Zakaria: Iraq's army has collapsed
October 13th, 2014
10:31 PM ET

Zakaria: Iraq's army has collapsed

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about reports over new advances by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This is an edited version of the transcript.

There is reportedly one base remaining in Anbar Province under Iraqi control. Talking to a general, he said it isn't so significant. You disagree.

It's very significant. It’s not significant militarily, because Baghdad will hold for reasons we can talk about. What's significant here is that it tells you that the Iraqi army has collapsed, that there’s no real Iraqi army. Because those bases where people are giving up, surrendering, these are all Sunnis who don't want to fight ISIS, Sunnis who don't want to fight fellow Sunnis.

What you're seeing is that if you scratch the surface of the Iraqi army, it's a bunch of sectarian militias, and the Sunnis will not fight against ISIS because they don't like the Baghdad government.

They don't have that regard for a nation. It's like a sect nation.

They think at this point the Iraqi government is being run by Shia. And so they in a sense don't like ISIS, but they like the Shia government in Baghdad less. So what we have to come to grips with is, this army that doesn't really exist.

Billions of dollar poured into this army…

Billions of dollar poured into it, because it was based on the idea that there was an Iraq, that there was a nation that there would be a national army for. Maybe we need a different strategy, which is to stand up sectarian militias, Shia militias, Sunni militias. They already exist. And the Kurds have their Peshmerga, that model. Send them into fight in their areas, not in other areas where they would be regarded as a foreign army.

That's giving up on a lot, but if you look at events on the ground, that's what reality is telling us.

The reality with regard to Turkey – many are wondering what their role would be moving forward. We now know. We watched the parliamentary vote, that Turkey is now saying to the U.S. OK, you can use our country as this launch pad to bring your troops in and to fire rockets and whatnot. How significant is that move? Do you think that could be the next step toward maybe some ground troops from Turkey?

Turkey is absolutely crucial, because they're the one serious army in the region that borders the ISIS forces that has the capacity and that has the determination and that has the interests at stake.

Turkey has put its head in the sand for so long, trying to believe they don't need to get involved, and they have allowed again their petty issues to overwhelm them.

Is this them pulling their head out of the sand just a little bit?

I think they're beginning to pull their head out of the sand. What they have been worried about…so the people in Kobani are Kurds. They don't want Kurdish forces to get stronger, which then might produce Kurdish separatism, which Turkey worries about because Turkey has lots of Kurds. They are trying to sort of limit the degree to which the Kurds, the ethnics Kurds in the area...

And they can't put all that aside and just fight the terrorists, bottom line?

And they can't put that aside because they don't feel that they're threatened. They feel that ISIS will stop at their border. And they're probably wrong. And so what you're seeing is everybody wants the United States to sweep in like a knight in shining armor.

And fix it.

Fix it for them so they can all free-ride on the United States. And I think one of the things we have to recognize is if the United States stays back and forces some of these governments in, they're going to get involved. They are threatened. This is their region.

We're 6,000 miles away. But, of course, they would much rather the United States come in and we have got all the firepower and Washington has all the firepower. Who wants to fight if the largest military in the history of the world is willing to do it for you?

Final question, Baghdad – how vulnerable? Do you worry about that?

I don't worry about it a lot, because the truth is that because Baghdad is now the Shia capital of Iraq, there are lots of Shia militias. The army is Shia, they will fight until the end. And, remember, the Iraqi army, even in its currently reduced state, it is several hundred thousand. ISIS may have 10,000 or 15,000 people. They are outnumbered 10 or 15 to one. The weapons that the Iraqi army has are much better. And these guys have the will to fight because they want to preserve Shia control of Baghdad.

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Topics: Iraq • ISIS • Turkey

soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Ferhat Balkan

    No surprise here. Look, Iraq has been spiraling out of control ever since the Iraq invasion of 2003. The Bush administration installed a Shia-led government that oppressed the Sunni Arabs for 8 years. These troubles began before ISIS was even heard of. Let's be real.. The Kurds will no doubt get their own territory to the North. Kurdistan is pretty much independent already in every other way other than on paper. The Sunnis have given up on the Iraqi government's "democracy" a long time ago. The Shia are only concerned about themselves. The Iraqi army doesn't care about Iraq. They care about Shia territory, Sunni territory and Kurdish territory. Try asking the Kurdish peshmerga to protect Baghdad... It'll never happen. Try asking the Iraqi army to protect the Kurdish territory. It won't happen. Iraq is a failed state thanks to Bush jr and his cowboy diplomacy.

    October 13, 2014 at 10:52 pm | Reply
    • Real American

      Have you forgot about Saddam Hussein's government which we backed with chemical weapon knowledge that committed genocide against the Kurds and Shia majority? Prior to Saddam Iraq was 75% Shia, but went down to 60% by the time we came in and ended his reign of terror.

      October 14, 2014 at 12:13 am | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        True, Saddam Hussein's ouster offered the Shiites at last a chance to gain control over their country. The sectarian policies don't go away overnight, even though the new Shia-led government has vowed to be more inclusive. But it's too late, Saddam Hussein's former loyalists are already fighting with ISIS and hoping for a better fortune under the IS caliph.
        Turkey is hoping ISIS would solve the Kurdish problem for Ankara. It sees a bigger threat in the Kurds than in ISIS.

        October 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
    • Chris Suits

      what you said again.

      October 14, 2014 at 9:13 am | Reply
    • zcyrus

      I confirm your comment and I'm wondering why John Kerry is also has the same plan!
      Having a Shia govenrment in Baghdad is not the solution.

      October 14, 2014 at 11:02 pm | Reply
  2. Smawt

    You're so smart and confirmed for me what I have been hoping is the case. Thank you sir.

    October 13, 2014 at 11:12 pm | Reply
  3. raj

    October 13, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  4. jeff

    As a Soldier serving in this God forsaken country we were told the Iraqi Army were ready to defend their country.

    October 13, 2014 at 11:56 pm | Reply
    • G.B Adams

      Jeff....they told me the same thing when I went to Viet Nam.

      October 14, 2014 at 10:54 am | Reply
  5. Blue Saffron

    Iraq war was the beginning of the end of America. When history books are written, OBL will emerge as the genius who trapped US/Bush into wars battling ghosts. A man living in caves who outsmarted CIA Inc.

    October 14, 2014 at 12:36 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      "When history books are written," the writers will state what is politically viable, and weat will sell, @ Blue Saffron.
      I agree with you that "the beginning of the end of America" is in the past, but it had nothing to do with either Bush presidency, or with Arabs.
      The beginning of the end of America was about one century ago, when Marxist thinking was brought here, primarily by immigrants.
      After the beginning, unrealistic dreams of egalitarian Utopias, and per-baby professional breeding, brought us to this page of the history book, which may be called BUSH DID IT.

      October 14, 2014 at 4:10 am | Reply
      • Adam

        @Joey. What happened to your troll? Is he on vacation?

        October 14, 2014 at 5:46 am |
    • Richard

      OBL was not a genius. It does not take a genius to be part of a group that was responsible for the murder of 3,000 innocent people.
      What we know about him is that he was a coward hiding in the caves; too afraid to fight along side his fellow terrorists. The only way he knew how to fight was behind the scenes; telling young men that they would have 20 virgins waiting for them after death.

      October 14, 2014 at 9:10 am | Reply
    • Blue Saffron

      I will not be going to my 20 year school reunion because I've become bald and fat. Can't let Jennifer see me like this.

      October 14, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  6. Thomas

    News Flash , The South Vietnamese Army has collapsed and all military personal are fleeing to America .

    Why America loves creating a corporate corrupt military environment that is doomed to failure

    And why are those that create the problem never held accountable ?

    October 14, 2014 at 12:58 am | Reply
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    One of President Obama's funnest achievements has been the use of drones to save countless lives.
    Drones, of course, have limits, and I am confident that this wise-but-strong president will take the appropriate diplomatic and military actions needed to protect the safety and prosperity of the USA.

    October 14, 2014 at 4:23 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      Did I type "funnest?"
      I meant "finest."
      Igor Stravinsky advised other composers to trust their mistakes.

      October 14, 2014 at 9:31 am | Reply
  8. Gabriel

    Good. Let them collapse. That's what you get when you exclude an entire group of people-Sunnis- from their own country. What did Bush and Cheney think was going to happen? The Sunnis was going to say, "Oh yea, sure, come on in U.S. military and new Shia government. Just kick us out of here. We will leave this country and be refuges. We'll run and hide."
    The Bush Cheney legacy lives on..FAILURE.

    October 14, 2014 at 5:24 am | Reply
  9. J Appleby

    America's fall from grace has been the quickest than any other leading nation. Goes to show that nations built on a culture of guns seldom survive.

    October 14, 2014 at 5:28 am | Reply
  10. Richard

    Disagree. Guns helped this nation succeed in WWW I and WWII. Guns is what helps Americans in home invasions. We need guns. They are a God sent.
    America's fall from grace is excessive spending and the ignorance of Washington's foreign policies for the past 50 years.

    October 14, 2014 at 5:36 am | Reply
  11. bert

    people in Iraq believe that the US coalition have been created to support ISIS . They say whenever Iraqi forces advance against ISIS , the coalition air force bomb them , and they say we wanted to bomb ISIS . This has happened several times so far.

    October 14, 2014 at 7:00 am | Reply
  12. banasy○

    At least they're trying.

    October 14, 2014 at 8:18 am | Reply
    • Sneeks

      What kind of dumb comment is that? Oh, never mind. You're a troll.

      October 14, 2014 at 10:19 am | Reply
  13. chri§§y

    If this IS the end of America there will be no history books written! Because the end of America it will also be the end of all will, in fact be WWWIII!

    October 14, 2014 at 10:23 am | Reply
  14. chri§§y

    My father, may he RIP, always said you will know when its WWWIII when Turkey gets involved because Turkey does not involve itself in other's battles. Well guess what....

    October 14, 2014 at 10:26 am | Reply
  15. chri§§y

    @ G. B. Adams..alot of falsehoods told about BOTH wars!

    October 14, 2014 at 11:01 am | Reply
  16. trigtwit palin... America's favorite tard baby


    October 14, 2014 at 11:16 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      I cannot say whether that @ chrissy above is she or a troll.
      Good avatar, and a terrific copy of the know style, if it is a hijacking!

      October 14, 2014 at 11:46 am | Reply
  17. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    World War III is not a prerequisite for the USA's destruction, which, to me, will be our functioning at the level of a nation in the jungles of central Africa.
    The Dracula-like state will manifest itself shortly after enough folks with "good" intentions make their druthers come true by spreading the wealth around completely.

    October 14, 2014 at 11:38 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Hi. I am fat, bald, and I wear glasses.

      October 14, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  18. chri§§y

    Tis me @ Joey, my hero! Remember that? And the retraction into the abdomin story?

    October 14, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  19. chri§§y

    But i did NOT post the comment yesterday about you approving ALL wars. In fact i only posted once yesterday and that was to disclaim THAT post.

    October 14, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Reply
    • Sneeks

      Sure ya did. Avatars can't be stolen. Nice backtracking. Think before ya snark and this crap won't happen!!

      October 14, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  20. palintwit

    It must be absolute hell to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and realize you're Sarah Palin. If I were her, I would certainly go bungee jumping with a cord that was at least 100 feet too long.

    October 14, 2014 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  21. palintwit

    I am a Tea Party Patriot. I love basball, apple pie, Chevrolet, and Sarah Palin.

    October 14, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Reply
    • palintwit

      Fake palintwit at 12:15 pm ^

      October 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  22. palintwit

    " Sarah Palin is an ignoramus. She did not know that Queen Elizabeth II does not run the British government, and she did not know that North and South Korea are different countries. She seemed not to have heard of the Federal Reserve. She called Joe Biden “O’Biden” and she thought America went to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein, not al-Qaeda, had attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Not only does she know little, but she is determinately incurious and supremely smug in her ignorance. "

    October 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  23. chri§§y

    If youre talking to me @ sneeks THAT was exactly my point. That post yesterday morning did NOT have MY avatar! So go jaywalking in heavy traffic would ya!!!

    October 14, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  24. chri§§y

    Tired of these avatars. How's a person to troll?

    October 14, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  25. chri§§y

    Seriously? What a dumb a&&!

    October 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  26. stuart

    @chrissy. Who are u calling a dumb a&&??? Look in the mirror. Air head

    October 14, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Reply
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