Hey kids! Guess which country is falling apart at the seams again? Iraq!
Al-Qaeda inspired rebels, from a group called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), have apparently grabbed a large number of cities, and are now marching towards Baghdad. You’ll recognize a number of the cities they’ve taken over in just the past few months, including Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah.
Things have gotten so bad that the US embassy in Baghdad is moving some of its staff out of the city. The militants are now 60 miles from Baghdad.
Lest you think this is all the US’ fault, Time explains that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made sectarian tensions worse by alienating Sunnis. Respected analyst Tony Cordesman, writing with Sam Khazai, has more:
No one within the region can defend against the kind of violent Islamic extremism that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) represents, and the threat it poses to Iraq, Syria, and the wider region is incredibly destabilizing. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Maliki poses an equally destabilizing threat of a different kind. He cannot govern, and he represses and divides. In fact, he threatens to become another Saddam Hussein, albeit one without the same “charm” and effectiveness.
The key problem, however, is that Maliki has corrupted and undermined the army, police, and justice system in his consolidation of power and personal advantage. For years, Maliki has intimidated and driven key Sunni figures out of his government, ignored agreements to create a national unity government, alienated the Kurds, and tried to repress legitimate Sunni opposition in ways that have contributed to steadily rising violence and civilian deaths. These failures in governance by Prime Minister Maliki’s government date back to 2010-2011, long before ISIS captured Fallujah and Ramadi in December 2013, and seized control of Mosul and Tikrit in June of 2014.
He used the Army and police in ways that alienated Sunnis in Iraq’s West and North, used them to attack peaceful protests, and failed to keep his promises to offer jobs and promotions to the Sons of Iraq. He also has corrupted the security forces, using promotions and interim appointments for his own political advantage, and let the army and police steadily deteriorate. Pay and support had riding problems, positions and promotions were for sale, desertions increased and there were more and more ghost soldiers — men listed as present but not actually there.