The broadest picture: Terrorism is not being controlled by the Maliki government. The past few months have seen a dramatic increase in deaths, mostly innocent civilians, from terrorist actions.
Last week’s video showing the execution of 3 truck drivers on the road to Syria illustrates the depth of the problem. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took responsibility and claimed the trucks contained supplies for Syria’s military. With terrorist attacks killing people at rates not seen for over 6 years, Iraq is quite out of control. Counterterrorism, since the Americans left, has drastically degraded.
The 4,000 strong Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) has become a private army of Maliki and is comprised of mostly Shias. They seem to be mainly occupied with attacking Maliki’s rivals as well as Sunni factions within Iraq.
The focus of counterterrorism activity has shifted from attacking terrorist groups, like the ISIL, to Maliki’s personal interests: preventing coups attempts, targeting Sunni groups, and controlling or eliminating political rivals. De-Ba‘athification, along with accusations of terrorism and corruption, have become convenient political tools to discredit and even remove opponents. The real terrorists are not the real targets of the ISOF. [UnderstandingWar]
This inattention is an important factor in the rise of terrorist activity within Iraq. It has also aided the al-Nusrah Front’s ascendance in neighboring Syria by easing the task of terrorist travel across the Syrian border.
August 30, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact