|2S1 Gvosdika: Beyond anything we have ever seen. Apparently.
Some have it that ISIS is entirely the fault of the west for not arming Syrian rebels. Some have that we did arm Syrian rebels but this was the provocation that focused Assad's attention on the Free Syrian Army, which strengthened ISIS. In either case, western commentators still possesses a myopic need to blame the West at any cost, regardless of the fact that Assad himself is still a power broker in the region. At least one Arab view has it that it Assad has deliberately allowed ISIS to thrive knowing it will cause expensive political consequences for the West in reprisal for the weakening of his regime. That is certainly a view worth considering. In typical Western fashion, we think it's all about us. It isn't.
The fight against ISIS is reported in terms of the preferred victims, ie the Kurds, and that is where the Western media attention is focused. You would think that the scale of Western media interest would mean we would at least be better informed about that part of the battle. But sadly, in the wake of the James Foley execution, all we get is speculation, hysteria and white noise. Meanwhile, we have little up to date information about the battle for Tikrit, with many Western outlets painting the offensive as a failure before the main battle has properly begun. It is impossible to call it a failure thus far in that we have no idea what the timescale is of local commanders, or the immediate military objectives.
The retaking of Tikrit would be a major propaganda victory for the US as they could point to a major engagement where the Iraiqis had fought and won a battle with only limited support, if any, from the US. But such is the myopia of the West that the critical details go unreported, and we are left with only more speculation and valueless conjecture. Also unreported are the political maneuverings behind the scene that have as much influence on the outcome of battle as the fighting itself. We have translated local media sources to go on and that's about it. It seems that not all of the battle to retake Iraq is politically useful in a domestic sense, and our media can only view global events in the context of parochial matters.
Thus we get such hyperventilation as ISIS is beyond anything we've ever seen. Meanwhile Al Jazeera reports show two absolutely ancient 2S1 Gvosdika self-propelled guns (SPG) which pre-date Gulf War 1, probably Syrian, which are "tanks" in the eyes of Al-Jaz. The problem being that SPGs are not front line vehicles at all, and unless you see the accompanying logistics and support trucks needed to operate the thing, then they're using it as a taxi and for propaganda purposes. ISIS knows as well as I do that these brain-dead hacks haven't the first idea what they're looking at - and won't bother to find out either. But why let a good media scare go to waste? The fight against ISIS may require additional budget funds says the Pentagon! Funny that.
So in the absence of anything approaching credible news, opinion formers would do well to refrain from witless assertions until we see what the Iraqi army has to say about it. Meanwhile Britain has ruled out the possibility of making an ally of Assad. This is probably an astute move given that one only ever enters a relationship with such regimes with the expectation of being stabbed in the back, but like it or not, the West is going to have to soften the rhetoric against Assad, because our rulers just got a lesson in why my enemy's enemy is not necessarily our friend. But yes, that's a very long winded way of say "buggered if I know what's going on". As to Ukraine... fuhgeddaboudit!