The ISIS Caliphate’s Coming Blitz of Baghdad


Analysts say the Islamic State is about to launch a major offensive—but one built around commando raids and suicide bombings rather than a frontal attack.

BEIRUT, Lebanon—When the minions of the self-anointed caliph in the self-declared Islamic State that now straddles Iraq and Syria blow up a mosque supposed to contain the remains of the prophet Jonah, or offer punctilious details about the kind of purdah to be imposed on women, the world takes brief notice. But the group’s military campaigns have made less news in recent weeks because they seemed to have stalled.

Now, according to Western military analysts, it’s time to start worrying again. Those studying the attacks by the group formerly known as ISIS see critical changes in the bombings and skirmishing by the caliph’s troops and their allies in and around Baghdad. Some experts warn that a blitzkrieg—a lightning attack—is imminent, and it will be one the beleaguered and squabbling politicians in the Iraqi capital are ill equipped to combat. But it is more likely to be a guerrilla and terrorist offensive than an all-out push along conventional military lines.

Until recently, Islamic militant action around Baghdad appeared sporadic, uncoordinated, and lacking a clear strategic purpose. But analysts at the U.S.-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War, who have been plotting the locations and types of attacks in the recent flurry of blasts buffeting the Iraqi capital, have noted a clear pattern developing. They say it suggests the Islamic State is building up to something big and is no longer just focused on consolidating its grip and developing governance in the lands it now controls.


The U.S. no longer has anything to say about this. The real question is whether Iran will tolerate an ISIS takeover of Baghdad. I don’t know, of course, but I’m guessing Iran won’t.


I hope they fail. A caliphate is the last thing I, and the vast majority of the Catholics, want.


The majority of Catholics in the U.S. should have thought of this before voting for Obama in 2008. This was easy to see coming, even then.


I agree, but then the next question is whether Saudi and Egypt will tolerate an Iranian takeover of part of the ‘old Iraq’.


I’m not sure either of them could prevent it. The Egyptian leadership has plenty of enemies at its back, and I question whether it would undertake a foreign intervention; particularly one that would require crossing Israeli territory for any kind of mass movement.

Saudi Arabia too probably has all its loyal forces can do to keep down the Islamists in its own borders.

Possibly the bigger question is whether Iran feels itself capable of taking on something like ISIS in anything other than a conventional war of limited objectives while its client Assad still does not control all of Syria. And do we really know how Erdogan feels about an ISIS/Iran fight next to Turkey’s southern border?

I think an Iranian sweep to the Mediterranean would require Assad being stronger than perhaps he is.


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