|Iraqi troops flee Ramadi|
The March of Folly in Iraq - Jonathan Spyer
In addition to showcasing the low caliber of the Iraqi security forces, the events surrounding the fall of the city lay bare the contradictions at the heart of Western policy in Iraq.
Prime Minister Abadi had ordered the garrison in Ramadi to stand firm. [But] Iraqi security forces ignored orders to defend Ramadi, and fled eastwards to the neighboring town of Khalidiyeh.
This left Ramadi to the tender mercies of the fighters of the Islamic State, who have reportedly since slaughtered at least 500 people. It is important to note that even U.S. airstrikes were not sufficient to prevent the debacle.
So what is behind the failure of the Iraqi security forces and the continued advance of the jihadis?
On the simplest level, the greater motivation and determination of the IS fighters explains their continued successes against the Iraqis. The jihadis are all volunteers. Not all of them are highly skilled fighters, but their level of motivation is correspondingly very high. By contrast, Iraqi soldiers are often serving far from home, defending communities for whom they have little concern. Most joined the army for the salary. Their unwillingness to engage against the murderous jihadis of the Islamic State is not hard to understand or explain.
The blame for this cannot be placed at the feet of low ranking Iraqi soldiers. The blame lies at the policymaking level.
The United States is [foolishly] committed to the territorial unity of Iraq. It therefore is determined to relate to the government of Haider al-Abadi as the sole authority in the country. The problem with this stance is two-fold. Firstly, it precludes providing arms directly to the elements who are most willing to use them against the Islamic State (namely, the Kurdish Peshmerga and further south, the elements among the Sunni tribes whom the U.S. aided during the “surge” in 2006-2007).
Secondly, and more importantly, the U.S. commitment to the territorial unity of Iraq is leading to a willful blindness regarding the actual nature of the government in Baghdad and its true sources of strength and support. The supposedly legitimate armed forces of Baghdad are, as has been witnessed again in Ramadi, not fit for the purpose. The true defenders of Baghdad and of the government are...the Shia militias, supported by Iran. These militias are the wall behind which the Amadi government shelters.
The West insists on maintaining the illusion that the government in Baghdad is something other than a Shia sectarian-dominated entity in the process of entering a de facto military alliance with the Iranians. This stubbornness is producing the current absurd situation in which Western air power is being used in support of Shia Islamism.
It is important to understand that this is not taking place because there is no other option for stopping the advance of the Islamic State. There is another, more effective option: direct aid to the Kurds, and to the Sunni tribes further south.
This support of Shia Islamism is taking place because of the conviction in Western capitals — most importantly, of course, Washington, D.C. — that the advance of Iran and the building of Iranian strength in Lebanon and in the collapsed states of Iraq and Syria is not a phenomenon to be prevented. Rather, Western capitals believe that growing Iranian influence can be accommodated and perhaps even allied with.
This conviction combined with the desire to maintain the fictions of “Iraq” and “Syria” are the foundations of current policy. For these reasons, in the coming days we will witness U.S. and Western air power, astonishingly, supporting Shia Islamist militants as they battle with Sunni Islamist militants. Meanwhile, overtly pro-Western forces further north lack arms.
The Islamic State just took Ramadi. In Western capitals where Middle East policy is made, folly is engaged on a similarly triumphant march.
[The Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs ]
Report: Iran, North Korea Forging Ballistic, Nuclear Ties - John Irish
A seven-person North Korean Defense Ministry delegation visited a military site near Tehran in April, the dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said.
"The delegates included nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts, and experts in various elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems," NCRI said.
Another North Korean delegation was due to visit Iran in June.