Meet Ali Hussein Kadhim.
All the soldiers of his unit in the Iraqi army were bound and shot by ISIS soldiers.
Somehow he survived and escaped.
In the New York Times video report below, you will see how.
His survival is an amazing story, so is his escape back to his home in a Shiite area. He had to go through a Sunni area while ISIS forces were looking for him.
It reminded me of escape stories from Nazi soldiers during WWII.
Warning: the video contains disturbing images.
Many Iraqi soldiers preffered to escape from ISIS, and in some cases for good reason.
I tried not to come up with such an extreme statement, but quite frankly after listening to the podcast below, I couldn’t put it any other way.
All hope is lost. The Iraqi army does not have a chance in hell of beating ISIS. At least not in the short-term.
The Financial Times Middle East and North Africa correspondent Borzou Daragahi filed this podcast from Iraq. In it, you hear the reason why I think this way.
You hear about Iraqi army commanders punishing their own under-equipped soldiers who were lucky enough to escape ISIS attacks. How instead of debriefing these soldiers and helping them, they literally spat on them. About how Iraqi commanders ignored pleas for air support from their units because they believed they were “exaggerating”. The podcast also talks about how sectarianism plays a role in the Iraqi army and the performance of the soldiers.
In my opinion, you can never win a fight as a national army, when many of your soldiers put their sectarian affiliation before their national identity. As a fighting force, ISIS does not have such a problem. Everyone is Sunni. But the Iraqi army does. And its a serious handicap.
Podcast: Under fire: the Iraqi army vs Isis
There are numerous documentaries that have been made on different aspects of life in Iran.
But I have not come across many which look at life outside Tehran.
The documentary below, filmed in Iran’s Kurdistan province is very interesting.
It looks at the life of a number of Iranian Kurdish fuel smugglers who risk their life to smuggle fuel across the border into Iraq, so that they can help their families financially.
Some as young as 13 have to drop out of school to smuggle fuel for a living, and die while doing their job.
Last Thursday I took part in a debate on Russia Today’s Cross Talk program.
It was about Iraq and I was invited to give a more regional, especially Iran focused perspective.
On this program they usually bring 3 people, plus the host. Two generally believe that its mainly the fault of the West and its allies, and one believes the opposite.
So basically it was my opinion against that of the two other people
But sometimes it felt like 1 against 3, as the host seems to feel the same as the two other guests.
You can see and decide for yourself. I think I held my own against the other three. It certainly was not easy.