The capital city of the largest province in Iraq, a city of 500,000 people, and just 60 miles west of Baghdad. Each of those things sounds pretty important, and with ISIS on the verge of taking over Ramadi outright, you’d think there’d be more concern.
No so, however, as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey is dismissing the talk of Ramadi’s fall would be no big deal, and adding that the city is “not central to the future of Iraq.”
The reality, however, is that the US was making a big deal about the need to make inroads in the Anbar Province just last week, and now instead is facing the loss of the Anbar capital to ISIS, and another big setback for Iraqi troops.
Ultimately, Gen. Dempsey’s attempts to downplay what seems like an obviously significant loss may simply be an attempt at damage control, and a reflection that the US believes that battle is already lost, and might as well try to lose gracefully.
It’s clouding the US narrative, however, that the partial recovery of the much smaller city of Tikrit, itself in a much smaller province, was treated as a huge accomplishment, while the loss of Ramadi is being shrugged off.
The loss of Ramadi will also be a drastic blow to the US claims of a momentum shift in Iraq, as clearly if ISIS can still take a major city on the outskirts of Baghdad they can’t be doing too badly.