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The Battle For Tikrit And The Fight Against ISIS47:20
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With guest host Jane Clayson.

The battle for Tikrit. The US, Iran, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and more join forces in Iraq to take back territory from ISIS.  But it’s no easy alliance.

In this Wednesday, March 4, 2015 photo, Shiite militiamen rest behind a sand berm during fighting between the Iraqi army, supported by volunteers, and Islamic State militants outside Tikrit, 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
In this Wednesday, March 4, 2015 photo, Shiite militiamen rest behind a sand berm during fighting between the Iraqi army, supported by volunteers, and Islamic State militants outside Tikrit, 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)

It was unnerving when ISIS swept out of Syria into Iraq last summer, with all its bragging and the beheadings and promises of a new jihadi empire.  Now, ISIS may be on the ropes.  One hundred miles north of Baghdad, a patchwork of Iraqi militias and regular army say they’re winning and hope to flush out ISIS fighters within a week, and eventually all of Iraq.  The US is sitting out the Tikrit Offensive.  Instead, it’s Iran that’s leading the Iraqis to possible victory.  And that’s unnerving too.  This hour On Point:  the US and Iran and the fight against ISIS.
-- Jane Clayson

Guests

Anne BarnardBeirut bureau chief for the New York Times. (@abarnardnyt)

Jessica Lewis McFate, research director at the Institute for the Study of War.

Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University.

Lukman Faily, Iraqi ambassador to the United States. (@FailyLukman)

From The Reading List

Reuters: Advancing Iraq troops enter strategic town on edge of Tikrit — "Iraqi government forces and Iran-backed militiamen entered a town on the southern outskirts of Saddam Hussein's home city Tikrit on Friday, pressing on with the biggest offensive yet against Islamic State militants that seized the north last year. Military commanders said the army and mostly Shi'ite militia forces had retaken the town of al-Dour on Tikrit's outskirts, known outside Iraq as the area where executed former dictator Saddam was found hiding in a pit near a farm house in 2003."

Al Jazeera America: Why the US is sitting out Iraq’s most important assault on ISIL — "The Tikrit campaign lays bare the layered dilemmas facing the U.S. in Iraq. For months, Washington has sought to paint its war against ISIL as separate from, if parallel to, that of Iran and its Shia proxies — a line is growing harder to maintain. As Tikrit shows, the U.S. is uneasy about the leading role Iran has taken against ISIL, an effort that is spearheaded on many fronts, including in Tikrit, by hard-line Shia militias that many say are liable to exacerbate the alienation of Iraq’s Sunni minority."

New York Times: Iran Gains Influence in Iraq as Shiite Forces Fight ISIS — "More openly than ever before, Iran’s powerful influence in Iraq has been on display as the counteroffensive against Islamic State militants around Tikrit has unfolded in recent days. At every point, the Iranian-backed militias have taken the lead in the fight against the Islamic State here. Senior Iranian leaders have been openly helping direct the battle, and American officials say Iran’s Revolutionary Guards forces are taking part."

This program aired on March 9, 2015.

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