Iraq: What is going on, and what will happen next?
Last comment by theflyonthewall 1 month, 1 week ago.

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As a historian, I have watched with fascination as nation after nation over the past several decade has tried to put in place their version of ‘order’ into what is currently called Iraq. This has been going on far longer than that: I just wasn’t around to watch it!

During the earliest recorded history of the Middle East, the region of Mesopotamia encompassed all of what we now know as Iraq. Seemingly, every empire that has ever taken hold in we now call the ‘Middle East’ has taken possession of this area: the Sumerians, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians all built there empires here.

The Greek and the Roman empires then came along and made the area a main part of their rule. They were followed by the Ottoman, Persian, and Mongol empires, who overran and converted this area as well. Thus, throughout their rules, the region became home to two of the Shia's sect of Islam’s holiest places: Najaf, and Karbala.

As time passed and the western European powers began flexing their colonial claws, the region fell under a myriad number of western nations control. With the end of World War One the League of Nations divided up the Ottoman Empires vassal states, giving Great Britain a ‘Mandate’ to create essentially their colony of Mesopotamia.

Shortly thereafter a new Hashemite Monarchy was created, and from that governmental system the Kingdom of Iraq gained its independence from Britain in 1932. A local political party began agitating to free itself from their King, and in 1958 the Ba’ath Party took control.

Saddam Hussein, the baddest bad guy in the Middle East, used this party to run the country like his own personal fiefdom until the United States stepped in to free the helpless Iraqis from his despotic rule.

This quick history lesson may be a simplification but it is necessary to understand two things: the Iraqis have never been a single cohesive unit controlled by their own rulers; and the area now known as Iraq has always had multiple groups agitating for their own independence from the governments being forced upon them.

Such is the case right now. Once American troops pulled out in 2011, everything went downhill, which was not surprising to me. The federal government in Iraq is detested and distrusted by virtually everyone who doesn’t have a place in the hierarchy.

The Sunni and Shia sects of Islam, which rule neighboring countries, have been fomenting and supporting dissent with the areas closes to their borders. The newly formed Islamist Jihadist umbrella organization known as ISIS, which is currently driving towards Baghdad, Iraq’s capital city, seeks to put in place its own Islamic government throughout the areas of Syria and Iraq over which it can gain control.

As a result, the Islamic Republic of Iran is beginning to send its most highly trained division of Shia Islamic warriors to help defeat the Sunni's and ISIS and prevent them from gaining control over the Shia sects' most holy sites and keep the Shia rule of the Persian Gulf Intact.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish Autonomous Republic of Iraq, formed in the far north under Saddam Hussein’s rule when he was unable to defeat their rebellion, has offered to send its most highly trained warriors, the Peshmergas, to keep Baghdad from falling to the ISIS warriors, probably as much to ensure their continued independence as anything else.

So, what do I forecast will happen next? The same thing as has happened for the last two thousand years! The one thing the people in this area have shown to the rest of the world, or at least to those who were paying attention, is that they will fight to the death until the strongest faction gets what they want.

Historically speaking, that victory will not signal the end of this conflict but rather the beginning of the next one. It would be wonderful if I was proven wrong, but somehow I think the odds of that are virtually nil.


Latest Activity: Jun 13, 2014 at 10:26 AM


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Passinthru commented on Saturday, Jun 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Interesting potted history, but the situation today is, like all current events, moving forwards at an ever accelerating rate.

Iraq has never really been a unified country and, despite the temporary success of various armed groups, will probably break up into the same three parts that existed before the British Mandate; the Northeast (Kurds), the Northwest (Sunni) and the Shia majority. These will eventually merge with surrounding powers of like religious beliefs and oil interests.

The major wild cards are:

What will the USA do, if anything?

What will Israel do?

Will Syria/Iraq integrate?

What about Jordan, is that likely to merge with a Greater Iraq?

And, the big one for the not too distant future, will Iran battle Saudi Arabia for who rules the powerful new country of MiddleEast?

O.K., that’s my ten cents worth.

Bryant commented on Sunday, Jun 15, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Regional, excellent blog. Nice to read something on the situation other than political rhetoric. Al-Monitor's web site has a good article on Rouhani's commitment to "fight and combat" terrorists in Iran.

Passin', I would add to your questions is, "What will Turkey do about the Kurds in Iraq?"

Passinthru commented on Sunday, Jun 15, 2014 at 15:31 PM

Good point Bryant, the Turks are worried that whether the Iraqi Kurds become independent or not the Turkish Kurds will want to join them to form a single Kurdish state. The Turks have already taken initial preventive action against this, another potential mid east conflict waiting to happen.

Regional commented on Monday, Jun 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

seriously, the Turkish government has so many problems with its own restive population that the last thing in the world they need is to lose a chunck of their territory...especially a productive and valuable part of their economic machine.....and whomever is in power when the Kurdish Republic is formed..and i believe it will eventually separate from the Turkish identity..be will faced the wrath of all the many different groups within the Turkish culture for having allowed this to happen...so the Turkish governments response will be try to make them appear responsible for as many of the nations ills and demonize them to all the other groups

theflyonthewall commented on Monday, Jun 16, 2014 at 16:53 PM

Shia regions in Iraq could conceivably join with Shia Iran to recreate a greater Iran. The Kurds have many cultural ties to the Iranians ,so it is not inconceivable that Kurdish Iraq could also become a part of Iran.The future of western Iraq is harder to predict ,but an impoverished , landlocked state would find a merger with eastern Syria and Jordan an attractive proposition. A final prediction is that Alawite and Christian Syria will merge with Lebanon to a new country in the Levant. All of this is speculation, of course. What is certain is that the map of the Middle East will be redrawn once again.

theflyonthewall commented on Monday, Jun 16, 2014 at 17:09 PM

Kurds in Syria could join Syria/Lebanon or Iran.

corey17a commented on Monday, Jun 16, 2014 at 17:57 PM

All that is going to happen here is that the Iraqi Army and militia volunteers dug in around Samara are going to crush ISIS the further they move south. The prospect of the Iranians putting boots on the ground is beyond preposterous. One million people died in the Iran Iraq war. Eighty percent of them being Shias both Arab and Persian. Ethnicity trumps religion any day of the week.

ISIS may have a chance of surviving if they hold onto what they have and are able to hold off the Iraqi army's counter offensive. Remember they are involved in a current fight in Syria that they have been unable to gain advantage in in three years of fighting. ISIS will have unsustainable casualties inflicted on them the closer they get to Karbala and Najaf.

The lasting impact of this uprising maybe Asad finally regaining control of his country. There will probably be an insurgency in Syria for years to come but Asad should be able to turn the tide if ISIS keeps moving south in Iraq.

As for the Kurds they have very little hope of carving out a homeland as long as Turkey remains politically intact. The Turks have crossed the border and struck at PDK and PUK fighters repeatedly. The Kurds may have a chance if an outside power backs them but this is unlikely.

All in all a bunch of people are about to be dead whatever the outcome.

theflyonthewall commented on Monday, Jun 16, 2014 at 18:21 PM

Iranians would not have to put boots on the ground . For that matter the Iranians have been very willing to put boots on the ground in Syria.Iranian soldiers have been helping Syria and their proxies Hezbollah.

Arabs are fighting Arabs ,so ethnicity does not always prevail.

We are now making overtures to the Iranians to help counter ISIS. The entire region could fall like ripe fruit.

corey17a commented on Monday, Jun 16, 2014 at 21:48 PM

Roger that and the Kurds will become part of a greater Iran. LEBANON will join with Syria in an Alewite/Christian alliance.

I'm not sure if you were making a joke but that is beyond the pale of ridiculous. If you knew the first thing about Lebanon's recent history you would understand how absurd your statement was. The Kurds are also an ethnic minority inside North Western Iran and have no love for the Iranians.

Ethnicity does always trump religion. Read the words. In the Iran Iraq war one million people died 80% being Shias. So therefore Arab Shias (the Iraqis) were killing Persian Shias (the Iranians). Most of that war's fighting took place in the south of Iraq around the Sharm al Sheik. In the heart of Iraqi Shia country. It is beyond the pale of understanding that you could come up with an idea that two bitter enemies who fought this large a blood bath in recent memory would some how turn around and form an alliance. For what purpose would this alliance be formed?

Alewites are "seveners" the Iranians are "twelvers." They are both Shias but different sects of Shias. The Iranians are helping Hezbollah to wage their own fight against Israel and have been since the 1980s. Iranians providing military aid to Hezbollah is nothing new and certainly is not a result of the most recent civil war in Syria.

How is the region about to "fall like ripe fruit?"

Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Jordan, the Gulf States, and Lebanon are all stable. Once the Iraqi Government stops ISISs advance then Iraq will become relatively stable again. Life goes on in Baghdad today like normal.

ISIS is a minor temporary conventional threat. The further south they move the weaker they become. The weaker they become the easier it will be for the Iraqi government, possibly with outside assistance, to put down.

The worlds not ending and ISIS is not a conventional force anyone will have to worry about. The Kurds will still be an autonomous state inside a state. Unfortunately the blood letting will continue in Syria. Nothing has changed minus this soon to be short lived surprising ISIS epoch.

Our nation needs to have its head examined by making overtures to the Iranians about anything.

theflyonthewall commented on Monday, Jun 16, 2014 at 22:36 PM

Basically, Iraq will fall without US intervention ,but how long are we willing to prop up Iraq?

The scenario I have written is based on the assumption that the West has worn out its welcome in the Middle East and that any enemy of Israel would be seen as a friend.


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