The push to retake Iraqi city Ramadi from Islamic State is a success, but has some experts questioning whether the push will be less crucial in defeating the terrorist group than it is a victory for Iran.
Iraqi forces retook approximately 60 percent of the key city Wednesday afternoon. What is viewed by some in foreign policy circles as a victory against ISIS may in reality be an attempt by Iran to create a corridor to its ally Presdient Bashar Assad in Syria. Several foreign policy experts took to Twitter to explain.
Why are Iraqi forces targeting #Ramadi, not Mosul? A theory I just heard: Iranians want to create land corridor Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus.
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) December 8, 2015
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 2, 2015
The rise of Iranian influence in Baghdad since U.S. withdrawal is no secret. Sen. [crscore]John McCain[/crscore] expressed his concern over the growing Iranian specter speaking to reporters last week. He claims that contrary to popular belief, Iraqi leaders believe the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq left a void for Iran to seize influence with the Iraqi Shia majority, thus exacerbating tensions with the Sunni minority. Sunnis have been increasingly drawn to ISIS as Iraqi leadership grows closer to Iran
Ramadi is undoubtedly a key ISIS stronghold. At less than 100 miles west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, it puts ISIS right on the doorstep of what is left of the Iraqi government. However, with a population of over two million and a strategically crucial dam that controls the flow of the Tigris river, the northern city of Mosul is remarkably valuable to the Iraqi government.
With the dam in ISIS hands, the terrorist group essentially controls the water supply of the surrounding region and can use it as a weapon to destroy farmland for miles. Mosul also serves as a major center for the oil rich northern region of Iraq, which has been fueling the ISIS coffers for well over a year. (RELATED: Turkey’s Erdogan Just Made A Promise About ISIS He Probably Can’t Keep)
The move on Ramadi is of particular use for Iran because it can help create a clear path from Baghdad. “What’s being played out is Iran’s plan for the Euphrates River Valley,” explains Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North to Fox News last week. Ramadi is the last major urban center on the way to Damascus via Iraq’s Route 1 highway. Connecting Damascus to Baghdad will allow Iran to reinforce Assad in Damascus with supplies and potentially manpower via the various Shia militias run by Iran’s Quds Force special forces.
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