The restive city of Ramadi takes center stage as Coalition forces consolidate gains along the Euphrates River. Ramadi has seen an uptick in fighting since September. The New York Time‘s Sabrine Tavernise writes a balanced article on the situation in Ramadi. The article tacks very closely to what we reported in Controlling Ramadi on September 29. The city is a mixed bag, where Coalition forces maintain bases and conduct patrols, but do not fully have control over the security situation. Per Ms. Tavernise’s report:
The city has long been a haven for insurgents, but it has never fallen fully into enemy hands, as Falluja did last fall, when marines could not even patrol before an invasion in November. Senior commanders here will not rule out a full invasion, but for now, the checkpoints and street patrols continue.
Because troop levels have stayed steady here, Ramadi also differs from Tal Afar, a rebel stronghold near the Syrian border, where Americans laid siege only to have to return later because they were unable to leave enough troops to secure it.
Still, more than two years after the American invasion, this city of 400,000 people is just barely within American control. The deputy governor of Anbar was shot to death on Tuesday; the day before, the governor’s car was fired on. There is no police force. A Baghdad cellphone company has refused to put up towers here. American bases are regularly pelted with rockets and mortar shells, and when troops here get out of their vehicles to patrol, they are almost always running.
The statement about “no police force” is false, as there are police in the city (see Controlling Ramadi), however they are not operating even close to full potential. Ms. Tavernise also reports there is a local government, reconstruction projects go unhindered, the number of Iraqi Army units in the city has doubled and further police recruits are currently in training. Ramadi is currently a battleground between the insurgents and the Coalition, but nowhere near the scale of Fallujah in 2004.
In The Ramadi Problem, we noted that a series of operations are occurring in the suburbs of Ramadi, much like the actions which occurred just prior to the assault on Tal Afar. Operation Mountaineers was designed to gain control of a southern bridge used by insurgents and targeted problematic neighborhoods. Yesterday, twenty two al Qaeda operatives were detained during raids within the city. The Coalition is setting the table for an assault on Ramadi if it is deemed necessary
The Coalition appears to be hedging its bets on Ramadi, hoping that a near future infusion of Iraqi Army and police forces will prevent the need to conduct an operation on the scale of Tal Afar, or worse, Fallujah. Based on the recent history in Anbar province, the citizens of Ramadi have until the end of November to assist in cleaning out the insurgents and terrorists and restore order to their city. The December 15 election for the permanent assembly is quickly approaching and the Coalition will want to secure the city by then.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.