The Islamic State’s fight to takeover Monday of Mosul Dam, Iraq’s largest dam, has the region on edge over the terrorists' control of key infrastructure.
The dam is the fourth largest in the Middle East and provides about 30 percent of Iraq's electricity.
Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland spoke to Kirk Lippold and Cedric Leighton about the new development.
Lippold served as U.S. Navy commander of the USS Cole when the ship was attacked in 2000 by Al Qaeda militants in Yemen. Leighton is a former U.S. Air Force colonel who is a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“What you’re seeing now is [them] take cities and facilities because their long-term objective is to bring the government in Baghdad down,” Lippold told FoxNews.com.
“Iraq has ceased to exist as a nation as of right now. What ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] is doing is strategically looking at the areas they can control,” said Leighton.
The extremists now control a major portion of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers system.
Lippold believes this allows them to “create areas of instability” and have the upper hand against Iraq officials.
“It’s a part of a national strategy they have which involves taking control of other dams … that are a lot closer to Baghdad,” said Leighton. “They are trying to eliminate the water supply and starve out the population from there to make the government fall.”
If Baghdad falls, they both say Iraq would become an even greater challenge to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
Chris Snyder is a producer for Fox News based in New York. Follow him on twitter: @ChrisSnyderFox.