ISIS’ Defensive Position in Iraq
Despite the present situation in ar-Ramadi and ISIS’ general domination over major regions of the al-Anbar and Nineveh provinces in western Iraq, the general conditions of ISIS and the terrorist groups in Iraq is defensive and their offensive trend is significantly reduced. The reason is that except these two provinces, ISIS has been forced back in other provinces such as Diyala, Salahuddin, the surrounding regions of Baghdad, Kirkuk and northern Iraq and they are cleansed from their presence. The presence of ISIS in the two provinces of al-Anbar and Nineveh can be analyzed from two aspects:
First, geographical conditions and the area of this region
Second, long borders with Syria which has facilitated their military transportation and the delivery of logistic aids and human forces
The government of Iraq has attempted to cleanse the surrounding regions of Baghdad province and the nearby provinces from the presence of ISIS and then move towards the western provinces of al-Anbar and Nineveh. An analysis of the present conditions shows that despite the clashes between the Iraqi forces and ISIS in different regions, the Iraqi forces have come out of the defensive position and now initiate new actions. The vast geography of the fight against ISIS and ISIS’ usage of point war and their access to logistics and new recruits from the borders between Iraq and Syria have taken the superiority of the Iraqi forces. On the other hand, ISIS attempts to distract the concentration of the Iraqi forces from strategic points to different areas.
Despite the significance of the clashes in ar-Ramadi, I believe that the present conditions will not last long for ISIS and, in general, the situation in Iraq is not hopeful for this group.
The following points should be mentioned with regard to the clashes between the Iraqi army and security forces and ISIS in ar-Ramadi:
1- ISIS still receives its logistical needs from inside Syria.
2-The government of Iraq does not receive significant help from its neighboring countries except Iran and the role played by the international coalitions is not clear.
3-The present situation of this fight shows that the number of air strikes launched by the coalition forces is very limited.
4-This fight is mainly concentrated in the regions where people live. That is why this fight is more difficult for the popular forces of Iraq than ISIS who uses the people as human shields.
5-This fight is of a militia type which the official forces of Iraq are not strong in.
6- The government of Iraq has not yet been able to use the complementary popular forces called the Hashd al-Shaabi alongside its official forces in al-Anbar because it is under US pressure.
7-The vast geographical areas of fighting and Iraq’s long borders with Syria have facilitated ISIS’ logistical needs and foreign supports.
Finally, despite the great efforts of the government of Iraq, it has not been able to receive the necessary arms from the US. Therefore, the conditions of war against ISIS are not easy for the Iraqi government. I believe what could change the existing equation to the benefit of the government of Iraq is a national strategy in order to establish operational solidarity between the popular and official forces of Iraq so that they could turn the events around in ar-Ramadi as they did in Tikrit.