It’s not going well in Iraq.
Violence in Iraq might not yet be at Syria-type levels, where a full-scale civil war has left as many as 60,000 dead since 2011, but the latest reports from Baghdad say that 4,471 civilians died in Iraq in 2012. That’s up from 4.059 in 2011—and it looks like things will be getting a lot worse in 2013.
Heckuva success, W!
Ten years after the neoconservative-led invasion of Iraq—which, it must be noted, was a war of aggression against an innocent country that had no ties to terrorism, no WMD, and which had never attacked the United States—Iraq is still in chaos. And the war in Syria, next door, has helped to reignite the Sunni-led insurgency in northern and western Iraq, especially in Mosul and in Anbar Province.
An increasingly authoritarian regime under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has intensified a crackdown against dissent, whether peaceful or not. Since the departure of the last American forces at the end of 2011, Maliki has tilted sharply toward Iran. He launched phony terrorism charges against Iraq’s Sunni vice president, freed a Shiite-Hezbollah terrorist against US wishes, allowed Iran to ferry supplies through Iraq at will to aid Tehran’s ally in Damascus, and now he’s initiated a political jihad against the Sunni finance minister of Iraq. If Maliki had any intention of trying to maintain a balance between the United States and Iran, it appears that he’s given up trying to do so. The potential collapse of President Assad’s government in Syria would bring to power a Sunni power in Damascus, in which the Muslim Brotherhood and more radical elements, including Al Qaeda, would have traction. Already, Syria’s Sunnis are coordinating with Iraq’s anti-Maliki Sunnis in a manner that is driving Baghdad and Tehran closer together.
The attack on the finance minister provoked massive, peaceful demonstrations in parts of Iraq, including Anbar, and Maliki is threatening to use force against the protesters. Meanwhile, more radical groups in Iraq have over the past year or so carried out wave after wave of car bombings and assassinations that have left hundreds dead.
Sounding like Assad, and like Egypt’s Mubarak earlier, Maliki is blaming conspiracies and foreign elements for the protests, including “enemies of the political process, the armed terrorist groups and the remnants of the former regime,” even though the protests have been led by many thousands of ordinary Iraqis. Muqtada al-Sadr, the rebellious-minded Shiite cleric who’s been a thorn in Maliki’s side for years, is tilting nationalist once again, threatening to support the anti-Maliki protests. “The Iraqi spring is coming,” he said. That’s a portentous comment, since it was support from Sadr that allowed Maliki to assemble his ruling majority in parliament.