The Islamic State will not be destroyed except by ground forces. Those who have them will not use them for this. Those who would use them for this do not have them.
“Iraq runs out of money to take on Islamic State,” by Richard Spencer, Telegraph, March 13, 2016:
Just as it is starting to turn the tide against Isil, Iraq is running out of money.
Behind the front lines of the Iraqi desert, where the Nineveh provincial police are training to retake their homes in and around Mosul, they are short of one thing: weapons.
“We have been regrouped here since the fall of Mosul,” said Major Ayman, standing over his line of men in blue uniforms. “We have been waiting here for five months but we have no weapons.”
The Iraqi armed forces were at the receiving end of withering international criticism following its disastrous performances when Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant swept through western and northern Iraq two years ago.
Now it has started to win some plaudits, for having managed to take back the city of Ramadi and, with the help of thousands of Shia militiamen and Sunni tribesmen, put Isil on the retreat across the provinces of Anbar and Salaheddin.
There is even talk of an early assault to retake Mosul. But on the ground that looks as far off as ever….
The chief of staff, Lt Gen Othman al-Ghanimi, praised recent advances by the army. Ten days ago, the Iraqi government forces swept 50 miles west across a desert area known as Jazeera Samarra – Samarra Island – as they sought to relieve the 18-month siege of the Anbar city of Haditha.
They also cut the supply lines between the jihadists’ two major Iraq centres, Fallujah and Mosul.
“This was an operation of the Iraqi army and Iraqi air force,” he said.
Yet the strong presence of Iraq’s Iranian-backed Shia militias, whose members lined the roads and whose graffiti covered the local buildings, showed that the army is still reliant on irregular forces, ones with which the US-led coalition will not co-operate.
“We are the shock force,” said Hussein Mohammed Hassan, a militiaman from the Iran-linked Badr Corps standing near Lt Gen Ghanimi. “We do 70 per cent of the fighting.”…
The economic crisis, also blamed on government corruption, has revived the fortunes of Iraq’s most famous political Shia cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army was once the scourge of British and American forces and who now leads his supporters on anti-government supporters….
In the desert, Lt Gen Ghanimi said he could break the siege of Haditha in two days, if he were not determined to press ahead slowly, clearing Isil’s booby-trap bombs as he went.
The Shia militias were more scathing. Ahmed al-Asadi, their main spokesman and an MP, said the record of the army and its allies in the Sunni tribes, even with American air support, suggested that it found retaking ground difficult.
“They retook Ramadi, but at a cost of 80 per cent of the city destroyed,” he said. “As for the rest, there aren’t enough forces able to liberate it. If there were, we wouldn’t have the problem we have.”