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.

Post by:
Topics: Iraq • ISIS • Turkey

soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Sammy

    Another Bay of Pigs???

    October 14, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  2. Sneeks

    Then you're blind as the dingbat you are because it's the same avatar Chrissy. Guess YOU can't see them. Lmao you even spelled "coming" wrong like you always do.

    October 14, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  3. chri§§y

    @ stuart...the dumb a&& that jacked my name! You know who that might be maybe???

    October 14, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    And in ten years, Dr. Zakaria will be fat, bald, and be wearing glasses.

    October 14, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      @ My Troll:
      Ah, there you are.
      I heard that you caught that pesky Ebola and died.

      October 14, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Reply
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        They found a cure

        October 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
  5. chri§§y

    @ sneeks or roem rather, i just re read ALL of my posts and i NEVER used the word "comming" once! Grow the he!! up already would you ya nasty little roach of a man!

    October 14, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Reply
  6. stuart

    Yea. Grow up roem!!

    October 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  7. Zandie

    My client, Sneaks is not guilty.

    October 14, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    TEST
    coming...
    See? Even my StupidPhone can spell that.

    October 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    I am not your troll. I'm filling in for your real troll, George Patton.

    October 14, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    He will be back on October 31. Yep. Halloween.

    October 14, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  11. chri§§y

    That was cute @ Joey, i dont like wishing bad things on ppl but ebola for the troll sounds good to me! 😉

    October 14, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  12. Towel Heads

    Towel Heads IS what Towel Heads DO.

    October 14, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  13. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    Halloween is one of the best holidays. It is much more fun than Christmas or Easter.

    October 14, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  14. chri§§y

    But 4th of July is way better even lol. Nothin can compare with fireworks!

    October 14, 2014 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  15. chri§§y

    But i especially like the ones coming after christmas! Ya know the ones...New Years eve and New Years day.

    October 14, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  16. Philip

    Huh? You mean that army US troops trained a few years ago is getting whooped by a bunch of gang bangers? The ones that trained using wooden guns? Whoulda thunk.

    October 14, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Reply
    • Gaerret

      Philip, every post of yours in a non-sequiter. Ask your mommy what that means.

      October 15, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  17. chri§§y

    You sure are fixated on that gang bangin thing arent you? Why is that i wonder?

    October 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Reply
  18. zcyrus

    The Shia Iraqi government armed the Shia militant terrorist groups like Asayeb Hagh and Lashkar Badre to kill the innocent Sunni people.
    They acting worse than Sunni Isis!

    October 14, 2014 at 10:50 pm | Reply
  19. zcyrus

    Kerry meet Russia foreign policy to get help!?
    The Russia that with supporting Assad regime cause this issue!

    October 14, 2014 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  20. zcyrus

    The region must be cleaned up from all the radical islamic ideology supporters including Iran Shia regime and Islamic sunni ISIS.

    October 14, 2014 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  21. chri§§y

    And you must live in an awful neighborhood if YOUR neighbors are thieves and murderers! Perhaps you should move! Thats what i would do...well unless you have a death wish OR an awful lot in common with them. Which wouldnt surprise me in the least. That hatefulness had to come from somewhere.

    October 14, 2014 at 10:54 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      One's "neighborhood" is no longer as reliable a guarantee of safety as a neighborhood of sixty years ago, at least in the USA.
      One might move to a fine, quiet, and safe neighborhood today, only to watch its devolution into an undesirable environment within a short period of time.

      October 15, 2014 at 6:34 am | Reply
  22. zcyrus

    No Iraqi Sunni trust the Baghdad government! Because all members are Shia and mostly are linked to the Iran islamic regime!!!

    October 14, 2014 at 10:56 pm | Reply
  23. zcyrus

    Why Turkey is striking the Turkey Kurds?!!!
    Something wrong with them?!

    October 14, 2014 at 11:23 pm | Reply
    • Ferhat Balkan

      Turkey is striking the PKK, not the Kurds. In short: Retaliation. A Turkish military outpost near the Iraqi border came under PKK fire for three consecutive days. Turkey sent out F-16 and F-4 jets to bomb the positions where the shelling came from.

      October 14, 2014 at 11:41 pm | Reply
    • Bernard

      @zcyrus. I am sorry to hear this. I wonder when things do get better. Good luck to you.

      October 14, 2014 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  24. Bernard

    Interesting Philip. TY

    October 14, 2014 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  25. Mike

    Iran Islamic regime attacked the Iranian demonstrators for supporting fight of Kurdish against the ISIS and arrested some in the different cities of Iran!

    October 15, 2014 at 1:00 am | Reply
  26. Buck Ofama

    This is terrible! After all those billions of dollars we spent on that fool organization in order to carry out our proxy occupation and now they cut and run! This is simply unacceptable, it is, it simply is and that is all there is to it!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 15, 2014 at 9:18 am | Reply
  27. chri§§y

    Probably a good reason to get to know the people who would be your neighbors before you purchase or rent your home huh @ Joey? Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions one will make in their adult life...and should not be done irrationally. Its a place you plan on raising your children, if your going to have them. My home has some rather interesting history...the oldest living woman in the US used to own my home in fact i occasionally still get her mail. So Margaret Talley if youre reading this, check with the Post Office because i recently gave them back mail addressed to you! And God bless you ma'am! 😉

    October 15, 2014 at 9:25 am | Reply
  28. Philip

    WWIII. Lmao. Who can possibly stand against the might of the US armed forces/staunch allies and the NSA/CIA/FBI/MI6? There are no would-be challengers to this: The combined forces of USA, GB, France, Germany, etc etc etc.
    Your own family members pose a bigger threat to you than America's enemies do. Certainly your own neighbors are known thieves and murderers.

    October 14, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  29. Philip

    *own neighbors = fellow Americans.
    Did you know that suicide kills more troops than America's enemies do? No. You did not. Because you don't care to know.

    October 14, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Reply
  30. Gaerret

    You've described the human condition. Congratulations on your "insight"!

    October 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Reply
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