“This month, the Iraqi government launched an offensive against Islamic State fighters in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. Some 30,000 troops, two-thirds of which are members of Shiite militias guided by Iranian advisers, moved against a jihadist force estimated by the United States to number a few hundred,” writes Gary Anderson, a retired Marine Corps colonel, in the Washington Post.
The United States and its vaunted air power were not invited to the party. From the start, many observers assumed the success of the operation was a given, with news coverage focused less on whether Tikrit would fall and more on how victorious Shiite fighters would treat the city’s Sunni population.
But a funny thing happened on the way to this Iranian-led walkover. Tikrit still hasn’t fallen. Coffins carrying the bodies of Shiite militia members are being sent home in unexpected numbers, and regular Iraqi soldiers are showing a reluctance to fight in urban terrain against the tough light infantry of the Islamic State. That has surprised no one who worked and fought with the Iraqis in the past.
Today’s Question: Should the U.S. send troops back to Iraq to fight ISIS?