Iraqi Army Moves to Retake Ramadi

Things in the Middle East have continued to veer from success to setback as new continues to come in regarding the Iraqi city of Ramadi. The city, close to Baghdad and of vital tactical importance, was taken by ISIS fighters after Iraqi soldiers fell back right in from the them, ignoring the fact that ISIS was vastly outnumbered (they reportedly only captured the city with 150-200 fighters). The retreat by Iraqi forces has faced withering criticism from governments across the country, especially the US, due to how outnumbered ISIS forces were and how it seemed as though the Iraqi soldiers didn’t even try to fight. Facing questions about their will to fight ISIS, Iraqi forces have responded by marshalling around the city with supporting Shiite militias and are now moving to retake the city.

Known as Popular Mobilization Forces, these Shiite militias are supported by Iran and have been vital towards helping the Iraqi army retake territory it has lost to ISIS. While that may seem good, it is leading to consternation and unease in the Western powers supporting the anti-ISIS campaign, especially the US. The use of Shiite militias in heavily Sunni territories has lead to fears of both sectarian cleansing as well as the chance that it might push more Sunni’s into the arms of ISIS as a way to combat the resurging Shiite influence in the region. The US and other Western powers are worried about expanding Iranian hegemony in the region, especially with the nuclear deal talks and a push against Iranian influence from multiple Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia. All fears aside, I can guarantee that the people in Ramadi and other ISIS-held territory don’t care who actually comes to rescue them, they just want to be rescued.

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