The ISIS flag now flies over Ramadi. US and Iraqi forces are mobilizing to take it back. But can they? And what if they can't?
A call for fresh volunteers today from the Iraqi government in Baghdad to try to retake Ramadi, and maybe to save Iraq. Over the weekend, Iraqi troops cut and ran, again, as fighters of the Islamic State blasted their way into control of the capitol of Anbar Province. With Ramadi in its control, the Islamic State is now just 70 miles from Baghdad. Instead of a promised retaking of Mosul and pushback of the Islamists, the US and Baghdad government are themselves back on their heels. This hour, On Point: the fall of Ramadi, where US troops fought and died, and the uncertain future of Iraq itself.
-- Tom Ashbrook
Sarhang Hamasaeed, Senior Program Officer for the Middle East and North Africa Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He leads the Institute's Iraq Program and also provides political and policy analysis on Iraq and other regional issues. (@sarhangsalar)
Derek Harvey, Director of the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict at the University of South Florida. He was the first Director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at U.S. Central Command and a retired United States Army Colonel.
From Tom’s Reading List
Christian Science Monitor: Fall of Ramadi a 'total disaster,' but perhaps also an opportunity - "[A]s grim as the picture is coming out of central Iraq, there is also a glimmer of a development suggesting how Iraq might yet push back IS and avoid a descent into a deeper, unity-threatening sectarian conflict. On Monday, thousands of Shiite militiamen were assembling at an Iraqi army base east of Ramadi preparing a battle to retake the city, after Iraqi forces, backed by US airstrikes, failed Sunday to hold onto it. The entry into the fight of the Iran-backed militias was approved by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who initially resisted their involvement in hopes that Iraqi Army forces could hold Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province."
The Wall Street Journal: Shiite Forces in Iraq Mobilize to Retake Ramadi From Islamic State - "Thousands of Shiite militiamen converged on the capital of Iraq’s Sunni heartland Monday in a desperate attempt to wrest control from Islamic State, a move that threatens to inflame sectarian tensions that have divided the Baghdad government and allowed militants to conquer some of the nation’s largest cities."
Al Jazeera English: Shia groups deployed to retake Iraq's Ramadi from ISIL - "At least 3,000 Shia-led fighters have arrived near Ramadi in Iraq's western Anbar province, a day after the city's capture by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. Iraqi military officials said on Monday the fighters entered Ramadi, the provincial capital, from the south and stationed themselves at a military base there....They were fully equipped and highly capable, according to the provincial council, which comprises tribal leaders. A senior Iranian official said on Monday that his country was ready to help confront ISIL and that he was certain Ramadi would be 'liberated' from their grip."
This program aired on May 20, 2015.