Monday, June 23, 2014

Further ISIS Victories -- Bug In or Bug Out

USA Today reports:
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant captured the Turaibil border crossing with Jordan and the al-Walid crossing with Syria, witnesses and Iraqi officials confirmed. They declined to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the situation. 
The Syrian crossing is particularly problematic as it will allow easier transport of fighters, weaponry and equipment in and out of Syria. ISIL and allies already control the Syrian side of the border crossings.
... ISIL, in addition to the border crossings, seized the towns of Qaim, Rawah, Anah and Rutba in Anbar province over the weekend.

... The towns taken over the past few days give insurgents access to an important dam in the nearby city of Haditha, a cornerstone of Iraq's electricity grid. It also gives them access to key highways to Syria and Jordan.
CNN reports:
ISIS militants advanced toward Baghdad over the weekend from the north and the west. At least 70% of Anbar province is now under the control of ISIS, two security officials in the region told CNN. 
ISIS is on a mission to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and in Syria.
Militants have taken over the Tal Afar airbase in northern Iraq as well as the city of Tal Afar, officials said.

On Monday, Iraqi troops prepared to recapture the airbase, Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abu al-Waleed said. "At least 1,000 Iraqi troops have amassed to the north of Tal Afar and are firing rockets at militants in control of the city," he said.
The fighters also seized the western Anbar town of Rutba, 70 miles (113 kilometers) from the borders of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, security sources in Baghdad and Anbar told CNN on Sunday. 
Then there's Qaim. ISIS captured the city along the Syrian border Saturday, and the militants now enjoy a stronghold and a number of other towns in Anbar province. The fighters have a direct line to the western outskirts of Baghdad.
The article also notes that ISIS is imposing the strictest form of Sharia law in the towns and districts they have captured. And, although not in the body of the article, a video linked on the same page indicated that ISIS had captured chemical weapons.

This conflict again raises the issue of whether to bug-in or bug-out during war time. ISIS is part of the Sunni branch of Islam. Obviously, if you were a Shiite, you are probably better to bug-out to family or friends in friendly areas than risk being killed by the ISIS forces. If you are Kurdish, you similarly would want to seriously consider heading to Kurdish areas. On the other hand, if you are Sunni, the issue becomes more complex. If this is going to degenerate into the war between Sunni and Shiite factions, you might not want to flee to a Shiite dominated area. On the other hand, if you have worked with the government or Americans, it may be more dangerous to stay in a place that is in the path of ISIS forces.

Note that when I'm talking about bugging-out, I'm not talking of moving to a retreat outside of a city. I'm talking about moving to an area where you fit in, hopefully with family and friends (and, in this case, tribal members) in the area to provide the all important social network and assistance you might need as a refugee.

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