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ISIS Crisis

Written By: - Date published: 5:10 pm, October 27th, 2016 - 84 comments
Categories: aid, Andrew Little, Gerry Brownlee, International, iraq, Syria, uncategorized, war - Tags: , , ,

Back in February last year, I wrote in War HUH! that we on the left should be supporting the deployment of NZ troops to train the Iraqi army in their fight to free their country from the pseudo religious fascists of ISIS.  I was correct to say it then, and I stand by it now.

However, I’m concerned that Gerry Brownlee is now saying that the role of our trainers will change. Specifically, he has said that in the future we will be training the “Iraqi security police”.

That’s curious for two reasons. Firstly, there doesn’t appear to be any such organisation as the Iraqi security police. We need to know exactly who the Minister thinks we will be helping.

Secondly, if it turns out he thinks we are should be helping what turns out to be a branch of the Iraqi Police force, shouldn’t that be a job for the NZ Police, rather than the army? And isn’t that decision, therefore, a matter for the Police Minister?

I’ve got a terrible feeling that a bit of mission creep is happening here. If it’s Brownlee’s idea that we should be now training something akin to the military police, he needs to be a more honest about it. And he needs to acknowledge that this is a radical change from the original mission, which was to help get the Iraqi army into fighting shape.

Further, Brownlee is wrong when he claims that many of the 12,000 Iraqi troops trained by New Zealand and Australia are now involved in the fight to recapture the city of Mosul. The fighting is actually being done by Turkish and Kurdish forces, with support from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service. The latter is not part of the Iraqi army.

The following is a video of an interview with Andrew Little. He makes some good points about what our trainers have achieved and commits the next Government to providing civilian reconstruction and humanitarian assistance to the millions of refugees caused by conflict in the region.

 

 

Despite my reservations about Gerry Brownlee’s proposed transition to helping a non existent branch of the Iraqi security services, I’m still glad we’re there. We are doing the right thing by helping rid Iraq of ISIS.

Mosul will fall in the next few weeks and ISIS will have no option to shrink the caliphate down even further. They’ve lost nearly half the territory they held this time last year and a retreat into Syria is their only option now. Sensibly, that line of retreat is being left open to them. If they were forced to stay and fight, the civilian casualties would be enormous. They will be bad enough as it is.

I’m glad to see ISIS being beaten. I’m glad we have been part of the international force that has bought that about. But I’m less pleased about a Defence Minister who has no idea where we go from here.

 

 

 

84 comments on “ISIS Crisis”

  1. Richard Rawshark 1

    Are we helping rid Iraq of Isis?

    I thought we were there training people.

  2. Richard Rawshark 2

    The biggest issue for me is the truth of wither leaving Assad as leader of Syria would although a dictator he keeps the place stable. Like the Russians are saying hence backing Assad.

    Or as the west says, kill him and let the place sort itself out. I suppose you know the west will begrudgingly look after the oil once the countries imploding but hey..

    My thought on the subject slips out, but only because I hear no real in depth discussions anymore just..fk knows, crap.

    • Bill 2.1

      Been reading a fair spread of stuff and what comes up fairly regularly is that people in Syria acknowledge Assad rather than support him. Which is to say, given the choice they have, they’ll take Assad over the alternative.

      Now, why the constant call for regime change from ‘the west’? Isn’t it all meant to be about democracy or summit?

      • Siobhan 2.1.1

        “The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”
        ” Not only would another ruthless dictator succumb to mass opposition on the streets, but the
        region would be changed for the better as Iran would no longer have a foothold in the Middle East from which to threaten Israel and undermine stability in the region.”

        Wikileaks Clinton emails.

        https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/18328

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        Now, why the constant call for regime change from ‘the west’?

        Because they want control over the area which is why they set up and supported so many dictators over the years.

        Isn’t it all meant to be about democracy or summit?

        The leaders of The West have never supported democracy. In fact, they’ve often gone out of their way to prevent it even in their own countries ensuring that the rich continue to rule with a façade of democracy to cover the reality.

  3. adam 3

    Disagree, we are not helping the right people. As the left we should help the right people.

    That would be the Kurds, for two reasons. The first being they are fighting and beating ISIS. The second, and more importantly – they are engaged in democracy building. Which is not something that I, or anyone else for that matter is seeing come from the Iraq government.

    So we either support democrats, or we will end up like Fiji, another tin pot coconut republic in the south pacific.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      I’m pretty sure that National are quite happy for us to become a “tin pot coconut republic in the south pacific.”

      • mosa 3.1.1

        National and Key ARE happy for us to become a “tin pot coconut republic in the South Pacific.

        They have just finished hosting the fijian PM Bainimarama the leader of the last coup in the country which has just recently organised the beatings meeted out to some left wing personalities and i am sure he gave Key some ideas and vice versa.

      • Red 3.1.2

        Not that you contribute anything to the two bit economy Draco barring been a raging internet warrior full time

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2.1

          Yes, we’re quite aware that you’re happy for people to be serfs and slaves to foreign corporations.

  4. Anne 4

    I’m glad to see ISIS being beaten. I’m glad we have been part of the international force that has bought that about. But I’m less pleased about a Defence Minister who has no idea where we go from here.

    I can agree with your first two sentences trp but… Brownlee has no idea where to go from here? Nah.

    He knows exactly where this govt. is going – hand in hand, cheek by jowl with the US and UK Security Services and their myriad of foot soldiers. We are no longer master of our own destiny. We no longer make our own decisions – independently and on merit as we perceive the correct decisions should be. We are told by our Western masters what we are going to think and what we are going to do – these ‘masters’ whose primary objective is to maintain or regain dominance in the Middle East over Russia and her allies. It is a game of power – including economic power – for power’s sake.

    Cold War 21st Century style here we come… and all the misery and pestilence that goes with it!

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    Sensibly, that line of retreat is being left open to them.

    Yes, because making it worse for Syria and their allies is such a Good Idea – not.

    If they were forced to stay and fight, the civilian casualties would be enormous.

    The civilian casualties will still be enormous – it’s just that you, the US and the MSM will get to blame Russia and Bashar Al Assad for them instead of the real culprits – the US.

    • I think you miss the point, Draco. It’s pretty standard to leave the enemy a means of retreat so you can secure the ground being fought over. Sun Tzu referred to that as the ‘golden bridge’. It’s not a concession, it’s a tactic.

      ISIS will be eventually finished off in Syria, but first they have to be forced out of Iraq. They’ll consolidate in the areas they already control in Syria because they no longer have the ability to make significant territorial gains. And, yes, that’s partly because of Russia bombing the shit out of anything that moves. And in the case of hospitals, things that don’t move as well.

      • Bill 5.1.1

        There were three hospitals in Eastern Aleppo. Pretty sure there have been more than three reports alleging they’ve been bunker bombed to rubble…

        As for retreat – why not herd them towards Turkey? That’s their corridor in, and also where their supply lines run back to.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2

        ISIS will be eventually finished off in Syria, but first they have to be forced out of Iraq.

        Could have gone the other way. That would have worked as well. Wonder if you’d have been quite so sanguine about it if Russia had pushed them into Iraq instead of bombing them where they are.

        It’s pretty standard to leave the enemy a means of retreat so you can secure the ground being fought over.

        I suspect there’s a difference between leaving them a line of retreat and funnelling them to other territories where they can do damage to the other enemy.

  6. McFlock 6

    Of course, it’s an even bet as to whether daesh will retreat. Conservation of their forces is not their priority, apparently.

  7. Bill 7

    …a retreat into Syria is their only option now. Sensibly, that line of retreat is being left open to them. If they were forced to stay and fight, the civilian casualties would be enormous.

    So from Mosul to east Aleppo? Is that what you’re suggesting? Maybe into the autonomous cantons? The potential for enormous civilian casualties exists in those places just as it does around Mosul.

    Worse and oddly, the UK, and the US are funding Al Nusra (daesh) in eastern Aleppo by using the white helmets as a conduit. (It goes like this – 3000 odd supposed white helmets all in daesh territory and something towards $100 million in western government aid so far.)

    Meanwhile the Syrian Civil Defence Force is subject to heinous sanctions. Go figure.

    Here’s a useful and informative link to get started with for anyone interested in getting their head around the tangled web of Iraq/Syria/Daesh/western motivations.

    http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/09/23/exclusive-the-real-syria-civil-defence-expose-natos-white-helmets-as-terrorist-linked-imposters/

    • Cheers, Bill. Right wing conspiracy theories are always good for a giggle!

      • Bill 7.1.1

        Aye. But that’s got nothing to do with the info supplied in the link trp.

      • D'Esterre 7.1.2

        Richard Rawshark: l note in the link a reference to Izvestia as a “pro-government broadsheet”. Pretty fair description also of the Herald, no?
        The constant referencing of Russian aggression, without the adducing of any actual evidence of said aggression, is a staple of Western propaganda. I’m never surprised to hear this stuff from US nincompoops like Kerry and Obama. But – silly me – I expect better of the British and the Europeans. Must be my ethnic bias showing!

      • D'Esterre 7.1.3

        TRP: “Right wing conspiracy theories are always good for a giggle!”
        Say what? You didn’t look at that link, did you now! Vanessa Beeley as right-wing conspiracy theorist? That’d come as a bolt out of the blue to her, I’m sure.

  8. Richard Rawshark 8

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11737100

    quietly tucked away on the Herald,,,

    I love it when they act on the peoples best interests without ever asking a soul.

  9. Morrissey 9

    So when are Brownlee, Key, and the rest of those brave parliamentarians going to volunteer to fight in Iraq against the same people they’re supporting in Syria?

    Key’s got a son who seems to have a lot of time on his hands. What’s he doing to stop ISIS?

  10. Morrissey 10

    I’m still glad we’re there.

    You’re not there, Te Reo, you’re here. By “we” you mean a few hundred soldiers, trained to follow orders, no matter how cynical or confused those orders might be.

    We are doing the right thing by helping rid Iraq of ISIS.

    “We” (not the New Zealand people but a small clique in government) are supporting ISIS in Syria.

    • D'Esterre 10.1

      Morrissey: “You’re not there, Te Reo, you’re here. By “we” you mean a few hundred soldiers, trained to follow orders…”
      Yes, I noticed this too and was offended by it. It sound far too cosy an assumption of the rightness of the government’s decision to put NZ armed forces into somebody else’s war, thus risking death to no purpose.
      “We” (not the New Zealand people but a small clique in government) are supporting ISIS in Syria.”
      Indeed. Not in my name, thanks.
      Note also the complete contradiction: fight ISIS in Mosul, support ISIS in Syria. It would be funny, were it not so criminally stupid.

  11. Richard Rawshark 11

    Here’s my take on the whole thing and why.

    Isreal and America have and do try to reclaim any land in that area purely over religious beliefs and it’s real sad, so sad, Putin takes the piss out of there religious stupidity by rolling out nukes called Satan 1 and Satan 2.

    plays to the horror of American’s they are freaking nut jobs . They couldn’t believe there luck after WW2 and having a bunch of Jewish survivors demanding the state of Israel. Demanding it right there. the holiest of holy sites for both religions.

    Annoys me every time I think about that.

  12. Smilin 12

    Im sorry “retreat into Syria”. ISIS are remnants of Saddam’s army initially I was led to believe
    Wheres the sanity in that where the US are already trying to find an excuse for complete annihilation of Assad’s rule without any mandate other than that of you know who and the lies that surround that being trumped up as the truth.
    Excuse the obvious connotations but the US really have no right to be in this because of GWB and all the other excusers of reason right from 9/11 and they are forcing Russia to control this with any action being another excuse to finally take them on and Iran and depending which way Turkey goes if there is a final shoot out at the OK Coral
    It is the most unholy of unholy messes that the west has had the gall to lie and cheat the world into believing is just on their part
    And we are extremely stupid in allowing our country to be used in this way as we have a govt that is a subsidiary of the US for a govt of this country

    • Stuart Munro 12.1

      “without any mandate”

      Assad is a military dictator and the son of a military dictator who’ve ruled without democratic assent for over forty years. No mandate there either.

      Now, you can criticise the US, and you can even find instances of positive behaviour from Putin and Assad. But don’t buy the whitewash wholesale. Assad has done many bad things, and Putin is not in Syria for philanthropic reasons.

      • Morrissey 12.1.1

        Assad is a military dictator…

        So when do “we” (i.e., brave people like Max Key and Bill English’s sons) invade Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Egypt, and Turkey?

        • Paul 12.1.1.1

          List of authoritarian regimes supported by the United States

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_authoritarian_regimes_supported_by_the_United_States

          • Garibaldi 12.1.1.1.1

            Well said Smilin.
            All these people that think the West is going to fix the Middle East are fucking stupid. Just look at our track record over there…. balls up after balls up after monumental stuff ups. The same will happen again …. Regime change by Israeli /American interests will lead to more and more mayhem.
            As an aside, every drone strike that gutless prick Obama makes breeds dozens more ISIS. And when ISIS has gone? Will the place be a nice peaceful paradise? Get real, you people who think the West is in there for altruistic reasons are bloody gullible.

            • Richard Rawshark 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Problem is G, the only ones that think like that are ..well governments.

              The rest of us think the same things you just said and just do not support it.

              There was supposedly other ways. If they really wanted change they would boycott their oil.

            • Wayne 12.1.1.1.1.2

              Garibaldi,

              Your approach would mean doing nothing about ISIS.

              Also, although it may suit your narrative, in fact Israel does not want regime change. They counselled western nations on many occasions not to support the Arab Spring. They argued the west did not know what forces they were unleashing, that the dictators were more predictable than the insurgent forces. I know because I was the recipient of several such “lectures”.

              Israel sees New Zealand as part of the west generally, even though they know we are not significant actors. I was told by the Israelis they were giving this message to all western nations, though they held out little hope anyone would take it on board. They assumed we would learn by our mistakes.

              Israel is no doubt happy the Sisi is in charge of Egypt since it is essentially a restoration of the Mubarak era.

              Israel does think ISIS has to be defeated, given the general risk they pose. They worry what happens after, especially in Syria. They assume Iraq will ultimately become a relatively normal state, but Syria, who knows.

              I personally think a Bosnia type solution with Assad in control of part, the Kurds in the east and whoever replaces ISIS around Raqqa, But all under the umbrella of a single state. In effect this has happened in Iraq with Kurds virtually running a state within a state.

              • Garibaldi

                Wayne , as history proves any solution over there involving Western/Christian/Zionist self interest is doomed to failure. The West and Russia should get out and let Islam sort it out .Sure it won’t go according to “our” ideals, but there again, who the hell are we to think we know what is best for them? Let’s face it , who wants to be like the USA is now??
                To pontificate on a daily basis whilst all the lying and underhand dealings and slaughter carry on is just adding to the problem.

                • Garibaldi

                  Wayne I would also point out the utter hypocrisy of the West arming Saudi Arabia and Israel to the hilt and expecting peace.
                  ISIS is only the current expression of their version of ‘freedom fighting’ after the debacle of Bush in Iraq, and would run its course if we left them to it, just like every other form of anti invasion movements have. Even if it took a century for them to sort it out it is their problem. The Sunnis and the Shias have lived in peace before( as have the Catholics and Protestants).
                  If the United Nations was actually for real and not just a tool of the West then maybe this is what would happen.

                  You seem to think Israel is a responsible participant. I strongly disagree on that.

              • Tricledrown

                Dreams are free Wayne.
                Nothing is going to change in the middle east poverty is now imbedded due infrastructure damage and the religious guagmire.
                While Israel keeps Palestinian’s in concentration camps .
                Colonial lackeys like NZ will achieve nothing but good terms of trade with its five eyed master’s.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Israel does think ISIS has to be defeated, given the general risk they pose. They worry what happens after, especially in Syria. They assume Iraq will ultimately become a relatively normal state, but Syria, who knows.

                Israel’s, and the West’s, view of what a normal state is is one that does as it’s told.

                I don’t think that there are many takers.

              • D'Esterre

                Wayne: “…not to support the Arab Spring. They argued the west did not know what forces they were unleashing, that the dictators were more predictable than the insurgent forces.”
                Indeed. Many of us at the time were dubious about the wisdom of Western support; and there was – as I’m sure you’re aware – critique by analysts and commentators of the contradictory and hypocritical stance of other polities, both in the mid-East and in the West.

                “Syria, who knows…..a Bosnia type solution with Assad in control of part, the Kurds in the east and whoever replaces ISIS around Raqqa…”
                Political arrangements in Syria are for the Syrian citizens. The West must keep its collective nose out of it: enough with the regime change schtick! Assad still enjoys considerable support among citizens, including among refugees in Lebanon. People have fled war: best not to assume that they’ve all fled the Assad government. Regardless, whether Assad stays or goes is a matter for Syrians alone.

          • Red 12.1.1.1.2

            Zzzzzzzz

      • D'Esterre 12.1.2

        Stuart Munro: that’s shaky ground you’re standing on, adducing Syria’s status as a dictatorship as justification for being seen as the Bad Guy du jour. As others here have pointed out…

        “…Putin is not in Syria for philanthropic reasons.”
        Well, hold the bus: you wouldn’t be suggesting that the US is in the area for philanthropic reasons, would you?

        Here’s a thing: if you see Russia as the other Bad Guy du jour, and everything the wildly overworked Putin does is with malign intent, you’re in thrall to Western cold war propaganda. Those of us old enough have heard it all before. It was largely nonsense even then, let alone now. Russia is now a democracy, and has been for many years, despite prolonged CIA efforts to white-ant it. Go read, if you don’t believe me.

        Russia is not your enemy; not your friend necessarily, but not your enemy.

        • Stuart Munro 12.1.2.1

          I get tired of CV’s relentless sanitising of Putin.

          No, I’m not a victim of western propaganda, I have it from people who have met him and/or who have survived his invasions. Web pundits are less reliable.

          Make no mistake, Putin is a much more cheerful murderer than Hillary.

          One example – The Moscow Theatre incident. Many ‘terrorists’ were captured. There was no trial. They were summarily executed because that’s what totalitarian dictators do. In fact they knowingly didn’t set off their bombs, the casualties arose from civilians rendered unconcious by the gas suffocating in their own vomit. Putin is like someone out of an old testament tribe, he has no scruples about killing at all.

          The US and Russia should be treated with equal scepticism. Not this damned whitewash.

          • Draco T Bastard 12.1.2.1.1

            One example – The Moscow Theatre incident. Many ‘terrorists’ were captured.

            Moscow theater hostage crisis

            All 40 of the attackers were killed,[2] with no casualties among Spetsnaz; about 130 hostages died, including nine foreigners, due to adverse reactions to the gas.

            Seems that all the terrorists, and in this case there is no other description, were killed during the rescue operation thus no body to take to trial.

            In fact they knowingly didn’t set off their bombs

            They had already murdered hostages and the situation wasn’t getting any better.
            Do you think that the Russians shouldn’t have mounted the rescue?
            How many more would have died if the siege had continued?

            • Stuart Munro 12.1.2.1.1.1

              All the ‘terrorists’ were killed because they were double tapped in the back of the head on the spot.

              Had they been the conventional jihadist suicide bombers the story is portrayed as at least one would have gone bang.

              They wanted to talk about the atrocities that were happening in Chechnya.

              There was no trial because Russia does not have the rule of law, and because it did not want its actions in Chechnya to receive publicity.

              Beslan was revenge for killing them.

              • Draco T Bastard

                All the ‘terrorists’ were killed because they were double tapped in the back of the head on the spot.

                [citation needed]

                They wanted to talk about the atrocities that were happening in Chechnya.

                Taking ~800 hostages and starting to murder them isn’t the best way to start a discussion about atrocities. But it is a really good way to get yourself killed.

                And, before you ask, no I don’t have any qualms about hostage takers getting killed. It’s not as if there was any chance of them being innocent.

                • Stuart Munro

                  Of course if you pick up a gun you take the chance of dying by one.

                  But they were killed in cold blood, not hot, and the object was not justice but silence.

                  The ‘Moscow theater bombers’ were naive because they were the young Chechen expat community in Moscow – not the survivors of the genocide they were protesting. They had that naive belief that Putin didn’t really know what was happening in Chechnya – the ‘little father’ myth – how could he allow it to happen if he knew?

                  But Putin already knew. And approved.

          • D'Esterre 12.1.2.1.2

            Stuart Munro: “…who have survived his invasions. Web pundits are less reliable.”

            To which invasions do you refer? Not that of Georgia,I hope. Or the mythical “invasion” of Crimea. Both these incidents have been reported in the West through the lens of the old anti-Soviet propaganda.
            You’re dismissive of Web pundits, yet those most often cited here are usually analysts and journalists: they deal in evidence, as opposed to anecdote.

            • Stuart Munro 12.1.2.1.2.1

              Which were Putin’s invasions?

              Chechnya, Ingushetia, Georgia, Ukraine.

              Of the four the first is perhaps the most telling – it was ‘Putin’s War’ in a way the others were not.

              The Russification of the Crimea happened well before Putin was a political force – but I guess any straw man will do when you’re defending a totalitarian dictator.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The Russification of the Crimea happened well before Putin was a political force

                Centuries before in fact. So long ago that the Crimeans actually consider themselves Russian.

                The discrepancy happened under the USSR when Crimea was made part of the Ukraine – against the wishes of the Crimeans.

                As for Georgia, that’s a war that seems to have been started by the Georgian military (although possibly by accident) with the, inevitable I suspect, declaration of independence from Georgia by two regions. I note that the West haven’t recognised that independence despite their rapid recognition of Kosovo and even the US recognition of the coup government of Venezuela.

                The West recognises only that which it wants and not that which it doesn’t want.

                Chechnya should have been let go by Russia as it was never a true territory of Russia.

                • Stuart Munro

                  “Chechnya should have been let go by Russia as it was never a true territory of Russia.”

                  Surviving Chechens would agree – but there was this oil pipeline to go to Baku…

                  Mind, for five decades or so before the Moscow apartment bombings the Chechens formed the elite presidential protection details for Russia. They were like Gurkhas on steroids. So they were relatively loyal to Russia.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Surviving Chechens would agree – but there was this oil pipeline to go to Baku…

                    You mean like the gas pipeline through Syria?

                    • Stuart Munro

                      Well yes and no.

                      The Chechens were active in many minor criminalities and tended to tap pipelines for blackmarket fuel. (FYI – Blackmarket fuel is such a Russian trope that it has become the signature crime of the Russian mafia in the US).

                      In discussing Syria you need to map the other planned pipelines as well – the Russian one that Gazprom has planned, and the Israeli one that runs from their sea production platforms, making landfall either in Cyprus, Turkey or Syria.

                      It’s not necessary to or economic for comparatively minor exporters like Qatar, but it would break Russia’s stranglehold on European gas supplies.

                      It would be simplistic to assume the pipelines explain everything, but no doubt if Syria were to fall the western pipeline would progress faster. The curious thing is why Syria would resist a pipeline – their interests are not compromised – only Russia’s.

              • Richard Rawshark

                Borders are not his only foray into war (Putin), he likes banks and oil companies too you know.

                Especially other peoples.

              • D'Esterre'

                Stuart Munro: “…Putin’s invasions? Chechnya, Ingushetia, Georgia, Ukraine.
                Of the four the first is perhaps the most telling – it was ‘Putin’s War’ in a way the others were not.”

                This is characteristic of propaganda: a narrative constructed of facts, distortions and untruths. Yeltsin was President at the time of both first and second Chechen wars, though Putin was President by the end of the second war in 2000. Although Chechnya was de facto independent from 1991, it was de jure part of the Russian Federation. As is still the case. No country can invade its own legally-recognised territory.
                The same is true of Ingushetia; suppression of an insurgency in Russian territory, so no invasion either.
                Georgia was largely responsible for the genesis of that conflict, because it tried to abolish the autonomous status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both recognised by Russia. Medvedev was President at that stage, by the way. Not Putin.
                The Ukraine: dear god! If you have actual evidence of a Russian invasion, please produce it. Verifiable links, mind, not social media or Bellingcat. Nobody else has come up with anything though. Talk is cheap…

                “The Russification of the Crimea happened well before Putin was a political force”

                As others have pointed out, the Crimea has traditionally been part of Russia: no “Russification” needed. Crimea was given to the Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954. The people had no say in the matter, of course; such large-scale gestures are the privilege of dictators. No thought for the consequences. But one of those consequences was the determined attempts by Crimeans from the time of independence to decouple their territory from that of Ukraine. After the 2014 US- and EU-sponsored Coup in Kiev, Crimea seceded, following a referendum. The annexation by Russia happened AFTER the referendum, not before. Turnout was 83%, the vote in favour of secession was 97%. Following the overwhelming vote to secede, the Crimean government formally requested that Russia annexe the area. The referendum wasn’t held at gunpoint, despite desperate attempts by commentators in NZ to so characterise it at the time. In fact, the secession and annexation took place with scarcely a shot being fired.This was the third time in just over 20 years that Crimeans had voted to decamp from the Ukraine; this time, they made sure that it happened. No Russian invasion there, either. Its troops were in Crimea legally, under the terms of the Black Sea Fleet Treaty. Look it up.

                “…but I guess any straw man will do when you’re defending a totalitarian dictator.”
                I”m not given to strong language as a rule, preferring to argue on the facts and analysis. But really, this is an asinine comment on your part. Where on earth have you been the last 25 years, that you would be labouring under the delusion that Russia is not a democracy? Putin was elected; in the past few weeks, there have been elections to the Duma. This is democracy; not perfect, to be sure, but then it could be worse. Think of what’s happening in the US…..
                I’d add that Putin doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend him, he being quite smart enough to deal with the sort of dunderheaded crap flung at him by propagandists.

                • Stuart Munro

                  “No country can invade its own legally-recognised territory.” You are splitting hairs – Chechnya was bombed into rubble and the majority of the male population were killed. Pretty much an invasion. A pretty brutal one two.

                  I have seen a surprising number of lame and ignorant Putin fanboys, raised on RT and troll sites, who’ve never talked to anyone with skin in the game. Frankly I thought you were better than that. Embrace your delusion – worship your monster, if it makes you happy.

                  But don’t expect to sell him to those of us who’ve spoken to some of his victims, and to some of the reporters who documented his electoral frauds.

                  You may not recall this story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/919928.stm

                  • D'Esterre'

                    Stuart Munro: “You are splitting hairs…”
                    Nope; you’re the one who used the word “invasion”. I was just pointing out the propaganda aspect of that assertion.
                    As to Chechnya having been “bombed into rubble”, bear in mind that Islamist terrorism into Russia came from this area to begin with. The original rebellion is best understood as an attempt by the big criminal clans to revive the old days, when they lived by plundering their neighbours. Nobody else remembers those years fondly, and other Caucasian ethnic groups hate Chechens like the plague. This is why their ‘struggle for freedom’ got little sympathy and less help from neighbouring regions and countries. To get any outside support, they had to turn it into a religious war, which is why the influence of the wahhabis only grew. It was a brutal war all right: no quarter given. We’ve also seen this in more recent times, with Islamist groups such as ISIS in Mosul and the ragtag jihadist militias fighting in Aleppo at present.

                    “I have seen a surprising number of lame and ignorant Putin fanboys, raised on RT and troll sites, who’ve never talked to anyone with skin in the game. ”
                    Of which, presumably, you think I am one. Oh dear: name-calling now. There was much hilarity in this household over that characterisation; do not presume to know my provenance or connections. Further, do not conflate a countervailing argument with “my hero, right or wrong” adulation. That’s very far from being the case. That’s part of the reason for said hilarity: until fairly recently, I’d have agreed with the prevailing view about Putin. But a great deal of further reading – and increasing scepticism about the “just so” stories out of the West – have caused me to change my mind.

                    “You may not recall this story..” Au contraire, I remember it very well. I note that the beeb couldn’t get its facts right even then. I was just a bit surprised that you needed to go back so far, when there have been claims of rigging at every election since then, too. To use an expression from poker: I see your 2000 and raise the US hanging chad election the same year! You’ll note that America found nothing to complain about in the 2000 election – you know why?
                    They expected Putin to be Yeltsin’s successor in every sense, and were apparently oblivious to the fact that Yeltsin’s removal and replacement was in effect a military coup. Yeltsin was a lush and oversaw the almost complete destruction of the Russian economy. He was allowed to retire in peace because the military and security services didn’t want a civil war to get rid of him, not if there was an easier way. Thus Putin: brought in to rescue the country. Nobody familiar with his public bio at the time would have pegged him as a saviour, but that’s what he was; probably precisely because he was so unassuming. He has turned out to be a formidable ruler. Read this piece for an analysis. Don’t worry, it isn’t RT…
                    http://thesaker.is/the-usa-are-about-to-face-the-worst-crisis-of-their-history-and-how-putins-example-might-inspire-trump/

                    And – speaking of rigging elections – in the US this time, have a look at this: http://werewolf.co.nz/2016/07/5303/

                    • Stuart Munro

                      As it happens my connections have kept me fully apprised of Putin’s activities since he became a political feature.

                      “I was just a bit surprised that you needed to go back so far,”

                      I’m sorry, but this was the instance of election rigging that they investigated, and from which they had accumulated evidence including boxes of partially destroyed ballots from multiple regions.

                      Had they investigated more recent elections I might perhaps have referred to those – I am sure that their colleagues know what the evidence is and who has it.

                      You understand less than you think if you think of Yeltsin as a lush – Yeltsin was very well-spoken in Russian and made Gorbachov seem like a hick from the sticks – though he didn’t have the talent for governing that caused an apparent hick like Gorbachov to rise to prominence.

                      The ‘beeb’ got it wrong did they? Unlikely – though of course the ‘beeb’ were not the feet on the ground. They were merely a convenient link for you.

                      I’m curious about your belief that Putin is a Saviour. Do you sing him hymns?

            • Richard Rawshark 12.1.2.1.2.2

              So those email hacks showing the micromanaged invasion by the Russians is , nuffin.

              http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/payback-russia-gets-hacked-revealing-putin-aide-s-secrets-n673956

              • Stuart Munro

                I don’t know about that – Russia is certainly behind many of the so-called separatists in the Ukraine. Real separatists never have tanks – irregular forces don’t have the industrial base to produce them.

                But the Crimean part of the Ukraine was heavily settled by Russian military families about fifty years ago, they were the staff of the ports and airports.

                • Richard Rawshark

                  Ukraine area’s split politically, but it’s all good now, Putin backed his side and it’s all over. For the meantime.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  But the Crimean part of the Ukraine was heavily settled by Russian military families about fifty years ago, they were the staff of the ports and airports.

                  [citation needed]

                  • Stuart Munro

                    This is fairly common and not contentious knowledge, as is the fact that there is an issue of losing Black Sea naval facilities should the Ukraine truly part ways with Moscow.

                    This link is on the Black Sea Fleet disputes – and you can find dribs and drabs that show air support and infrastructure are dotted across the Crimea, some have closed since Soviet times and there is discussion of reopening them.

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea_Fleet#Black_Sea_Fleet_and_Ukraine

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimea#Demographics

                      By the looks of things, Russians heavily settled Crimea before the end of the 19th century when Crimea was part of the Russian Empire and that such settling has continued apace ever since.

                      Of course, over most of that time Crimea was part of Russia in one way or another so I really don’t know why you’re so upset about it.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      CV was using the Crimea to explain how much the Ukraine loved Russia – bit of a curate’s egg as arguments go.

                      Thing is that Ukraine rather fancied a go at western-style democracy, but Russia’s strategic interests get to overrule that apparently. The same seems to go for the residents of Aleppo.

  13. Specifically, he has said that in the future we will be training the “Iraqi security police”.

    Is Brownlee so ignorant that he doesn’t know what the role of “security police” in most Middle East countries is? Or is he just assuming that we are? I hope NZ journalists immediately start some digging into exactly what role the NZ government’s going to play here – if it is what he called it, ie training internal security forces to suppress dissent by Iraqi citizens, there should be some unpleasant questions for him and his boss every time they’re standing in front of a microphone.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      How about, if these ‘security forces’ are what we expect them to be, then we charge this government as accessories to whatever crimes that they carry out?

  14. mauī 14

    Interesting, we can train fighters against ISIS and support bombing the crap out of Mosul, we call this fighting for democracy.

    Russia bombs the crap out of Aleppo and we call this war crimes.

    • Wayne Mapp 14.1

      Is the crap being bombed out of Mosul (as opposed to ISIS fighters)?

      One of the advantages that the coalition air has over the Russian airforce is much more modern weaponry. All weapons used by the coalition are guided, whereas the Russians are still using unguided freefall bombs. The reason being that the Russian economy is not big enough to manufacture large stocks of precision munitions. They are using up stocks of Soviet era bombs.

      The inevitable result is that the Russians are causing a lot more civilian casualties, even if that is not their intent.

      • mauī 14.1.1

        I don’t know enough about the weapon systems of the superpowers to comment on that side of things.

        We do know that western media is embedded with the Iraqi forces trying to reclaim Mosul. We also know whenever western media has been embedded with western forces in Iraq, which has happened several times over the last two or three decades, that they have to put a positive spin on things or they are shut out from covering the war or embedding their journos with the troops atleast. There’s effectively no chance ABC are going to report that the Iraqi troops shelled the wrong position and killed people who weren’t ISIS. However ABC would be clamouring to report on Russia or Assad killing the wrong people. I think it’s fairly obvious how this all works, and it’s another reason why more Americans don’t trust the major tv networks.

        • Draco T Bastard 14.1.1.1

          +1

        • Richard Rawshark 14.1.1.2

          Maui-I don’t know enough about the weapon systems of the superpowers to comment on that side of things.

          Neither does Wayne, he, if the real Wayne Mapp, is not the sort of person to take anything he says as even remotely true.

          National ideology, capatilism and sucking off the US of A.

      • Stuart Munro 14.1.2

        It’s not a matter of the size of their economy Wayne – South Africa makes precision guided weapons (and we could too if you kept Brownlee away from the petty cash).

        Russian military culture has traditionally been lower tech and more robust – they used numerous T32s against the individually superior but lighter Panthers, and this ‘giantism’ is still descriptive of parts of their military culture. Biggest military transport planes. Biggest helicopters. Biggest orbital boosters. Biggest nuke.

        But there are other differences between Aleppo and Mosul. The people of Aleppo seem to have been residents. The ISIS forces in Mosul captured the city, displacing substantial regular forces. What is disproportionate force against a regular armed force like ISIS , as opposed to hastily armed civilians, is different.

      • Draco T Bastard 14.1.3

        One of the advantages that the coalition air has over the Russian airforce is much more modern weaponry.

        Don’t tell lies.

        https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201602281035491516-syria-russia-new-weapons/

        All weapons used by the coalition are guided, whereas the Russians are still using unguided freefall bombs.

        Got any proof of that or are you just talking out your arse?

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/war-in-syria-russia-s-rustbucket-military-delivers-a-hi-tech-shock-to-west-and-israel-a6842711.html

        Forget it, you’re just talking out your arse.

        The reason being that the Russian economy is not big enough to manufacture large stocks of precision munitions.

        Yes it does because it’s got nothing to do with size and everything to do with if they’ve built the capability or not and everything that I’ve seen indicates that they have built that capability.

        Even NZ could build that capability because we have the productivity and technical capability to do so.

        You show the typical misunderstanding of what an economy is that’s so prevalent in our politicians and business people.

        • Wayne 14.1.3.1

          It is widely reported that the Russians are using unguided freefall bombs, and there are many photos of Russian aircraft showing that.

          I did not say the Russians don’t use any guided weapons. They do, but unlike the coalition that is not all they use.

          The coalition has made many statements they only use guided weapons. All the photos only show aircraft with guided weapons.

          And if you think economic capability is irrelevant to the volume manufacture of precision weapons, well I guess you are entitled to your own beliefs, though not your own facts.

          • Draco T Bastard 14.1.3.1.1

            It is widely reported that the Russians are using unguided freefall bombs, and there are many photos of Russian aircraft showing that.

            And yet it’s also reported that Russia says that it’s only ever used precision munitions. Who should we believe? The Russians or Western propaganda? Where and when were those photos taken?

            And if you think economic capability is irrelevant to the volume manufacture of precision weapons, well I guess you are entitled to your own beliefs, though not your own facts.

            I’m pretty sure that it does.

            The problem is that you’re mistaking the financial system for the economy. Believing that a country needs lots of rich people, consumer goods on the shop shelves and lots of corporations before you can do anything. This is delusional thinking.

            All that’s needed is the political will to ensure that there’s enough factories available and that there’s enough of the population working those factories. Russia’s population may be half that of the US but I doubt if so high a percentage of it’s people are in services.

          • Richard Rawshark 14.1.3.1.2

            Jeez Wayne, Do you think the war on the ISIS movement will win?

            Have you ever, seen a movement crushed by force?

            Do you know why Isis formed in the first place?

            IF you do not fix the cause of the problem you will never stop the movement it created, your solutions are simplistic and follow the narrative, that narrative is so obscured by arms supply and business and vested interests no one can see the truth from the 1 mile thick excrement covering it.

            You keep believing what the good government tells you, either your in up to your neck, or just wrong.

  15. esoteric pineapples 15

    The Turks don’t have a large force in Mosul and they are not welcomed by either the Kurds or Iraq which has demanded they leave the country. They are one of the chief supporters of ISIS and their interest is simply in increasing the Turkish presence in Iraq.

    • Bill 15.1

      Turkey’s invaded Syria around and between the autonomous cantons claiming it’s a matter of national security or some such and have stated they will not withdraw.

      Given that the peoples in the cantons have explicitly stated they have no territorial ambitions and have no interest in forming any kind of nation state but are content to abide by Syrian law as long as it doesn’t contradict their desire for secularism and autonomy…

      I said it months ago, but if anyone deserves support, it’s the peoples of Rojava who seem to be developing democratic structures of governance that put our own to shame.

      Unfortunately, it’s probably just a matter of picking who will do them over first – Erdoğan or Assad? The US/EU hanging them out to dry, or the government of Iraqi Kurdistan that has territorial and state ambitions hanging them out to dry? Or some hellish combination from any of the above?

  16. Thinkerr 16

    And yet we read that Christchurch airport, which had all the security it thought it needed, has had to put in an extra turnstile at the koru club door, to protect itself from Gerry Brownlee storming the airport again…

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