|The Devastation in Mosul|
The Sunni insurgents quickly moved south, taking parts of former dictator Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, just 95 miles north of Baghdad. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who belongs to the country’s Shiite majority, asked parliament to declare a state of emergency, and called for a “general mobilization” against the militants. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that ISIS—which captured the western Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in January—now posed a “serious, mortal threat” to Iraq.
“So much for al Qaida being on a path to defeat,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. President Obama boasted as much when he withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, effectively washing his hands of the country. In the three years since, Obama’s “policy of strategic neglect” toward the region has allowed al Qaida militants to regroup, and seize a vast swath of territory in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
Iraq’s future ultimately rests in al-Maliki’s hands, said Daniel Nisman in HuffingtonPost.com. Having long oppressed the Sunni minority, unwittingly enabling the rise of ISIS in the process, the Shiite prime minister now faces a crucial decision. He can either unite his country against the radicals, who are despised by moderate Sunnis, or continue his sectarian policies and ignite a civil war of “biblical proportions.” Given al-Maliki’s history of purging Sunnis from the government, the police, and the army, the latter unfortunately looks more likely.