Zaid Al-Ali is an Iraqi lawyer. His book The Struggle for Iraq’s Future: How Corruption, Incompetence and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy, was published in 2014.

Follow Zaid Al-Ali on Twitter: @zalali.

NYR DAILY

Tikrit: Iraq’s Abandoned City

Debris on a road in Tikrit, April 1, 2015

By the time Iraqi forces backed by US warplanes finally retook Tikrit from ISIS on April 3, the city was a hollow shell of its former self, and almost all of its population of about 200,000 was displaced. In the weeks since the liberation, many are seeking answers to some vital questions: How did ISIS take over the city so quickly in the first place? And what does Tikrit’s experience reveal about the way ISIS rules?