Showing posts tagged as "Iraq"

Showing posts tagged Iraq

18 Aug
Iraq refugees ‘terrified to be sent back’ | Noah Blaser
Silopi refugee camp, Turkey - After a four-day trek through the barren, sun-blasted terrain of northern Iraq, Murad Kasim Rashow shook with anger as he remembered the family members he left behind.
Newly arrived at a makeshift refugee camp in Silopi, a remote border town in Turkey’s southeast, he grieved for his two aunts who have been missing since armed fighters from the Islamic State group overran their hometown of Sinjar one week ago.
"I fear the worst. Every family now has its tale of loss or death," said Rashow, a 37-year-old former translator for the US army. "There is no way we can imagine returning there."
Rashow is one of tens of thousands of Yazidis - ethnic Kurds who practise a distinct religion - who have fled northern Iraq amid the advance of fighters from the Islamic State group, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
The Islamic State offensive left thousands of Yazidis trapped and starving on Iraq’s desolate Sinjar mountain, while tens of thousands of Iraqis have fled to the country’s Kurdish region in the northeast.
FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera America)
Photo: Rachel Unkovic/International Rescue Committee/UK Department for International Development/flickr

Iraq refugees ‘terrified to be sent back’ | Noah Blaser

Silopi refugee camp, Turkey - After a four-day trek through the barren, sun-blasted terrain of northern Iraq, Murad Kasim Rashow shook with anger as he remembered the family members he left behind.

Newly arrived at a makeshift refugee camp in Silopi, a remote border town in Turkey’s southeast, he grieved for his two aunts who have been missing since armed fighters from the Islamic State group overran their hometown of Sinjar one week ago.

"I fear the worst. Every family now has its tale of loss or death," said Rashow, a 37-year-old former translator for the US army. "There is no way we can imagine returning there."

Rashow is one of tens of thousands of Yazidis - ethnic Kurds who practise a distinct religion - who have fled northern Iraq amid the advance of fighters from the Islamic State group, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

The Islamic State offensive left thousands of Yazidis trapped and starving on Iraq’s desolate Sinjar mountain, while tens of thousands of Iraqis have fled to the country’s Kurdish region in the northeast.

FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera America)

Photo: Rachel Unkovic/International Rescue Committee/UK Department for International Development/flickr

14 Aug
Engaging the enemy | The Economist
IN JUNE, when extremists from the Islamic State (IS) took over the Iraqi city of Mosul and hurtled south towards Baghdad, the Kurds in the north reacted with glee. They had no love for IS, a group which grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq, later re-emerged in Syria and now operates in both countries. Indeed IS is sufficiently vile and disobedient, not to mention power hungry, that not even al-Qaeda likes it any more. But the Kurds saw its success as a deserved kick in the teeth for Nuri al-Maliki, the Shia prime minister. And if the fight with IS broke Iraq into sectarian pieces, semi-autonomous Kurdistan would achieve long-dreamed-of independence.
That sentiment disappeared at the beginning of August when, possibly as a result of resistance to the south, IS pivoted to take on the Peshmerga, the Kurdish armed forces. The Peshmerga number at least 120,000 and are reputed to be Iraq’s best-trained force. Before June IS was reckoned to have barely more than 10,000 fighters all told, though “they have doubled or tripled since this started,” according to Helgurd Hikmet of the Peshmerga. But the IS onslaught was brutal and well equipped, thanks to American hardware provided to the Iraqi government and then captured. Suicide-bombers were dispatched ahead of high-speed convoys; the troops showed an eagerness to die in battle rather than duck bullets. The Peshmerga admit that without American air strikes against IS, which started on August 8th, the fighting would have reached Erbil, their capital.
FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)
Photo: UK Department for International Development(DFID)/flickr

Engaging the enemy | The Economist

IN JUNE, when extremists from the Islamic State (IS) took over the Iraqi city of Mosul and hurtled south towards Baghdad, the Kurds in the north reacted with glee. They had no love for IS, a group which grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq, later re-emerged in Syria and now operates in both countries. Indeed IS is sufficiently vile and disobedient, not to mention power hungry, that not even al-Qaeda likes it any more. But the Kurds saw its success as a deserved kick in the teeth for Nuri al-Maliki, the Shia prime minister. And if the fight with IS broke Iraq into sectarian pieces, semi-autonomous Kurdistan would achieve long-dreamed-of independence.

That sentiment disappeared at the beginning of August when, possibly as a result of resistance to the south, IS pivoted to take on the Peshmerga, the Kurdish armed forces. The Peshmerga number at least 120,000 and are reputed to be Iraq’s best-trained force. Before June IS was reckoned to have barely more than 10,000 fighters all told, though “they have doubled or tripled since this started,” according to Helgurd Hikmet of the Peshmerga. But the IS onslaught was brutal and well equipped, thanks to American hardware provided to the Iraqi government and then captured. Suicide-bombers were dispatched ahead of high-speed convoys; the troops showed an eagerness to die in battle rather than duck bullets. The Peshmerga admit that without American air strikes against IS, which started on August 8th, the fighting would have reached Erbil, their capital.

FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)

Photo: UK Department for International Development(DFID)/flickr

11 Aug
How to fight Islamic State jihadists 
About a century ago, after World War I, British and French leaders carved up the Middle East and set the modern borders of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
Now a growing force of Sunni extremists fighting under the banner of the Islamic State are creating a new nation in the same region … at gunpoint. Its boundaries are not yet set in ink on a map. But the jihadists have seized vast chunks of Syria and Iraq with a clear goal: Establish a new “caliphate,” an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader. Theirs would be a kingdom where justice is dispensed by bullet, blade and sheer savagery.
For America this is a geopolitical crisis that threatens allies in the region. For people who live there this is an existential crisis that many of them cannot survive without more help from Western powers and Arab countries in the jihadists’ sights.
FULL ARTICLE (The Chicago Tribune)
Photo: CIA/flickr

How to fight Islamic State jihadists 

About a century ago, after World War I, British and French leaders carved up the Middle East and set the modern borders of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Now a growing force of Sunni extremists fighting under the banner of the Islamic State are creating a new nation in the same region … at gunpoint. Its boundaries are not yet set in ink on a map. But the jihadists have seized vast chunks of Syria and Iraq with a clear goal: Establish a new “caliphate,” an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader. Theirs would be a kingdom where justice is dispensed by bullet, blade and sheer savagery.

For America this is a geopolitical crisis that threatens allies in the region. For people who live there this is an existential crisis that many of them cannot survive without more help from Western powers and Arab countries in the jihadists’ sights.

FULL ARTICLE (The Chicago Tribune)

Photo: CIA/flickr

8 Aug
Divisions, Harsh Realities Plague Obama’s Afghan Surge | Catherine Maddux
When President Obama took office six years ago, among the many burdens he inherited were two costly and complex wars: Iraq and Afghanistan.
He campaigned hard against the U.S. invasion of Iraq, calling it the “wrong war” and made good on a promise to end American involvement. The White House touts that as a crowning achievement despite Iraq battling insurgency and sectarian strife.  
The other war — Afghanistan — has posed a different set of dilemmas for the president. 
​Just this week, Obama was reminded of the grim realities of 13 years of military engagement when a man dressed as an Afghan soldier killed a two-star American general, the highest ranking officer killed in combat since 1970, according to the Pentagon.
FULL ARTICLE (Voice of America)
Photo: The U.S. Army/flickr

Divisions, Harsh Realities Plague Obama’s Afghan Surge | Catherine Maddux

When President Obama took office six years ago, among the many burdens he inherited were two costly and complex wars: Iraq and Afghanistan.

He campaigned hard against the U.S. invasion of Iraq, calling it the “wrong war” and made good on a promise to end American involvement. The White House touts that as a crowning achievement despite Iraq battling insurgency and sectarian strife.  

The other war — Afghanistan — has posed a different set of dilemmas for the president. 

​Just this week, Obama was reminded of the grim realities of 13 years of military engagement when a man dressed as an Afghan soldier killed a two-star American general, the highest ranking officer killed in combat since 1970, according to the Pentagon.

FULL ARTICLE (Voice of America)

Photo: The U.S. Army/flickr

5 Aug
Iraq chaos catches up with Kurdistan | Agence France-Presse
It was nearly the perfect heist. In June, Iraq’s Kurds snuck in behind retreating government troops to grab long-coveted land and watched from their new borders as Baghdad and jihadists fought over the rump state.
But the move dragged Kurdistan’s celebrated peshmerga out of their comfort zone and the cash-strapped force is now taking heavy losses along its extended front.
"They’ve bitten a whole chunk of cake that’s going to take a long, long time to digest," said Toby Dodge, director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics.
The autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq expanded its territory by around 40 percent when it took the slipstream of soldiers fleeing the onslaught the Islamic State launched on June 9.
Peshmerga troops initially took up positions right in front of IS territory and seemed determined not to get involved.
FULL ARTICLE (Global Post)
Photo: James Gordon/flickr

Iraq chaos catches up with Kurdistan | Agence France-Presse

It was nearly the perfect heist. In June, Iraq’s Kurds snuck in behind retreating government troops to grab long-coveted land and watched from their new borders as Baghdad and jihadists fought over the rump state.

But the move dragged Kurdistan’s celebrated peshmerga out of their comfort zone and the cash-strapped force is now taking heavy losses along its extended front.

"They’ve bitten a whole chunk of cake that’s going to take a long, long time to digest," said Toby Dodge, director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics.

The autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq expanded its territory by around 40 percent when it took the slipstream of soldiers fleeing the onslaught the Islamic State launched on June 9.

Peshmerga troops initially took up positions right in front of IS territory and seemed determined not to get involved.

FULL ARTICLE (Global Post)

Photo: James Gordon/flickr

1 Aug
A pincer move - Iraq’s bloody mess has helped the regime in Syria and its jihadist enemy
WHEN an alliance of disgruntled Sunnis led by the Islamic State (IS), an extremist group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), streaked across Iraq in June and proclaimed a caliphate in the territory it holds on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, Syrian rebels with a more national focus thought their day had come. Surely, they surmised, America and its Western allies would not sit by and allow to prosper a group that had grown out of al-Qaeda in Iraq and killed American soldiers during the war there in 2003? Bar the Americans getting involved militarily, the only way for them to push back IS in Syria would be to bolster the more moderate rebels there.
A little more weaponry, mainly anti-tank missiles, did indeed arrive for eight vetted groups that have been supplied by a covert programme that since last year has been run by America and states in the Gulf and Europe that want to see the back of Bashar Assad, Syria’s president. These groups have made some gains in the northern part of Hama province and the southern part of Idleb, near the regime’s stronghold in western Syria (see map). But the main picture has not changed. Syria’s regime and IS both gain from the mess next door in Iraq, whereas the more moderate rebels are increasingly being squeezed. “The aid is for a plan to deal with a 2012 problem, not a 2014 one,” says Noah Bonsey, an American Syria-watcher at the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank.
FULL ARTICLE (The Economist) 
Photo: James Gordon/flickr

A pincer move - Iraq’s bloody mess has helped the regime in Syria and its jihadist enemy

WHEN an alliance of disgruntled Sunnis led by the Islamic State (IS), an extremist group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), streaked across Iraq in June and proclaimed a caliphate in the territory it holds on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, Syrian rebels with a more national focus thought their day had come. Surely, they surmised, America and its Western allies would not sit by and allow to prosper a group that had grown out of al-Qaeda in Iraq and killed American soldiers during the war there in 2003? Bar the Americans getting involved militarily, the only way for them to push back IS in Syria would be to bolster the more moderate rebels there.

A little more weaponry, mainly anti-tank missiles, did indeed arrive for eight vetted groups that have been supplied by a covert programme that since last year has been run by America and states in the Gulf and Europe that want to see the back of Bashar Assad, Syria’s president. These groups have made some gains in the northern part of Hama province and the southern part of Idleb, near the regime’s stronghold in western Syria (see map). But the main picture has not changed. Syria’s regime and IS both gain from the mess next door in Iraq, whereas the more moderate rebels are increasingly being squeezed. “The aid is for a plan to deal with a 2012 problem, not a 2014 one,” says Noah Bonsey, an American Syria-watcher at the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank.

FULL ARTICLE (The Economist

Photo: James Gordon/flickr

11 Jul
Kurdish Independence: Harder Than It Looks | Joost Hilterman
Joost Hilterman is the Chief Operating Officer at the International Crisis Group
The jihadist blitz through northwestern Iraq has ended the fragile peace that was established after the 2007-2008 US surge. It has cast grave doubt on the basic capacity of the Iraqi army—reconstituted, trained and equipped at great expense by Washington—to control the country, and it could bring down the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose eight-year reign has been marred by mismanagement and sectarian polarization. But for Iraqi Kurds, the offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and other groups has offered a dramatic opportunity: a chance to expand their own influence beyond Iraqi Kurdistan and take possession of other parts of northern Iraq they’ve long claimed as theirs.
At the heart of these “disputed areas” is the strategic city of Kirkuk, which the disciplined and highly motivated Kurdish Peshmerga took over in mid-June, after Iraqi soldiers stationed there fled in fear of advancing jihadists. A charmless city of slightly less than one million people, Kirkuk betrays little of its past as an important Ottoman garrison town. The desolate ruin of an ancient citadel, sitting on a mound overlooking the dried-out Khasa River, is one of the few hints of the city’s earlier glory. Yet Kirkuk lies on top of one of Iraq’s largest oil fields, and with its crucial location directly adjacent to the Kurdish region, the city is the prize in the Kurds’ long journey to independence, a town they call their Jerusalem. When their Peshmerga fighters easily took over a few weeks ago, there was loud rejoicing throughout the Kurdish land.
But while the Kurds believe Kirkuk’s riches give them crucial economic foundations for a sustainable independent state, the city’s ethnic heterogeneity raises serious questions about their claims to it. Not only is Kirkuk’s population—as with that of many other Iraqi cities, including Baghdad itself—deeply intermixed. The disputed status of its vast oil field also stands as a major obstacle to any attempt to divide the country’s oil revenues equitably. To anyone who advocates dividing Iraq into neat ethnic and sectarian groups, Kirkuk shows just how challenging that would be in practice.
The definitive loss of Kirkuk and the giant oil field surrounding it could precipitate the breakup of Iraq, and while the present government in Baghdad is in no position to resist Kurdish control, a restrengthened leadership might, in the future, seek to retake the city by force. For the Kurds, the sudden territorial gains may also not be the panacea they seem to think they are. The Kurdish oil industry is still much in development, and if the Kurdish region loses access to Baghdad’s annual budget allocations without a ready alternative, it is likely to face a severe economic crisis. Moreover, the same jihadist insurgency that has enabled Kurdish advances in the disputed territories is also a potent new threat to the Kurds themselves. So the taking of Kirkuk poses an urgent question: how important is Iraq’s stability to the Kurds’ own security and long-term aims?
I first visited Kirkuk some twenty-three years ago, driving from Baghdad and entering from the west. Coming up from the capital in those days one had little doubt that one was in Arab areas all the way to the outskirts of Kirkuk, while the city itself, like many urban conglomerations in the wider region, was home to many different ethnic and religious groups, none of them dominant. There were Shia mixed in with Sunnis, and along with three major ethnicities—Arab, Kurdish, and Turkic—the city contained a smaller population of Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, who claimed to be original inhabitants of what was known in ancient times as Arrapha. In fact, despite the Kurds’ strong presence in Kirkuk today, they were relatively late arrivals, having settled mostly in the years since the oil industry first took hold in the 1930s.
FULL ARTICLE (New York Times Review of Books)
Photo: Jorgen Nijman/flickr

Kurdish Independence: Harder Than It Looks | Joost Hilterman

Joost Hilterman is the Chief Operating Officer at the International Crisis Group

The jihadist blitz through northwestern Iraq has ended the fragile peace that was established after the 2007-2008 US surge. It has cast grave doubt on the basic capacity of the Iraqi army—reconstituted, trained and equipped at great expense by Washington—to control the country, and it could bring down the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose eight-year reign has been marred by mismanagement and sectarian polarization. But for Iraqi Kurds, the offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and other groups has offered a dramatic opportunity: a chance to expand their own influence beyond Iraqi Kurdistan and take possession of other parts of northern Iraq they’ve long claimed as theirs.

At the heart of these “disputed areas” is the strategic city of Kirkuk, which the disciplined and highly motivated Kurdish Peshmerga took over in mid-June, after Iraqi soldiers stationed there fled in fear of advancing jihadists. A charmless city of slightly less than one million people, Kirkuk betrays little of its past as an important Ottoman garrison town. The desolate ruin of an ancient citadel, sitting on a mound overlooking the dried-out Khasa River, is one of the few hints of the city’s earlier glory. Yet Kirkuk lies on top of one of Iraq’s largest oil fields, and with its crucial location directly adjacent to the Kurdish region, the city is the prize in the Kurds’ long journey to independence, a town they call their Jerusalem. When their Peshmerga fighters easily took over a few weeks ago, there was loud rejoicing throughout the Kurdish land.

But while the Kurds believe Kirkuk’s riches give them crucial economic foundations for a sustainable independent state, the city’s ethnic heterogeneity raises serious questions about their claims to it. Not only is Kirkuk’s population—as with that of many other Iraqi cities, including Baghdad itself—deeply intermixed. The disputed status of its vast oil field also stands as a major obstacle to any attempt to divide the country’s oil revenues equitably. To anyone who advocates dividing Iraq into neat ethnic and sectarian groups, Kirkuk shows just how challenging that would be in practice.

The definitive loss of Kirkuk and the giant oil field surrounding it could precipitate the breakup of Iraq, and while the present government in Baghdad is in no position to resist Kurdish control, a restrengthened leadership might, in the future, seek to retake the city by force. For the Kurds, the sudden territorial gains may also not be the panacea they seem to think they are. The Kurdish oil industry is still much in development, and if the Kurdish region loses access to Baghdad’s annual budget allocations without a ready alternative, it is likely to face a severe economic crisis. Moreover, the same jihadist insurgency that has enabled Kurdish advances in the disputed territories is also a potent new threat to the Kurds themselves. So the taking of Kirkuk poses an urgent question: how important is Iraq’s stability to the Kurds’ own security and long-term aims?

I first visited Kirkuk some twenty-three years ago, driving from Baghdad and entering from the west. Coming up from the capital in those days one had little doubt that one was in Arab areas all the way to the outskirts of Kirkuk, while the city itself, like many urban conglomerations in the wider region, was home to many different ethnic and religious groups, none of them dominant. There were Shia mixed in with Sunnis, and along with three major ethnicities—Arab, Kurdish, and Turkic—the city contained a smaller population of Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, who claimed to be original inhabitants of what was known in ancient times as Arrapha. In fact, despite the Kurds’ strong presence in Kirkuk today, they were relatively late arrivals, having settled mostly in the years since the oil industry first took hold in the 1930s.

FULL ARTICLE (New York Times Review of Books)

Photo: Jorgen Nijman/flickr

30 Jun
Redrawn Lines Seen as No Cure in Iraq Conflict | Robert Worth
Over the past two weeks, the specter that has haunted Iraq since its founding 93 years ago appears to have become a reality: the de facto partition of the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish cantons.
With jihadists continuing to entrench their positions across the north and west, and the national army seemingly incapable of mounting a challenge, Americans and even some Iraqis have begun to ask how much blood and treasure it is worth to patch the country back together.
It is a question that echoes not only in Syria — also effectively divided into mutually hostile statelets — but also across the entire Middle East, where centrifugal forces unleashed by the Arab uprisings of 2011 continue to erode political structures and borders that have prevailed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.
Yet Iraq and Syria’s potential fragmentation along sectarian or ethnic lines is not likely to offer any solution to the region’s dysfunction, analysts say, and may well generate new conflicts driven by ideology, oil, and other resources.
FULL ARTICLE (New York Times)
Photo: Austin King/flickr

Redrawn Lines Seen as No Cure in Iraq Conflict | Robert Worth

Over the past two weeks, the specter that has haunted Iraq since its founding 93 years ago appears to have become a reality: the de facto partition of the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish cantons.

With jihadists continuing to entrench their positions across the north and west, and the national army seemingly incapable of mounting a challenge, Americans and even some Iraqis have begun to ask how much blood and treasure it is worth to patch the country back together.

It is a question that echoes not only in Syria — also effectively divided into mutually hostile statelets — but also across the entire Middle East, where centrifugal forces unleashed by the Arab uprisings of 2011 continue to erode political structures and borders that have prevailed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

Yet Iraq and Syria’s potential fragmentation along sectarian or ethnic lines is not likely to offer any solution to the region’s dysfunction, analysts say, and may well generate new conflicts driven by ideology, oil, and other resources.

FULL ARTICLE (New York Times)

Photo: Austin King/flickr

25 Jun
How Will Iraq’s New War End? | Joshua Keating
Last September I blogged, in reference to the ongoing war in Syria, about a survey by Dutch political scientists Madeleine Hosli and Anke Hoekstra looking at how civil wars typically end. Generally, it’s not in a negotiated settlement: Between 1945 and 1993, 75 percent of civil wars ended in outright military victory by one side. But certain factors make diplomatic outcomes more likely, and they’re worth considering in light of John Kerry’s new push for Iraqi leaders to form a more inclusive government. Considering precedent, it seems at first that prospects for a negotiated settlement might actually be decent.
Negotiated settlements are more likely in situations of military stalemate. We appear to be approaching something like that in Iraq. Despite their recent gains in the north, where defenses were weak, at the moment it seems most likely, as Kenneth Pollack argues, that ISIS’s advance will be halted north of Baghdad, where it will run into more heavily fortified and more predominantly Shiite areas. Without major U.S. or Iranian military intervention—both of which seem unlikely—Iraqi security forces don’t seem particularly capable of launching a major counteroffensive. In other words, Iraq could be in for a long one.
FULL ARTICLE (Slate)
Photo: jrseles/flickr

How Will Iraq’s New War End? | Joshua Keating

Last September I blogged, in reference to the ongoing war in Syria, about a survey by Dutch political scientists Madeleine Hosli and Anke Hoekstra looking at how civil wars typically end. Generally, it’s not in a negotiated settlement: Between 1945 and 1993, 75 percent of civil wars ended in outright military victory by one side. But certain factors make diplomatic outcomes more likely, and they’re worth considering in light of John Kerry’s new push for Iraqi leaders to form a more inclusive government. Considering precedent, it seems at first that prospects for a negotiated settlement might actually be decent.

Negotiated settlements are more likely in situations of military stalemate. We appear to be approaching something like that in Iraq. Despite their recent gains in the north, where defenses were weak, at the moment it seems most likely, as Kenneth Pollack argues, that ISIS’s advance will be halted north of Baghdad, where it will run into more heavily fortified and more predominantly Shiite areas. Without major U.S. or Iranian military intervention—both of which seem unlikely—Iraqi security forces don’t seem particularly capable of launching a major counteroffensive. In other words, Iraq could be in for a long one.

FULL ARTICLE (Slate)

Photo: jrseles/flickr

23 Jun
Iraq’s House of Cards: The Primary Mission | Robin Wright
On Friday, a new report by the International Crisis Group, an independent research and policy institute, bluntly warned of both the political and military challenges in Iraq. Under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the report declared, “Parliament has been rendered toothless, independent state agencies shorn of their powers. Ministries, to an unprecedented extent, have become bastions of nepotism and other forms of corruption; the severely politicized judiciary represents anything but the ‘rule of law,’ with even the Supreme Court doing the government’s bidding.”
This week, as the jihadi juggernaut solidifies its control over almost a third of the country in a Sunni proto-state, a token American team of Special Forces will embed in Iraq to assess and advise Iraq’s disintegrating military. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is conferring with regional leaders about ways to prevent a geostrategic prize from imploding into a failed state. He, too, is expected in Baghdad. 
The primary American mission is to help rebuild the house of cards that is the Iraqi government—a political challenge almost as daunting as devising a strategy to beat back the alienated Sunni (and other) forces in the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The goal is to prevent Iraq from becoming another Lebanon, where sectarian tensions over a power-sharing formula dragged on in a fifteen-year civil war (despite repeated American diplomatic interventions and attempts to rebuild the national Army).
FULL ARTICLE (The New Yorker)
Photo: United States Forces-Iraq/flickr

Iraq’s House of Cards: The Primary Mission | Robin Wright

On Friday, a new report by the International Crisis Group, an independent research and policy institute, bluntly warned of both the political and military challenges in Iraq. Under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the report declared, “Parliament has been rendered toothless, independent state agencies shorn of their powers. Ministries, to an unprecedented extent, have become bastions of nepotism and other forms of corruption; the severely politicized judiciary represents anything but the ‘rule of law,’ with even the Supreme Court doing the government’s bidding.”

This week, as the jihadi juggernaut solidifies its control over almost a third of the country in a Sunni proto-state, a token American team of Special Forces will embed in Iraq to assess and advise Iraq’s disintegrating military. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is conferring with regional leaders about ways to prevent a geostrategic prize from imploding into a failed state. He, too, is expected in Baghdad. 

The primary American mission is to help rebuild the house of cards that is the Iraqi government—a political challenge almost as daunting as devising a strategy to beat back the alienated Sunni (and other) forces in the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The goal is to prevent Iraq from becoming another Lebanon, where sectarian tensions over a power-sharing formula dragged on in a fifteen-year civil war (despite repeated American diplomatic interventions and attempts to rebuild the national Army).

FULL ARTICLE (The New Yorker)

Photo: United States Forces-Iraq/flickr