Massive territorial losses have put Iraq on its heels against ISIS, and while the loss of enormously important cities like Mosul and Ramadi have grabbed headlines, it is the infrastructure losses likely to be felt hardest.
Instead of focusing on more territory, ISIS now seems to have turned its attention toward important hydroelectric dams, seizing the Mosul Dam over the weekend, and attacking the Haditha Dam. Both lie in their new territory, but actual control over them would give them enormous new power over their conquered lands, and leverage against the Iraqi government in the ongoing war.
Control over the dams would not only give ISIS broad control over Iraq’s electricity generation, but over water flow along its major rivers, allowing them to flood out invading troops, or simply prevent the irrigation of Shi’ite farms.
The resources ISIS have already taken in both Syria and Iraq, and the additional resources they are likely to seize in the days to come are giving them unmatched power and influence as an Islamist faction, and raising the credibility of their claim to be the new Islamic caliphate.
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