Tuesday, July 29, 2014

If the Islamic State Conquers Baghdad...

There's a lot going on in the world right now, especially in the Mid-East, but the once headline-grabbing ISIS advance (and subsequent declaration of an Islamic Caliphate) seems to have taken second place to events around Israel, Ukraine, and Family Dollar (trending higher than Gaza on Google News, as of this writing).

What happens when the I.S. overruns Baghdad?  What are strategic and political complications?

An article on The Daily Beast (read it here) talked about the very real possibility that I.S. may launch an attack on Baghdad in the near future.  There seems to be some debate about whether it will take the form of a guerilla operation (suicide bombs, assassinations, and other "terror" activity) or a frontal assault.

Given the recent events, the guerilla campaign has already begun: car bombs, shootings, and other attacks have rocked Baghdad--including a recent macabre discovery of bodies, some killed execution-style.  Are there elements of the I.S. already operating in Baghdad?  How deep are they, or will they, infiltrate?

How much pressure can the unstable Iraqi regime sustain before it collapses?  Will intervention, again, be required?  The U.S. would need to step back in, apply military force to oust the I.S., and maintain a presence to re-stabilize Iraq.  The American public either doesn't have the stomach or doesn't give enough of a shit to drop boots back into another sand-blasted, never-ending war.

Iran is a likely candidate to fill in power vacuums in the region; they have already offered and delivered help to Iraq in the fight against the I.S., along with Russia and even Syria.  War-torn Syria has attacked the I.S. on more than one occasion and still grapples with them within Syria.

When Baghdad falls, the IS will represent a large, militarized entity in a region primed for large-scale warfare.  As the Gaza ass-whooping continues, the anger toward Israel grows; at some point, the IS will work toward terrorizing and then annihilating the Jewish nation.  If Iran, Russia, Qatar, or any other Westerphobic countries merge causes and forces, the situation will spiral out of control rapidly.  Image a region-wide Islamic State surrounding Israel.  Unless we distance (divorce) ourselves of Israel prior to that event, leaving them to the wolves, this would set the stage for quite the showdown.

Other extremist groups will be emboldened by the IS success, if they haven't already stepped up their game.  Boko Haram in Nigeria certainly seemed to align their headline-grabbing actions along with the advance of ISIS.  There will be more willingness for people, maybe more young than old, to join the IS and fight for something they feel to be a part of.

Isn't that one of the major flaws of the modern age?  Is that we all feel detached, alone, amid billions?  Maybe the IS provides that "being part of something bigger" that is sorely lacking.  How much more will that promise shine out if they succeed at taking Baghdad and spreading influence in the region.

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