Nancy A. Youssef reports: Skepticism about the U.S. and Iraqi military plans for the next phase of the ISIS war begins inside the Pentagon.
Less than 24 hours after U.S. military officials publicly detailed their plans for a spring offensive on ISIS-held Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, many within the Pentagon privately questioned whether that timetable was plausible. They said that they were dubious that their partners in the Iraqi military — the troops supposed to lead the offensive — would be capable of conducting such a campaign by then.
“I really doubt it is going to happen that soon,” said one military officer who, like several others, served in Iraq between 2003-2011 and spoke on condition of anonymity. “And if it does, it will take months.”
The largely Shiite troops of the Iraqi army are unlikely to risk their lives to win back a Sunni dominated city, several U.S. military officers told The Daily Beast on Friday. Indeed, when ISIS stormed the city last June, Iraqi forces walked away, leading the U.S. and 60 other nations to form a coalition against the terror group.
Even if the Iraqi troops do stand up and fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State, having a Shiite force move in and potentially ravage a major Sunni city in a bid to save it could have adverse affects on the Sunnis in Iraq and broader Sunni Arab world. Sectarian tensions, particularly in Iraq, run that deep.
“I cannot believe that Shiites would fight for Mosul,” one officer who served in the restive Sunni province of Anbar during the Iraq War told The Daily Beast.
So far, there is no evidence of a strong Sunni-majority Iraqi Army brigade, and U.S. Central Command has said it will take at least eight brigades to win back the city. [Continue reading…]