For the night of 16 November 2014
Iraq: News services reported Iraqi forces, supported by a local militia force, drove fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from Baiji over the weekend. Official sources said the pro-government forces drove the terrorists from the town and the oil refinery. A local source said the terrorists were retreating, but still held part of the refinery.
Comment: The recapture and control of Baiji would be the most significant military achievement, after the defense of Baghdad itself, even if the fight continues. Some military leaders appear to have learned how to put together a successful operation against ISIL. US military advisors almost certainly contributed to this success. It might be a blueprint for other offensive operations.
Saudi Arabia: On 14 November, the BBC reported that in a 17-minute audio message ISIL's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced its intention to attack Saudi Arabia.
The speaker does not refer to Saudi Arabia, as such, because that name is derived from the ruling tribe, the al-Saud, whose authority ISIL does not accept. Instead he calls it "the land of Haramayn", the land of the two holy places, meaning Mecca and Medina.
In the audio message, ISIL presented a target list that includes attacks on the Shiites in Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
Comment: The authenticity of the tape has not been established, but ISIL previously has issued statements that it intends to overthrow all the Arab monarchs and monarchies because the Quran only recognizes the rule of Allah.
ISIL has no capability to use conventional force against the monarchies. Instead it will rely on sympathizers and terrorist tactics. The danger is that the audio message is the signal to ISIL supporters to commence a terrorist campaign in Eastern Province, if not the rest of Saudi Arabia.
Nigeria: Since last Thursday, of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria changed hands twice. On Friday, news services reported Boko Haram returned to capture the town.
On Sunday, the Nigerian army claimed it recaptured Chibok. A local vigilante force was an important component in the operation. Many residents said the terrorists remain present in the surrounding villages so that the area is not safe.
Comment: Chibok is the town from which Boko Haram fighters kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from the village in April. The swift counter-attack demonstrates that even the Nigeria government appreciates that its credibility could not withstand another atrocity at Chibok.
The vigilante group seems to have stiffened the spine of the lackluster Nigerian army soldiers. Nevertheless, the Boko Haram fighters may be expected to try to capture Chibok again.
End of NightWatch for 16 November.
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