MESOP TOP OF THE AGENDA Islamic State Retaliates in Ramadi

Self-declared Islamic State militants carried out coordinated attacks (Al Jazeera) on government-held areas in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, including seven simultaneous car bombs, that killed at least ten people and wounded thirty others. The attacks come after a week of heavy fighting in a battle for Tikrit between Islamic State militants and Iraqi military and Sunni and Shia militiamen. Anti–Islamic State forces have made advances (Al Arabiya) in Tikrit in recent days. Separately, the Islamic State released (AP) a new video that purports to show the killing of a young Palestinian man accused of spying for Israeli intelligence.

“If there are sectarian reprisals, it will bolster the ranks of ISIL, which has attempted to portray itself as a defender of Sunnis and a resistor of Shia aggression. Reprisals will also dissuade Sunni communities from turning on ISIL. They are already deeply suspicious of the Iraqi state due to unfulfilled promises of opportunity and integration following their uprising against al-Qaeda years earlier,” writes Sharif Nashashibi at Al Jazeera.

“Reports of rising tensions between foreign and local fighters, aggressive and increasingly unsuccessful attempts to recruit local citizens for the front lines, and a growing incidence of guerrilla attacks against Islamic State targets suggest the militants are struggling to sustain their carefully cultivated image as a fearsome fighting force drawing Muslims together under the umbrella of a utopian Islamic state,” writes Liz Sly for the Washington Post.

“Iraq’s ability to triumph over IS is not linked to gaining control of Tikrit, rather it lies in weakening the organization’s military options and neutralizing its ability to transport fighters and reinforcements across different fronts and cities. This requires that the leadership for the war be unified, have consistent goals, prepare strategic plans and take advantage of the available capabilities to defeat IS on more than one front,” writes Mushreq Abbas at Al-Monitor.