The Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi arrived in Moscow Wednesday, calling for urgent military aid, while the popular mobilization militias reached the touch-lines in Anbar preparing for the start of battle, hoping to regain the city of Ramadi which fell into the hands of the Islamic State a few days ago. Abadi’s visit provides new evidence of the extent of his simultaneous anger and despair at the American military and strategic failure in Iraq.
In the meantime, the U.S. administration has been subjected to widespread criticism as the real extent of the failure of President Barack Obama’s strategy in confronting the Islamic State group has emerged. American politicians criticized the use of the word “relapse” by Obama in describing the security collapse in the Anbar province. One of them compared this to Great Britain describing its famous loss in the battle of Dunkirk during World War II as “tactical withdrawal.” What they failed to say is that Obama might have benefited from the creativity of the “Arabic political dictionary” in denying the losses, when he used the term “relapse,” which was also used by the late President Jamal Abdel Nasser to lessen the significance of the catastrophic failure against Israel in 1967.
The surprise which prompted difficult questions is the announcement by the Institute for the Study of War in Washington that “the fall of Ramadi was avoidable.” It was pointed out that “neither the Islamic State nor any other al-Qaida offshoot has ever taken a major urban area actively defended by the United States in partnership with local forces,” and the announcement affirmed in a clear indication of the Obama administration’s failure that, “This is what happens when a policy of half-measures, restrictions and posturing meets a skillful and determined enemy on the battlefield.”
Any strategic reading of the fall of Ramadi cannot ignore the dangerous implications it carries, especially at a local or regional level. Perhaps it makes sense when the Arab observer wonders if Washington, which failed to protect a small but important city like Ramadi from falling, will be capable or willing to get involved in big battles to protect its Gulf allies from an “Iranian danger” as per the glamorous promises which Obama made at the Camp David summit recently.
It became clear that the so-called “Obama strategy” to contain the Islamic State group proved to be a renewed failure in Ramadi. This makes continuing to count on it a suicidal choice, which foreshadows the fall of Baghdad itself, followed by the division of Iraq into provinces or cantons governed by militias: peshmerga, the Islamic State group and the Popular Mobilization, et cetera.
In this way, Iraq will fall into an ever-exploding reality so significant that the massacres witnessed in Yugoslavia in the 1990s will seem minimal in comparison, with one basic difference: There is no Arab union which will initiate intervention to extinguish the fire as the EU did back then in cooperation with the United States after Bosnia turned into a bloodbath.
On a regional level, the fall of Anbar opens up a wide front for the Islamic State group on the Saudi and Jordanian borders in an unprecedented and direct threat to the security of these two countries, especially when one considers the claims that there is a popular incubator for the organization in some of the tribal areas there.
Not one fair reading of the catastrophe of Ramadi’s fall can deny the fact that Arabs are today paying the price of a double American crime in Iraq — the criminal invasion of the Bush administration, then the unorganized withdrawal which looks more like an escape by the Obama administration—before the formulation of a real national army capable of providing security to all Iraqis without discrimination to compensate the army which was dissolved during the invasion. Black flags, terrorist organizations or sectarian militias which wiped out, or almost wiped out, the last features of the state, wouldn’t have seen the light of day if it weren’t for these American crimes.
As for the American collapse in the region, the most recent example of which is Ramadi, it carries within its folds a swift fusion of the illusions upon which Arabs built their regional security defense strategy for many decades, a matter which might render Iraq the “first but not last” divided Arab country.