Iraq, coming apart at the seams. And the whole map of the Middle East may be in play. We’ll take a cold, hard look.
Days into the onslaught of black-clad fighters in Iraq, the news is still stunning. The map of Iraq – where the US invaded, spent billions, trillions, lost 4000 lives – redrawn in less than a week. City after city lost to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a group more than dreaming now of an Islamic “caliphate” stretching from Aleppo to Iran, beyond. A fantasy before the US invasion. Now a region of turmoil you can draw on the map. This hour On Point: Iraq, coming apart right now at the seams. America’s options. The facts on the ground.
— Tom Ashbrook
Paul Pillar, professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. Form national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia.
From Tom’s Reading List
The Wall Street Journal: Iraq Scrambles to Defend Baghdad — “Iraq’s government girded to protect the capital from advancing insurgents, as Iranian security officials said their forces had joined the battle on Baghdad’s side and the U.S. weighed military assistance, including airstrikes. Iraq edged closer to all-out sectarian conflict as Kurdish forces took control of a provincial capital in the oil-rich north on Thursday and Sunni militants threatened to march on two cities revered by Shiite Muslims and the capital.”
Reuters: Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric issues call to fight jihadist rebels — “Iraq’s most senior Shi’ite Muslim cleric urged followers to take up arms against a full-blown Sunni militant insurgency to topple Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, escalating a conflict that threatens civil war and a possible break-up of the country.”
The Daily Beast: ISIS’s Secret Allies — “All eyes have been on ISIS as the jihadist group, in a matter of days, cut Iraq in half and declared its own state in the cities it captured. With fewer than 10,000 fighters ISIS forced the retreat of the better-armed Iraqi army forces many times its size. Their incredible success on the battlefield has fed into a growing lore about the group: the small band of fanatics that can take down a country. The truth is more basic and it’s something ISIS doesn’t want to admit—they weren’t acting alone.”