Losing Ramadi

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The Iraqis lost Ramadi to ISIS yesterday. Ramadi is capital to Iraq’s largest province, Anbar, and is a predominantly Sunni town. Despite an attempt by the Joint Chiefs chair to downplay its significance, Ramadi’s loss is meaningful on a number of fronts.

  •  Ramadi is effectively a gateway to the west. In order to get to Syria or Jordan, one must pass through Ramadi.
  • Ramadi sits about 70 miles west of Baghdad. Its entire province (Anbar) serves as a security buffer zone to Baghdad.
  • Just northwest of Ramadi sits Al Asad Air Base (green dot on map) where U.S. forces are currently held.
  • Ramadi controls the water supplied to southern Iraq as it sits along the Euphrates river and can manipulate water flow by dam.

In addition the strategic significance above, Ramadi may have somewhat of a symbolic significance to the U.S. military. Ask any Marine about what it means to lose Ramadi. It was in Ramadi that the so-called Sunni awakening took place, where Sunni Iraqi tribes, in conjunction with President Bush’s surge of U.S. forces, eradicated Al Qaeda in Iraq from the region. Twelve hundred Marines and Army troops perished during the course of taking and subsequently maintaining control of Ramadi.

It’s important to note that Ramadi was taken by force. KFI’s Bryan Suits points out that the retreat of the Iraqi army was not a strategic retreat. It was a run for your lives retreat. Weapons were left on the ground, uniforms were tossed, and even humvees were left running.

What the U.S. fails to admit, Suits continues, is the sectarian nature of the war. ISIS is a Sunni organization that took control of the Sunni city of Ramadi. The mostly Shia Iraqi army has little motivation to maintain control of Ramadi, as illustrated by their retreat.