31 December 2015

Winning Hearts and Minds in Ramadi

by Foreign Policy
SWJ Blog Post | December 29, 2015
Winning Hearts and Minds in Ramadi by Paul McLeary, Foreign Policy

With Iraqi forces claiming victory in Ramadi, Baghdad finds itself facing a pair of difficult tests: retaking the Islamic State-held cities of Fallujah and Mosul and then persuading jittery Sunnis that they can trust Iraq’s Shiite-led government enough to return home and begin rebuilding the war-shattered region.

The months-long siege of Ramadi — which the Islamic State captured in May in a humiliating defeat for Baghdad — finally came to an end in recent days after Iraqi ground forces managed to breach the rings of improvised explosive devices and other obstacles methodically assembled by well-entrenched Islamic State fighters. U.S. warplanes carried out more than 630 airstrikes on Islamic State targets throughout the city since July, but for once the success of the final assault didn’t rely on American air power or an influx of battle-hardened Shiite militias. Instead, regular Iraqi military units led the way using some relatively low-tech, non-lethal American equipment that helped turn the tide of the fight. The conquest of Ramadi, in other words, shows how often conventional wisdom can be mistaken when it comes to combat…

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