Just as the Shia regime has ensured that U.S. arms earmarked for the Kurdish peshmerga arrive as slowly as possible, if at all, it has also done its best to keep Sunni elements of the Iraqi army dispirited, disorganized, and weak. It was a typically beleaguered and sabotaged Sunni force in Ramadi that was chased away — but not before Baghdad added insult to injury, allowing Ramadi to beg for help from controversial Shia militias that have been blamed for atrocities against Sunnis. The U.S., which feared sectarian violence and Iranian opportunism, greenlit the aid, “provided that the militias were under the command of [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider] Abadi, and not Iranian advisers, and that the militias were properly organized to avoid American bombing runs,” as The New York Times reported. We all know how that cry for succor turned out: Ramadi fell and stayed down for half a year.
U.S. officials are beginning to leak more dispiriting news. Under Abadi, who already purged his forces of loyalists to the previous Shiite Prime Minister, the Baghdad regime has begun wiping out the Army’s Sunni leadership, replacing it with members of the Iran-guided Badr Corps, one of the stronger Shiite militias. “The Iraqi Ministry of Interior has also fired several thousands of other Sunni security forces in the past several weeks while continuing to arrest and ‘disappear’ thousands of Sunnis,” sources told The Hill. Translation? In Iraq, to push ISIS out is to pull sectarian war in.
It’s been a nightmare years in the making. Where Shiite militias pop up to reduce the Islamic State, they boot out as many local Sunnis as they can. And in case you didn’t see this one coming, reports are now coming through that the Shiite militias are all over the ground in Ramadi, too — securing the alleged victory that supposedly belongs to the U.S.-led Sunni contingent of the Iraqi Army.