Saturday, May 02, 2015

Iran gains by keeping ISIS going

From Business Insider, 1 May 2015, by Armin Rosen:

...Michael Pregent, an analyst and former US Army intelligence officer, created a map ... showing the “priority” and “secondary” defensive front lines for Iran, the Kurds, and the Assad regime, [and] the areas that are most vital to the sides’ war objectives.

The map shows that the strategic fault-lines in Iraq and Syria have nothing to do with the country’s internationally recognised borders, or even with the “borders” of ISIS’s “Caliphate.” And it reveals something important about the coming fight against ISIS.


As the map demonstrates, the jihadist group’s domain lies beyond both Iran and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s priority defensive boundary.

... the map shows that “Iran has no intent of defeating ISIS.”

... ISIS has been defeated nearly everywhere the group has been fought on the ground.

Michael Pregent:
“The map tells a story...ISIS is able to maintain territory because it’s unopposed. But where it’s opposed it loses territory, in both Iraq and Syria.”
The black ring cutting through central Iraq and Syria is there because the region’s military actors just aren’t interested in challenging hte group in those areas.

Iran wants to preserve its proxies’ control over Baghdad and Damascus...

Iraqi Shiite militia fighters raise up their weapons as they celebrate pushing back ISIS militants on Sept. 3, 2014, on the road between Amerli and Tikrit, in Iraq.

And Iran actually has something to gain from keeping the ISIS problem going. As long as the group survives, Iran can claim that their allies in both countries are the only thing preventing a jihadist takeover — an argument that raises Tehran’s prestige and ensures a degree of international support for their allies in both countries. 

(It’s also an argument that seems to be working.)

Pregent:
“Iran needs the threat of ISIS and Sunni jihadist groups to stay in Syria and Iraq in order to become further entrenched in Damascus and Baghdad...”
Recent events in Iraq make a lot more sense once it’s clear that Iran and its allies don’t see much of a need to advance its red lines deep into Sunni areas. For instance, Ramadi, which is right outside of Baghdad, was only reinforced with around 3,000 troops as ISIS moved against the town in late April...


The city is so sparsely reinforced because it ‘s primarily Sunni, and falls along a populated, Sunni-heavy, hard-to-defend axis that includes Fallujah and the Sunni Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib.

The “red line” is drawn at the Shi’ite neighbourhoods that lie beyond a defensible position near Abu Graihb. 

Shi’ite Iran and its militia partners in Iraq aren’t as willing to fight and die for a place that sits beyond their primary line of defence ..
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