The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Iraq Disintegrates ISIS Owns More Strategic Territory Than You Think

Tal Afar. Haditha. Even Mosul: Unless you’re one of Americans who served in the Iraq War, odds are you don’t recognize the names of most of the cities ISIS has seized thus far in Iraq. And the areas of ISIS control on maps don’t appear that intimidating. After all, Baghdad has not fallen; this is mostly Iraqi hinterland, right?

Not so, according to a new report in the Financial Times. The group has seized the vital trade routes for the country and in fact much of the entire region. Fully 75 percent of Iraq’s imports arrive overland, much of it from Turkey through routes now controlled by ISIS. Trade between Turkey, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq could be seriously interrupted. If so, food prices will rise in Bagdad, and the economy will take a beating.

Historically, the areas now under ISIS’s thumb have been the dominant regions in the country. These trade routes and the geography underlying them could be part of the reason why.

Far from owning a hinterland, ISIS is in the catbird seat. This is bad news for a feeble Iraqi government.

Published on July 3, 2014 3:45 pm
  • Aleksandr Romanovich Podgaets

    What we see now is disintegration of international institutions as a new world order is being formed. The erosion of these institutions was going since 1992 thanks to the habit of USA to conduct affairs above the law.

    And the killing blow to international law was the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    There is a certain robustness in every organisation. So it took another ten years for erosion to turn into disintegration.

    And indeed ISIS is the common threat of entire Western Civilization – including Russia. Both our nations fought Radical Islam not once – 9/11, terror acts in London, Afghan, Chechnya, Iraq, Syria. We must stand together when our common foe gets stronger by the day.

    I will say a terrible thing now. In 9/11 our pres was the first foreign
    statesperson to support Americans. I doubt he would move a finger now.
    So many countries now feel the same about USA. Look at you – alienated
    even your best allies! All balls on American side. It’s your turn with
    whom to ally.

    Never before Radical Islam owned a whole state. It’s not Sunnistan some of nice gentlemen on Disqus are proposing. It won’t be secular, it won’t be even your regular muslim country. It will be a radical islam state, named ISIS.

    Emergence ISIS as a country will reconfigure entire Middle East and Central Asia. Afghan will blow up yet again. Saudi will have another problem in addition to the complications in their royal family. The Syrian war will receive a boost. Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgizstan with be more under the pressure of this radical movement – those are the real Sunnis as opposed to radical militants.

    That should be the prime concern for the USA and EU now, not throwing toys from the pram over Ukraine.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Tell Vladimir to give us a call. If you and he have decided to ally with America to fight the nonsense of Mohammad, we’d like to talk about that.