ISIS Making Strong Gains In Anbar, Baghdad May Be Next

“From the first day that ISIS was appearing we were warning the government. We said all of Iraq is in danger and if Anbar falls, the rest of the country will follow.”
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    ISISBAGHDAD, Iraq — From an over-stuffed, gold-rimmed sofa at his home in Baghdad’s wealthy Mansour neighborhood, sheikh Hamid al-Hayes has watched his home province of Anbar unravel.

    A veteran of the fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq during the US-led occupation, he was not surprised by the recent string of Iraqi government defeats in the province to the group which now calls itself the Islamic State. He saw it coming for months.

    “From the first day that ISIS was appearing we were warning the government. We said all of Iraq is in danger and if Anbar falls, the rest of the country will follow,” he says.



    While the battle for the Syrian town of Kobani has grabbed headlines in recent weeks, IS militants in Iraq’s vast western province of Anbar have been making steady progress for months. Securing supply routes and infiltrating urban centers, the group has laid siege to its largest military base and is making a push for the provincial capital Ramadi.

    Ramadi native al-Hayes, once a power-player in Iraqi Sunni tribal politics before being denounced as a traitor for joining a Shia-led political coalition, says whatever happens in Anbar will have a dramatic impact on Sunni-Shia relations in Iraq for years to come.

    “The people of Anbar are suffering from government treatment,” al-Hayes explained, “they need to be rebuilt as human beings.”

    Sunnis across Iraq are still reeling from years of government neglect and abuse under former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Many Iraqis accuse Maliki’s government of giving the country’s Shia preferential treatment, generating deep frustration within the Sunni community.

    That sentiment was felt particularly in Anbar province, Iraq’s Sunni heartland. Earlier this year, anger at the central government boiled over into a protest movement that triggered a brutal government crackdown.

    The crackdown, which included barrel bomb attacks on civilian areas that left hundreds dead, created an opening for the return of extremist groups. Many Anbaris, including prominent tribal sheikhs, became so alienated by their own government that they embraced the extremist Islamic State as an alternative to central government rule.

    Al-Hayes argues that while most Sunnis blame Maliki for Anbar’s current state of affairs, all eyes will now be on the newly appointed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and how he deals with the historically restive province.

    “The situation is in Abadi’s hands,” he says.

    Many will be watching to see if the government reaches out to disaffected Sunnis, a point that most analysts agree will be crucial to defeating the Islamic State.

    Hisham al-Hishami, a military analyst in Baghdad, drawing maps on slips of notebook paper to illustrate his point, believes that while the government has managed to maintain a hold on some parts of Anbar, they are failing strategically.

    Iraq’s federal police, he says, are “acting like firemen” — reacting to events rather than going on the offensive. “They don’t have the initiative, they’re just waiting like a defender.”

    Government forces there are also outgunned, he adds. While Shia militias battling Islamic State militants in Diyala province are being inundated with heavy weapons and government resources — and playing a key role in government gains — al-Hishami says the Sunni tribes in Anbar feel like they’re being short changed.

    “Everything right now depends on the central government. If they give the support, the funds, resources, equipment, this is what has the power to reverse the current events in Anbar.”

    So far, Iraqi military and security forces in Anbar report they are receiving supplies and light arms from the government, but not the heavy artillery and tanks they say they need to push back Islamic State gains.

    “The general perception is that the Iraqi government doesn’t believe Anbar as a whole to be important,” says Ahmed Ali, an Iraqi researcher with the Institute for the Study of War based in Washington. “It sees parts of Anbar to be important, but it’s clear the government’s priority is to secure the [outskirts] of Baghdad first.”

    Similarly, US-led airstrikes have shifted away from targets in and around cities in Anbar in recent weeks. Instead, coalition planes are more often protecting key points of Iraqi infrastructure like the Mosul Dam and Bayji oil refinery.

    Ali says beyond the province’s symbolic value, there will be dramatic strategic consequences if Anbar falls out of government control. One of those consequences will be that Islamic State militants will be better positioned to launch attacks on Shia holy sites in Karbala. One such devastating attack, Ali argues, could spark an all out civil war in a manner similar to how the 2006 al-Askari Mosque bombing in Samarra unleashed a torrent of sectarian violence.

    Watching the battle in Anbar, Sunnis in the capital Baghdad say their neighborhoods are becoming more and more tense.

    “The mood right now, its just kind of unstable,” explains a young man from Dora who asked to only be referred to by his nickname, Moe. He says security has been so tight at the entrance to his neighborhood it take two hours just to get through a single checkpoint.

    Moe, 25, who worked with American forces during the US occupation of Iraq, says while Sunnis in particular are watching Anbar closely, he doesn’t see it as a purely sectarian issue.

    “Every Iraqi wants this to end, you know why? Because if ISIS takes Anbar, what do you think they will just say ‘that’s good enough for us’?” he asks. “No, they’re gonna try harder to take more provinces and Baghdad will be next, I promise you.”

    Back at Al-Hayes’ Mansour villa, the sheikh dismisses talk of tribal politics, a long fight and complex battle strategy in Anbar.

    “If only the Americans would give us apaches, we’d be done with ISIS in one month,” he says.

    This article was published by Global Post.
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    • Robert Kanga

      Somewhere our muslim is smelling billy clittons cigar and smiling….

    • Tom Joad

      It is so amazing that the Kurds can defeat, or at least hold off ISIS attacks in the face of superior weaponry, yet the Iraqi army, being well supplied by the US and supposedly trained efficiently, loses battles and/or runs unashamedly in the simplest engagements with the militants. There is always much that can be said about character, strength of heart and will. The old saying of “…leading a horse to water…” really applies.

    • Robert Furguson

      Who cares? Why are we spending our taxpayers money to kill people in another country? There is no immanent threat to us in the USA, we don’t need to spend 1.6 million for every bomb we drop, much less the fuel, men and political figures and the OTHER TERRORISTS we are using to fight ISIS. We will start fighting another of these groups once ISIS is gone. This is bullcrap!

    • Hugh Lokey

      Eventually ISIL will take the Baghdad airport and that will be he end of Baghdad. With the 155 mm howitzers they got from the Iraqi army, who go them from the US, they can knock out the airport along with the US aircraft based there. If they overrun the airport they will also most likely capture a few of the 300+ US Marines stationed there providing perimeter security. Once they have taken the airport out of the picture they can shell Baghdad’s Green Zone and destroy the US Embassy there along with the Iraqi government. If ISIL avoids moving in mass then there is a good chance they can get away with it while the attention is focused on Kobani.

    • WalterByrd123

      Well, Shia’s, it’s up to you now. Your fate is in your hands….not one single American is remotely interested in whether or not the ISIS group takes Bagdad and begins to execute all Shia……it’s your call you bozo’s….its your country. Do you want it or not?
      THEN FIGHT FOR IT, YOU SIMPLE DROOLING GOOBERS!!!!!

    • Jeff

      Any foreign military conflict involving U.S. interests will go the way of our adversaries as long as Obama is president.

      • zabada

        America is working for Israel to destroy Iran by using sunni countries coalition force.America tries to kill two bird with a shot.America shot a bullet to Iraq and killed Saddam sunnis,palnted syiah uprising and invited Iran on war with Sunnis force.Since sunni make 85% of all muslims,Iran will be defeated by Sunnis coalition.That all.War in Iraq really a game of death by Zionist movement In America and white house.They also let Syrian to engage in war to death,in order to destroy enemies of israel.They planned this before 9 11.First Jews planned to destroy Arab Saudi,That why all fake terrorist who involve in 9 11 are all from Saudi.Zionist deserve to destroy Muslims countries by using western Christians force.Anyway they change the plan destroy Saddam and planned destabilize at the area..and it is plan.B.America is disagree to destroy Saudi..Both America and Saudi have good relation and Saudi obey to America not to harm Israel and It is bad to destroy Muslims holy soil.So they change the game.For sure this must true.Zionist Jews and whites Zionist is too good on death game at the past.See how they planned to destroy Germany at the past.Anyway their game will enlarge Iraq and Syria war to world war three in very near future.

    • rodriman49@yahoo.com

      I bet you our muslim president’e, at the ‘White House’ is celebrating his friends gains…

      • Anonymous

        I bet he is not DB

        • Hugh Lokey

          I bet he is! He is keeping the Air Force from really kicking the crap out of ISIL for a reason.

          • Anonymous

            I be he is not DB. Put your foil back on your head

    • SHEIKH MUHAMMAD RAFI

      IT IS GOOD FOR IS TO GAIN GROUND IN ANBAR PROVINCE IF THEY ARE UNABLE TO SUCCEED IN CAPTURING KOBANE IN VIEW OF US & COALITION AIR POWER SUPPORT TO KURDS!

      • Anonymous

        OK, GREAT POST I JUST WISH YOU WOULD NOT TYPE WITH ALL CAPS, ITS ANNOYING

    • Rijomi

      They already tried Baghdad airport and were stopped miles away. Americans in Apaches handled it promptly. They were turned back. I believe this article is outdated.

      • Hugh Lokey

        Some folks think that was simply a “feeler” to see what the US would do.

        • Rijomi

          Possibly. However, it has been proven when terrorists groups fight a well trained military in a battlefield environment, they always lose. They do not have the tactics, strategy, or know-how combined with no air support generally makes their wish of martyrdom come true.

          • Hugh Lokey

            ISIL appears to be different – in part I suspect due to the number of former Iraqi Army senior officers who have joined them because they are Sunni. As long as Obozo prevents the Pentagon from really fighting an air war ISIL is going to continue to have successes and poses a threat to all of Iraq.

            • Rijomi

              I have to beg to differ. The same Sunni were rolled over in both Gulf Wars. In Kobani, the Kurds are more than holding their own just because they are resisting (and have air support).That should be over when their reinforcements arrive now that Turkey acquiesced. The dam and oil refinery have been captured. They (ISIL) are refusing to come out in the open to engage because of the air strikes. Their best weapon now is suicide bombers. Its the beginning of the end, albeit a somewhat long one.

            • Tom Joad

              You are correct. Former experienced military members are in their mix. That, combined with YEARS of experience amongst militants from many different countries are a blessing for the Islamic State. It would be like cherry-picking the best NFL players of every team for each position on a football team and having that team play your local high school, even if the high school team was undefeated state champions.

          • Tom Joad

            I agree with one major point you made: Airpower. On a modern battlefield, if one side has airpower and the other does not, it is almost impossible for the all-ground force to win. The only example of the contrary would be the Afghans with OUR Stinger Manpads. Without those, it is possible there might very well be a large Russian force stationed in Afghanistan today. That’s not to say they would have “won” the war, but they would have a large presence in the country.

            • Rijomi

              The Russians seem to have adopted our “Viet Nam” strategy of deploying troops to hot spots by helicopter and using them for ground support. The stinger was not around in the Viet Nam era. The stinger in Afghanistan was a definitely game changer for the rebels.

        • Tom Joad

          Very common tactic in guerrilla warfare. Probes are a must when considering an enemy’s response to your offense. IS as an army looks at it’s fighters as fodder. Yeah, they all share a goal, but I am hearing and reading more and more of militants being killed while “hopped up” on narcotics and anti-depressants, (which I don’t see how anti-depressants would help with battlefield anxiety, or allowing a fighter to charge forward with reckless abandon. I have taken anti-depression/anxiety meds for 10 years and I PROMISE YOU I would never rush a machine gun bunker because of them.) The US is playing a very dangerous game with IS. They already hate us, so I would have left them alone. I am not much for pouring gas on a raging fire. They are not worth one American serviceman’s life.

          • Rijomi

            I am not a fan of this venture but reluctantly support it. I was not for the second Gulf War. The second gulf war created this hornet’s nest. Saddam Hussein, as bad as he was, was secular and anti Islamic-terrorist. They threatened his rule. He also kept Iran in check. I am not one for wasting our military resources, especially soldiers, but cannot accept religious genocide and the other atrocities. Also, their end goal is the United States.To me, they are a “new and improved ” version of the Taliban. I have faith in our Special Forces acting as advisers The best of the best. I believe you can already see the effect of their contributions. I do respect your concern regarding our military and agree that may be something else happening with ISIL’s militants, other than misguided religious fervor.

      • Chuck

        Right, a lot of these articles are outdated and ran much too long.

    • kelleyinoh

      Only if Americans would GIVE us Apache ‘s Give us rich man buy some .

    • WAM

      Send the daddy hating unforgiving anti authority baby killing trans gender homo marriage tree butt **uckers with Soros and Bill gates, have kissinger and Brock Chisholm rid shotgun and hussein owebama as forensic bag man

    • donamick

      one word: hydrogen.

      • Anonymous

        one word: Bible

      • zabada

        it is not easy to kill 1.6 million muslims..if you kill all muslims in iraq.. you must kill all of muslims in the world..or they will revenge…you see how many non iraqis sunnis are figthing American zionist plan in Iraq..likely to all Zionist Jews slaves…you are weak on mathematics..so stop your big mouth.Philosopher said..big mouth people always have a heart of rat.Unfornutely.. you will lose this war badly.

        • donamick

          I THINK YOU ANSWER YOUR OWN QUESTION.

          • zabada

            so come with your hydrogen..Coalition pilot are scare to fall on the ground..isis will burnt them alive…That is how to schooling brutal people like you.I guess all slaves are coward.Including you.

    • Micah Dubitzky

      Micahs dad: let them blow themselves up but America should send a strong message to all those that even think about harming americans that we won’t give a shit how many civilians we have to destroy if we have to do this in order to destroy YOU!!!

    • Casey

      The pimple that we are attacking is just that a point that has few IS fighters, enough to keep the battle going while the plumb is being stolen.
      While Syria was the headlines we were told daily of the tens of thousands fighter, military and civilians that were killed. In this vast battle we have been told 500 Is were killed in three weeks plus of modern war and not how many Kurds or Civilians. If the poorly armed rebels in Syria could kill a hundred thousand plus and the best we can do at a cost of eighty thousand per kill then either the media was lying about Syria or the air war is a loss.
      So here is a possible future or two. The first is America, POTUS, gets his head out of his behind and understands that this is a religious war and we are now on the Shiite side and need Syria and Iraq or the IS comes to an agreement with the Kurds giving them the home land they want if they take modern weapons and attack Turkey.

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