Although much of the United States has seemingly forgotten about Iraq after most of its soldiers withdrew from the country, other parts of the world want to using it to gain more ground and control. Last week, ISIS began a series of targeted attacks within the country in hopes of regaining some of the power that was lost following the American air strikes that helped reclaim the country for its Shia government.
More than one-hundred-forty people have been killed and hundreds more injured in a string of terrorist attacks across Iraq this week. Suicide bombers and car bombings have been used most often, and ISIS has claimed responsibility for almost all of them. One of the first attacks came in a market last week, leaving thirty-four dead and seventy-five wounded. A second suicide bomber later blew herself up in a crowd at the open market, as survivors attempted to bandage and transport the wounded. Yet another explosion later that day, this time a car bomb, killed eighteen more and injured dozens of others.
In what should not come as a surprise, these attacks threaten Iraq in multiple ways. Regardless of the specifics of why, Iraq has been left with a power vacuum. This is an environment in which groups like ISIS have been cultivated and catapulted into positions of authority, especially as people search for something or someone to lead them. The attacks mentioned here are only a handful of the dozens of attacks ISIS has carried out around Iraq, and the group has labeled them “martyrdom operations” with the hopes of gaining back control.
As these atrocities continue, discussions may begin to swirl about whether the U.S. has a responsibility to reenter the country in order to save the progress we have made there. There is, however, such a large sentiment against the Iraq War as a whole that people may ignore these attacks altogether. Watch for responses from elected officials as the attacks continue and human rights advocates become more vocal about the tragedies occurring.
Regardless, the fact that ISIS has openly claimed responsibility only adds to the need for a comprehensive U.S. strategy to deal with this threat. It may be ground troops, air strikes, foreign aid, or something else entirely. But the time has come for some type of real strategy to be implemented, or these attacks will continue–and may make their way to U.S. soil sooner than we think.