There’s two news stories here. The war in Iraq continues unabated, which will surprise no one. Islamic State of Syria and al-Sham controls northwest Iraq while a regular army organized by Major General Qassim Suleimani focuses on actions at Samarra and Tikrit. A fresh, modern Battle of Tikrit has been underway for the last five weeks. Tikrit is a test point for ISIS military conquest. Meanwhile back here in The West — and despite continuing phone and shortwave radio access to the combat areas — western corporate media press a story line that the Sunni raiders of ISIS are uniformly triumphant against Shi’ia (or “Shia” or “Shiite”) defenders. Actual combat results are missing from news reports.
Reporting foreign wars has been optional at best for MSM. That has been the situation for 25 years, starting with civil wars in the Congo killed 5-million civilians with not one murmur from the corporate outlets. In Central African Republic an ISIS-lookalike operation called Seleka went on an anti-Christian rampage through 2011-2013 that included murdering 30,000 to 50,000 civilians and conquering C.A.R.’s capital city, Bangui, for their leader and not-quite-Caliph Michel Djotodia. In Mali, yet another ISIS-lookalike Salafist coalition — al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) plus Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujwa) plus the smaller Ansar Dine — set up shop in the Southern Sahara, an area called the Azawad Desert. They took Timbuktu, the regional capital, in a raid reminiscent of events at Mosul in Iraq. Literally nothing of these events appeared in western media until the week after a mix of French Foreign Legion paratroopers, their Special Forces, and Marines retook Timbuktu killing an estimated 130 of the Salafist raiders.
When the Nigerian Salafist militia called Boko Haram kidnapped 234 Christian school girls in April, 2014, and then several hundred more in other actions, that got a measure of coverage. Military responses to Boko Haram have received no coverage at all.
Saudi support for ISIS and its clones follows their Salafi / Wahhabist beliefs. This from Patrick Cockburn:
Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: ‘The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia.’ More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.’
Wiping out these Shia and/or Christians is good sport. On a par with Saudi Jew-hating.
Wahhabists vs. Qods Force
But then the plan for Boko Haram and Seleka and ISIS runs into a professional military operation.
For the Battle of Tikrit, General Suleimani has replicated tactics that proved effective during the Battle of Qusayr in Syria in 2012. His Shi’ia forces started their action by setting up a 10-kilometer perimeter around Tikrit. This effort helped protect the sprawling Saddam palace and the military hospital and other areas where the ISIS raiders had failed to seize control. All the roads and cross-country transit routes were blocked. This Tikrit perimeter force deploys an estimated 5,000 troops in 24/7 assignments with a substantial logistics infrastructure. Temperatures above 110F every day makes the logistics sustainability problem critical. Then the big drive started counterattacking its way to the western areas of Tikrit, beginning last Wednesday, so the perimeter force had to set up to block ISIS retreat.