Lessons to Be Learnt from the Fall of Ramadi

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mohammad Ali Asgari
Middle East Analyst

The unexpected fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, which came about almost without severe or long war and bloodshed, can have important and thought-provoking lessons of its own. Although this city is not as important as the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, it is still of very high importance because on the one hand, it is the capital city of the biggest Sunni province of Iraq and, on the other hand, it is jut located at a distance of 100 km from the Iraqi capital city, Baghdad. The fall of Ramadi followed by the city of Fallujah, has once more rang the alarms notifying everybody of the fact that the final goal of various terrorist groups in Iraq, including ISIS, is to conquer Baghdad and they will stop at nothing until they have captured it. It was following this development that the Iraqi President Fuad Masoum explicitly, and of course correctly, announced that Baghdad is in danger.

1. For a number of reasons, the capture of Ramadi was not a very difficult accomplishment. Since 2003, that is when the international coalition attacked Iraq under the leadership of the United States and overthrew the government of the former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, this city has never been obedient to the central government or even international coalition forces. Ramadi, with a population of less than a million, belongs to Iraqi Sunnis. Since the beginning of the new government, they were opposed to change that took place in Baghdad. Even the first terrorist incidents in Iraq took place in this city in 2003 and 2004 and for the first time it was the inhabitants of the famous city of Fallujah, near Ramadi, who killed a number of American soldiers and hung their bodies from lampposts. During the eight-year tenure of Nouri al-Maliki, the former prime minister of Iraq, Ramadi was always a restive region and never bowed to the central government. Therefore, the capture of this city by the ISIS terrorist group, more than being a sign of the power and capability of this group, is a sign of continued historical insurgency in this city.

2. The fall of Ramadi showed that despite some analyses, ISIS is still active and advancing in Iraq. This bitter reality has been unfortunately totally evident in Syria during the recent developments as well. Therefore, those who were, or still are, dreaming about the annihilation of ISIS in a few days or months, should awake from such dreams once and for all and understand that this group is similar to none of the past terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda. In addition to being attached to Salafist ideas and tribal traditions, ISIS also relies on modern state institutions. Meanwhile, due to its plan for the establishment of its caliphate, ISIS is bent on “conquering land” and “establishing its self-proclaimed state.” In Iraq, ISIS has appeared as an emerging, and of course illegal, government, which is trying to survive and gain legitimacy at any cost.

3. The fall of Ramadi also proved that the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is not an efficient government, especially under the existing conditions. There are reports that he has decided to tender his resignation many times, but he has been banned from doing this by Iraqi ulema. The existing conditions in Iraq call for a national government with a powerful will to be present in the country’s political scene in order to gather all rival and hostile groups around a single pivot. This, however, is a mission that the government of al-Abadi has not been able to fulfill, at least, up to this time.

4. The capture of Ramadi by ISIS proved once again that international coalition formed by the United States to fight this group has not been successful. Although the coalition’s warplanes have launched thousands of sorties against ISIS during past year and have frequently attacked their ammunition depots or gathering points, as long as coalition airstrikes do not really help the Iraqi army or popular forces, they will not be effective. During recent days, American officials have come under scathing fire from their opponents and even friends in the United States. Therefore, they have sometimes promised to “change their strategy” in fighting against ISIS. Of course, considering the lame-duck status of US President Barack Obama’s administration, such promises cannot be seriously reckoned on.

5. The last point is a bitter reality as one must admit that under present circumstances, Iraqis are not able to cope with ISIS. Of course, recent remarks by the US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter about Iraqi army not having the resolve to fight ISIS enraged Iraqi officials and was a sort of “taking one’s own fault on the others.” However, it was also part of the truth. He said Iraqis do to have the will to fight ISIS, adding that Iraqis are basically not in conditions to deal with such crises as ISIS. Iraq is currently a fragmented country broken into parts just as was the case with the character in the novel, Frankenstein in Baghdad. More than one decade of war, terrorist conflicts, suicide blasts, widespread state corruption, as well as sectarian and ethnic skirmishes have left no trace of such elements as nationality, religion, national solidarity, empathy, responsibility, sacrifice, selflessness, struggle, and jihad.

To the above list should be added the war launched by the United States against Iraq, the war with Kuwait, eight years of war with Iran and bloody coup d’états in the country so as to know how the young generation in the country is feeling right now. It would be therefore, impossible and unrealistic to expect such people to fight ISIS and the likes of this terrorist group. Therefore, it is not illogical that some people talk about Somalization of Iraq; a development, which will be detrimental to Iran's future outlook and, of course, to future outlook of the entire region. Of course, this does not mean that other countries should send soldiers to Iraq to fight ISIS because Americans have done this for long years and have seen its result. The solution should be sought elsewhere and before taking any final steps, proxy wars and regional conflicts should be settled first.

Key Words: Fall of Ramadi, Iraq, ISIS, Fuad Masoum, Al-Qaeda, Salafist Ideas, Haider al-Abadi, International Coalition, Barack Obama’s Administration, Ashton Carter, Proxy Wars, Asgari

Source: Shargh Daily
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

*Photo Credit: The Atlantic

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