A few hundred Islamic fighters managed to thwart and hold off a little over 30,000 security forces (soldiers and militias) who, for three weeks, were led by the combined military strategy genius of Baghdad and Tehran.
The forces suffered huge losses.
So much so, that the operation was put on 'pause' because the forces were reluctant to move forward.
And though a Shi'ite militia leader (and Iraq's Minister of Transportation) -- as well as an Iranian designated by the US government as a terrorist -- mocked the idea of US air support, in the end Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi went begging to the United States for that air support.
And only once that was received did the bogged down operation begin moving.
A different, self-pleasing tale is being told in Iraq. Rod Nordland and Falih Hassan (New York Times) report:
But to hear some of the Iraqi forces here tell it, the Americans deserve little or no credit. And many of the Shiite militiamen involved in the fight say the international coalition’s air campaign actually impeded their victory — even though beforehand they had spent weeks in a stalemate with militants holed up in Tikrit. Some even accuse the United States of fighting on the side of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Still, most of the militiamen now pouring into this city in the Sunni heartland along the Tigris River were not even in the real battle over the past week, and the only shots they fired were into the air on Thursday — which they did with abandon.
The ingratitude, as we noted earlier this week, is telling.
As is the spinning that being bogged down was part of the plan all along.
No, it wasn't.
They announced the mission would take a few days.
It took weeks.
They announced they'd reach the center of the city in the first five days.
They didn't reach it until after the US started dropping bombs.
The ingratitude is telling.
But no one wants to note it.
It's much more than bad form or ill manners.
It goes to an attitude this administration already saw.
They built a training building -- supposedly start of art -- to train Iraqi forces.
The US doesn't own that building anymore.
They handed it over -- for free -- to the Iraqi government.
But only after the US tax payer was in the red for it.
And they handed it over because?
Iraqis were not showing up for training.
They didn't want American trainers.
And that's fine, that's their decision (it was actually Nouri al-Maliki's decision).
But yet again, the US taxpayer is footing the bill for the training of Iraqi forces.
At a time when a number of them are stating to the press that the US is not needed.
Does the administration not remember how this worked out in 2012?
Remember this from yesterday's snapshot:
AFP reports what took place yesterday in Tikrit:
Pro-government militiamen were seen looting shops in the centre of the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday after its recapture from the Islamic State jihadist group in a month-long battle.
The militiamen took items including clothing, shampoo and shaving cream from two shops in central Tikrit before driving away.
Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted about the militia looting and offered a photo:
#صلاح_الدين: تكرار حالات السلب والنهب التي تنتهجها القوات الحكومية والميليشيات التابعة لها عند دخولها مناطق النزاع.
AP reports that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced this morning that the government "will begin arresting and prosecuting anyone who loots abandoned properties in the newly-recaptured city of Tikrit."
So remember that, Iraqi forces.
You have, at best, 48 hours after 'liberation' of a city to steal everything.
After 48 hours, al-Abadi will announce arrests will start.
Now stealing is a crime -- a very serious crime in the Middle East.
But for 48 hours, they'll look the other way and give you a pass in Iraq.
If you commit the crime after 48 hours, then Haider's going to enforce the law -- you know, the one that was in effect the entire time.
The following community sites -- plus NPR and War News Radio -- updated:
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