The situation in Iraq is simply getting worse and worse. With the Kurds to the north moving towards independence and much of the Northwestern Sunni areas in the hands of ISIS allied militias, a strong response by the Shia-led government appeared to be all but necessary if the country was going to have any hope of unifying. But alas, it appears that even the Shia government is fighting amongst itself even as war literally looms on the horizon.
Iraq’s parliament has delayed its next session for a full five weeks. This comes in spite of massive pressure from the American government, Iranian government, United Nations and even many members of Iraq’s own Shia clergy for a quick resolution and strong show of unity in face of the ever building threats outside of Baghdad.
Prime Minister al-Maliki Not Looking to Stand Down
Despite intense internal and international pressure for al-Maliki to step down, it appears that the Prime Minister is unwilling to concede defeat. Without his resignation there is a huge risk that Kurdish and Sunni elements of the parliament will walk away from the table, and indeed even the national idea of Iraq.
Under Maliki, Sunnis charge that the government has favored Shia interests at the cost of Sunni interest. Indeed, disenchantment among the Sunni community in Iraq has helped drive Iraqis into the ranks ISIS and earned the radical terrorist group easy allies among former Baathists and other Sunni groups.
Meanwhile, to the North the Kurds are threatening to withdraw from the country all-together. With the Kurdish Peshmerga offering arguably Iraq’s most potential military force, the loss of Kurdish support could crippled efforts to reunite and stabilize Iraq. The Kurds have made it very clear that they do not approve of Maliki or how Baghdad has handled relations with Kurdistan.
Perhaps most telling of all, however, many Shias have also grown disillusioned with Maliki’s government. Clerics in Baghdad have been raising their own militias and the internal ranks of the Shia parliament have been increasingly losing faith of Maliki. Regardless, the Prime Minister is still a potent force, at least within the parliament, even if nowhere else.
Iraq’s National Military in Disarray
It would certainly seem that the Iraqi national government has the resources necessary to quell the advance of ISIS and perhaps even expel the organization from Iraq. The government’s army is believed to number about 200,000 strong, though the quality of this army is questionable. It is, if nothing else, well-equipped with advanced American weapons.
Regardless, without the leadership of a unified central government, the military itself appears to be in disarray. Until the American occupation Iraq’s military was controlled by Sunnis. It was the Sunni community that held the years of training and experience in commanding armies, and now it appears that many of those trained soldiers and leaders have gravitated towards ISIS.
For the next five weeks, at least, the Iraqi government will remain nominally under Maliki’s control. So far, however, Maliki has proven unable to government Iraq, at least to each community’s satisfaction, and unable to confront ISIS.