By now we all know about ISIS right? We know how Russians are engaged in massive bombings of positions in Syria, how the Obama Administration is escalating the US bombing campaign against ISIS and sending special operations forces into Iraq to fight ISIS. We hear & read about how Kurds have cut roads into Raqqa, the “capital” of ISIS and how Iraqi forces are attacking to retake Ramadi from ISIS. It is beginning to look like ISIS is going to be cornered in Raqqa and be taken out.
If we all know this, wouldn’t the leaders of ISIS know it too? Are they stupid enough to remain in Raqqa as that city gets cornered and as US drones circle overhead to take them & their families out? These are the guys who built a brilliant strategic team, who organized a lethal fighting force and conquered vast tracts of Iraq & Syria before the world became wide awake. These are the guys who built a system to steal oil and sell it to adversarial regimes to generate $80 million in revenues per month.
If we recognize these guys are pretty bright, what should we be doing? Or what would Wayne Gretzky do? That Great One of Hockey who coined the dictum “skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been“. He or any US strategist schooled in the Gretzky dictum would ask where would ISIS go? What are the criteria ISIS would have for their new base?
- Raqqa was fine for ISIS as long as the main threat was from other groups of fighters. But Raqqa became a big problem when Russia stepped in to protect the government of Assad. Also Raqqa is close to powerful neighbors like Turkey and important neighbors like Iraq. ISIS conquests of Iraqi Sunni territory brought in Iran and America. ISIS has hung on mightily but even they must have realized that Raqqa wasn’t worth hassle.
- So the “new Raqqa” must be in an area that doesn’t have powerful neighbors, an area that Russians don’t care about and so Americans won’t care much either. Raqqa must be in an area where the only competition is loosely organized fighting groups that ISIS could devour easily.
- And the “new Raqqa” must be close to major oil fields & refineries that would enable ISIS to make even larger revenues from the oil trade.
- And ideally, the “new Raqqa” should be close to Europe, the territory ISIS has marked for more attacks.
Isn’t this simple? So where should the “new Raqqa” be established? Ask yourselves, which was the first & weakest regime the Europe-US coalition toppled? Which tin-horn dictator was first killed by the Europe-US coalition only to abandon his country after that killing?
The answer is simple – Gaddafi and his old base of Sirte. Look at how the Wall Street Journal recently described Sirte:
- With a population of about 700,000, Sirte was long known for being Gadhafi’s hometown and a stronghold of his supporters.
- Sirte is a gateway to several major oil fields and refineries farther east on the same coast.
How far removed is Sirte from Europe? – Only 400 miles of water separate Sirte from Sicily, Italy. And which is the small country that borders Libya? Tunisia with its close & easier access to Sicily. And what is Tunisia doing to guard itself? Building a wall along its border with Libya.
(courtesy – Screenshot/Google Maps via Business Insider)
Has ISIS been waiting for our Gretzkyian analysis? Not really. Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that ISIS has taken control of Sirte and made it their new base. What is their new slogan according to the WSJ?
- “Sirte will be no less than Raqqa,” is a mantra often repeated by Islamic State leaders in the Libyan city during sermons and radio broadcasts, several residents and an activist from the city said.”
And what fighters did ISIS defeat to seize control of Sirte? The Misrata militias. And who are they? They are the militias the Europe-US coalition aided in their fight against Gaddafi. Guess these “anti-Gaddafi” allies were not needed after Gaddafi was killed.
How big is the ISIS contingent in Sirte? Roughly 5,000 according to the Wall Street Journal. Truly JV, right? Than why isn’t the Obama Administration destroying the fledgling ISIS presence in Sirte? Because fighting a JV team is beneath America’s dignity? Because the Obama Administration would rather wait until ISIS in Libya turns into a Kobe Bryant?
Why can’t the Obama Administration think like Gretzky, figure out where ISIS will go and be ready to destroy them when ISIS gets there? Is it because Gretzky is Canadian, not American? Or because Hockey is not the President’s game?
Wait. What says Putin about ISIS presence in Libya? Russia has announced that they have no plans to bomb ISIS in Libya. Is that it? Is the US fight against ISIS simply a one-upmanship against Russia?
At least, we know one answer now. Why does President Obama call them ISIL instead of ISIS? Because he knew the last letter “S” for Syria was going to be replaced by “L” for Libya?
Sorry folks for the flippant tone of this article. As Ray Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond once said – you cry & cry and when you can’t cry anymore, you laugh!
Send your feedback to email@example.com Or @MacroViewpoints on Twitter