The Dom Post editorial:
Finally, there is something to cheer in the international war against Isis.
The Iraqi army, famously the “cowards” of NZ First MP Ron Mark’s imaginings, took the city of Ramadi this week, capital of the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar.
That is an important turnaround from six months ago when Isis took the city at a canter.
Some of the army’s newfound cohesion and tactical nous is reportedly down to the training and equipment it has received from US troops; perhaps New Zealand’s small deployment of trainers has also played a role in the revival.
If so, that is gratifying: it hints that the US coalition, which toiled for months in Iraq and Syria with very little impact, might be having some useful impact after all.
It’s a beginning, but a useful one.
Back in New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key will surely draw some comfort from the victory in Ramadi – he has already declared himself “vindicated” after a brief trip to visit New Zealand’s troops in Iraq. But there could easily be more twists to come – this war has been bleakly unpredictable, while even an Isis in retreat poses a threat in Western cities.
Key presumably understands this: he has stressed his unwillingness to extend the New Zealand deployment, no matter how that undercuts his sometimes righteous rhetoric about fighting Isis.
The Labour Party, on the other hand, added to its recent record of vacillations before Christmas by floating the possibility of sending the SAS to the war, months after it had opposed sending trainers to Iraq.
I have no idea what their policy now is. They condemned sending trainers in, and now are talking about sending the SAS in.