Iraqi Army Moves to Retake Ramadi

Things in the Middle East have continued to veer from success to setback as new continues to come in regarding the Iraqi city of Ramadi. The city, close to Baghdad and of vital tactical importance, was taken by ISIS fighters after Iraqi soldiers fell back right in from the them, ignoring the fact that ISIS was vastly outnumbered (they reportedly only captured the city with 150-200 fighters). The retreat by Iraqi forces has faced withering criticism from governments across the country, especially the US, due to how outnumbered ISIS forces were and how it seemed as though the Iraqi soldiers didn’t even try to fight. Facing questions about their will to fight ISIS, Iraqi forces have responded by marshalling around the city with supporting Shiite militias and are now moving to retake the city.

Known as Popular Mobilization Forces, these Shiite militias are supported by Iran and have been vital towards helping the Iraqi army retake territory it has lost to ISIS. While that may seem good, it is leading to consternation and unease in the Western powers supporting the anti-ISIS campaign, especially the US. The use of Shiite militias in heavily Sunni territories has lead to fears of both sectarian cleansing as well as the chance that it might push more Sunni’s into the arms of ISIS as a way to combat the resurging Shiite influence in the region. The US and other Western powers are worried about expanding Iranian hegemony in the region, especially with the nuclear deal talks and a push against Iranian influence from multiple Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia. All fears aside, I can guarantee that the people in Ramadi and other ISIS-held territory don’t care who actually comes to rescue them, they just want to be rescued.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

France Arrests Chechen Terrorists

The Charlie Hebdo attacks shocked the world and showed that Muslim terrorists were adapting new tactics in the face of heightened security on standard targets. The commando-style attack on the magazine office shows that terrorists and extremists might start shifting towards attacks on soft targets as opposed to the standard hard targets of airports, government buildings, and public locations. The heightened security at these places has made attacks more difficult and so terrorists are changing focus. To counter that from happening, France (and much of Europe) have drastically increased anti-terrorist efforts and surveillance and it has been paying off already. Belgium has arrested a number of terrorist suspects (as well as killing two in a firefight), some of whom were planning on attacking police, and now France has caught some too.

After the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office, France deployed 15,000 extra police troops to help the existing police and gendarmerie patrol the streets and make sure high-value public buildings and institutions that might be seen as targets had bolstered security. The country also started to monitor anti-terrorism channels with extra vigilance and it seems as though that extra scrutiny has paid off. French police have arrested and detained 5 men from Chechnya who are suspected of possessing explosives and planning a terrorist attack on French soil. Chechnya has a history of Muslim extremism and terrorism due to a constant struggle for independence from Russia and a heavily Muslim population that feels isolated and ignored by the Russian government.

While the French government says that there should be no rushing to judgement and that there’s no proof of a Chechen terrorist attempt on French soil, people are still wary. The region has had massive protests against Charlie Hebdo and its showing of the Prophet Muhammad and so there is validity to the threat of terrorism. Either way, France is showing that it is taking terrorist threats much more seriously than before and hopefully nothing like Charlie Hebdo happens again.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.