The democracy “project” instituted by George W. Bush and Tony Blair in Iraq is like for a better term, failing. Jihadists have taken large territories of Iraq. Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, has been captured with other towns and villages falling like dominoes. The reality for many Iraqis are militants in open jeeps, hundreds of pro-government forces being massacred and havoc everywhere. Iraqis by the thousands have fled their homes. Meanwhile, the Kurds have taking advantage of the situation and taken control of the oil hub, Kirkuk, as Iraqi forces abandoned their posts.
The Sunni militant organization, ISIS, is approaching Baghdad with the goal of overthrowing al-Maliki’s government. Neither Bush nor Blair imagined what their actions would reap 10 years later: an unstable Iraq, and to a larger extent, a Middle East in shambles. Even Qubad Talabani, the son of Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, has suggested that Iraq is broken. “Iraq, in a sense, has broken apart from us,” he told The Daily Beast. “Geographically we practically have to cross another country to get to Baghdad. We have to cross through territory that is governed and secured by forces that are not loyal to the federal government in Baghdad.”
George Bush sought to justify his actions in Iraq by claiming that Saddam had the capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction, a justification difficult to digest, as you cannot invade a country on assumptions and inaccurate intelligence. Ultimately to the chagrin of many conservatives in Washington, no WMD’s were ever found.
After American forces left Iraq, the oil-rich country has functioned as a failed democracy. A Sunni president and a Shia prime minister in a Shia-majority country seemed like a sensible arrangement. However, Nouri al-Maliki’s government has failed to establish control over many parts of Iraq. The fall of Mosul and Tikrit (Saddam Hussein’s hometown) has caused alarm in Baghdad and across the region. Al-Maliki is responsible for a weakened state and an ever-shrinking territory. Baghdad in the hands of ISIS poses a grave danger to the region’s stability. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, as the name suggests, aims to overthrow incumbent regimes in both Iraq and Syria and unite them under one Islamic state governed by Sharia Law.
Iran, which has offered space to the Kurds, will be facing a Sunni theocracy on its western borders. The Shia-Sunni dynamics in the region seem to be changing faster than anyone would have expected.
What is the responsibility of the United States? Though President Barack Obama hasn’t ruled out drone strikes or other military options, the weakened resolve of the American people of not going to war is understandable. The options are extremely limited for the Obama administration. Obama must review security conditions in Iraq and consider whether reintroducing U.S. forces is necessary and what U.S. interests are at stake in the region.