World View: Iraq’s Shia Militias Ordered to Fight ISIS After Major Loss in Ramadi

AFP Photo / Handout / Aamaq News Agency

This morning’s key headlines from

  • ISIS in major victory seizes Iraq city of Ramadi
  • Ominously, the Iraq government is ordering Shia militias into Ramadi

ISIS in major victory seizes Iraq city of Ramadi

In a major setback for Iraq, the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has overrun Iraq’s city of Ramadi. Ramadi is the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province. This victory will permit ISIS to threaten Baiji, Iraq’s largest oil refinery, as well as the villages in the suburbs around Baghdad, and Baghdad itself. Furthermore, weapons stores and other assets in Ramadi were not destroyed and are available to ISIS.

People with long memories may recall the phrase “Anbar Awakening.” The US Army worked with Sunni villages across Anbar province, and triggered by means of President Bush’s troop “surge” in 2007, the Sunni militias ejected Al-Qaeda in Iraq, effectively ending the Iraq war. (See “Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq” from 2007.)

When young jihadists from around the world started traveling to Syria to fight Syria’s genocidal president Bashar al-Assad, ISIS was formed in Syria. After the 2011 withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, the Iran-backed Shia government in Baghdad treated the Sunnis in Anbar province brutally, allowing ISIS to infiltrate much of Anbar. This included the capture of the city of Mosul, where the Iraqi army dropped their weapons and fled for their lives as ISIS militias approached.

Some analysts are blaming President Obama for this outcome, since he did not negotiate keeping some American troops remaining in Iraq and allowed the victory of the Anbar Awakening to turn to defeat. Other analysts are blaming President Bush for this outcome, because the Iraq army was disbanded after its defeat in 2003.

The BBC and Al-Jazeera have been showing video of Ramadi on Friday, when the Iraq army once again could be seen fleeing for their lives. Al Jazeera and BBC

Ominously, the Iraq government is ordering Shia militias into Ramadi

Iraq’s government has ordered the mobilization of Shia militias in Ramadi, in an attempt to recover the city from ISIS. The order is ominous because of atrocities committed by Shia militias in the recapture of the city of Tikrit. Shia militias are known locally as “popular mobilization units.”

After ISIS seized the city of Tikrit in June 2014, the Baghdad government ordered the Shia militias to enter the city. They did so, and took control of Tikrit back from ISIS. But some 400,000 people fled their homes in Tikrit because the Shia militias were committing atrocities targeting the Sunni population. Today, two months after the defeat of ISIS, Tikrit is a ghost town. Shia militia commanders are denying that the atrocities ever occurred, and are asking the former Sunni residents of Tikrit to return to their former homes. But many homes are completely looted and destroyed, and only a tiny fraction of former residents are returning.

Now the Baghdad government has ordered Shia militias to go into Anbar province to recapture Ramadi from ISIS. It’s feared that the atrocities of Tikrit will be repeated in Ramadi. UPI and AP (4-May) and Daily Mail (5-Mar)

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