Retired General David Petraeus, who has advised Obama on Iraq, recently warned that Iranian-back militias are a bigger threat than ISIS. President Obama has ignored that warning and is now providing an air force for 20,000 Iran and Iraq forces on the ground who have been stalled in their attempts to take Tikrit back from only 3,000 ISIS fighters.
The 20,000-strong force that moved into Tikrit in early March is comprised of one-third Iranian revolutionary guards, one-third Iranian-backed Shia militias, and one-third Iraqis. The leadership is Iranian and the general leading the charge is the same general who killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
So much of the force is Iranian, it’s literally impossible for them to pull back.
Long War Journal reports:
“The US-led military Coalition in Iraq is openly supporting Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Iraqi forces who are battling Islamic State fighters entrenched in Tikrit. Many of the Shiite militia commanders are listed by the US as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, and one militia is listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Many of the commanders and militias are responsible for killing US, Coailition, and Iraqi troops and civilians during the occupation of Iraq.”
The Long War Journal copied the press release from the Joint Task Force:
Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) announced today that “operations to support Iraqi Security Forces in Tikrit have commenced after a request from the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al Abadi,” in a press released issued by the US-led command.
“The Coalition is now providing direct support to Iraqi Security Forces conducting operations to expel ISIL [Islamic State] from the city. CJTF-OIR is providing air strikes, airborne intelligence capabilities, and Advise and Assist support to Iraqi Security Force headquarters elements in order to enhance their ability to defeat ISIL,” the statement continued.
In addition to the Shiite militias, Iranian artillery forces as well as drones are directly supporting the Tikrit offensive, U.S. officials have told The Wall Street Journal.
General Jack Keane is happy we are doing this as long as Iran agrees to step back and stay back. We cannot continue to let them take control over the region and do nothing, he believes.
That’s a pipe dream but General Keane is probably happy to see us doing something – anything.
U.S. officials say we have ordered the Iranians to step aside and that they have done so.
They really haven’t gone anywhere but all we have to do is say they did as assume the role of an Iranian air force.
The U.S. supposedly only agreed to supply air power as long as General Qassim Suleimani and the Shiite militias moved aside to allow a larger role for Iraqi troops and for the opening of a new front led by the U.S.-assisted troops, according to the NY Times.
This is an effort to seize the initiative from Iran.
The hope is the Iranians will be marginalized and the Iraqi troops led by Mr. Abadi will give them the Tikrit victory with American air power.
It’s hard to see how that happens without a U.S. strategy.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Iraqi forces would prevail with the support of “friendly” countries [Iran and the U.S.] and the international coalition, including arms, training and aerial support.
“We have opened the last page of the operations,” Abadi said on state television.
He also said Solemeini could come back if needed and he undoubtedly will.
One U.S. official stressed that Washington in no way would coordinate with the Iranian-backed militia or seek to empower them in Iraq, even if those fighters might share the same narrow tactical objective as Iraqi forces in Tikrit.
That’s obviously not the case.
John McCain weighed in with a tweet:
There are so many Iranian-backed Shiite forces on the ground that it will be hard to maintain an appearance of not serving as Iran’s air force and to maintain operational control.
Our so-called strategy flies by the seat of Obama’s pants.
On March 2nd, Secretary of State John Kerry announced “We are taking back Tikrit”, but as it turned out, the U.S. was not informed about the Iran-Iraq plan to take back Tikrit at the time Kerry made the statement.
John McCain knew the U.S. was Iran’s air force on March 2nd: