As ISIS continues to make gains in both Iraq and Syria, the Obama Administration continues to shift its focus toward new fronts of the ISIS war, as the old focuses stop being sufficiently sensational.
At the start of the war, Mount Sinjar was the clear focus, and the conflict was even couched as a humanitarian intervention specifically for the refugees there. When the refugee situation turned out to be dramatically overstated, the focus shifted toward ISIS in Iraqi Kurdistan and then Syria.
With the Syria focus landing squarely on the Kurdish town of Kobani, US airstrikes began pounding ISIS around the town. It didn’t work, and the town is in the process of falling to ISIS, so it’s time for the US to find a new focus.
Oddly, the focus seems to be shifting back to the Anbar Province of Iraq, where ISIS is in the process of mopping up the last of the military’s bases. It is a surprising choice, because ISIS has controlled the majority of Anbar for many months, and has held its major cities since January.
What is falling isn’t much territory, but it does put ISIS closer to Baghdad, which makes it useful for hawkish officials wanting to claim an ISIS takeover of the Iraqi capital is imminent.
As with previous situations, it seems likely to US will escalate strikes in the area, though having already killed a number of civilians in Anbar earlier this week, it will be tough for the administration to couch the operation as protecting Anbar’s Sunni population from ISIS.