Media Coverage | July 05, 2016

Kawa Hassan Analyzes ISIS Ramadan Attacks

The Islamic State (ISIS) is seeking to create despair within the international coalition against the terror organization with the recent attacks during the Muslim holy month, including one in Baghdad that killed over 200 people, says EWI Middle East Director Kawa Hassan.

Speaking to news outlets, Hassan analyzed the strategy behind a series of deadly attacks by the Islamic State. The insurgency group killed 45 people and wounded hundreds in last week's suicide bombing at Istanbul's main airport in Turkey on June 28. It was followed by major attacks in Bangladesh, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in the past week, all apparently timed for the runup to Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Ramadan holy fasting month.

Claiming over 200 lives, the Baghdad attack was reportedly the worst single car bomb attack in Iraq since the U.S. invasion 13 years ago.

Commenting on the Istanbul suicide bombing, Hassan said it was a qualitative shift in ISIS strategy against Turkey.

Hassan said: "One reason for this attack was ISIS's military defeats in Syria and Iraq. In the past ISIS used to attack what we call "soft targets" such as Kurds, some touristic locations and areas close to Syrian border. But the Ataturk terror attack is an attack against the biggest airport in Turkey and as such one of its most vital revenues. If Turkey's policy would see a change against ISIS in the coming period, then we can talk of two eras: pre-28 June and post-28 June. Since June 2015, there have been some changes in Turkey's policy against ISIS: giving permission to the U.S. to use the Ancerlik airbase against ISIS and some military actions against ISIS. But the root cause of the attack is the policy of Turkey against ISIS and other extremist groups for the past four to five years. Turkey gave these groups space to grow and build networks inside Turkey. But this attack may change the position of Turkey as the government is under pressure from the Turkish people and the international community to act decisively against ISIS. This might also impact the war in Syria."

Watch the interview with Voice of America's Kurdish Service and NRT News (in Kurdish). Hassan's comments start around the 8:00 mark.

Hassan also spoke with ABC Australia on the Baghdad attack, labeling it an attempt by ISIS "to show its capacity to go back to its roots at being an effective insurgency group."

While losing militarily in certain places, Hassan added, ISIS is winning in terms of ideology and politics.

To watch the interview, click here.