mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Mosul Madness in a Collapsing Middle East

The Greater Middle East moved significantly closer to a total meltdown this week. The vicious civil war in Iraq escalated as one of the global terror movement’s most bloodthirsty factions conquered the major city of Mosul. As more than 150,000 terror-struck civilians fled the second biggest city of Iraq, government forces appeared utterly incapable to stop ISIS, a jihadi group that is too radical and murderous for Al-Qaeda. This latest defeat caps a series of major setbacks for the Iraqi government in 2014; ISIS backed forces have occupied or partly occupied most of the major cities in Anbar, and violence in Baghdad continues to spike.

In Pakistan, meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban stunned the country and humiliated Pakistan’s security forces by launching two successive attacks on the Karachi airport. Karachi is Pakistan’s largest center and commercial capital; the gaping holes in Pakistan’s security network have never seemed larger or harder to mend.

This is hardly the end of the story. Libya’s shambolic government continues to shed authority in the capital and beyond. Yemen remains mired in anarchy. The civil wars in Syria continue unabated; the authority of the Lebanese state continues to fray. A nascent terror movement in Egypt continues to threaten the stability President Sisi hopes to impose.

If the Obama administration has a strategy for dealing with this situation, it has been very successful at keeping any sign of it hidden from the world press. The human tragedies unfolding in this arc of crisis are harrowing; neither an end to the suffering nor a political solution to these conflicts looks likely anytime soon. Look for more mayhem and more death; the dogs of war have slipped the leash.

Features Icon
show comments
  • lord acton

    The peoples of the middle-east/North Africa is in the middle of their 30 years war. The Peace of Westphalia seems a long way off at this point.

    • Fat_Man

      A mere 30? No 1400.

      • Curious Mayhem

        More like 100.

        • BobSykes

          No, Fat_Man is right, 1400. And it won’t end until (or if) Islam ends.

  • gabrielsyme

    Look, more Christians laid at the tender mercies of Salafist thugs on account of repeated American foreign policy incompetence.

    No status of forces agreement to stabilise Iraqi security? Check.
    Support for Syrian rebels leads to terrorist refuge? Check
    American-supplied arms making their way to terrorist groups in Syria? Check.
    Terrorist groups imposing dhimmitude on minorities? Check.
    Post-invasion Iraq inherently unstable? Check.
    Post-invasion Iraq exposes minorities to targeted violence? Check.
    American-supplied arms seized by terrorists in Iraq? Check.

    Almost any course of action would have been better than that chosen by successive American administrations. As much blame as Bush deserves for beginning the involvement in Iraq, he probably can’t be blamed for failing to anticipate the massive incomptenance of his successor which has led to (let’s be blunt) civil war re-emerging in Iraq. Brilliant work, Obama. Ensure Iraq remains weak by failing to get a status of forces agreement, then antagonise Sunni allies in the Gulf States, and help create a deadly stalemate in Syria where al-Qaeda gets to enjoy a base of operations and grows in money and manpower, whence they can come back and destabilise Iraq.

    Truly, the mind boggles at Obama’s blood-drenched incompetence.

  • lukelea

    “If the Obama administration [sic, WRM] has a strategy for dealing with this situation . . .”

    Face it: There are no “Western-style” solutions in this clannist, Islamic corner of the world. The American people have learned that lesson by now. It’s time the political class did too and moved on to issues over which it does have the power to influence in positive ways: low-wage imports, mass immigration, new statutory limits on the length of the working day.

    If it starts addressing the bread-and-butter issues that really matter to American working families it might shore-up popular support for the one country in that region we really do care about. Otherwise there is tragedy ahead.

    WRM & Co. need to get ahead of the curve.

    • B-Sabre

      Maliki is reaping what he helped sow, by antagonizing the very people (the Anbar Awakening councils) who helped end the last al Qaeda insurgency, by backing the Alawite Bathists in Syria, and playing bag man for the Iranians as they shipped men and arms to Assad. It wasn’t just ISIS that threw the Iraqi army out of Mosul – the Sunni civilians in the city took up arms and threw out the army when ISIS attacked.
      The best thing we can probably do now is help the Kurdish Regional Government “man the lifeboats” and lay the groundwork for their eventual independence from the Iraq state when it implodes. Then there’d be two countries in the Middle East that like us.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service