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Belmont Club

The Dambusters

July 31st, 2014 - 7:56 pm

The siege of Baghdad continues as ISIS gnaws at Baghdad’s links to its field armies. “Sunni radicals with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant destroyed a bridge north of Baghdad that Iraqi forces used as a key supply line.” A suicide truck bomb took out the bridge over the Tharthar canal.

The destruction of the bridge, just south of the city of Samarra, cuts a vital supply line for the Iraqi army and will further dampen its hopes of retaking the city of Tikrit, further north. …

The attack leaves the army and allied Shiite militias with only a secondary road that passes over Samarra dam bridge and is not suitable for the heaviest military vehicles.

Kurdish sources paint an unflattering picture of Maliki’s defenses. “Shafin Dizayee, a spokesman for autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in Irbil, told McClatchy news service that ‘the picture is no longer scary. It has become close to a nightmare scenario, where we see [ISIL] expanding and taking control of its borders.’”

Another Kurdish official, Jabbar Yawar of the Peshmerga militia, told the news service that the towns of Iskandariya and Mahmoudiyah, just 6 miles south of Baghdad, had fallen.

The city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, also not is faring well. An official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, told McClatchy that Iraqi security forces were having a difficult time defending the city.

But the Kurds have a reason to be down on Maliki. They want to deal with Washington directly, claiming that without Obama’s help ISIS will overrun them too.  Maybe they will, unless they find a patron. But the most immediate threat is the struggle over the Iraq’s dams. “Islamist insurgents in the Islamic State … renewed their offensive … toward the key hydroelectric dam of Haditha. The … country’s second-biggest dam was a priority objective during the 2003 invasion.

Iraq’s biggest dam, the Mosul dam, is right next to a hotbed of Islamic State activity and poses catastrophic risk even if the terrorists don’t open the floodgates or blow it up. If the dam fails, scientists say Mosul could be completely flooded within hours and a 15-foot wall of water could crash into Baghdad.”

Iraq’s hydroelectric facilities represent a soft underbelly in the fight against ISIS. A compromised Haditha Dam would be a serious threat to western and southern Iraq: It provides power for the capital and controls water supplies for irrigation downstream. Using Haditha, ISIS could flood farmland and disrupt drinking water supplies like it did with a smaller dam near Fallujah this spring.

The Battle of the Dam

The Battle of the Dam

Bill Roggio in the Long War Journal has a detailed analysis the photographic record of of ISIS’ advance towards Haditha Dam. The New York Times says that Maliki might decide to spike the dam in retreat rather than see them in the hands of ISIS.

The ISIS militants advancing on the Euphrates River dam, about 120 miles northwest of Baghdad, were coming from the north, the northeast and the northwest. The fighters had already reached Burwana, on the eastern side of Haditha, and government forces were fighting to halt their advance, security officials said.

Alarmed army officers told employees to stay inside and to be prepared to open the dam’s floodgates if ordered to do so, one employee said.

The NYT sheds tears for the destruction of Iraq’s cultural artifacts. “It is not just religious monuments like the prophet Jonah’s tomb that have been destroyed, but also statues of Abu Tammam, a famous Arab poet, and Mullah Othman, a beloved 19th-century musician and poet.”

In this orgy of destruction is the key question is who’s on first? Just what the Obama administration is trying to achieve is not clear.

David Francis writes in CNBC that Iraq is now a proxy war between the US and Russia with the Russians backing Maliki, which would imply that Obama is on ISIS’ side. There is some superficial plausibility for this claim. Russia and Iran have sent Maliki arms and men. Simon Henderson of The Washington Institute For Near East Policy described the “double game” of Qatar, at once the principal backer of Hamas, and probably ISIS as well. Yet it is Washington’s closest partner.  By the standard of “guilt by association” the president has been keeping suspect company.

Most Qataris are Wahhabi, the ultraconservative branch of Islam also practiced in Saudi Arabia, though with some obvious differences (e.g., Qatari women are permitted to drive). But whereas King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia appears to have decided that political Islam is a major danger rivaling that of Shia Islam, the al-Thanis have taken the opposite view, perceiving the Sunni hardliners of Hamas and even Afghanistan’s Taliban as the way of the future. … The “Arab Spring” uprisings that began in late 2010 also affected Doha’s posture, with the government seemingly judging that further revolutions were inevitable, and that it should strive to be on the right side of this historical trend.

Yet he is on the other side of things too. Washington is still talking about sending Hellfire missiles to Iraq. There are American personnel in Baghdad. And it’s trying to suck up to Iran, who they also see as influential with Hamas. The Obama administration has paid that Gaza organization millions while the administration continues to claim that in it Israel “has no better friend”.

Who’s on first? Maybe it’s not baseball at all.  Perhaps Obama believes he can play N-dimensional chess. Dalia Dassa Kaye argues that Obama thinks he can compartmentalize all the issues in the region and solve them piecewise. “U.S. negotiators have tried to compartmentalize regional issues involving Iran during the talks, for example, by avoiding topics such as Iranian missile development, its links to terrorist groups, its human rights abuses.” He can be friends with everyone and double-deal with everyone: Maliki, Qatar, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel too — and no one will be the wiser.

Things have all been wired together in a very strange sort of way. Either all the plates are kept spinning in the air simultaneously or things come crashing to ground. The breathless audience sits in suspense waiting as the great magician saws the lady in half, levitate the table, tries pull a rabbit out of the hat and duplicates himself when all they can see is a stage filled with the detritus of his failed tricks.

Therein lies the problem. He might not be able to pull it off. Perhaps his diplomatic calculations contain a fatal flaw, an irreconcilable dynamic which in the end will flood not just one compartment, but all of them. The Haditha dam is a metaphor which reminds us that events sometimes overflow their boundaries. If a dam fails — and perhaps America long fulfilled that function — then all the bets are off.

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Long ago, when the debris of the WTC was still afire; some friends and I began an email exchange trying to keep track of what was happening that became an email newsletter called GLEANINGS that I ran for over 10 years. In the run up to the Iraq War, because I am a particularly bloody-minded soul, I did an edition on the dams and reservoirs of Iraq a'la "Operation Chastise" by 617 Squadron in 1943. If we wanted to take out Saddam, and Iraq [remember at that time we were not all that fond of any Iraqis] permanently and without nuclear weapons, those dams were the targets of choice.

Against a sufficiently ruthless opponent, an agricultural society that depends on successful hydrological engineering, or an urban society that depends on such to make cities habitable; finds that the limited number of specialized structures that make it possible are their greatest weakness.

It is not only Middle Eastern societies that are vulnerable. I offer for the consideration of the Gentle Readers a) the corruption and water theft made manifest in the California State Water Plan. b) the percentage of California that is under "Extreme Drought" classification, and c) a suggestion that occasionally you take a look at the measurements and aerial photos of Lake Mead.

We have a lot of people in this country who do not like us, even discounting the Federal government. And we are letting a lot more in who don't like us and not even pretending to screen or keep track of them. Some of them may have some specialized skills.

Subotai Bahadur
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the dams are destroyed how many Shi'a will die? Why shouldn't they kill? Iraq is not the only place with a dam upstream. For a long time I have been predicting that someone is going to try and destroy the Aswan High Dam. If they do then how many Copts will die? How many archeological treasures, all unclean reminders of a life before or heretical to pure Islam, will be destroyed? As for the Muslims who would die, their deaths mean little to the Believers. That is especially true when the current government are considered apostates and when deaths serve the Cause. Besides it can all be blamed on the Americans and the Joooos.

The gloves are off everywhere. In Belgium a doctor refuses to treat Jews. In Scotland the Muslims demand that terriers be banned Is that lest terrorists be angered? In America Isolationists are bleating "it isn't our fight" and try to stuff cotton in their ears to keep out the sounds of the approaching storm.

On the subway I see the people. Increasingly they are sullen and on edge. They know the promise of free stuff and triumphalism promised by Obama and Holder is receding. I expect more confrontation, more shoving and comments and insults to the air, and ultimately more violence. Decades of recovery can unravel in months. Earnest lectures from characters on the TV will not make the disciples of Sharpton or La Raza feel better, or the middle class whites, and eventually asians when they learn that they are targets again, willing to take it. The tourists will come for a while to leave the fires in Europe or Asia but as chaos grows they will dwindle. The rich will retreat to their enclaves, they do not need the city. This is similar to what happened to 5th century Rome.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Mosul and Haditha Dams are critical to Mesopotamian agriculture. They capture seasonally abundant water coming from mountains in the North necessary to successful “modern” farming in a nation as dry as Iraq. There is no realistic substitute in the near term. If they dams are deliberately emptied for use as terror weapons or to prevent such use the entire nation of Iraq will quickly face widespread hunger and massively increased deaths from contaminated drinking water. Once the lakes behind the dams are drained, and if the dams are then still serviceable it will take years to refill them!

One key part of Mr. Paul Bremer’s much maligned initial plan for Iraq was designed around the likelihood that one or both dams would be destroyed or seriously sabotaged. Bremer and his team were as prepared as they possibly could be to provide as much clean water emergency food and medicine as possible in order to present a human catastrophe of enormous proportions. As it played out neither happened, and much of that preparation effort was wasted and even counterproductive in the long run.

A substantial decrease in the daily flow of the rivers will significantly lower water tables between the Tigris & Euphrates and for a surprising distance to either side, particularly to the East where significant settlements are centered around relatively shallow ancient wells. In a matter of weeks, wells that once only supported seasonal Bedouin camps or tiny villages and now support substantial cities will run dry!

The Sunni’s and Shiites are about to learn a very hard lesson about the modern Middle East. The real power is not so much in the hands of those who control the oil as it is in the hands of those who control the water.
“The highest function of ecology is understanding consequences.” Pardot Kynes

Armageddon Rex
Master Sergeant, Retired, OIF /OEF
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (88)
All Comments   (88)
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Islamic State fighters seize Iraq's biggest dam (Mosul dam)
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Iraq, Syria, and Egypt are all large importers of foodstuffs. For Iraq, the loss of the dams would spell the end of their civilization.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Israel Faces Backlash After Releasing Boxoffice Bomb ‘Sex Tape’ In Gaza
by Andy Marx & Will McArdle

Israel is facing an enormous backlash from the international community after the nation released the boxoffice bomb, “Sex Tape,” in Gaza today in an attempt to permanently destroy Hamas’ morale. According to Hamas leader Khaled Mashall, the boxoffice bomb has had a devastating effect on his organization, leaving countless troops disoriented and confused...

"Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rejected the criticism for releasing the boxoffice bomb and declared his country will do whatever it takes to defeat Hamas.

“Luckily, the United States has provided us with tons of boxoffice bombs and I plan to release every single one of them on Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “If Hamas doesn’t surrender we will release the bombs ‘And So It Goes,’ ‘Jersey Boys,’ ‘Blended,’ ‘Deliver Us From Evil,’ ‘A Million Ways To Die In The West,’ ‘Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return,’ and ‘Transcendence’ in Gaza. Trust me, nobody wants that.”

(Andy is Groucho's grandkid - my wife went to school with him.)
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
ANDY MARX is Hollywood & Swine’s co-founder and chief content officer, whose debut novel, “Royalties,” was recently published.

An award-winning writer and photographer, his work has appeared in Variety, The Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Weekly, among others.

His paternal grandfather was the legendary comedian, Groucho Marx, and his maternal grandfather, the renowned songwriter, Gus Kahn. -

See more at:
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ever heard of Duffy's Ditch? It keeps downtown Winnipeg from getting flooded (at the expense of parts of rural Manitoba...).

There is nothing keeping Iraqis from digging ditches and trenches to shift the course of the two rivers. A ditch running south from Samarra to the Euphrates mean that if the Haditha Dam blows, Fallujah would get hit – not Baghdad. On the other hand, ditches would need to be built to keep that wave of water from hitting Karbala and Najaf!

If ISIS messes around with rivers, those rivers can turn out to be two-edged swords.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
According to the Washington Post, when speaking of the failure to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas, this US government official said:

“Part of the reason why America remains indispensable . . . is that we’re willing to plunge in and try, where other countries don’t bother trying,”

It is not surprising this high ranking official is in trouble. First of all, the USA is referred to as America when there are many nations in the Americas. Then it is said the USA remains indispensable. Well, if the USA is indispensable, which nations are dispensable? Here is the implication: Yes, we were willing to plunge in and try and maybe foul everything up but dude, not only are the Germans not fouling everything up, the German's ain't even trying to foul everything up! Hey, we could use the help.

Wait until President Obama hears what this unartful fellow said -- Oh, wait, it was Obama. More smart diplomacy.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Consider Obama's conundrum. The current teenage girl narrative - AKA the conventional wisdom of smart progressives - goes something like this:

Left wing is code for compassion; right wing is code for nasty. Therefore, if something is good it must be left wing and if something is nasty it must be right wing. We know this narrative is truth because Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat. Narrative is truth; narrative is truth; narrative.....

Now poor old Obama looks at the world and the Narrative says that everything bad must be right wing, everything good must be left wing. This would be confusing even if Obama could distinguish good from bad, but he can't.

The Obama compass needle turns on how someone makes Obama feel. Make him feel important? - good; double plus left wing good. Make him look small and foolish? - bad; double minus right wing bad.

Given that these days, the needle on the Obama compass pivots and spins at ever increasing RPMs; I can see how confused and nonplussed poor old Obama must be. Sheesh! All the poor guy ever promised was to keep the planet's oceans at permanent low tide. But the nasty old tide has risen and is flooding the first nine holes. Obama weeps.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only Tides that have gone down are California's water tables; a joint effort of BHO, Gov Moonbeam, and Barbara Boxer.
More Farmers go bankrupt, lawns turn brown, and VDH strokes out.

On the upside, a Chinese college student in LA is beaten to death by an Illegal.

Another positive: Chrome now seems to handle PJ Media Website.

Obama probly loaned some of his crack Obamacare coders to help out.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
New toys for Maliki:

Social media images show that Iraq has acquired a new weapon in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) -- the Russian-built TOS-1A multiple launch rocket system. It was reported last year that Russia was supplying such weapons and they appear to have been delivered in recent weeks.

First deployed by Russia against Islamic mujaheddin in Afghanistan in the 1980s, but kept secret until the 1990s, the TOS-1A is unique. Based on a T-72 tank chassis, it carries 24 unguided 220-millimeter rockets with a range of 6 km. Each rocket can carry a 100 kg fuel-air-explosive (thermobaric) warhead and all 24 rockets can be salvoed in 12 seconds, placing 2.4 tonnes of FAE downrange.

BTW, these are the kinds of weapons that Israel tried to use against tunnels in Lebanon in 2006, and they didn't work at all, the tunnels were built to resist them and resist them they did, so I assume they would also not take out the Gaza tunnels. BUT they would be great at leveling everything else in Gaza!

Will they help Maliki against ISIS? Probably not. Range of 6km not nearly far enough, that close to the front lines ISIS will have advance scouts who will take these out, or scare the Iraqi forces into abandoning them, and ISIS has artillery which can stand off and isolate these and/or hit them and take them out.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's no longer if, but when, the 'Great Obama's' juggling act ends, and all the balls hit the ground...if the presidential election was this November rather than 2+ years from now there might be a chance to save the situation; but not now.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment

"A suicide truck bomb took out the bridge over the Tharthar canal."

Or, as Gertrude Stein is reported to have said, "There's no thar thar."
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Raider Nation goes International.
"Nation" becomes a contradiction in terms.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
OT, but, what the hell!

Ebola patients being airlifted to Emory University/CDC. Donald trump tweets "Stop the EBOLA patients from entering the U.S. Treat them, at the highest level, over there. THE UNITED STATES HAS ENOUGH PROBLEMS! "

Obama should immediately make a compassionate visit to his "brothers" in west Africa and show that he "cares".

I hear that there are some really top-notch golf courses over there.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
We can fly Ebola patients to the US, but we can't get back the Marine in the Mexican jail.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
We DO fly Mexicans to Alaska, however, to meet the dire need for field-hands, shivering domestics, and orphaned minors.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
This Nationwide Public Health Experiment could turn out to be Doctor Obama's crowning achievement.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The trip from McAllen, Texas--where the current border crisis is occurring--to Anchorage, Alaska is a nine and a half hour flight. This is almost double the time it would take to fly the migrants back to their home countries in Central America; a flight from McAllen to El Salvador takes just over five hours, according to Google Maps.

The federal government's reasons for transporting unaccompanied minors all the way to Alaska are unclear. Some of the minors have also been flown to Hawaii, according to Fox News' Todd Starnes.
Millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent flying illegal immigrants to locations around the nation.
Breitbart Texas recently revealed that a Department of Homeland Security budget for Fiscal Year 2015 includes more than $87 million for the transportation of illegal immigrants, who are most often flown via charter plane from Southern Texas to shelters located in various U.S. cities.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Aloha, Illegals!

"The federal government is shipping “unaccompanied minors” to the Paradise of the Pacific.
Immigration attorneys in Hawaii tell me at least eight illegals have been dropped off in their state – and they’ve been told to expect more.

“We have lots of attorneys happy to take these cases pro bono if needed,” said Clare Hanusz, chairperson of Hawaii’s chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “If they cannot afford representation, we will definitely find someone to take the case.”
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
If I remember right, one can't take a pet dog to Hawaii without a veterinarian's certification, and then, the dog must be placed in quarantine for a period of time so that it can be checked for disease. Hawaii is giving preference to illegal immigrants over natural-born U.S. pets.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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