McClatchy published this excellent report yesterday…Experts: U.S. claims Ramadi a mere setback are ‘delusional’
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration Monday called the fall of the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province to the Islamic State a temporary setback that Iraqi forces would reverse with U.S. support. Experts dismissed that assessment as ludicrous.
“Delusional, really, is the better word,” Ali Khedery, a former U.S. official who served as an adviser to five U.S. ambassadors to Iraq and three heads of U.S. Central Command, said of the administration’s statement. “It’s unbelievable, frankly. I now know what it’s like to have lived through Vietnam, I guess.”
Experts called the loss a stunning blow to the Iraqi government and U.S. strategy.
It wasn’t clear why the administration clung to an upbeat message three days after the Islamic State overran most of Ramadi and a day after Iraq’s best special forces unit fled the city with other troops, local police and tribal fighters. The message was delivered in nearly identical verbiage by White House, State Department and Pentagon spokesmen and was reinforced by a statement from Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“ISIL’s gains in Ramadi are a serious setback for its long-suffering inhabitants. It is also a setback for the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces),” said Dempsey. “Setbacks are regrettable but not uncommon in warfare. Much effort will now be required to reclaim the city. We will continue to support Iraq’s security forces with U.S. airstrikes, training and equipment.”
It wasn’t until Monday that the administration and U.S. military officials acknowledged the fall of Ramadi after several days of insisting that the situation in the city of 900,000 was fluid and contested and that the Islamic State was on the defensive in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
“This is something we’ve known was possible for some time,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. “Ramadi has been surrounded for probably a year now.”