Saturday, June 20, 2015

ISIS cutting water supplies in four Iraqi provinces .- Middle East Monitor
The Committee on Agriculture and Water at the Iraqi Parliament announced on Thursday that four provinces in the centre and south of the country face a drought because ISIS has cut the water supply from the River Euphrates. The provinces affected are Babel, Karbala, Najaf and Qadisiyah.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the head of the committee, Furat Al-Tamimi, said that ISIS closed the Ramadi Barrage (a dam on the Euphrates) after it had taken control of most of the Anbar area. He added that the group is working on taking control of Lake Tharthar in the same province to complete the "water war" strategy that it is engaged in. There is simply insufficient water in storage to prevent a drought crisis.


According to Al-Tamimi, since ISIS closed the dams the Euphrates is down to about 50 per cent of its normal volume of 200 cubic metres per second. It is expected to fall even further.

ISIS diverted the Euphrates away from its normal course by drifting the Ramadi Barrage towards the middle of Lake Habbaniyah in the Anbar desert. The water level has dropped to its lowest in years.
The militant group has already used the "water weapon" in Iraq, shutting down several dams in Diyali province, in the east of the country, over the past year. This action has led to a drought in some agricultural districts, while other areas have been inundated with water.

-bth: ISIS shows no reservations whatever about destroying infrastructure or cutting off vital water and electrical supplies.  ISIS would be highly vulnerable to the same treatment and would have virtually no means of reconstructing such resources once damaged.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

USS Ross in the Black Sea: May 30, 2015

Flight to safety: Sunnis flee Baghdad for sanctuary in Iraqi Kurdistan

ERBIL // Thousands of Sunni Arabs are streaming into Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region to escape the fighting in Anbar province and a sectarian backlash in government-held areas.
With land crossings blocked by the conflict, most fly into Kurdistan from Baghdad, eschewing the option of staying in the capital for fear of reprisals by Shiite militias.
The fall of Ramadi, capital of Sunni-majority Anbar province, to ISIL last month triggered the latest exodus from the province, which is largely under the extremists’ control.
The UN says about 250,000 people have been displaced since fighting escalated in Ramadi on April 9, about half of whom left after the city fell on May 15.
There are no official figures on how many have made their way to the Kurdish region, but Falah Mustafa Bakir, minister of foreign relations in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), told The National that about 50,000 people from Anbar had arrived since Ramadi fell.
“Most of them have come in through airlines. From Baghdad to Erbil and maybe also to Suleimaniya as well,” he said.
Humanitarian organisations put the number at about 25,000, with more arriving daily.
“Every day we hear of more displaced people who have arrived from Baghdad,” said Nora Gatto, a community organiser at Un Ponte Per, an Italian NGO that helps the newly arrived receive basic services.
The KRG has already taken in more than a million displaced Iraqis — about a third of the country’s total — as well as about 240,000 Syrian refugees. ....

-bth; this fairly lengthy article is worth reading in full.  I think refugees moving around a country provide a good indicator of political ebbs and flows not normally recognized.  It would appear that when push comes to shove, Sunnis are avoiding Baghdad and moving to the Kurdish areas still.  Shia checkpoints into the city still represent a strong indicator that Iraqi is split as a country and that the Iraqi government may simply no longer represent the people is claims are its citizens.

Number of Suicide bombers entering Iraq per month - The Daily Star

Around 40 foreign suicide bombers enter Iraq each month, according to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who urged countries in the region to curb the flow of foreign fighters. Suicide bombers are one of the deadliest weapons of the ISIS, which deploys them in explosives-packed vehicles to breach Iraqi defenses or cause mass civilian casualties in crowded areas.
“An average of 40 suicide [bombers] enter Iraq per month,” Abadi said in televised remarks....

-bth: there is great difficulty quantifying ISIS. This article provides some insight at 40 suicide bombers a month.  Also of note more foreign fighters now than native Iraqis.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past 14 years - WaPo

“Sometimes we could see the [Taliban] machine gunners, and we really couldn’t engage them,” McCullar said. He added that if Marines had different weapons, such as a .300 Winchester Magnum or a .338, their accuracy would be much improved.
The Army, for instance, adopted the .300 Win Mag as its primary sniper rifle cartridge in 2011, and it fires 300 yards farther than the Marines’ M40, which uses a lighter .308-caliber bullet.
In a statement, the Marine Corps Systems Command said it has “evaluated several options for replacing the M40 series sniper rifle; however, the weapon continues to meet our operational requirements.”
The M40 is built by Precision Weapons Section, a component of the Marine Corps that is contracted by Marine Corps Systems Command and is primarily staffed by Marine armorers. It exists solely to build and repair the Marines’ precision weapons.
Chris Sharon, a former chief sniper school instructor at Quantico, says there has been a reluctance to cut the M40 program because it could make Precision Weapons Section redundant.
“Nobody wants to be the one who kills PWS,” said Sharon, who is also a former contractor for Marine Corps Systems Command, noting that killing the rifle would significantly downsize one element of the Marine Corps.
Sharon says the solution to the Marines’ problems lies in a system called the Precision Sniper Rifle, or PSR, which other services solicit directly from a private arms manufacturer....

bth: this is a leadership problem.  The leaders in the Marine Corp are worried about billets and not about what is best for the Lance Corporal on the front line. The only way a problem like this gets fixed is publicity combined with a congressional inquiry.