Not “al Qaeda central,” as the Obama administration likes to call it, but the revived affiliate “al Qaeda in Iraq” (Zarqawi’s old outfit), which is more or less merged with its Syrian equivalent in one big happy family of murdering jihadi psychos.
And, taking advantage of internal Iraqi political frictions, they’re making their move:
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, an al Qaeda branch in the Middle East, and its tribal allies have taken control of Fallujah less than one week after launching an offensive in Iraq’s western province of Anbar. Meanwhile, the military and tribes that oppose the ISIS have launched counterattacks in Ramadi and other cities and towns along the Euphrates River.
Security officials and reports told the BBC that the ISIS fighters “control the south of the city,” while “tribesmen allied with al Qaeda hold the rest of Fallujah.” Reuters reported that “the northern and eastern parts of the city were under the control of tribesmen and militants.”
Jihadists waving al Qaeda’s black flag have occupied police stations and government buildings, and are issuing calls from mosques for men to join the fight against the government.
The military has responded by shelling areas of the city under ISIS control. The total number of people killed during the fighting in Fallujah is not yet known.
ISIS fighters seized control of parts of Fallujah and Ramadi, the two largest cities in Anbar, on Tuesday after the Iraqi military withdrew from the cities in the wake of clashes between government forces and the tribes following the arrest of a senior Sunni politician in Ramadi. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda seizes partial control of 2 cities in western Iraq]. Maliki ordered the troops to return to the cities after cutting a deal with the tribes, but not before the ISIS quickly moved in and seized control.
Politics between the Sunni tribes in Anbar with each other and strained relations with the Shiite Maliki government in Baghdad gave ISIS their opening (for example), but I have a hard time imagining this coming to pass if Team Smart Power hadn’t a) utterly bungled the negotiations over a Status of Forces agreement with Iraq, thus leading to our total withdrawal, and b) also bungled the Syrian situation so badly that a promising opportunity to bring down Assad and deal a body-blow to Iran was instead practically given gift-wrapped to al Qaeda affiliates (and Iran…).
Bungling. That seems to be the common element here.
Fallujah, Ramadi, Tal Afar, Baquba, and so many other places in western Iraq and around Baghdad were liberated by American and Iraqi blood and treasure. I don’t know if this situation will deteriorate into a crisis, or if Iraqi security forces can push ISIS out, but, as of now, Barack Obama and his foreign policy geniuses are flushing everything those men and women fought for down the toilet.
RELATED: via Hot Air, Secretary of State Kerry says “You go, Iraq! Just don’t expect any real help from us…”
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)