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NEO – Mosul Offensive Reveals Larger Geopolitical Game Plan

Mosul 2004

Mosul 2004

by  Seth Ferris,   … with New Eastern Outlook, Moscow

[ Editor’s Note: One of Shakespeare’s most famous lines is, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” a line actually spoken by Marcellus, and not Hamlet as most believe. But the line came back to me after reading the first part of Seth’s excellent analysis of something definitely rotten going on in Iraq.

We are watching the fruits of regime change and destabilization in Iraq getting ready to be picked — now that this weak and corrupt government can no longer hold a fractious state together without outside support; and that outside support ends up being a fox in the hen house. In this situation, it is four or five foxes, the US, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and to a degree, Russia.

When I lived in Barbados we had a case once where a dog had killed a monkey that had the misfortune to wander into its owner’s territory in search of fruit trees.  The next day a gang of kin folk monkeys, about thirty, went back for revenge, but to the house next door by mistake, whose unfortunate dog was outside. They surrounded it and continued to attack it from the rear whenever it went after a monkey. This wheeling fight went on until the dog was just exhausted and then a easy kill.

It seems we are about to witness the death of the mirage of a unified state of Iraq, but whether Turkey and Iran can muscle, or schnooker, the US and the Gulf States out of the picture, I am not so sure.

But the real danger the rest of us face, if this carving up of Iraq is successful, is that it will validate the strategy; and this is a blank check for the winners to proceed to the next target. A new bogus threat will be invented to rile up Americans to support another US misadventure, where some bogeyman, be it Russia or Iran, is cast in the role of the heavy.

This is a challenging piece, so don’t be embarrassed to have to read it twice, as I did. Seth is of one of our best analysts, and the best usually make us work to understand their work because it was hard to do, and to simplify it would be really cheating us, which they won’t do Jim W. Dean ]

__________

– First published  …  October 20,  2016

ferris Mosul

Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by US-led airstrikes and British and French special forces, launched coordinated military operations early on Monday as the long-awaited fight to wrest the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, IS and Daesh) got underway.

According to Kurdish reports, Peshmerga forces now control the main road linking Mosul with the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital, Erbil, further to the east.

On the face of it, this means the Iraqi government is trying to retake control of its territory. But this idea does not bear close examination. This attempt to recapture Mosul is a considerable humiliation to Iraq. The very forces it refused to allow to take this city are conducting this operation in its name, but in search of an outcome which will weaken Iraq even further.

Turkish president Erdogan has been insisting that Turkey would play a role in the offensive because only Turkey can prevent a regional schism along ethnic lines, as Mosul is divided between Turkmen and Kurds. But Baghdad understands Turkey’s motivation, and even stated prior to the operation that Iraqi forces were ready to take on the Turkish Army should they get involved in Mosul.

Now we find that the assault is being conducted by Iraqi forces trained by Turkey at the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq. Therefore this is in effect a Turkish operation by proxy, not one organised by the Iraqi government. Other Iraqi troops could have been used, but Turkish-trained units have been chosen, thereby increasing Turkish influence within Iraq, the Mosul region and the US-led team reconstructing Iraq.

So some deal has been done to conduct another strategic handover of Mosul – the initial IS takeover, engineered by the US being the first. But why is this happening? What is keeping the Iraqi out of their own city, but manufacturing tacit Iraqi approval of this process, supposed to achieve?

Too many words for comfort

Iraqi Kurds pipeline route ~ a plum not easy for America's elitist neocons to give up

Iraqi Kurds’ pipeline route ~ a plum not easy for America’s elitist neocons to give up

The Iraqi PM’s announcement of the start of the Mosul offensive, broadcast by the BBC, made no mention of Turkey. It merely stated that it involved US and Kurdish forces. That in itself was suspicious. But other aspects of the announcement were even more so.

It is clear that the media coverage has been organised in collaboration with policy planners. The same story is being carried all across the media, and sounds as if the same journalist has written it. Whatever is actually going on, we were only ever going to hear one story, which was not written by the Iraqi government.

We already knew that something was cooking. Various media sources reported prior to the announcement that “the battle for Mosul is expected to be the biggest ground assault in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.”

The United Nations warned that it could also result in an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, threatening to displace as many as one million people. Heavy bombing in a city as densely populated as Mosul is always likely to result in high civilian casualties – or to put it in politically correct language, “collateral damage”.

The US reportedly began preliminary airstrikes on Mosul on the 13th of October. Sources on the ground say that there are now 5,000 US troops inside Iraq, there to provide support for this operation. But making it a US offensive would have posed problems. The US is fighting with the IS in Syria and supports it with arms, personnel and money. It has also had to deal with a number of controversies about its involvement in Iraq, from the justification for the original invasion to the tactics, such as waterboarding, it has used.

So the operation has now to be presented as an Iraqi operation. This cannot be the reality however, as the Iraqi Army has been reduced to an ineffective force unable to carry out operations without support from other forces, as a result of wholesale desertions to IS and large numbers of troops simply going home.

Many of these returners were paid to do so by the US, which is why Mosul fell so easily in the first place. NEO was the first journal to report that the fall of Mosul to the IS was actually a strategic handover.

In order for anything to be an Iraqi operation, it needs to be conducted by Iraqi troops led by someone else. The Iraqi themselves were happy with the US leading this operation, but not with Turkey doing so. Turkey is fighting to create a Greater Kurdistan it can deport its own Kurds to to prevent Turkish territory being lost in this process. It has no more intention of regaining Mosul for Iraq as the US has for removing the IS without continuing to make a profit.

But now Iraq has had to accept a transfer of Mosul from the anti-Iraqi IS – who according to analyst Gordon Duff were not IS at all, but Turks and Peshmerga Kurds imported for the purpose – to the anti-Iraq Turks under the guise of their own forces. This will legitimise any future breakup of the country – Iraq liberated Mosul, so Iraq can agree to give it away. But it will do nothing to unite Iraq, which is the ostensible purpose of retaking the city from a separatist group not under the control of the Iraqi government.

For the greater bad

iraq-nuke

The Islamic State (IS) took control of Mosul, a city of over a million people, in June 2014 and declared its caliphate shortly after. Since then, this majority Sunni city has become a stronghold for the group, and is the largest population centre it controls.

However, the force doing the bulk of the fighting in Iraq is not IS but the Shiite Hashd militia, which is trained, led and equipped by Iran, and is modeled on the Iranian Republican Guard. This is in contrast to the situation in other areas where the IS is strong, and gives further credence to the idea that the Mosul “IS” are not IS at all.

It is the Hashd boots-on-the-ground which has given Iran more control and influence over Southern Iraq than the Baghdad government. They have created speculation that Iran will annex the southern half of Iraq, which is Shia in orientation, as is Iran.

The threat of partitioning Iraq between a Sunni Kurdish state effectively controlled by Turkey and a Shia province of Greater Iran in the south is a very real one. We have seen Turkish-Iranian relations improve recently, with new trade deals being signed, etc. There is a similar ethnic mix in both countries, and both need to maintain local export corridors which do not depend on sea routes.

On this, geopolitical analyst Phil Butler weighs in:

“This Turkey-Iran aspect bears deep scrutiny if one zooms out on the geo-strategy map. With Turkey gravitating into the Russian sphere, and if Syria is lost, Mosul is the only outpost from which the US might contain Russia from the south. This is, of course, if our fears of a hot war materialise.”

Partition is a threat Iraq can do little to stop. The original US invasion of the country and prolonged occupation have left it powerless to resist the whims of US policymakers, and deprived it of the respect to be listened to by them. The fact that the Greater Khorasan movement in Afghanistan is also seeking, without much publicity, to create a Greater Iran which would include parts of Afghanistan only encourages the US to present the breakup of Iraq as inevitable.

Either Iraq accepts the effective handing over of Mosul to the Turks or it will have no help against Iran. It cannot salvage both situations but must pick one. It has been obliged to take the one option it didn’t want on the grounds that that is the only way of achieving anything at all, but we will have to see if it does achieve anything by doing so.

_________

Tomorrow is not another day

Air Force Week kicks off in New York City

If Mosul is recaptured, what happens next? There is a story that Obama has struck a deal for the 9,000 IS fighters in Mosul to withdraw into Syria, where they would be used to retake Palmyra and Deir-Ezzur. The US needs both more controlled troops in Syria and a propaganda victory in Iraq, so that makes sense.

There has also been real concern among intelligence experts that an “October Surprise” is needed provide smoke for the US elections. It will go beyond what happened in 2008, when an attempt was made to use Georgia to beef up warmonger John McCain’s presidential candidacy. An assault on Mosul would fit the bill, particularly if the only sovereign state which could take credit for it was the US, not Turkey.

But the US too is vulnerable. As we have seen in the aftermath of the Turkish coup, Erdogan is presently able to get away with anything. A secret deal between Turkey and Iran, which bypasses the US, could also have been concluded. They would split Iraq between them, with the Turks taking the north, including Mosul and Erbil, and the Iraqi taking the south, including Baghdad and Basra. This would be waved in the face of the US, but it could do little about it if this was seen internationally as the peaceful way to end the conflict.

There is one solution which would enable both sides to get what they want without being outflanked by the other. It is to follow the original plan of creating a Kurdish state in the region controlled by anyone but the Kurds. Various Kurdish groups have been fighting for their own state for centuries, but that is exactly why they have not achieved one. Their lands divided between often mutually hostile countries, and the enemy of one group has become the friend of another by default.

The present conflicts in the Middle East have, by the merest coincidence, given the Kurds greater common ground than ever before. All the Kurds are fighting for autonomy with US protection, although the same US is making sure they never see it. A Kurdish homeland created through constant attritional war against both oppressor national governments and more radical Islamists would be the best way of resolving that war.

Everyone could walk away with dignity, providing that state had the correct orientation, and it was presented as much the gift of the states it was carved out of. If Syria has to accept this to get its country back, so be it.

If Iraq has to create it to save the rest of its territory, so be it. The only question is whether Turkey can be persuaded to make the same sacrifices – one of the factors behind the coup attempt on Erdogan planned by the US, before the Turkish president preempted it with his own.

Turkey’s involvement in this operation gives it the chance to both support US policy and try and emerge from the creation of a Kurdish state intact by casting that state more in its own image. As long as the US gets that state, it is happy. What condition will Mosul be left in as a result? As bad a one as possible – which is why the word “offensive” is being used to describe this operation.

Seth Ferris, investigative journalist and political scientist, expert on Middle Eastern affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

___________

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Posted by on October 20, 2016, With 8694 Reads Filed under WarZone. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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15 Responses to "NEO – Mosul Offensive Reveals Larger Geopolitical Game Plan"

  1. LC  October 21, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    What a mess Mr. Dean!!!!!!

    ++Back in 2011-12 Killary began barking “ASSAD MUST GO” & that was after destroying Libya & her barking “Qadaffi must go”!!!

    Q::::: WHAT would’ve happened if Assad had abdicated & sought political asylum in another country at that time & B-4 McQaeda began attacking it????
    Wouldn’t the lives of 10+ million Syrians & Iraqis been spared & no refugee-diaspora begun????

    Remember VT’s U.S. Navy Gwen Todd who (back in 2002) was offered by Saddam his abdication????
    She sent the message to DC & was turned down cuz DC-ZIO-TERRORISTS wanted to re-destroy Iraq+ entire ME!!!!
    -lc

  2. Zina Ciceklic  October 21, 2016 at 3:05 am

    Mosul should take Shi’ites and Kurds that the US does not it attaches in Mosul, there are oil fields with the most oil reserves in the world, in addition to the Kurds were a factor for a complete division of Iraq, so Iran here should include all funds that Shi’ites take Mosul.

    • kaho  October 21, 2016 at 3:35 am

      A man from Iraq, who is a Kurd, tried to explain to me that we Westerners make a big mistake with our propensity to always want to divide people into groups, and that this is especially dumb when we talk about Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, since the latter group is not a religion, or religious direction, whereas the first two are. It would be like talking about Catholics, Protestants and Americans.

    • Susan O'neill  October 21, 2016 at 7:06 am

      The Jewish Kurds with the help of ex Mossad have already made a claim to Mosul and the surrounding territories of Nineveh including the Chaldean Christians, Syrian Kurds want their own governorate and the Turkish Kurds are wanting a chunk of both Turkey and Iran and Syria. I don’t think giving Mosul and divvying up parts of Iraq to Kurds is going to be as simple as this article’s authour seems to think, these Kurdish peoples are as divided as the Sunni and Shi’ites and are not likely to cohabit nicely.
      It’s all very well deciding for others what they should have, but did anyone ask them what they wanted?

    • kaho  October 21, 2016 at 9:30 am

      Correction : The mentioned explanation was not by the mentioned man from Iraq, but from a video 2 years ago with Mahdi, from Iran I think, who I consider to be a very good analyst.
      With respect to the balkanization project, I’d like to point to a very explicative PDF that can be found at
      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/pdf/
      Look for the title «The Zionist Plan for the Middle East». One may support it, or one may not. But it definitely gives a very good description for the plans that are now being implemented in the ME.

  3. Simpsons Donkey  October 21, 2016 at 2:26 am

    I find the worry about Iran ‘devouring’ Iraq a bit hard to swallow. Iran is all that keeps Saudi & Uncle Shitheel from destroying the country. If not for Iran and the Shiites’ concern for their brothers in Basra and Karbala, God knows what even worse things Amerika would have done to Iraq.
    UPDATE — The Popular Mobilisation Forces have trumped the little scheme ro let ISIS run away to Syria. they are surrounding Mosul from the WEST! This will cut off the ISIS filth’s retreat. Guess which direction remains for them to flee? NORTH! Erdogollum will have his hands full of the Frankenstein he grew. Couldn’t happen to a nicer arsehole.

    • Susan O'neill  October 21, 2016 at 6:49 am

      Nice one, totally agree. Seem to have gotten lost in this article. Can some one explain who “they” is:
      “An assault on Mosul would fit the bill, particularly if the only sovereign state which could take credit for it was the US, not Turkey.
      But the US too is vulnerable. As we have seen in the aftermath of the Turkish coup, Erdogan is presently able to get away with anything. A secret deal between Turkey and Iran, which bypasses the US, could also have been concluded. They would split Iraq between them, with the Turks taking the north, including Mosul and Erbil, and the Iraqi taking the south, including Baghdad and Basra. This would be waved in the face of the US, but it could do little about it if this was seen internationally as the peaceful way to end the conflict.”
      “They” would split Iraq – Turkey and Iraq, Turkey and Iran, Turkey and the US or Iraq and the US?

  4. davor  October 20, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    Iraqis for all we know might also try to make a deal with Russians concerning the regional status of surrounding Syria and Iran. US/UK and Israeli politics are failed ones, and the EU will not back them anymore, so any reasonable statesman or a puppet statesman will look favorably to where “the winds blow”. Like the reference to Kurdish discord among themselves – as to why they don’t have a country yet. Russian permanent Syria military bases and outposts are a remainder that US will have to adverse to real politik instead of sponsorin mayhem and puppet governments. The Bush days of storming oil ministries at will are over and the Bush legacy to the US is the Joker one in Batman movies.

  5. Leno  October 20, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Time to thoroughly drain the swamp!

  6. Altimometer  October 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Iran retains the memories of the horrors it has faced at the hands of greed and graft and those who just enjoy the glory. As another ancient population it’s looking to preserve it’s existence against being wiped out. Iraq,Libya all stable until that weapons of mass destruction followed up by shock and awe stunt and that we came,we saw, he died,ha ha business. Something is rotten so stand back everyone here it comes and it’s not coming on the cheap for anyone. The winner takes it all the rest of us take the fall, until we don’t.

  7. kaho  October 20, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    It is my understanding that the Turkish government is not very fond of Kurds.
    ( I say government because, for all I know, the Turkish people might not see thing exactly the same way ).

    And so it would presumably not be a very good idea to create a Kurdish state around Mosul under Turkish stewardship. The alternative would then be a kind of US colony? Something like Kosovo maybe?
    And what about the present Iraqi Sunni groups? The article did not say.

    A future problem for Iraq might then also be the loss of the upstream parts of the Tigris river.

  8. Zaguero  October 20, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Interesting, but the author obviously has a serious anti-Iranian bias. I’m not buying his claims about the IRI trying to annex chunks of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    • Susan O'neill  October 21, 2016 at 6:54 am

      Just can’t see Iran heading down the road with more murder and mayhem, it is more the style of the US and all it’s allies. Why is this Seth guy, so anti Iran?

  9. Grampah  October 20, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    It is ultra complicated so Russia can be blamed for anything

  10. Cold Wind  October 20, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    The idea the US is somehow going to create a stable configuration out of this mess in Iraq is laughable!

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