In Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel heard more desperate calls from Iraqi Premier Hayder Abadi, who sought further escalations of the US air war, and even more shipments of heavy weaponry.
Abadi told Hagel his fighters were advancing against ISIS, but for bigger gains they’d need more support. Hagel described the talks as “candid” and told Abadi that arms shipments were already being accelerated.
It’s not clear that Iraqi forces are advancing against ISIS in the first place, though officials on both sides are keen to maintain the illusion of progress. Likewise, the Iraqi military was one of the best equipped in the region before summer, when they were routed by ISIS.
As for the airstrikes, the US continues to add warplanes to the region, shifting some from Afghanistan and elsewhere, and are carrying out a huge air war between ISIS territory in Syria and Iraq. Three months of air war hasn’t amounted to much change on the ground, and while further escalations are to be expected, there’s little reason to expect anything to come out of it beyond the escalations themselves.