Saw this startling item this morning in last night’s NightWatch:
Iraq: Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) inflicted a significant defeat on Kurdish militia forces on Saturday. They killed 27 Kurds and routed them from three towns and claim to have taken control of the Mosul Dam, which supplies water and hydro-electric power to the north.
A Kurdish spokesman said the Kurds still control the dam, but not the towns. He said they withdrew their forces from the towns to limit casualties, but plan to mount an offensive to take them back.
Comment: The news media have described this as the first major defeat for the Kurdish militia. Perhaps more importantly, it is the first major test of strength. It also took place in an area northwest of Mosul that has long been considered Kurdish and should have been better defended.
The larger significance of the attacks is that they prove that ISIL intends to take all of Iraq, not just the Sunni and Shiite Arab regions. The Kurds need to improve their intelligence and their militia. They may expect no help from Baghdad. If the Kurdish militias cannot defend against ISIL, Kurdistan will be destroyed.
I’ll confess I read this with a jolt. I figured (still do, but less confidently now) that if anyone could take the measure of ISIS, it’s the pesh merga. I’ve always favored the idea of a Kurdish national homeland, and I hope they can get back on their feet. This is a serious blow. (Especially since we had it on expert authority, I thought, that al-Qaeda, of which ISIS is a descendant faction, has been “decimated”.)
In last night’s bulletin, John McCreary added this:
Special comment: NightWatch commented previously on the proliferation of insurgencies around the world, many of them in Muslim countries. Only a very small number of analysts and commentators have written that the Islamic world is in civil war. Muslims are killing other Muslims at an astonishing rate. This overarching crisis is camouflaged by the daily news coverage of individual national crises.
Muslim leaders seem to have no solutions to stop this blood-letting and no arguments to counter the appeal of religiously-motivated violence among Muslim youths. The Islamic world is losing its best and brightest children to its own jihadists.
Exactly right: the Muslim world is in civil war. And when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.
Last night’s missive also contained this:
Tunisia-Libya: Tunisia closed its border crossing point with Libya on Friday, after clashes broke out between Libyan border guards and Egyptians seeking refuge in Tunisia. Press reported 6,000 Egyptians were at the border on Saturday.
The Egyptian civil aviation ministry announced that it was arranging an airlift to Cairo of Egyptians who reached the airport at Jerba, Libya. The ministry planned to lift about 3,200 people
News reporters said the Tunisian border was operating normally on Sunday, 3 August, but still was only allowing entry by holders of valid visas or other travel documents.
Comment: The border crush is a ripple effect of the recent surge in fighting in Tripoli. Most countries are trying to evacuate their nationals, including the Chinese and the UK this weekend.
Media reports indicate Tunisia is accommodating 2 million refugees who have arrived from Libya since 2011. They are placing an extra burden on Tunisia’s subsidy system, causing increased demand for fuel and threatening a run on basic commodities.
Strange. I seem to recall someone telling me just the other day that Libya was a “bigger mess” under Qaddafi than it has become since we betrayed our alliance with him in order to side with the tribal and jihadist hoodlums who finally murdered him, and who have since reduced the nation to formless and bloody chaos. Must have dreamt it.