As Iran talks Progress, US, Iran forces cooperate in taking Tikrit

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –

By now the Iraqi government has a long history of claiming areas are “liberated” when the local picture remained mixed. This is the sort of thing that occurred recently in
where Tikrit, where PM Haydar al-Abadi went on television and declared Tikrit no longer in the hands of Daesh (ISIL or ISIS).

In fact, whole neighborhoods appear still to be Daesh territory and some 400 fighters from that group remained in the city Friday evening. In any case, the difficulty the government had in taking Tikrit had to do not so much with the number of fighters but with the booby traps Daesh had set everywhere.

Still, the Iraq press thinks it is only a matter of time before Tikrit does fall entirely.

A notable development in Tuesday’s advances, which saw the Tikrit-Samarra highway reopened, was that the Shiite militias–the Badr Corps, the League of the Righteous, and an organization termed “Iraqi Hizbullah” fought Daesh with US Air Force close air support. Some of the militia had announced that they would not fight alongside the USA. But all seem gradually have moved into the city with the help of US precision targeting of enemy positions.

This battle is a milestone in the sense that Iraq’s Shiite militias are also being supported on the ground by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps advisers. Thus, de facto the US Air Force is giving close air support to Iranian forces

The Tikrit campaign is thus unprecedented in modern times in combining US, Iranian and Iraqi forces. You’d have to go back to the Baghdad Pact of 1955 to find such an alliance, and it was short-lived, ended by the 1958 Iraqi nationalist revolution of Abdel Karim Qasim.

Although French fighter jets have also flown against Daesh in Tikrit, apparently Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries have not joined in. For them, the spectacle of Shiites taking Sunni Tikrit is too painful, and it is not clear that they think Daesh is greater threat than Iran. Obama certainly does think that. Thus we see the great divergence between US and Saudi policy in Iraq and to some extent Syria.

Related video:

CNN: “Iraqi official: Tikrit has been liberated from ISIS

11 Responses

  1. It’s not amazing that Saudi policy and American policy now diverge — what’s amazing is the fidelity with which both Saudi and American leaders made sure that their policies did NOT diverge, at least in public, for nearly 70 years after Roosevelt’s date with Abdul Aziz in 1944.

    It was, essentially, the alliance in support of the gasoline-powered economy of the US and other nations, based on the “economy” of dumping 8 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every single gallon of gasoline burned.

    Every single one. I challenge my fellow Americans, can you really say you never wasted a gallon of gasoline? Most of us have to admit we’ve contributed at least, in friend and family situations, in rituals of growing up, and in rituals of the business world, to wasting thousands and thousands of gasoline burned, each and every one shoving 8 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And now much of the rest of the world has joined us in our modern high-carbon-doxide-dumping economy. Juan does a good of giving the good news of renewable energy taking over globally, here in my Western metro area I see the 3-ton stupid ugly vehicles with one person packing the roads, no doubt getting to their jobs or doing urgent family necessities (as I try to get my 20-year-old Toyota past them as I do the same).

    As the realization of the potentially disastrous consequences of all that carbon dumping begins to bite us, it’s no surprise that the Roosevelt-Adbul Aziz agreement to build that economy is finally falling apart.

  2. This amazing situation only reminds us that many things are possible. So called “allies” who only urge wars, and NEVER send their forces to help our troops in trouble spots that they urge us to bomb, are not seen nor heard of, but the ones we once called the “axis of evil” have helped us tremendously fight a deadly force. It reminds me of that saying about knowing who your friends are at a time of crisis.

    • Or really, knowing who your true enemies are. When an entity like ISIS springs up, and is a proponent of genocide and slavery, you can recognize true evil and aggression.
      Iranian funding of its own proxies in a mulit-party civil war (Hezbollah in Lebanon) doesn’t fit the bill…

  3. I cannot believe some people are howling mad over the policies and tactics the WH is using there. It sounds perfect to me.

  4. i am suspicious of the shia intentions as much as the sunni. i am suspicious of the propaganda of the iraqi govt. i am not in to wasting any more of our money blowing up anything in iraq for any reason. the idea of demolishing mosul is a very bad one. denying the reality that iraq is no longer a single country is to be in denial of reality.

  5. I think this answers a question I had a few days ago – why when Saudi Arabia alone has 300 modern combat aircraft within range of Tikrit does the USAF have to be the one to drop the bombs?
    The answer appears to be the Saudis regard a Shiite takeover of a majority Sunni town as being a greater evil than Daesh control of several million civilians. The absence of other Mideast air-forces – allies supported and supplied by the US – shows the Saudis are not alone in siding with Sunnis, however vicious their behaviour against Shiites and others judged not sufficiently pure.
    So are the Daesh , regarded as the most evil force in the world in the West, considered by Mideast states as the lesser of the two evils when compared to Iraq regaining control over Tikrit?

  6. Dear Prof. Cole,

    A great many people see Iranian hegemony in the region in the near future, especially if the US and Iran ink a deal regarding their nuclear ambitions, thereby easing sanctions. They fear that Iranian (Shii) hegemony would be far worse than what Daesh has wrought and continuing to geographically grow their caliphate, a sine qua non of their existence. They also see a bleak future of all out war between Sunnis and Shias, with Sunnis making a de facto alliance with Daesh.

  7. Unfortunately, Republican propaganda about Iran in Iraq has turned the fight against Daesh into a lose-lose situation for Obama. If Daesh is defeated, the Iranians are the reason. If Daesh remains in control of Mosul, Obama’s poor CIC leadership is to blame.

    • 48 hours later, I hope the Republicans have PROPAGANDA PLAN B ready to go….

      “Ring Ring….Prime Minister Netanyahu calling….” PLEASE TELL ME, WHAT IS THE PLAN NOW???”

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