Islamic Radicalism Making Gains In Iraq As Global Terrorism Increases
ISIS Makes Additional Gains In Iraq Spurring Calls For US Action Mosul has fallen and Baghdad is teetering on the edge as Iraqi militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) move steadily toward the capital. The gains achieved by ISIS in recent weeks taken the Obama administration by surprise, but they cannot stand by idly, says Michael Knights of Foreign Policy.
He argues that Iraq is different than the situation in Syria and the United States must act to stop ISIS gaining more control.
“Washington must act if the United States wants to stop ISIS from becoming the only cohesive military and political force in Iraq’s Sunni districts,” states Knights, who was told in closed-door meetings with Iraqi government officials that the government “has insistently requested U.S. air strikes on ISIS along the Syrian border and the outskirts of Iraqi cities,” from where ISIS has launched its attacks.
“This is vital work — but with ISIS forces capturing city after city, Washington has to do more (and quickly) to prevent the loss of government in Iraq. Intensified U.S. on-the-ground mentoring of Iraqi military headquarters and perhaps U.S. air strikes might also be needed to reverse the collapse of Iraq’s military,” he adds.
The New York Times also reports that the Iraqi government is seeking assistance from the US in the form of air power.
“Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials,” reports the paper, which adds that the Obama administration has rejected requests due to a reluctance “to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.”
Global Terrorism On The Rise
Recent headlines and new studies support the conclusion that global terror trends are heading in an ever more dangerous direction. A June Rand Corporation study found there were 28 Salafi-jihadist groups like al Qaeda in 2007, but last year, there were 49. In 2007, these groups conducted 100 attacks. Last year, they conducted 950. According to Rand, there were between 18,000 and 42,000 such terrorists active seven years ago.
“Since 2010, there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of jihadist groups, a doubling of jihadist fighters and a tripling of attacks by Al Qaeda affiliates. The most significant threat to the United States, the report concludes, comes from terrorist groups operating in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” says the Rand report.
State Department Report Criticized As Too Lenient On Pakistan
According to Michael Kugelman, the senior program associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the State Department’s recent terrorism threat assessment is “remarkably muted in its expressions of concern” about militancy in Pakistan. He says that is a result of the fact it was written State’s diplomatic agency.
“Sectarian militancy enjoys broad reach in Pakistan. Its most vicious practitioner, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, has staged attacks in all four Pakistani provinces. Unlike the Pakistani Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is neither degraded by counter-militancy offensives nor undermined by internal fractures. Additionally, Pakistani public opinion demonstrates considerable support for the underlying views of sectarian extremists,” he writes on the War on the Rocks blog.