Obama sees long war against ISIS

The Obama administration is preparing to carry out a campaign against ISIS that may take three years to complete, requiring a sustained effort that could last until after President Obama has left office, according to the New York Times, citing "senior administration officials." The first phase, an air campaign is already underway, with nearly 145 air-strikes in the past month. The Times says the aims are "to protect ethnic and religious minorities and American diplomatic, intelligence and military personnel, and their facilities, as well as to begin rolling back ISIS gains in northern and western Iraq." The next phase, to begin sometime after Iraq forms a more inclusive government, is expected to involve an intensified effort to train, advise or equip the Iraqi military, Kurdish forces and possibly Sunni tribal fighters. The final, toughest and most controversial phase  is destroying the ISIS sanctuary inside Syria. This might not be completed until the next administration, some Pentagon planners are said to "envision a military campaign lasting at least 36 months." (NYT, Sept. 7) 

On Sept. 8, the US State Department announced that Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the Middle East this week with an itinerary that includes Jordan and Saudi Arabia, in order to build an international coalition to confront ISIS. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that more than 40 countries will be sought to participate in the coalition. (IraqiNews.com, Sept. 9)

Iraq's ex-National Security Advisor Muwafaq al-Rubai'i, a prominent member of the ruling State of Law party, proposed the formation of a new security agreement with both the US and NATO to coordinate the struggle against ISIS. (Aswat al-Iraq, Sept. 6)

As negotiations for a new Iraq government were concluded, rhe State of Law party announced that outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to be the vice president. (BasNews, Sept. 8)

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said Sept. 9 that with the help of US air strikes, Peshmerga forces have been able to take back control of most of the Kurdish areas captured by ISIS. In an interview with the Turkish Milliyet newspaper, Barzani mentions that Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighters have helped Peshmerga forces. (BasNews, Sept. 9)

Despite the Peshmerga's re-taking of several Christian, Yazidi, Shabak and Turkmen towns and villages, hundreds of thousands of members of these minorities remain displaced, facing horrific conditions in the Kurdish region and elsewhere in Iraq. Salem Mohammed, an Shabak lawmaker in Iraq's parliament, advised his community members not to return to their villages until peace has been secured. ISIS remains in control of Mosul, and its forces are dug in on the outskirts, including districts once inhabited by the ethnic minorities. (Azzaman, Sept. 8)

Syria government forces launched air-strikes on the principla ISIS stronghold of Raqqa Sept. 6, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the roughly 30 killed were overwhelmingly non-combatants. Video evidence provided by the group Raqqa Media Center indicated most lost their lives when a missile struck a crowded baker. (AP, Sept. 6)

  1. ISIS fighters using US arms: study

    AFP reports the findings of London-based Conflict Armament Research that ISIS is using using captured US military-issue arms and other weapons supplied to "moderate" Syrian rebels by Saudi Arabia. The findings are based on an analysis of weapons seized by Kurdish forces from ISIS fighters in Iraq over a 10-day period in July. The report said the jihadists possessed "significant quantities" of US-made small arms including M16 assault rifles, and included photos showing the markings "Property of US Govt." It also found that anti-tank rockets used by ISIS were "identical to M79 rockets transferred by Saudi Arabia to forces operating under the Free Syrian Army umbrella in 2013."