There are no words that can express my outrage, as an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, to see the black flag of ISIS flying in Ramadi. There is no excuse that the current commander-in-chief can make. And as we head into Memorial Day weekend, I would prefer President Barack Obama just not make an appearance issuing empty words.
To those of my brothers and sisters who fought, lost limbs, and to the families who lost their loved ones — God bless you, and I for one shall honor your service and commitment.
Back in 2003, our battalion’s area of operations was centered on the intersection of the Ramadi Highway and Highway 1. It was the transit point for Saddam’s Fedeyeen forces transiting from Al Anbar province into the Sunni Triangle.
This is beyond embarrassing for our country. It is shameful, and reflects the abject failure of basing national security/foreign policy on campaign promises.
It is evidence of an intransigent policy and a refusal to admit being wrong. How much blood is now on the hands of President Obama? And where does this end, or will it end? President Obama must come to realize that he cannot just dismiss this and wish it away. He cannot run out the clock to January 2017 — and another inane speech will not suffice. Now is not the time to hear what he is NOT willing to do — this situation is not about him, and he has been overtaken by events.
As reported by the Daily Mail, “ISIS militants have held a twisted victory parade after taking the key city of Ramadi in an orgy of violence and beheadings – and the extremists could march on the Iraqi capital Baghdad within the next month. Mutilated bodies scatter the streets of the ‘Gateway of Baghdad’, where Islamic State slaughtered around 500 and forced nearly 25,000 to flee their homes over the last few days. Now ISIS has released images of militants celebrating, children wielding automatic weapons and a fleet of pick-up trucks carrying its jubilant fighters through the blood-stained streets of Ramadi. Shi’ite fighters have already launched a counter-offensive to recapture the city, but these kinds of tactics play straight into Islamic State’s grand plan to spark all-out war in the region, according to the Middle East director of counter-terrorism think-tank RUSI. Islamic State militants are already marching east towards the Habbaniya army base – around 20 miles east of Ramadi – where a column of 3,000 Shi’ite paramilitaries are amassing, witnesses and a military officer has said. And if ISIS manage to reach Baghdad, it would be ‘utter carnage’, Professor Gareth Stansfield told MailOnline.”
ISIS now holds control of Fallujah and Ramadi, and are well positioned to launch a two-pronged assault towards Baghdad to the east, if they wish. And it is quite clear that the much vaunted air campaign has not been effective. ISIS has certainly not been stymied in its offensive operations.
As an indicator as to how weak the air campaign against ISIS has been, “United States-led airstrikes have stepped up raids against the Islamists, conducting 19 strikes near Ramadi over the past 72 hours at the request of the Iraqi security forces, a coalition spokesman said.”
Nineteen air strikes in the past 72 hours? A dedicated air campaign would run 19 air strikes in ten minutes – that’s called massing on a target.
And I must attest that this may just have been one of the best deception operations in recent history. ISIS lured the main effort of Iraqi forces — and Shiite militias — north to Tikrit while they feigned defeat and withdrawal just to do a large scale end-around and find themselves poised within 70 miles from Baghdad. This is certainly not a jayvee team move folks.
As I stated earlier, there is no way possible for President Obama to run the ol’ University of North Carolina famed “four corners” stall tactic — sorry but Phil Ford is not available. President Obama will have to take action, something he is only capable of doing with domestic political rivals.
What does ISIS seek? They want nothing better than to draw out the Shiite militia and turn this into a sectarian battle and rally the Sunni Iraqis to their cause. And if this does become a Sunni Muslim rally it will be doggone hard to prevent GCC Sunni Muslim nations from intervening — or at worse turning a blind eye while thousands run to the sounds of the guns in support of ISIS.
As the Daily Mail writes, “If they [ISIS] had any opportunity to enter Baghdad, they would do. But it will be more and more difficult for them to do it because Baghdad is a military stronghold of the Shia militia.’ And if they manage to actually take Baghdad, which is predominantly Shia but has some Christian regions, Professor Stansfield says ‘there would be massacres to the scale we haven’t seen since the Mongol empire in the 13th Century.”
The question the media should be asking the presidential hopefuls is not some lame hypothetical about what happened twelve years ago. The question should be, would you have withdrawn all US forces from Iraq — and what now? Sadly, the effort to regain what has been sacrificed will need to be Herculean — we lost the initiative. Obama lost Iraq.