Iraq’s Future In The Balance?

Recent events in Iraq could prove catastrophic for stability in the Middle East if a positive stance is not taken by the Iraqi government against jihadists threatening the capital. To me, the chances of that are not certain and could result in an insurgent group ISIS, gaining control of the whole country. I hope I am wrong. Their aim is to carve out a Sunni enclave that would take in parts of Syria and a huge swathe of Iraq.

Tikrit Iraq

Tikrit Iraq

For the past year this insurgent group has steadily made territorial gains in both Syria and Iraq. Recently they took control of Falluja and parts of Ramadi, and last Tuesday they topped that off by taking Mosul, and now Tikrit. Their chances of holding on to the Syrian enclave seem to be pretty slim for the forces under Assad are far stronger, backed as they are by Hezbollah and other militant groups.

Mosul - Iraq's Second Largest City

Mosul – Iraq’s Second Largest City

As everyone now knows, Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq and ISIS took it with ease. They also met little or no resistance during their takeover of Tikrit that lies just 150km from the capital Baghdad. Since this latest victory they have made it known that they will attack the capital very soon. If that happens they may possibly gain control over the whole country.

Maliki Iraq's Prime Minister

Nouri Maliki Iraq’s Prime Minister

The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, is being blamed by all sides for this upsurge in violence. He has alienated many of the Sunni tribal leaders and been accused of huge scale corruption. For example, the police and army were allowed to sell positions and promotions while competent commanders were by-passed and Maliki loyalists were given key roles.

Ethnic Groups in Iraq

Ethnic Groups in Iraq

Iraqi Army In Action

Iraqi Army In Action

In Mosul and Tikrit the Iraqi Army made little or no attempt to stop the insurgents but in fact ran away, much to the disgust of many. This despite the fact the USA gave training and equipment to the Iraqi Army worth $25 billion during the occupation.They are not what I would call an effective army even though it has a million men. This is due in part to very poor leadership. Whether they will be up to the task of clearing out the insurgents remains to be seen.

Death Rate in Iraq By Year

Death Rate in Iraq By Year

Casualties to date have been in the hundreds, and are for the most part civilians. After the takeover of Mosul and Tikrit the insurgents have carried out summary executions of civilians for reasons unknown at this time. Deaths throughout the conflict in Iraq have been huge and in recent months they have risen steadily.

Baghdad - People Living In Fear

Baghdad – People Living In Fear

There is at the moment a climate of fear in Baghdad as the population anticipate an attack by ISIS.  It is reported that citizens are stocking up on food and all eyes are glued to the radio and TV news programs to catch the latest news.

The real danger is that if ISIS gain control of the country they will use the fact to their own advantage as an insurgent group. If this scenario takes place it will be the second time a jihadist group has ruled a country. The first was the Taliban who ruled in Afghanistan with ruthless force until NATO Forces kicked them out.

Life Under The Taliban

Life Under The Taliban

In my view, as soon as all NATO forces have left Afghanistan, that will be the next country to fall to a terrorist group. The Taliban will begin moves to take over the country again, and if ISIS win Iraq, they will have all the assistance they need, for the largest religious group there is also Sunni.

In such a situation, the world will be faced with two Middle East countries under the command of insurgent groups with a sworn duty to destroy the West. Not a very good prospect. This will also give these groups a powerhouse for operations against other Arab countries where we have already recorded unrest among the Sunni populations.

Sunni JokeNaturally, part of this is the internal fight in Muslim territories of Shi’ite against Shia, two different sects within Islam. You could compare it to Protestants against Catholics in western countries.

Demonstrations In Bahrain

Demonstrations In Bahrain

ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant which grew from an off-shoot of al Quada, are Sunni’s and wish to wrest control of the country from its Shia government. Once they are established, this could lead to future problems in Gulf States like Bahrain which is mainly Sunni, but with a Shi’ite ruling class.

If the insurgents do in fact take over both Iraq and Afghanistan they will become a major Sunni political power base within Arabic countries in the Middle East. It is by no means a huge stretch of the imagination to understand that many Arab countries with a Sunni population majority could then rise up against their Shi’ite masters. Should any state wish to do this they will have willing help, and manpower, from the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. These groups may even take the initiative themselves and create the foundations for an uprising. It would not be the first time they have done this.

Iran/IraqA further complication is that Iran has said it will not allow ISIS to gain control for it will be against their own interests. In Iran around 90% of the population is Shia and they will not want a Sunni state being born on their doorstep. Other Middle East countries have either a Shia majority or are governed by a minority Shia government. They will also not want to see Sunni insurgents setting up their own state, knowing no doubt what could follow.

The United States has already indicated they do not wish to re-enter the fight in either Iraq or Afghanistan and I can understand that for there is much hatred in these countries against America. There is talk at this time of providing further equipment aid to the Iraqi government, and the possibility of air strikes against selected targets.

Iraqi Air Force Single-Engined Cessna Aircraft Armed With Hellfire Missiles

Iraqi Air Force Single-Engined Cessna Aircraft Armed With Hellfire Missiles

The Iraqi Air Force  is a complete shambles with little or no aircraft, and can therefore not be relied upon to play any major role in the fight, except perhaps for attacks by armed helicopters. So far the idea of American ‘boots on the ground’ has been ruled out, however the government is said to be looking at ‘all options’.

UN In Iraq

Past UN Presence In Iraq

I would certainly not rule out this being possible sometime in the future if these groups do manage to gain full control. If ISIS are successful, then we may well see another United Nations Force operating in both Iraq and Afghanistan with the express purpose of routing the insurgents before they cause too much mayhem in other countries.

Jihad

Jihad

The rest of the world can only sit back and hope that the Iraqi Army is strong enough to drive these jihadists out of the country once and for all, and the government works towards uniting the people of Iraq into one nation again. Even if that happens, the threat from these militants will be far from over, for they have more than enough places in the world to sow the seeds of discontent, and enough fools who will listen.

It is my fervent hope that all jihadists and militants sleep well tonight, forget to wake up in the morning, and enter a state of eternal sleep!

Roy.

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