On multiple occasions this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via text messages to their mobile devices regarding the return of U.S. military forces to Iraq and the ongoing breakup of the country. As of the time of this report's preparation on Friday, information out of Iraq indicates that Iranian forces are pouring into the country and that the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Baghdad. Gen. Qassem Solaimani, is now in Iraq essentially leading the fight to defend Baghdad.
Why Iran you ask?
Because Iran and Iraq are the two primary Shia dominated Muslim countries in the world. There are only 3 others: Lebanon, Bahrain and Azerbaijan. For all intents and purposes, only about 15% of the world’s Muslims are Shia, with the rest identifying as Sunni. While both share a common belief in the core doctrines of Islam, they have an epic hatred for each dating back to the year 632 when the prophet Muhammad died and a rift formed over who would be his successor. Despite the death of approximately a million soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war fought in the 1980's, Shia religious sites in Iraq are now threatened, bringing the two countries together to fight.
It is being reported that Iran's leadership offered Iraq its army, spies and highly trained revolutionary guard corps to fight against the ISIS insurgents.
Which brings us back to growing U.S. involvement. The week began with the deployment of approximately 100 U.S. soldiers, including more than 50 members of a Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team based in Bahrain, to the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad to help protect diplomatic personnel and the facility.
Hundreds of U.S. special operations forces from the Army and Navy have also deployed to the Iraq to advise, train and likely lead Iraqi Security Force (ISF) units as well as well as carry out reconnaissance and surveillance operations at points across the country.
NOTE: The Pentagon will not telegraph the deployment of special operations forces. If they are talking about sending them, many are already there and likely have been for some time.
As reported in last week's update, ISIS rebels have overrun Iraqi government forces and now control major swaths of territory equating to between 1/4 to 1/3rd of the country. Given their progress on the battlefield and the vast supply of armaments acquired by overrunning depots and bases, they constitute a formidable force. Not surprisingly, there are reports that large amounts of these armaments are being transported back to Syria.
The Obama administration has authorized both “manned and unmanned” surveillance flights over Iraq, some of which are being conducted from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush which entered the Persian Gulf this past Sunday, with others being launched from any number of U.S. bases in the region (Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, etc...). The Iraqi government has asked the U.S. to carry out air strikes but up to the time of this report's preparation, President Obama has not authorized the move. While portrayed by the White House and the media as the President being reluctant, the reality is that specific targets must first be precisely identified and strike packages assembled, and this is where the special operations forces come in.
The President met with Congressional leaders on Wed of this week after which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the president "indicated he didn't feel the need to seek Congress's approval for military action.
Despite President Obama's statements late this week that there will be no mission creep, several media outlets report being briefed by a senior administration official who declined to rule out the possibility that future air strikes might also extend into Syria. Further, details of National Security Council meetings are being leaked this week by the ubiquitous unnamed officials who state that the Obama Administration now considers the conflicts in Syria and Iraq as a single challenge.
What does all this mean to you here in N. America?
In addition to the obvious involvement of American soldiers on yet another battlefield, as previously reported by AlertsUSA Threat Journal on multiple occasions (see this, this and this), U.S. and Canadian Muslims are heading over to Syria and Iraq in increasing numbers to join the jihad. There is tremendous concern that these individuals will then return home and unleash mayhem in this country. So great is the threat that last month the State Department stated that the U.S. and European countries are "gravely concerned." Further, the FBI has established a specialized task force to attempt to monitor these individuals. British authorities are even threatening sentences.
Oddly, earlier this year a new bill was introduced in Congress to create stiff penalties for U.S. citizens who travel abroad to engage in such battles. Authored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.), the International Conflicts of Concern Act is now stalled in the bureaucracy and is reported to have less than a 2% chance of becoming law.
For over a year, AlertsUSA Threat Journal has been warning subscribers that direct U.S. military involvement in Syria was not scrapped when President Obama pulled back from launching an all out attack last summer. Billions of dollars have been spent building command and control facilities in neighboring Jordan, repositioning equipment and forces originally in Iraq as well as training so called "moderate" Islamic militants.
Readers should expect that more war is coming, along with a greatly expanded U.S. military role up to and including U.S. boots on the ground. Further, there is high potential that U.S. strikes in Syria could then prompt the direct involvement of Russia, which maintains close ties with the Syrian government and who stood in their defense last summer (also see this, this and this).
ADDITIONAL POINTS TO PONDER
For at least three years the U.S. has been training and arming rebels in Syria who are now fighting with ISIS in Iraq. Talk about blowback...
Russia is heavily invested in the West Qurna-2 and Block 10 oil fields in southern Iraq.
Despite Washington deciding that democratically elected Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has "got to go," Russian President Vladimir Putin offers total backing for al-Maliki and the fight against insurgents.
AlertsUSA continues to monitor developments in the region and will immediately notify service subscribers of changes in the overall threat environment, or additional U.S. involvement, as events warrant.