Al Qaeda Splinter Group Continues Gains, Sets Sights On Baghdad
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani took to the airwaves Thursday. “Continue your march as the battle is not yet raging,” he reportedly said. Adnani warned Baghdad that it was within sights of the Al Qaeda splinter group: “It will rage in Baghdad and Karbala. So be ready for it.”
After ISIS captured both Iraq’s 2nd and 3rd largest cities in Mosul and Tikrit, all eyes are on Baghdad, Iraq’s capital city. There are reports of battles between the Iraqi military and ISIS in the city of al-Taji, only 15 miles from Baghdad.
The Iranians have thrown their hat in the ring. Multiple outlets are reporting that the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards special forces is in Baghdad to try and help its Shia allies stave off ISIS’s advances.
Along with advanced weaponry, armaments, and vehicle acquisitions that the jihadist insurgents stole after raiding Iraqi military and police armories, the group has accumulated over 500 billion Iraqi dinars ($429 million dollars) after overrunning the city of Mosul’s central bank.
The United States is set to expedite new aid as part of a $15 billion dollar package. A plethora of American advanced aircraft and armaments, including Apache Helicopters and fighter jets, is expected to be included in the aid package.
President Obama said the jihadist takeover of Iraq may be a result of a lack of trust between Sunni and Shia parties. “Over the last several years we have not seen the kind of trust and cooperation develop between moderate Sunni and Shia leaders inside of Iraq and that accounts in part for some of the weakness of the state and that carries over into their military capacity,” he said.
2016 Presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said what’s going on in Iraq is a “dreadful, deteriorating situation.” She noted that she was caught by surprise how effective the ISIS group has been in its rapid takeover of Iraq.
Some are calling on the Iraqi Prime Minister to resign. Some blame the Shiite Prime Minister Maliki for stirring Sunni-Shiite tensions and creating a hostile environment for his political opponents. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said of Maliki, “He’s obviously not been a good prime minister. He has not done a good job of reaching out to the Sunni population, which has caused them to be more receptive to Al Qaeda efforts.” Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) concurred. “I don’t know whether or not he will actually be prime minister again,” he said.