IRAQ: Paths off the Mountain and Towards Forming a New Government

In my previous post I mentioned what was a crisis on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq where tens of thousands of Yasidis were trapped by ISIS.   Since then a path down the mountain leading to a circuitous route to freedom in Kurdistan has been opened up and only a few thousand still remain on that mountain, so that potential “genocide” has been averted. 
 
Also, I mentioned that steps were being taken to replace Prime Minister Maliki with another man from his own party.  At the time Maliki seemed willing to resist the change by any means possible, which could have prolonged the gridlock.   However, yesterday he decided to step down opening the way to form a new government under Haider al-Abadi, a member of his own party who is acceptable to most factions there, in addition to both the U. S. and Iran, the two foremost external power brokers. 
 
That is great news, but Haider al-Abadi will have a huge challenge to face in developing some degree of national unity, enough to gather its forces and crush ISIS, with likely considerable outside help.   We can only hope he is up the task.  It will be a very tricky process indeed. 
 

For those looking for background information to both situations mentioned above, I suggest clicking this article in the Wall Street Journal published a few days ago.   Even if you don’t wish to read the article you might find a map there enlightening as it locates Mount Sinjar and the escape path as well as areas under ISIS and Kurdish control, a fluid situation to be sure.

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IRAQ: Parliament Procastinates on Selection of Prime Minister

Today I thought we might have a new prime minister in Iraq, but the parliament wound up not having a quorum and putting off meeting for another week.   Parliament had a quorum when they began to meet, but after a 30 minute break, they lost it as 90 members did not return.   According to CNN the speaker of the parliament said:  ‘”We are going to postpone because of an urgent matter,’…..  (but) he did not say what the urgent matter was, and it was not immediately clear what happened.”

Map of Iraq, where Yahya ibn Umar conducted hi...

Map of Iraq   (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clear as mud, right?  But clearly not a  good sign, with the possibility of a decision as to prime minister dragging on and on.   How can a united front be developed to oppose ISIS when they can’t even form a government?

Government sources report successes of the military against ISIS, but these reports have often conflicted with reports of individuals on the ground, so the actual success of al-Malaki’s forces is open to question.

They did receive about a dozen fighter jets from Russia recently and expect them to join the fight over these next few days.   But while the ISIS tide might be stemmed for now, a likely lame duck al-Malaki is not someone who inspires troops to risk their lives while facing fanatics as their frequent collapse in recent weeks reflect (yes, I know that many of them were soldiers of Sunni ethnicity, the least likely to want to fight, but troops of all stripes fled right along with them).

While Baghdad is shilly shallying an ISIS  spokesman declared themselves the  rightful leader of all Muslims Sunday.  You have to be impressed by their audacity if nothing else, as this puts them squarely at odds with all sorts of other Muslims, including many Sunni’s who might hate al-Malaki but are not ready to submit to this new caliphate, meaning a Muslim empire like in the good old days of Mohammed.  And then there is what once was their parent organization Al-Queda, which disowned them back in February because they would not follow orders.

Imagine this:  Al-Queda and the U. S.  have a common enemy.  It almost seems it has become ISIS, or the Islamic State, what they want to be called now, against the world.    With Russia supplying jets to Baghdad, Syrian jets attacking some of the ISIS strongholds, Iran sending munitions and and I don’t know what else, and also a little help from us, with likely more to come if they could form an inclusive government……  Can you imagine a meeting somewhere between a CIA guy with representatives of all of those entities to establish some sort of communication so at least they don’t trip over each other in their efforts to crush ISIS?   Well probably not including Al-Queda, but we are reaching bizarro world at this point.

On the surface one would think the “Islamic State” has bit off more than it can chew, but while its actions have produced many enemies, they undoubtedly are  attracting many true believers willing to die for the grand vision of a restored caliphate.  With a chaotic government situation in Baghdad and the odd assortment of backers indicated above, much havoc seems likely in Iraq’s near future to say the least.  And where might it spread?

Check out this CNN report for more details on the current situation including links to other sources at the bottom of the article.  One is to a series of maps which help clarify the struggle.  And one of the maps shows where oil is distributed throughout the country, mostly in Shia and Kurd territories, which would be a sticking point if the three major groups could come to the conclusion  of breaking the country apart.