Sunday, July 3, 2016

More Ramadan chaos. ISIS takes responsibility for bombing that kills more then 80 people in Iraq.

Iraqi firemen and civilians react to the bombing. AP. 

ISIS has taken responsibility for yet another major car bombing in Baghdad Iraq. New York Times. Civilians were gathering outside celebrating one of the last days of Ramadan when a massive car bomb exploded. At least 82 people were killed while another 160 were wounded. ISIS immediately took credit for the attack, which came right after major attacks in Turkey and Bangladesh. Many of the victims were young children who were out celebrating the end of the school year. The bombing has soured Iraq's most recent victory against ISIS, the defeat of the terror group at their stronghold in Fallujah. When Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi arrived civilians threw rocks and shoes, a deadly insult in the Middle East, at him. Tensions are high in Baghdad as security forces have failed to prevent ISIS attacks in the capital.

My Comment:
Yet another major ISIS terrorist attack. My guess is that this one will go unnoticed compared to the ones in Turkey and Bangladesh. And will pale in comparison to the coverage that the Pulse Nightclub shooting in the United States. 

Why? Well, as sad as it is, a massive car bombing in Baghdad where dozens die is nothing new. That has been going on for about a decade now, and another 82 dead people isn't nearly shocking in a country that has seen so much violence. The attacks in Turkey and Bangladesh occurred in somewhat more peaceful countries, at least until very recently. And of course the largest terror attack in US history since 9/11 is going to get more coverage as well.  

Still, out of all the strikes and massacres this one probably will have more of an impact on the global stage. It's clear to me that the people of Iraq are sick and tired of having their capital attacked. This was just another of a long line of attacks on the capital and the Iraqis have had enough. The violent reception Prime Minster Abadi got is proof of that. As high as tensions are in the United States right now, I can hardly believe that people would throw rocks at President Obama if he showed up at the scene of a terrorist attack. Even those of us that are utterly disgusted by Barack Obama still tend to show some respect to the office, if not the man himself. 

The battle for Fallujah was supposed to be a turning point. ISIS was rumored to be sending attacks from the city to Baghdad and by liberating Fallujah, Iraq was supposed to have been seen as doing something about the ISIS problem. And to be fair to the Iraqis, the battle for Fallujah went better then I expected. I expected it to still be going on as I type this but the Iraqi forces grew some spine and kicked ISIS out of the city, without resorting to using Shiite militias. 

But this attack proves that entire premise false. ISIS was never using Fallujah as a base for attacks. The city was under siege for months, with little hope of being relieved. Sure, a few fighters were able to slip through but the threat from ISIS wasn't from Fallujah. It was from across Iraq. 

As ISIS has been pushed back throughout central Iraq, they have left behind sleeper cells and agents to recruit and carry out these bombings. They most likely have bomb factories and teams within Baghdad itself. And if they don't then the security in Baghdad and the outlying areas of the region isn't anywhere near as good as it needs to be. 

It seems that ISIS is just going back to the old tactics they used when they were still al-Qaeda in Iraq. As they lose territory they no longer seem to be concerned with being on the offensive and taking new areas. Instead they are trying to keep pressure on the Iraqi government by attacking the capital with their old tired and true terrorist tactics. This attack proves that car bombings still work. 

Their goal is the increase sectarian tensions and cause the Iraqi people to lose faith in their government. And that's the scariest thing. Even though ISIS has been pushed to the brink of defeat militarily on the battlefield, they are still damned close to winning the war. If the Abadi government fails or the country falls into sectarian war again then ISIS will be able to regain the ground they lost and rise again like a phoenix from the ashes of their most recent defeats. 

Will it happen though? I think it might. Iraq has long proven to be ungovernable. There is just too much corruption and laziness in the government and their armed forces leave much to be desired. With sectarian tensions high and people going so far as to throw their shoes at their leader, I think that there is a decent chance that the Iraqi government could fail. With US support they may survive, or at least transition into something new, but things aren't looking as good as recent success on the battlefield should indicate. 

As for ISIS, this has been a good month for them in terms of terrorist attacks. Though their Caliphate is rapidly losing territory, their fortunes as a major terrorist organization have been on the rise. It's clear that ISIS is now the premier terror group globally and they have greatly expanded their reach. Lone wolves are pulling off their own attacks in ISIS's name with casualties almost as severe as the attacks the core group is conducting as well.  

If there is any good news it is that Ramadan is going to be over soon. I am worried though. The end of Ramadan happens to be on July 5th, one day after one of the most important holidays in the United States. July 4th will be a day of celebration in the United States, but what are the chances that an ISIS supporter pulls off an attack? 4th of July celebrations do tend to be soft targets... Let's hope that the bloodshed and terror is done for this Ramadan and that no attacks happen. But if it does, I honestly won't be surprised. 

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