The Fall Of Ramadi Is A Loss For Iraq And U.S. Policy
On Sunday, ISIS forced Iraqi forces to flee the key city of Ramadi, a defeat reminiscent of last year’s full-fledged retreat from Mosul that gave the extremist group access to whole divisions’ worth of American-supplied Iraqi military equipment.
And in another echo of last summer, there have also been reports that the Iraqi Army has lost Camp Ar Ramadi just west of the city, home to the 8th brigade, leaving behind heavy weapons and scores of military vehicles.
In the face of defeat, the Iraqi government reached out to Iran-backed Shia militias to possibly mount a counterattack, reports the BBC.
One of the reasons that Iraqi forces were unable to hold onto Ramadi stems from the Obama administration’s decision to cede to the demands of Baghdad, says Max Boot.
“More important is to create Sunni military forces in both Syria and Iraq that are able and willing to fight against ISIS with American help. But there is scant sign of progress on this front, because the Obama administration has held U.S. policy in Iraq hostage to the dictates of Baghdad, where the Shiite sectarians who are in control are, to put it mildly, unenthusiastic about arming Sunnis.
“That’s why Ramadi fell and why there will be little success in rolling back ISIS’ gains in Syria and Iraq–because Sunnis still see ISIS as the lesser evil compared to domination by Shiite extremists armed and supported by Iran. That is the fundamental strategic problem that must be addressed in order to make progress against ISIS. Special Operations raids, no matter how successful, are of scant importance by comparison,” he writes in Commentary.
After Ramadi, the next item on ISIS’ prize list is the oil refinery at Baiji, which has been recaptured by Iraqi forces in recent weeks.
Reflecting Washington’s scattershot policy in Iraq, there has been a real back and forth among American defense officials over Baiji’s importance.
Russian Jets Nearly Provoke NATO Into War
On several occasions since Russia invaded Ukraine, military jets have buzzed Western military and civilian flights as far off as the English Channel and the Atlantic, a point of discussion at a recent meeting of NATO officials.
“At the Tallinn conference, Baltic presidents and NATO officials were unusually blunt in describing the extent to which the security architecture in Eastern Europe has collapsed, how Russia poses the gravest threat to peace since World War II, and how the conflict in Ukraine and the loss of the Crimea has left the Baltic states on the front line of an increasingly hostile standoff. Amid these tensions, the thought of a plane crash leading to war seems scarily plausible,” reports Ahmed Rashid in the New York Review of Books.
What makes the fly-bys so dangerous says Rashid is that NATO does not seem to have a plan other than to simply avoid the jets.