Shi’ia Army Retakes Tikrit, Kills 300 Sunni ISIS Raiders. Ignored by Corporate MSM
There’s two news stories here. The war in Iraq continues unabated, which will surprise no one. Islamic State of Syria and al-Sham controls northwest Iraq while a regular army organized by Major General Qassim Suleimani focuses on actions at Samarra and Tikrit. A fresh, modern Battle of Tikrit has been underway for the last five weeks. Tikrit is a test point for ISIS military conquest. Meanwhile back here in The West — and despite continuing phone and shortwave radio access to the combat areas — western corporate media press a story line that the Sunni raiders of ISIS are uniformly triumphant against Shi’ia (or “Shia” or “Shiite”) defenders. Actual combat results are missing from news reports.
[Update: radio in Baghdad had a report Monday that verified ISIS killings have topped 6,000 for the last 3 months.]
Reporting foreign wars has been optional at best for MSM. That has been the situation for 25 years:
— Start with the two big civil wars in the Congo that killed 5-million civilians with not one murmur from the corporate outlets.
— In Central African Republic an ISIS-lookalike operation called Seleka went on an anti-Christian rampage through 2011-2013 that included murdering 30,000 to 50,000 civilians and conquering C.A.R.’s capital city, Bangui, for their leader and not-quite-Caliph Michel Djotodia.
— In Mali, yet another ISIS-lookalike Salafist coalition — al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) plus Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujwa) plus the smaller Ansar Dine — set up shop in the Southern Sahara, an area called the Azawad Desert. They took Timbuktu, the regional capital, in a raid reminiscent of recent events at Mosul in Iraq. Literally nothing of these events appeared in western media until the week after a mix of French Foreign Legion paratroopers, their Special Forces, and Marines retook Timbuktu killing an estimated 130 of the Salafist raiders.
— When the Nigerian Salafist militia called Boko Haram kidnapped 234 Christian school girls in April, 2014, and then several hundred more in other actions, that got a measure of coverage. Military responses to Boko Haram have received no coverage at all.
Saudi support for ISIS and its clones follows their Salafi / Wahhabist beliefs. This from Patrick Cockburn:
Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: ‘The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia.’ More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.’
Wiping out these Shia and/or Christians is good sport. On a par with Saudi Jew-hating.
Wahhabists vs. Qods Force
But then the plan for Boko Haram and Seleka and ISIS runs into a professional military operation.
For the Battle of Tikrit, General Suleimani has replicated tactics that proved effective during the Battle of Qusayr in Syria in 2012. His Shi’ia forces started their action by setting up a 10-kilometer perimeter around Tikrit. This effort helped protect the sprawling Saddam palace and the military hospital and other areas where the ISIS raiders had failed to seize control. All the roads and cross-country transit routes were blocked. This Tikrit perimeter force deploys an estimated 5,000 troops in 24/7 assignments with a substantial logistics infrastructure. Temperatures above 110F every day makes the logistics sustainability problem critical. Then the big drive started counterattacking its way to the western areas of Tikrit, beginning last Wednesday, so the perimeter force had to set up to block ISIS retreat.
A combined 3,000-troop force of Iraqi army, militia volunteer, and Qods Force troops went in to eliminate the ISIS raiders. One guess had ISIS at 500 fighters. The Shi’ia army were observed with main battle tanks, APCs with light cannon, small howitzers, and (likely 81mm) light mortars. This is a real army, not the police force troops that ISIS had seen up in Mosul. After initial feints up the Baghdad-Mosul main road to locate ISIS heavy-weapon deployments, artillery barrages last Wednesday and Thursday were followed by ground assault.
Tactics on the part of this Shi’ia army have improved over the last couple weeks. Earlier on their actions against ISIS had succeeded in a limited way with volunteer Shi’ia militamen driving out ISIS fighters west of the Saddam palace. But then these volunteers suffered losses of a couple dozen men to suicide bombers. Those losses could have been minimized. Tikrit has been a center for suicide bombing for years — 60 dead in one incident, 42 in another, 10 in another. This sort of slaughter is a mainstay of Sunni tactics — killing 8,000 Iraqis a year and more. It goes on year after year after year.
NBC has up a report from a month ago, June 29th. ISIS is triumphant. They are sticking with it. McClatchy went so far as to report the feints up Route 1 as a major defeat for the Shi’ia army. BAS News has a story that the Al Sahra air base (U.S. designation, COB Speicher) has been taken by ISIS. Eye witness accounts have ISIS trying a suicide-chain attack with car bombs. Heavy machine gun fire killed all of them. New York Times covered the suicide bombing after the battle at Saddam’s palace as though that was the main action, as though the Shi’ia force had been defeated.
Don’t expect to see corporate media change their message. Maybe it is true that they are not as bad as Fox News. Only rarely do they invent stories to meet propaganda messaging. But they are far from serving either truth or balanced coverage.
ISIS has been manned with foreign volunteers, also called “strays,” as with stray feral dogs. The murders that ISIS carries out are performed with a will. Apparently for pleasure, for the glory of killing human beings. There is no reason to believe that the ISIS raiders are anything but psychopaths, sent out of their home villages to Syria to get rid of them. In any circumstance these are dangerous people.
This gets us to a big problem for corporate media: they have backed Saudi Arabia, the other Gulf States and their Salafi politics for decades. When 19 Salafi suicide-hijackers carried out the nearly 3,000 “9/11” murders in 2001 — replicating the suicide-hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 at Christmas in 1994 — the roots of Salafi xenophobia were never mentioned.
Saudi Arabia is portrayed as wealthy and good. Always.
At the same time, Shi’ia Iran is portrayed as totalitarian, bloodthirsty, and a terrorist threat. Part of an Axis of Evil. When Iran supports other Shi’ia groups in the Middle East such as the Assad regime and Lebanon’s Army of God (Hizb Allah), they are condemned. Despite that the civil war in Syria was generated by foreign Sunni financial support. Despite that Hizb Allah in Lebanon was formed in 1985 after President Reagan sent war materials to Saddam Hussein for a war against Iran, as many as 3,500 Palestianians were slaughtered at the Sabra and Shatila camps at Beirut, and U.S. Navy barrages killed 1,500 Druze and Shi’ia civilians in the Beirut suburbs. (Reagan also ordered the battleship New Jersey to Lebanon from its berth in California to intensify those barrages. “Teach them a lesson,” was his comment.)
Like the Salafi clients in Africa, ISIS has been out there murdering civilians by the thousands all over central Syria and northern Iraq. They got their start with Saudi money. They have been murdering Christians day after day, similar to the Salafi Seleka in Central African Republic. They blow up churches, mosques, tombs, and other antiquities. Their fighters are surely a collection of psychopaths.
And now the Iranians with Major General Qassim Suleimani of Qods Force in charge are the one experienced military power operating in Iraq capable of stopping the ISIS crazies.
Tikrit and Samarra are the test points for this ISIS invasion. And clearly General Suleimani’s army is applying the lessons from the Battle of Qusayr with effect. Tikrit and Samarra are no longer in danger from the ISIS advance. Lord knows what MSM and the other non-Salafi psychopaths working for Murdoch and News Corporation are going to tell us.
Public domain image of Islamic State flag from Wikimedia Commons.