Wednesday, December 30, 2015


"Iraqi forces appeared poised to regain control of the city of Ramadi on Monday in what would mark their most significant victory against Isis fighters to date, although analysts warned that myriad difficulties still lay ahead. State television broadcast footage of government soldiers raising the Iraq flag over Ramadi’s main government complex while a Sunni politician said that Isis fighters were fleeing towards rural areas. But questions still remained over just how much of the city, which Iraqi forces were forced to abandon in May, was under government control and just what was left of the city for civilians to return to. “Militarily speaking, we can say that the city of Ramadi has fallen back into the hands of the Iraqi forces,” Jaber Jaberi, a Sunni politician, told the Financial Times. “It is considered a fallen city because there is no resistance from Isis".”
Shawn Donnan, Sam Fleming and Noam Raydan, "Isis fighters flee Ramadi as Iraqi forces claim victory". The Financial Times. 28 December 2015, in
"Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won, And our good Prince Eugene." "Why, 'twas a very wicked thing!" Said little Wilhelmine. "Nay ... nay ... my little girl," quoth he, "It was a famous victory." "And everybody praised the Duke Who this great fight did win." "But what good came of it at last?" Quoth little Peterkin. "Why, that I cannot tell," said he, "But 'twas a famous victory."
Robert Southey. "The Battle of Blenheim". First published 1796.
One does not have to be opposed to the American-lead effort to defeat the many-headed hydra that is ISIS to be quite cynical about the 'victory' that the Iraqi army has proclaimed in recapturing the nearly destroyed city of Ramadi from ISIS. Merely to observe that as Anthony Cordesman among other have noted: “Getting a town back that you should not have lost in the first place is not going to matter very much if it has been completely destroyed 1.” Especially considering the time and the effort that went into what should have been a fairly easy military operation considering the fact that the American-lead coalition has complete command of the air and that ISIS has almost nothing by way of anti-aircraft weapons or much by way of intelligence gathering, et cetera. The only thing that one can conclude is that given how slowly this 'victory' took, it will take perhaps another year for the Iraqi Army to seriously endeavor to recapture Mosul and the one-third to one-quarter of Iraq that ISIS nominally still controls. Raising in turn the question: can the Western powers wait that long? And raising in turn the further question: if the Iraqi Army is such a laggard and so lethargic in its military effort against ISIS, who and what will be able to even contemplate a similar effort against ISIS in Syria? And when exactly? These are the questions that the 'victory' of Ramadi raises for me at least.
1. Cordesman quoted in Donnan, Fleming & Raydan, op. cit.


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