Ramadi ‘falls to ISIS’

The so-called Islamic State claimed on Sunday night that it was in control of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, in the country’s Anbar province, 80 miles from Baghdad. Reuters reported that a local official had described the situation as “total collapse.”

While the Pentagon would not confirm the fall of the city, McClatchy‘s Mitchell Prothero writes that the area could continue to be “contested” in coming days.

“We’re continuing to monitor reports of fighting in Ramadi and the situation remains fluid and contested. It is too early to make definitive statements about the situation on the ground,” Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren said in an email. “The loss of Ramadi would not mean the tide of the campaign has turned . . . If lost, that just means the coalition will have to support Iraqi forces to take it back later.”

This apparent success for ISIS comes in the wake of reports at the weekend of a US raid in Syria, in which a “senior leader” of the organization was said to have been killed and his wife captured. Dan Murphy at Christian Science Monitor writes that, despite media accounts of the raid, broad praise from politicians, and a White House statement on the operation, little appears known about the man.

“..absent from the virtual parade is any meaningful detail on who the man was or why he was so important that it was worth risking the lives of US soldiers to try to capture him…

In the five years I covered the Iraq war their were dozens of reports of “senior” members of the insurgency – usually belonging to Al Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of IS – being killed or captured. Such descriptions of seniority in most cases were a form of prestige inflation, and most such losses were easily replaced, as IS’s current strength in the Sunni Arab parts of Iraq makes clear.

And if this operation was all about intelligence gathering, why go so public about it so quickly?”

***

* WORLD * A shootout between biker gangs at a restaurant in Waco, Texas ended with nine people dead and several injured.

Air strikes have resumed against Houthi rebels in Yemen after a ceasefire expired, Saudi military officials announced. Al Jazeera reports that “Yemeni political parties began talks on Sunday in the Saudi capital aimed at finding a solution to the crisis. But the Houthis stayed away from the meeting of some 400 delegates including President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has taken refuge in Riyadh.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry is in the South Korean capital Seoul as tensions with the North continue to grow amid what the Washington Post reports are a series of “fresh provocations from  Pyongyang.”

As service prepares to resume on the Amtrak line between Philadelphia and New York following last week’s fatal derailment, there were conflicting reports as to whether the train had been hit by a projectile or, even, shot at prior to the incident.

* Full coverage from Philly.com is here.

***

* POLITICS * South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham will apparently provide an “important update” on Monday morning about his plans for the coming electoral cycle, but MSNBC reported that aides said he would not be announcing a campaign. It had previously been reported locally that Graham was planning to announce a run on June 1st.

GOP Presidential hopefuls – including Sen Graham – assembled in Iowa at the weekend for the Lincoln Dinner – the state’s biggest political showpiece gathering so far. Politico has five takeaways, including the possibility that the Iowa Straw Poll, which the local GOP promotes as being crucial to a candidate’s success in the state, may be “on its last legs.”

..it’s still unclear which — if any — of the top tier candidates will engage with the straw poll. [Jeb] Bush said earlier Saturday that he “doesn’t do straw polls,” not because Iowa is unimportant to him but because the financial resources it takes to compete – buying tickets for supporters, meals, busing them to and from the event – are better spent building out the infrastructure of a national campaign. Scott Walker, who leads polls in Iowa, was rumored earlier this week to be announcing his decision to participate at Saturday’s dinner; given the importance his campaign is putting on winning Iowa, opting out may be the hardest call for him.

Something for the party to ponder is the growing age profile of its base. Daniel McGraw writes at Politico, that The GOP is dying off. Literally.

There’s been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Hundreds of thousands of their traditional core supporters won’t be able to turn out to vote at all.

And if any of the potential candidates were wondering what might happen to them should they run and lose, well there’s always the sweet science…

(Associated Press)

***

* CULTURE * It was the Mad Men finale on Sunday night. Here’s a recap via Vanity Fair, while here’s the crew’s favorite moments at Variety, while of course…

Finally, better late than never, farewell and thank you to Riley B. “Blues Boy” King, gone at 89 after a remarkable life.

(PBS News Hour)

Although perhaps predictably, there was little imagination among the nation’s headline writers.

(h/t Romenesko)

 

 

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