(To read the rest of "On Violence’s Most Thought Provoking Foreign Affairs Event of 2014: iraq Redux", please click here.)
When ISIS started taking territory in Iraq, America--with an assist from the media--became afraid of two things. The first was that ISIS would start launching Al Qaeda style attacks against the US, which Michael C debunked yesterday. The second was that…
ISIS IS ABOUT TO TAKE BAGHDAD!!!!!!!!!
Unfortunately, ISIS has been about to take Baghdad for over half a year now...
- 12 June 2014, Al Arabiya, “ISIS Militants Plan to March on Baghdad”
- 12 June 2014, The Daily Mail, “ISIS butchers leave 'roads lined with decapitated police and soldiers': Battle for Baghdad looms as thousands answer Iraqi government's call to arms and jihadists bear down on capital”
- 15 June 2014, The Telegraph, “Iraq crisis: ISIS battles for Baghdad - June 15 as it happened”
- 22 June 2014, Haaretz, “High anxiety in Iraqi capital as it awaits ISIS invasion”
- 1 July 2014, Newsweek, “Expected to Take Aim at the 'Baghdad Belt’”
- 29 September 2014, The Daily Mail, “ISIS fighters now 'at the gates of Baghdad': Islamic militants fighting 'just one mile from Iraqi capital' despite days Western airstrikes”
- 5 October 2014, The Washington Times, “Islamic State withstands bombing campaign, plots Baghdad invasion”
- 11 October 2014, CBS, “ISIS encroaches on ultimate prize in Iraq”
- 12 October 2014, Al Arabiya, “ISIS rallies ‘10,000 militants’ at gates of Baghdad”
- 14 October 2014, Time, “180,000 People Flee Western Iraq as ISIS Inches Ever Closer to Baghdad”
- 17 October 2014, The New York Times, “ISIS Keeps Up Pressure Near Baghdad as Iraqi Troops Hesitate”
To be fair, ISIS “threatened” Baghdad mainly in June and October. But this collection is only a partial list. I only started collecting headlines like this after ISIS threatened Baghdad the second time, and I thought, “They haven’t taken Baghdad yet? They’ve been threatening them since June.” More important than that question is this one:
Can ISIS even take Baghdad?
Now, I’m no military expert--that’s Michael C’s area of expertise--but from my layman’s point of view, one thought stands out: Baghdad is majority Shia. True, finding accurate numbers on the actual demographic breakdown is not easy. But according to Newsweek and Joel Wing’s excellent Musings on Iraq--which cites the CIA fact book--Baghdad is 70 to 80% Shia. Secondly, the Shia majority has some very powerful militias ready at their disposal, as America learned the hard way.
In other words, ISIS won’t be waltzing into Baghdad anytime soon.