This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Iraqi Military Rediscovering Courage

Iraq's military says it has liberated the city of Ramadi from ISIL after re-taking a key government complex [Reuters]

"Yes, the city of Ramadi has been liberated. The Iraqi counterterrorism forces have raised the Iraqi flag over the government complex in Anbar." 
"This is a new chapter in the history of the country."
Brigadier General Yahya Rasool

"2016 will be the year of the big and final victory, when Daesh's presence in Iraq will be terminated."
"We are coming to liberate Mosul and it will be the fatal and final blow to Daesh."
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
"Mosul will be the main prize for both sides in this conflict, and so it won't be any time soon -- not in the first half of 2016, and probably not the second half either."
"If you speak to the Iraqi army, they say that [the slow pace of the attack to retake Ramadi] is because of lack of U.S. air support, while if you speak to the U.S. military, it is because of the lack of leadership and lack of [Iraqi military] capacity."
"But either way, the Iraqi army is currently very slow and risk-averse, and that is why taking Mosul will take a lot longer than people think."
Toby Dodge, Iraq expert, London School of Economics
'Risk-averse' is naming the inability of the Iraqi army to muster the courage of their spoken convictions into action, far more kindly than it deserves. Iraq's Haider al-Abadi speaks with the typical bombast of an Arab, vowing that his forces are more than capable of restoring Iraq's second largest city to government hands. The provincial capital of Ramadi, west of Baghdad has been in the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant since May.

And it is painfully obvious, but not very diplomatic to point out that without the air cover given Iraqi troops by American fire power from above, there would have been no success in Ramadi.  ISIL had, after all, left a mere handful of its men behind to protect the city, no more than two hundred, while the Iraqi troops numbered in the thousands. Of course there were improvised explosive devices buried here and there, and the Iraqi military, being 'risk-averse' was necessarily detained.

It took a week of largely urban combat, fighting in the streets to rout the ISIL militia, but finally Iraqi troops were able to raise their national flag over the government compound. Iraq's military has long since distinguished itself by its frail fighting capabilities. Capabilities supported and built around American tutelage in combat techniques, and using American weapons and military rolling stock, all of which, combat expertise and weaponry were hurriedly abandoned with the approach of ISIL.

When ISIL fighters entered Ramadi to begin with their numbers were modest, unlike those of the Iraqi army which has a penchant of precipitously departing the scene of a military challenge, leaving the field of victory to whomever has the most frightful reputation of blood-letting, and ISIL simply won hands down; it was their reputation that preceded them, before given the opportunity through meeting Iraqi troops in combat to prove that the reputation had been well earned.

One resident of Ramadi after the ISIL fighters had departed advised that they had apologized for "abandoning" Ramadi citizens but they had left hope/anxiety, as they "promised to be back. Some of the citizens went back to their homes and have put white flags on rooftops awaiting the Iraqi army arrival", said the resident, speaking by telephone. Well, they would; whoever the invaders would be in a turn-about game of possession alternating with withdrawal, residents are resigned.

According to US. military spokesman Col. Steve Warren in Baghdad: "Today's success is a proud moment for Iraq. The clearance of the government centre is a significant accomplishment and is the result of many months of hard work by the Iraqi army, the counterterrorism service, the Iraqi air force, local and federal police, and tribal fighters", he said, in an excess of bumph. Of course the U.S.-led air coalition has struck over 630 times, trained security forces and provided advice and equipment to clear bombs and booby traps.

"The Iraqi army has improved but to take Mosul is going to take thousands and thousands of soldiers, and one question is whether those soldiers are ready at this point."
"It could well be that next year by this time that ISIS is pushed out of Iraq and Iraq has restored its borders, but anybody that thinks that is the beginning of the end of ISIS I think doesn't understand that ISIS has truly metastatised inside the region." "We are going to be fighting this long war for a generation."
Mark Kimmitt, former US assistant secretary of political and military affairs

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