As fighting continues in Iraq between the beleaguered Iraqi army and the radical Sunni Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a simple question is emerging – is Iraq collapsing?
The success of the ISIL in the last forty eight hours has sent alarm bells ringing throughout the political echelons of the Middle East. ISIL, a relatively small organisation, has successfully taken over Iraq’s second largest city.
The implications for a continued success of the Jihadist ISIL is far reaching, Iraq if left to fight alone could implode requiring the interventions of regional powers such as Iran and less likely the USA.
ISIL’s success has been facilitated by the inclusion of local Sunni clans who chose not to resist the conquering fighters. Moreover the fact that Iraqi forces had nearly 10,000 men in the area of Mosul and were defeated, is a painful indictment of the failure of the USA to leave a stable Iraq able to defend itself.
Having pushed forward in Syria ISIL game plan is to reach the borders of Baghdad, moving from the North of Mosul through Takrit and then down the Tigris Valley. It’s intentiion is to divide Iraq and create a continues entity that blurs the borders of Iraq with Syria.
The Iraqi army will seek to contain ISIL’s advance but without the backing of the USA, further ISIL successes are expected.
If fighting continues in Iraq, ISIL may be forced to return some of its Jihadists fighting in Syria against the Assad regime to fight in Iraq. This could weaken their Syrian fighting capability.
Meanwhile the Iranians have promised not to stand ideally by and could well increase their influence in Iraq. Whilst unlikely to request the aid of the already weakened Hezbollah, who have been fighting alongside the Syrian regime, they may encourage local Shiite jihadists to return from Syria to Iraq.
The USA has been secretly arming “moderate groups” such as Sahawat and training them to fight ISIL in Syria. (Watch the video below, source unconfirmed.)
Given their success of ISIL in Iraq, the USA will be forced to increase its covert action in Iraq, to do otherwise would see the creation of a radical Sunni Jihadist state in the heart of the Middle East
Turkey is remarkably concerned by recent events. Ankara’s oil interest in the North of Iraq may be threatened if the chaos ensues. Ironically ISIL is providing a common enemy for the Kurds as well as Turkey.
ISIL’s success may well unite the Shiites in Iraq who would be killed or expelled from areas conquered. Indeed ISIL threatens the very fabric of Shiite society in the region.
The future of Iraq is not certain. What is clear is that everybody in the region will be looking at events in Iraq closely. Without outside intervention, ISIL seems unstoppable.