The Corner

National Security & Defense

In Afghanistan, Taliban Controls Most Territory Since 2001

In the first Morning Jolt of the week, some good news from Ramadi in the war on terror . . . but ominous news on other fronts:

In Afghanistan, Taliban Controls Most Territory Since 2001; ISIS Preparing ‘Greatest Religious Cleansing in History’

Remember how Obama likes to go around saying, “we ended two wars”? What he means is, “we ended two wars by losing them.”

In Afghanistan, the bad guys are winning:

In private, top Afghan and American officials have begun to voice increasingly grim assessments of the resurgent Taliban threat, most notably in a previously undisclosed transcript of a late October meeting of the Afghan National Security Council.

“We have not met the people’s expectations. We haven’t delivered,” Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive, told the high-level gathering. “Our forces lack discipline. They lack rotation opportunities. We haven’t taken care of our own policemen and soldiers. They continue to absorb enormous casualties.”

With control of — or a significant presence in — roughly 30 percent of districts across the nation, according to Western and Afghan officials, the Taliban now holds more territory than in any year since 2001, when the puritanical Islamists were ousted from power after the 9/11 attacks. For now, the top American and Afghan priority is preventing Helmand, largely secured by U.S. Marines and British forces in 2012, from again falling to the insurgency.

As of last month, about 7,000 members of the Afghan security forces had been killed this year, with 12,000 injured, a 26 percent increase over the total number of dead and wounded in all of 2014, said a Western official with access to the most recent NATO statistics. Attrition rates are soaring. Deserters and injured Afghan soldiers say they are fighting a more sophisticated and well-armed insurgency than they have seen in years.

There’s a good milestone in Iraq . . . 

Iraq’s army declared victory over Islamic State fighters in a provincial capital west of Baghdad on Sunday, the first major triumph for the U.S.-trained force since it collapsed in the face of an assault by the militants 18 months ago.

The capture of Ramadi, capital of mainly Sunni-Muslim Anbar province in the Euphrates River valley west of the capital, deprives Islamic State militants of their biggest prize of 2015. The fighters seized it in May after government troops fled in a defeat which prompted Washington to take a hard look at strategy in its ongoing air war against the militants.

After encircling the city for weeks, the Iraqi military launched a campaign to retake it last week, and made a final push to seize the central administration complex on Sunday.

But it sounds like ISIS is just getting warmed up . . . 

A German journalist who spent 10 days with Islamic State says that the radical jihadist group that has captured wide swaths of Syria and Iraq is deterred by only one Middle Eastern country – Israel.

In an interview with the British Jewish News, Jurgen Todenhofer recalls his brief time behind enemy lines during which he spoke with ISIS fighters.

“The only country ISIS fears is Israel,” Todenhofer, a former member of the German parliament, told Jewish News. “They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them.”

The writer said that ISIS wants to lure British and American forces into Syria and Iraq, areas where it thinks it has an advantage.

“They think they can defeat US and UK ground troops, who they say they have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies,” he told Jewish News. “But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists.”

Gee, what gave these guys the idea that the Americans and British can’t fight in cities?

Todenhofer said that ISIS was “preparing the largest religious cleansing in history” and that he was “pessimistic” that the threat it poses could be neutralized. He added that the Paris attacks was just the first of “a storm” that is coming to Western cities.

“They are not scared of the British and the Americans, they are scared of the Israelis and told me the Israeli army is the real danger. We can’t defeat them with our current strategy. These people [the IDF] can fight a guerrilla war.”

“In Mosul there are 10,000 fighters living among 1.5 million people in 2,000 apartments, not in one place – so it would be difficult [for western soldiers] to fight them. ISIS fighters are ready to die in a war against a western soldiers.”

Todenhofer said that ISIS plans to topple local governments while at the same time carry out terrorist atrocities abroad.

“They are a very strong danger for Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Libya, while the West will be subjected to big acts of terrorism instead of a full blown ISIS war because they say they don’t want too many battles at the same time,” he said.

The war may be going badly, but don’t worry, America: President Obama remains determined to win the news cycle:

During a National Security Council meeting held at the Pentagon on Dec. 14, President Barack Obama told top military officials and other officials he wanted to see a better job of having the so-called “narrative” of the war on ISIS communicated to the American people, a senior defense official told CNN.

The easiest way to change the perception about something is to change the reality about something. If ISIS keeps losing territory, they’ll be seen as weak and beaten.

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