Baghdad gov’t paralysis made capital vulnerable to massive ISIL bombings

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Daesh (ISIL, ISIS) launched a series of suicide car and truck bombs in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing nearly 100 and wounding nearly 200 persons. Baghdad security had improved over the past couple of years, but the Coalition United for Reform blamed political wrangling on sectarian and party bases for the security lapses that allowed the attacks to take place. The president’s spokesman suggested that Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi might need to fire some security officials responsible for the capital’s well-being for this major lapse.

Massive popular protests late this winter against corruption and the dominance of high government posts by a handful of parties forced PM al-Abadi to attempt to appoint a cabinet of neutral technocrats. Iraq is governed by a spoils system, so the parties are given control of ministries, and use the ministries to employ relatives and clients. In a country of 32 million, some 7 million people are now said to work for the government. When al-Abadi threatened to take away that party patronage in the ministries by appointing a cabinet of neutral technocrats, the party elites mobilized against him in parliament and stopped him from going forward. Parliament split on the issue, and now has two elected Speakers, each of which denounces the other as an impostor. Under these circumstances, it is almost impossible to have parliament confirm the new cabinet members.

In the face of this elite feet-dragging, a large crowd of followers of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr recently invaded the Green Zone and went into the parliament building, from which the obstructionism was emanating.

It is being alleged in Baghdad that this factionalism led the city’s security forces to be unprepared for Wednesday’s bombings.

As for Daesh, it has faced very severe reversals just this year, losing Ramadi and Palmyra and many more. Daesh faces a reverse snowball effect and the danger it will just dwindle away. Its oil receipts are way down and it faces substantial pressure in the urban world.

It is in danger of not being able to attract high-value Westerners with arms training to its violent aggressions. It has also seen its oil revenue plummet. Daesh has lost much of its 2014 territory. These bombings of soft targets in Shiite neighborhoods, killing children and women, were designed to announce to like-minded Salafi puritans that the organization is still powerful and that joining it can bring devotees loot from razed or occupied towns.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

ABC News: “Baghdad Bomb Spree | Iraqi Capital’s Most Violent Day of the Year”

8 Responses

  1. Final two [ 2 ] paragraphs are not coherent.
    Dæsh has never HAD territory – it occupies;
    ¿What is a reverse snowball? And “dwindle away” has not happened since 2001 and this terror war perpetrated by usa.
    Attracting mercenaries is not healthy strategy; the west is one culprit; imperialism is the transgressor.

  2. In honesty, ISIL’s not only appealing to puritanical Salafists. They’re hoping to appeal to as many disgruntled or already troubled radical Sunnis affected by sectarianism or view the world through a sectarian or extremist lens as possible.

  3. Is the oil industry under goverment control in Iraq? I thought the Bush Administration would have forced it to be privatized, with Western firms dominating…

  4. Hello Professor Cole,
    I fail to see how leveling major Sunni cities is going to make Isis dwindle. Squalid refugee camps with no water or shelter is going to be a veritable breeding ground for isis or whatever group picks up the cause of the sunni insurgency. Obama has no plan for the rubble and refugee camps. He offers a 50 million dollar bandaid to repair Ramadi. Ramadi is 80 percent destroyed. no bridges, no electricity. no water facilities. remember where abu bark al baghdadi got his start?….an american detention camp. obama could not be doing more to guarantee isis longevity.

  5. Hello again,
    The Obama administration is tempering expectations in regard to Mosul. There even appears to be some afterthought about the devastation strategy that destroyed ramadi so as to liberate it. But the bombing continues every day. Every day mosul has more rubble. Sadly, Clinton will most likely only escalate the bombing when she becomes president. i have even less confidence in her than obama.

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