1 Tank and some Bradley Armored Personnel Carriers.
Would someone please tell me why we are allowing our “Iraqi Army” Modern Military Equipment to fall in to the hands of Murdering Terrorists?
Look, you don't criticize a country when your leader bows down to that country's leader. It just isn't done.
In the past we used to give lesser versions of our tanks, fighters, etc., to other countries. They would never get the latest versions. Against their own people, they are deadly, of course, but our own A10 and Javelin can kill them pretty quickly.
“but our own A10 and Javelin can kill them pretty quickly”
Do you mean the A-10 the Air Force just killed?
I have long written here on FR that those 3 people cannot get along and will war against each other. The Brits weren’t real smart after WWI about the way they broke up the Ottoman Empire.
The Brits absolutely ignored the Kurds and it’s been a problem ever since. Iraq is not an ancient country. It was arbitrarily patched together by British politicians after WWI ignoring people groups.
Yep. It’s a beast in a tank war.
They make a terrible mistake ending the A-10. I hear the Army wants it. They’ll be ignored, because to give it to the Army upsets their dumb compromise giving every service EXCEPT the Army, the guys dying on the ground, its own air force.
Well, Congress just cut funding for the A-10 Fleet, so it looks like our Ruling Class Politicians just shot our Country in the foot again.
Is Obongobongo Shia or Sunni?
Ahh, that explains a lot. Thanks.
Iran is Shia = they heavily influenced the government of Iraq formation as the US military exited Iraq 2 1/2 years ago. Corrupt Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is Shia.
Saudi Arabia is Sunni. Kenya is Sunni - Obama’s father and step father were Sunni. Sunni oppose the Syrian government too.
Iran will weigh in after the Sunni ISIS runs wild for a while and kills/beheads etc as muslims love to do in jihad. The Iranian head of Quds, Suelemani, has been in Baghdad this week. Remember his name. After the Sunni terrorists finish their deadly run through Iraq, the Iranians will strike back.
Both Sunni and Shia in Iraq have US manufactured anti-aircraft missiles, which is why the US is completely on the sidelines. About the only thing the US can do is send a cruise missile into a tent to blow up a camel in Iraq.
The US military completely exited in Dec 2011. The US embassy staff and all American contractors need to evacuate immediately.
Doesn’t mean that Alibama couldn’t be serving the greater good of Allah through helping create the needed environment to usher in the Caliphate that might transcend their sectarian issues; additionally to weaken the US and Israel and further the NWO/Globalist goals. Doesn’t Alibama fit the Shia myth of playing the part of a John the Baptist or Elijah to their Mahdi? A tall black man from Africa who ruled from a far from the islands or coastlands who would bring about the right conditions for their Mahdi. I remember hearing about this way back in ‘08 and I could be wrong because I don’t know Farsi but that Obama phonetically sounds like the words for ‘he is with us’?
For thought ——
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