Posted on | June 14, 2014 | 26 Comments
Four years ago, Vice President Joe Biden claimed that Obama’s Iraq policy would be “one of the greatest achievements” of his administration. If by “greatest achievements,” you mean anarchy as Iraq is overrun by al-Qaeda terrorists, I guess Biden was right:
The likely breakup of Iraq into feuding ethnic and sectarian bastions accelerated Friday as Iraq’s senior Shiite Muslim cleric broke years of support for the central government and decreed that every able-bodied Shiite man had a religious obligation to defend the sect’s holy sites from rebellious Sunni Muslims led by fighters from the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
In answer to the call, thousands of Shiites — many with militia experience from the sectarian war that pitted Sunnis against Shiites and killed thousands from 2006 to 2008– flooded the cities of Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala to receive weapons, enlist in organized units and receive their orders.
The Shiite-led government of Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki remained in paralysis Friday, unable to form a coherent response after al-Qaida-inspired militants blitzed and captured entire chunks of the nation’s Sunni heartland this week, including major cities, towns, military and police bases as Iraqi forces melted away or fled.
The new reality is the biggest threat to Iraq’s stability since the U.S. withdrawal at the end of 2011, and it has pushed the nation closer to a precipice that would partition it into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish zones.
Fighters from the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on Thursday vowed to march on Baghdad, joined by Saddam Hussein-era loyalists and other disaffected Sunnis.
Trumpeting their victory, the militants also declared they would impose Shariah law in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city they captured on Tuesday, and other areas they seized.
[A]ny reduction in the flow of Iraqi crude due to the ongoing Islamic insurgency in the northern Iraq cities of Mosul and Tikrit could have worldwide economic consequences, according to oil industry analyst Phill Flynn, who said speculators are watching for the worst-case scenario.
“They think that Baghdad will not fall and that will be a more spirited defense of that city,” Flynn said. “But if it does fall and if the terrorists move further south, the price you’re paying at the pump today is gonna look like a bargain in a couple weeks.”
Can the U.S. embassy in Iraq withstand attack? Gosh, why does this all seem so familiar? It’s like the 1970s or something.
— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) June 13, 2014