ISIS has returned to the forefront, but this time with a different force, style and tactics, and it has become more active during the blessed month of Ramadan, by carrying out open offensive operations against the Iraqi army, the Popular Mobilization Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, specifically in the most dangerous triangle in Iraq between the governorates of Kirkuk, Diyala and Salah al-Din.
At least 19 members of the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga have been killed in the past period in various parts of the country, according to military statements and statements by security officials, which prompted Iraqi President Barham Salih to call for caution against the danger of the organization’s resurgence again. Read also The Independent: American documents confirm that the leader of the Islamic State organization talked about his comrades The New York Times: Iraq dealt a heavy blow to ISIS by killing Al-Issawi Lacroix: This is what is left of the Islamic State in Iraq
The remarkable escalation of these attacks raises the question once again. Has the organization really been eliminated or is it still active? What are the messages that he wanted to deliver? What is the secret of the increase in its operations, coinciding with the announcement of political alliances in preparation for participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections?
These and other questions, and the report below tries to answer them by hosting experts in the security and military fields.
Why have ISIS attacks increased during the blessed month of Ramadan, and what is their motive?
Security expert Fadel Abu Ragheef deconstructs the secret of the increase in the offensive operations of the Islamic State against the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces during the previous period that the month of Ramadan is suitable for the organization of the state, and he tries to use the sanctity of the holy month to implement what he calls “invasions”, and the attacks were consistent with the clear literature of the organization that is known Consequently, they are invasions, and he has succeeded in making more than 16 invasions since the first day of Ramadan.
Abu Ragheef records a clear weakness on the intelligence side of the security forces, in addition to the soft areas that ISIS tries to use from time to time, and this helps the attacks to be consistent with the organization’s orientations, especially with the most dangerous areas in Iraq. These are Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, Diyala, and specifically Kirkuk, which has become an open theater for the organization, especially after its thorn was broken and its candle faded out.
The organization’s attacks this time came multiple and simultaneously in more than one place, and he was the one who initiated the attack.
This question is answered by Al-Jazeera Net Abu Ragheef, saying that the organization is always trying to return to the forefront after its thorn is broken and its media capabilities are gone, and its sites are unable to carry out any publications or visual operations, and the aim of these attacks in this open form is in order to attract the attention of the global media And to restore confidence in the souls of some of its members, spread false morale in them, and give a picture of all global security and intelligence that the organization is sick but not dead.
Are there any common factors between the imminent elections and the announcement of political alliances with these attacks?
Abu Ragheef says that ISIS has certain sensors that it puts on the political side, and whenever this joint is congested in Iraq, it pushes its militants to carry out and launch attacks, whether at the level of booby-traps, suicide operations, planting IEDs, and launching sporadic attacks.
Could the security vacuum that exists between the Iraqi army and the peshmerga be the reason for the increase in attacks?
In this regard, Major General Qarman Sheikh Kamal – Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in the Kurdish Ministry of Peshmerga – says that delaying the formation of a joint force and coordination between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces does not serve them at all, and it is in the interest of the organization, which exploits this vacuum to increase its operations and forces and reorganize itself.
However, Sheikh Kamal denies that the organization is located within the borders of the Peshmerga forces, and confirms that it exists and is spreading in the areas that fall under the responsibility of the Iraqi forces, and the recent attack that targeted the Peshmerga in the Alton Bridge area between Erbil and Kirkuk took place from within the borders of the Iraqi army.
Why was a joint force of the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army not formed to prevent the expansion of the organization’s actions?
Sheikh Kamal notes that the formation of a joint force of the Iraqi army and peshmerga forces is one of the main demands and points that are being discussed in the meetings of the two parties. But what is sad so far is that it has not yet entered the implementation phase, and we have been calling for many years to form this force and increase joint coordination between the two parties, and for there to be a joint operations room, especially in areas experiencing a security vacuum, but we – unfortunately – did not touch Any clear move on the ground regarding this issue, despite the fact that coordination contributes to confronting the organization and prevents the recurrence of its attacks on the security forces of all kinds.
Are there hidden or clear messages that the organization wanted to convey?
Before answering the question, the military expert, the retired Brigadier General, Dr. Ayyad Al-Toufan, admits that the Islamic State has never been eradicated, and all that has happened is that it was deported from where it came from the deserts and outskirts of cities, in addition to caves and mountains.
It can be said that the first message of the organization – through these attacks – is to its followers that it is still present on the ground and working as it wants, and the second is to inform that it will also remain and will not be easily eliminated, and the third message is that the Iraqi government has not eliminated it and will not be able to do so in Under these futile plans and great intelligence ignorance.
The flood criticizes the Iraqi forces that all their operations come in response to an action, and reveals that the organization launched about 89 operations against the security forces from April 1 to April 30th.
What is the secret behind launching ISIS operations from areas affiliated with or near Kirkuk in particular?
Political analyst Dr. Muhammad Na`na expects – in his response to this question – that the Kirkuk governorate will almost completely fall into the hands of the organization, due to the wrong policies of the federal government, the ambitions of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and the weak intelligence role of the security forces and the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Naanaa reveals that the organization recently established 3 headquarters in southern Kirkuk, and that it has prepared about 150 fighters to deploy in its areas of influence, such as Hawija, Al-Rashad, and others.
So what is the solution?
Nanaa proposes a correct treatment – according to his opinion – that prevents the organization from controlling Kirkuk, and consists in coordination between the active forces in order to thwart the strategy of ISIS, which is summarized by moving from the system of security detachments to the specific coordinated attacks that reached 4 attacks during the past 10 days.
In 2017, Iraq declared victory over ISIS by reclaiming its entire territory, which was estimated at about a third of the country’s area, which ISIS invaded in the summer of 2014.
But the organization still maintains what the authorities call “sleeper cells” in large areas in Iraq, and launches attacks at different times.