Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Extremist Threat to Iraq Grows

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, NYT
AUG. 5, 2014

Alarming new military advances by Sunni extremists have finally forced Iraq’s disastrous prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to put the future of his country over his political disputes. On Monday, he ordered the Iraqi air force to support Kurdish forces battling to prevent extremists from taking even more territory and further threatening Iraq’s existence as a sovereign state.

The decision was needed to deal with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which is known as ISIS and began as an Al Qaeda affiliate and has been a major rebel force fighting in Syria, then jumped the border, captured the northern Iraq city of Mosul on June 10 and expanded from there.

Over the weekend, the group claimed its latest success, seizing control of three more towns in northern Iraq and threatening the country’s largest dam. ISIS’s goal is to create a caliphate straddling Iraq and Syria, governed by a harsh interpretation of Shariah, and, in pursuit of that objective, it has been cracking down brutally on Christians, Yazidis and other minorities.

Its latest victory was particularly worrisome because ISIS went up against the pesh merga, the security forces of the relatively secure and prosperous semiautonomous Kurdish region that have been considered the country’s best motivated, best trained and best equipped military since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s army in 2003.

(More here.)

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