What does the battle of Amerli tell us?

By Zhao Jinglun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, September 5, 2014
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Two Iraqi gilrs smile as residents of the town of Amerli celebrate while assistance arrives in the Shiite Turkmen-majority town brought in both by Iraqi government fighters and the United Nations after Iraqi forces broke a months-long jihadist siege of the Islamic State (IS) fighters, on September 2, 2014. [Xinhua photo]

Amerli is a Shiite Turkman town of 15,000 in northern Iraq about 100 miles northeast of Baghdad. It has been under siege by the Islamic State (IS) for more than two months and has only been successfully relieved by a combination of forces fighting the IS. It is the first victory of the Baghdad military against IS since Mosul fell in early June.

It says a great deal about different forces fighting together against IS: Iraqi military spokesman Qasim Ata announced last Sunday morning that the Iraqi army had entered Amerli and broken the IS siege of the Shiite Turkman town.

The day before, last Saturday, a Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. war planes had strafed IS positions around Amerli and had dropped humanitarian aid to the besieged town. The Saturday operation had been directly authorized by President Barack Obama.

Also, last Friday and Saturday, thousands of members of the Shiite militia, the Badr Corps and the Salaam Brigades (formerly the Mahdi Army of the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who fought the U.S. occupation forces on more than one occasion and has big differences with the outgoing PM al-Maliki) had announced military operations against Sunni villages near Amerli that were serving as IS bases.

It should be noted that the Badr Corps militiamen were originally trained by Iran and are associated with the Shiite political party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and are still advised by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Units of the Kurdish Peshmerga paramilitary also fought in the operation.

If all this is true, the U.S. air force actually fought together with Iraqi militia who fought its occupation and were advised by the U.S. chief adversary, Iran.

Then, one may ask, why can't the United States work together with the Syrian government against the IS in Syria?

If the battle of Amerli marks a turning point in the fight against the IS, it points to the right path the fight should take.

In a previous column article, I argued that the United States lacks a coherent strategy in fighting the IS, and what it has been doing is inconsistent and self-contradictory.

It is time for Washington to rethink its Middle East strategy.

The author is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/zhaojinglun.htm

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

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