Attempt to retake Ramadi with Shia militia (and some Sunnis begins). Yemen update: Peace talks in Geneva
In recent weeks, we have tried to explain the fall of Ramadi in the Anbar Provence of Iraq and the crisis in Yemen where the Outhouse’s had effectively taken over the government and the key cities of Sana’a and Aden.
In Ramadi, the government’s army forces, who received training at the hands of the U.S. Army trainers, once again ran from their positions leaving many of their U.S. provided arms behind for the successful ISIS victors.
In Yemen, the sobriquets “terrorist” and “Iranian surrogate” were loosely applied to the Houthis. This ignored the fact that the Shia Houthis were formed to fight al Qaeda in Yemen and were supported by the former leader of Yemen, the Sunni Ali Abdullah Saleh. I argued that historically the Houthis were always willing to negotiate, recognizing the minority position that Shia occupy in Yemen.
In Ramadi as in the rest of Anbar, the population is overwhelmingly Sunni. The government forces are Shia and not very effective at fighting ISIS. The key to having any long range success in Ramadi would be, I argued, gaining support from the non-radical Islamist Sunni militias, who were pleading for direct supply of arms from the U.S.
As I write this, fighting is heavy on the edge of Ramadi as the effort to retake it is in operation. The government has all but confirmed the ineffective nature of their own army by endorsing the use of Shia radical militias, who regained Sunni Tikrit amid charges of plundering a mayhem on the Sunni population. The Shia militias include the Mahdi Army of Shiite radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr. These Shia militias fought our forces when we were in Iraq in numbers, and some of those outside of Ramadi boast that they will fight Sunni ISIS and if the U.S. sends army they will fight us. And this is who are giving our weapons to via our policy of only supplying through the Iraq national government. Keep in mind that their histories are clearly sectarian in nature and they are being sent in to liberate Sunnis while fighting other Sunni Islamists.
In Yemen, following the (Sunni) Saudi Arabian air attacks on Houthi positions, U.N. backed peace negotiations are beginning in Geneva. The Houthi delegation has been held up, on clearance to take-off problems at Djibouti’s airport. But they are expected as will be Saleh’s General Peoples’ Congress along with other opposition representatives. According to Al Jazeera: “opposing sides were still a long way apart on how to bring peace to Yemen. Houthis want formal acknowledgment of a deal it signed with Hadi when they took over Sana’a last September, whereas the exiled government wanted to scrap that deal and start again.
It should be noted that the head of Iraq’s parliament acknowledged that the government has no control over the Iran aided Shia Militias, operating under al Hashd al Watant or PMU (Popular Mobilization Units or Forces). They will be attempting to use some Sunni tribal fighters, but how well armed they will be is suspect. As I noted last week it is a prescription for disaster.
Meanwhile, in a targeted assassination, which are considered so controversial when Israel targets Hamas militant leaders, we are reporting confirmation of the assassination, in Yemen, of senior al Qaeda leader in the Arabian Peninsula (including Yemen), Nasser al Wuhayshi. And near the Turkish border, our one allied force in Iraq that seems to want to fight ISIS, the Kurdish fighters, took the town of Tal Abyad from ISIS fighters. The Kurds, along with the moderate Sunni tribal militias, have been critical of the weapons support given them from the central Shia government. And the U.S. still insists on its failing policy of nation-building by insisting everything go to and through the Shia government.