I'm Right Again Dot Com

                             A new commentary every Wednesday — October 19, 2016


MOSUL: An epic battle in the making

    The name is Arabic in derivation. The closest word in English might be juncture or junction.  It's located on the west side of the Tigris river, some 250 miles northwest of Baghdad and across the Tigris from Ninevah, Jonah's hometown (Yes, the one who said he had once been swallowed and spat out by a whale) where the trade-routes of two ancient civilizations—The Assyrians and the Greeks—met, over 3,000 years ago; more than enough time for the story about Jonah to be magnified.

    Mosul, swallowed by the cut-throat Islamic Army of Bakr al-Baghdadi two years ago, is the site where an coalition force of more than 25,000 Kurdish "Peshmerga" fighters and as many Iraqi soldiers are shaping up to assault and retake Iraq's second largest city. The battle promises to be the most awful engagement since the Russians retook Stalingrad (Now Volgograd), in southern Russia in 1942. That fight lasted for six months.

    There could be as many as four to five thousand American Advisor boots on the ground, amongst the Kurd and Iraq troops and in the air, already pounding the outskirts of Mosul with high explosives. Scenes captured on television show truck after truck interspersed with tanks, artillery and troop carriers, hurrying past the cameras—all "made in America." We U.S. Taxpayers already have millions of dollars invested in this battle, after ten years of conflict in the area.

    An epic fight to the death will decide the fate of the region. Both sides have had two years to prepare. According to "The Independent," an online publication in the UK, there could be 50-thousand or more Islamist fighters in Mosul—virtually surrounded—in an urban setting, promising the worst kind of house to house fighting. It could be six months to a year before Iraq and Syria are rid of all of them. That is, if the Arab-Kurd coalition prevails. 

    Reporters from several coalition forces embedded with the giant attack force describe the fields in the outskirts of Mosul being littered with improvised explosives and suicidal attacks coming already from Islamic State militants in vehicles loaded with explosives.

    What is going to make the battle problematic is the number of civilians trapped by forces poised to attack from five different directions. The population of Mosul when the "Daesh"— the word used to identify the Islamic State fighters by other Arabs—took Mosul, reportedly was once some 1,856,000 civilians, but many of the them have fled in the past two years. United Nation Relief agencies have already prepared a tent city capable of housing 200,000 displaced persons.  Others insist that this might need to be increased to a population of a half million, accompanied by all of the logistical support needed to keep them alive.  

    The Daesh are sure to use a great number of non-combatants as human shields. Many are bound to die.  No matter what takes place, the word Mosul will be emblematic of death and destruction possibly never seen since the fall and recovery of Stalingrad.  

    The takeway from this discourse: America is bound to lose advisors and air personnel in this fight. 

-Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Mencken


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