Iraq post Ramadi’s collapse: A failed state

The confessional Iraq that emerged in the post Saddam era looks more like a failed state

Mohamed Chebarro
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It is not a tactical failure, nor a lack of weapons or absence of intelligence that led to the routing of Ramadi by ISIS. The latest excuses and assurances that the U.S. administration was quick to publish in reaction to the news were not convincing.

The U.S. and its international allies delivered tons of weapons and ammunitions to the government of Haider al-Abadi in a bid to strengthen the army to face up to ISIS. Dozens of nations offered the Iraqi army air support and launched hundreds of strikes targeting ISIS positions.


These nations were also quick also to deploy advisory missions to work with the Iraqi army. The U.S. alone reportedly sent more than 3000 soldiers.

The confessional Iraq that emerged in the post Saddam era looks more like a failed state

Mohamed Chebarro

President Obama calling the collapse of Ramadi a “tactical retreat” was an example for many that the president is perhaps out of touch. The repeated images of Iraqi troops fleeing the battle ground leaving expensive U.S. hardware and ammunition for the advancing ISIS militants to seize could not be called tactical.

The Iraqi forces’ escape from Ramadi, and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s call for the Shiite militias to help liberate it, is an admission that Iraq under his leadership is increasingly looking more like a failed state and the U.S. government knows all about internal Iraqi wrangling. Washington also knows all about the power of regional influence, especially that of Tehran’s, which has grown to represent the single most important patron of all Iraqi sectarian militias.

Unheeded calls

For months Sunni leaders in Anbar province called for the central government to arm the Sunni tribal forces, but their calls were never answered while many suspect this was always vetoed by Tehran.

After ISIS extremists took Anbar and Mosul, Iraqi Sunnis were only seeking the chance to defend their home region.

In 2005 and 2006, men from the very same region were armed by the U.S. army and succeeded in ousting al-Qaeda from central Iraq.

Sunni leaders from Mosul and Anbar were only hoping for government support similar to what the Kurdish Peshmerga in northern Iraq received and similar to the arming of Shiite militias in the south and center of the country. Their hopes, however, were not realized.

Billions were spent since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to recreate and arm the Iraqi National Army, the events of the last 12 months indicate that this National Army clearly failed to protect vast swathes of Iraqi land.

Seeking a weak state

Instead it seems that Abadi and his Iranian allies are keener to keep the state week and the militia strong. It also seems that Washington, under Obama’s leadership, does not mind as long as the administration secures a historic nuclear deal with Iran, even if this means giving Iran increased influence in Iraqi affairs.

The confessional Iraq that emerged in the post Saddam era looks more like a failed state where sectarian militias rule with the blessing of their Iranian masters at the expense of state institutions. Experts say that you cannot expect less from Tehran because the leadership of Iran viewed Iraq as an existential threat for many decades. Such observers say that Teharn is seeking to quell the threat on its borders, making sure it is subdued for decades to come.


Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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