“Iraqi Militias Balk at U.S. Strikes in Tikrit”
The Washington Post, March 27, 2015, p.A1
“Iraqi militia forces that have led the fight against Islamic State militants in Tikrit balked at U.S. intervention Thursday, saying that they would stop thousands of fighters under their influence from joining an offensive on the city. Though the militia leaders said they would remain in their positions around Tikrit, their refusal to continue fighting raises the question as to whether regular Iraqi troops can continue the battle on their own. The largely Iranian-backed paramilitary groups reacted with fury Thursday after coalition planes launched 17 airstrikes on Tikrit during a first wave of attacks. … The discord has the potential to undermine Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s authority while drastically cutting the number of pro-government forces at Tikrit from as many as 30,000 to around 4,000. … Citing the widely held belief in Iraq that the United States has been dropping supplies to Islamic State militants, [miltia] Kitaeb Hezbollah said it would consider any plane from the U.S.-led coalition a target.”
Quickie analysis: In the Middle East, the enemy of my enemy is often also my enemy.