Belmont Club

Whup whup whup whup

Someone in the Obama administration has let it be known that the US Embassy in Baghdad will henceforth be reinforced by less than 100 Marines.

(Reuters) – Expanded military support for security at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will include fewer than 100 soldiers, a U.S. official said on Sunday.

The enhanced security personnel will include Marines and other soldiers, a U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity, shortly after the Obama administration said it would move some embassy staff out of Baghdad and order the military to bolster security at its diplomatic facilities in the Iraqi capital.

This follows an announcement by president Obama that while he hasn’t decided on any definite effort to stop the al-Qaeda forces advancing on Baghdad, he has already decided that he will not deploy any ground troops.

“We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq,” Obama said, but he and his national security advisers “will be reviewing other options.”

These developments occur as reports say that the “US embassy is preparing to evacuate Baghdad as Tal Afar falls and Iraq masses forces at Samarrah”. However, it is unclear whether the evacuation is total or merely a partial precautionary measure. Some reports clearly suggests that only a skeleton staff will be left in place.

AUSTRALIAN and US embassy staff in Baghdad are being evacuated as terror sweeps Iraq following the release of images showing captured troops being massacred.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says a number of embassy staff members have been withdrawn from Baghdad due to the deteriorating security situation.

Islamic militants have taken over a swathe of territory in northern Iraq in an offensive that has brought fighting to within 80km of the capital.

“The Australian embassy remains open with reduced staffing levels,’’ DFAT says in its latest travel advice.

“We are unlikely to be able to provide consular assistance in Iraq at the current time.’’

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says an “essential core’’ of embassy staff will remain in place but they will be limited in what they can do for the estimated 90-plus Australians in Iraq.

Too big for two platoons

Too big for two platoons

The evacuation, partial or otherwise, is now being confirmed by Fox News.   British newspapers are full of stories and pictures depicting the mass execution of Iraqis by advancing al-Qaeda. The doomed men are piled in dump trucks like cattle, made to lie down in ditches and shot in rows.

It is obvious that 100 men — about two platoons of Marines — is much too small a reinforcement to defend the facility for more than a short period.  Moreover, the Zone may soon come under mortar, rocket and other indirect fire if the enemy advances.  Unless Maliki can stop the al-Qaeda advance, the Green Zone’s fall is a foregone conclusion.

Meanwhile “the Obama administration has decided to hold any military intervention in Iraq in abeyance until it sees clear evidence that the country’s politics and governance are reforming,” according to the Washington Post, citing U.S. officials.

As noted in earlier posts, the fall of swathes of Iraq to al-Qaeda dominated Sunni state is prelude to a wider threat that cannot be long in coming. Nothing, not even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states will be out of reach. Although the threats are not immediate, the dynamics of the Sunni-Shi’a conflict in Syria have dramatically expanded the theater of operations.

Can you still draw a Red Line?

Can you still draw a Red Line?

It is no longer possible to regard the sectarian conflict as confined to a narrow strip of Levantine coast. With al-Qaeda’s eastward drive and the prospect of unrest spreading down into the Gulf via the Shi’a arc and Iran’s possible entry into the conflict, the battlefield has become immensely bigger. At stake is the single largest agglomeration of petroleum reserves on the planet. The potential for human disaster is Biblical as well.  The Gulf and the Arabian peninsula guest millions of expatriate workers, Westerners, Asians, Africans. Their safety, along with the countries which host them, were implicitly dependent on the United States.

While earlier generations of policy makers might confidently have said that the United States would defend Kuwait … or Bahrain … or Qatar … or Oman … or Saudi Arabia, with Obama it is impossible to say with any certainty that he will defend anything. The United States, and in consequence the West, has suffered a catastrophic collapse of credibility.

Any line that can by hypothetically drawn is at best a wild-ass-guess. For only one person can draw any line of consequence: Barack Hussein Obama.  We are witnessing not only a collapse but a capitulation.

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