Meanwhile, on the other side of Mesopotamia:
Using its own version of “soft” and “hard” power, the militants of Islamic State are crushing resistance across northern Iraq so successfully that their promise to march on Baghdad may no longer be unrealistic bravado.
While conventional states try to win hearts and minds abroad before necessarily resorting to military force, the militant group is also achieving its aims by psychological means – backed up by a reputation for extreme violence.
The Islamic State, which in June captured a vast stretch of territory in the north including the largest city Mosul, used this strategy when its fighters met armed resistance from the town of al-Alam for 13 days running.
They kidnapped 30 local families and rang up the town’s most influential citizens with a simple message about the hostages: “You know their destiny if you don’t let us take over the town.”
Within hours, tribesmen and local leaders caved in to save the families.
If Baghdad falls, that’s probably pretty much it for Iraq, even if the IS/Caliphate doesn’t last.