If you consider what ISIS has been able to accomplish, it is rather perplexing. Under what is supposed to be an air armada of coalition aircraft aimed at degrading and destroying the barbaric Islamic terrorist army, ISIS is still conducting multiple offensive operations.
Albeit somewhat stalled, ISIS is still pressing the attack against the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani. ISIS also executed multiple synchronized and coordinated attacks against Kurdish positions in northern Iraq — upwards to 15 different raid-type operations. And ISIS is pressuring the outskirts of Baghdad and has effectively established a three-point cordon around the capitol of Iraq — a city of some 7 million.
One of the things you learn in the military is that you can only have one main effort. You may have two to three supporting efforts, but there is only one primary endeavor which gets the priority of resources.
And so we need to analyze what ISIS is doing with that same perspective. The primary objective of ISIS is to establish an Islamic state, the base of a caliphate ruled under Sharia law — and of course its subsequent expansion. ISIS does not regard secular governance and does not respect the established national boundaries of the Sykes-Picot agreement. ISIS is a Sunni Islamic terrorist army and its origins are from the Sunni effort to undermine and defeat the Shiite/Alawite Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
And just to clarify what is the rub between Sunnis and Shiites — Sunnis believe that only a direct descendant of Muhammad can be the ruler. Shiites believe that any faithful and observant Muslim can be the ruler. But make no mistake, both sects believe in Islamic domination and rule. They just get all in a tizzy about who should rule — and the Shiites have not forgotten the massacre at Karbala, enacted by the Sunnis.
So I sense Baghdad represents the main effort for ISIS. Capturing the capitol? Absolutely not, because they’re not in a position to manage such a mass of population, nor do they want to be drawn into the quagmire of urban combat.
But what ISIS seeks to do is destabilize the Iraqi government and the best means to that end are suicide bombers and terrorist attacks – which are happening to a greater degree already.
As reported by the Associated Press, “Recent attacks have killed dozens in Baghdad and the Shiite holy city of Karbala. In the capital, the bomber blew himself up among Shiite worshippers as they were leaving a mosque in a central commercial area after midday prayers Monday. That blast killed at least 17 people and wounded 28, a police officer said. In Karbala, four separate car bombs went off simultaneously, killing at least 26 people and wounding 55, another police officer said. The city, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of Baghdad, is home to the tombs of two revered Shiite imams and the site of year-round pilgrimages. The explosives-laden cars were parked in commercial areas and parking lots near government offices, the officer added. The attacks in Baghdad and Karbala, the latest in relentless assaults that have challenged the Shiite-led government, came a day after a suicide bombing targeted another Shiite mosque in the Iraqi capital, killing 28 people. The latest attacks bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group, which has recently claimed several other large bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere, particularly in Shiite areas.”
ISIS has been focused on consolidating its gains in Iraq’s huge and Sunni western Al Anbar province. And they’ve been able to isolate Baghdad effectively from the northwest to the west to the southwest.
A side benefit for ISIS in its Baghdad effort is delegitimizing the United States and our operations in Iraq. Remember, the world’s largest embassy in Baghdad is ours, and nothing could be better for ISIS than to be in position to launch mortars, artillery or some type of attack against the U.S. embassy itself. As we all know, an embassy represents the sovereign territory of a nation. What greater goal and accomplishment could ISIS have than to breach the walls of the infamous “Green Zone” of our embassy and raise their black flag? Furthermore, ISIS is positioned right at Abu Gharaib, which puts them just outside of artillery firing range against the Baghdad airport.
Just last week there were reports of ISIS fighters getting fighter aircraft training. Now, of course these are very old MiG platforms, but these aircraft aren’t intended to fly traditional bomber or air-to-air missions. Don’t forget what terrorists learned to do with civilian airliners heavy with fuel on 9-11. My assessment is that “IF” ISIS is indeed training fighters to fly fighter aircraft, they will be heavily loaded with ordnance for one purpose — the Islamic kamikaze. And the target would be our U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
No, we cannot allow ISIS to have success at Kobani and must wholeheartedly support the only fighting “boots on the ground” — our Kurdish friends. However, we cannot lose focus on the growing main effort of ISIS in the vicinity of Baghdad, which if successful, would have a huge strategic impact — and rallying cry for Islamo-fascism and jihadism.