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40 review for After Isis: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim Razinha

    I received a review copy through LibraryThing from the publisher Gefen Publishing...from their Jerusalem office! It took more than a month to get to me after I was notified by LibraryThing and a funny thing happened in that time...somebody decided to announce a withdrawal from Syria abandoning the allied ISIS-fighting Kurds to the Turkish regime. I'm not sure if the title needs rethinking, but certainly, there might need to be another chapter or two. Frantzman opened his Preface with "The war on I received a review copy through LibraryThing from the publisher Gefen Publishing...from their Jerusalem office! It took more than a month to get to me after I was notified by LibraryThing and a funny thing happened in that time...somebody decided to announce a withdrawal from Syria abandoning the allied ISIS-fighting Kurds to the Turkish regime. I'm not sure if the title needs rethinking, but certainly, there might need to be another chapter or two. Frantzman opened his Preface with "The war on ISIS is now largely behind us." and my note read "Enter October 2019". Frantzman is a veteran conflict journalist and he's written a comprehensive analysis of the fight against, and decline of, and the claimed defeat of (I have no expertise, but I wonder if it won't resurge) ISIS from 2014-2019. In his second chapter, in 2015, he and a colleague Lura Kelly had an opportunity to get "to a frontline position near Mosul Dam (site of a major battle in 2014). He had contacts there and they "decided to risk it." That struck me, because the good field journalists are always at risk. Too much to synopsize...as I usually do, here are some observations. One is that this book could have benefited from some maps. I suspect my copy is a final version because it was published September 30th, so it looks like there won't be any. I would have also appreciated a glossary of the players - there are so many acronyms from the multiple units, it was hard for even this retired military man to keep them all straight. Frantzman keeps his chapters reasonably short and focused and this is not just a chronology. He provides the history of relations and events that preceded and caused the topics he covers. A Kurdish copmmander told him, after receiving aid from Bulgaria, "Everyone knows we are not just fighting for ourselves but [for] the whole world, and we need their support. [...] Why is the US government's interest more with the Arabs than the Kurds?" Frantzman said he had no answer. I have an answer, but mine is speculation. In 2015, Brig. Gen Sarhad "mocked Europe's fear of terror, 'They had one attack in Paris; we had seven car bombs here.'" They live that every day. Frantzman on the Iraq town of Sinjar occupied by Yazidis: "It's hard to describe a landscape so torn and broken. Leaving the mountain behind, ones sees the terraces and old stone houses at its base." The Yazidis suffered ISIS genocides and have little trust for the Arabs who supported ISIS. ISIS was calculating in their use of social media to "broadcast its mass killings", and the Twit-ter, on which ISIS members bragged of selling women. The epigraph for Part III, The Struggle for Iraq, 2016 reads "How would you rate American, Russian, and Iranian policies in Iraq?" "It's like this. If you work on a project with the US, they ask you for a progress report in three months. The Russians want it in six months. For Iran, it's ten years." - Conversation heard in Iraq's Kurdistan region, Tanya Goudsouzian on Twitter, February 2019American politics and diplomacy seem to have no idea of the long game some countries can play. I like the literary tone of Frantzman's description of Mosul Dam: "The water looked unnatural, as dam lakes always do, as if it were computer-generated imagery in some badly made movie about water on Mars." General Sa'adi al-Obaidi said of ISIS's targeting of Sunnis in Fallujah, "The government had mistreated the Sunnis, and they flocked to ISIS." The enemy of my enemy is my friend was a common theme in the incredulous support ISIS garnered. Kurd betrayal was not far off from the initial T banning of certain travel - Kurds with Iraqi passports were caught up in the ban, "...citizens from Iraqi Kurdistan, the closest ally to the US in fighting terrorism." When Frantzman wanted to visit the camp of Hamam-al-Alil IDP (Internally Displaced Persons), he grew fearful when Shi'ite militiamen began shouting at his driver. "These were the wrong people to mess with in the wrong place, in the middle of nowhere near Mosul, where people can disappear." He said, "I hadn't been scared in the battles against ISIS; what always worried me was being detained, kidnapped." Serious stuff for the journalist, and any foreigner. Frantzman intimates at an Erdogan attack on the Kurds many times in his book, outlining an inevitable that happened right after publication. In early 2018, T crowed about victories over ISIS in Mosul and Raqqa, and talked about leaving Syria...making good on his arrangements with Erdogan in October, 2019. Frantzman notes that DoD and State appointed staff advised him against the withdrawal. They seem to have tried, but failed. Mohammed bin Salman "was cultivating the Trump administration." So easily manipulated. Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir told the Manama Dialogue confab that T defeated Daesh in Iraq. But...the Kurds did. Makes me wonder again what the business interest in Saudi Arabia is. Frantzman rightly speculates "the large picture of reduced US involvement means that other countries will step in to fill the vacuum. That may mean Russia, Iran, Turkey and other s in the Middle East." Yep...Russia filled that vacuum quickly. And Turkey launched its offensive immediately. This is a hard look at a hard subject that is too far over the horizon for most Americans. Israel has to be more than concerned...and Frantzman lives in Jerusalem. He said he had an addition to conflict after his first trip to Iraq in 2015, but "then one day I was home. And I wanted to stay home with my family and sons." I hope he can stay there.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    War is hell. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire had massive implications, culminating in the Skyes-Picot agreement. Since 9/11, sectarianism ruled the day. The 1970s Islamic revolution and the 1980s Afghaniatan jihad all come from the Ottomans, and the whole world has their fingers in the pie. The victims of this sectarian squabbling? Kurds, Yazidis, and people group without a home unrecognized by the United Nations. ISIS tentacles spread from the Levant, to Turkey, to North and West Africa, and e War is hell. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire had massive implications, culminating in the Skyes-Picot agreement. Since 9/11, sectarianism ruled the day. The 1970s Islamic revolution and the 1980s Afghaniatan jihad all come from the Ottomans, and the whole world has their fingers in the pie. The victims of this sectarian squabbling? Kurds, Yazidis, and people group without a home unrecognized by the United Nations. ISIS tentacles spread from the Levant, to Turkey, to North and West Africa, and even influences in Europe and SEA. (Right leaning politics are growing in Europe, which is a sign that the populace understands the danger of unconditional open boarders.) A paradigm shift in warfare convention occurred steadily from Ba'ath militants to ISIS extremists. Democracy, largely, has failed. The locals paid the price. No one goes looking for war; war comes looking for you. The Syrian civil war, refugees coming into Turkey, and the interplay amongst Kurds, Hezbollah, and ISIS is difficult to sort out. Then you have the coup in Turkey, the attack on Mosul, and eventual ISIS's defeat. This leaves a massive hole in the Levant which begs the question: who, or what, will fill it? War - war never changes. (Fn. In the battle of Mosul, the author followed some soliders through a hole blown through a man's house, and the dude was just chillin on his couch in the AC while the soldiers passed through. I find this was too funny and sad. You either deal with war, or it drives you insane. Couchbro is my hero.) (Fn2. Live tweeting a war? Intelligence is a funny mistress.) Various coalition members fracture and turn their weapons upon each other. What happens when ISIS members defect and need reintegrate into the general populace? How do you think the Sunni's will react? What happens when Iranian supporters in Iraq move against Kurish independence, the group critical to ISIS's defeat? It's now 12/19/19 and the United States has withdrawn from Syria. The U.S. also killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while effectively slaying the other heads of the hydra - the son/s and later crazies who would take command. Where does this leave us now? Syria is taking a defensive posture, Saudi Arabia won't keep quiet, Iraqi and Kurdish relations are tense, Russia is playing chess with Turkey, and everyone has their gun pointed at PMOs. And then there's Iran. Are they going to fill the power void that the coalition and democracy should be filling? Are we just going to have another Arab spring with ISIS 2.0? Will China come full the void, sparking some kind of World War proxy war? Will the Middle East ever "stabilize?" God only knows. The Ottomans weren't perfect, but at least there was a modicum of stability. At least until crude oil. Maybe the Middle East isn't the problem.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gary Leibl

    This book is very informative. It is a must read for anyone interested in the Middle East.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Litman

    Manages to portray, in excellent fashion, both the big picture of politics and the involved powers, AND the effect the war had on the everyday people in Iraq and Syria. I particularly appreciated the focus on the total lack of compassion and desire for justice the world has shown towards the minorities ISIS sought to exterminate.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Love your leaders! The end is near! Only your leaders can save you! Love your leaders!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rick Cheeseman

    Fantastic. Hat tip to Jim Razinha for recommendation.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peter Belmont

  8. 4 out of 5

    Janae Krull

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melaku Aebe

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shalom Freedman Jerusalem, Israel

  11. 5 out of 5

    Grady T

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Daniel

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Callahan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  15. 5 out of 5

    Allan Kugler

  16. 4 out of 5

    JenSen Yermi

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tam Le Blanc

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Chew

  20. 4 out of 5

    Perry Frantzman

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sangeetha

  22. 5 out of 5

    Meero-slaw

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jamison H

  24. 5 out of 5

    Torkjell

  25. 4 out of 5

    Francisco Onofre

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed BinZalaan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shady Mohsen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Francis Krajnyik

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lieberman

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sean McKenna

  31. 5 out of 5

    Ziad

  32. 5 out of 5

    Nate Bate

  33. 5 out of 5

    CATHERINE

  34. 4 out of 5

    Jeniece Trueman

  35. 5 out of 5

    Leah Beecher

  36. 4 out of 5

    Andy Knudsen

  37. 4 out of 5

    David Matthew

  38. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  39. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Pitman

  40. 5 out of 5

    Doug Payne

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