The situation in Iraq continues to get grimmer and grimmer. Here is the latest: “A wave of car bombings and gunfire attacks hit cities in Iraq overnight and on Monday, killing at least 64 people and wounding more than 170, medical and security officials said.”
What is most alarming about this growth of violence is the intransigence increasingly displayed by both sides. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is blaming “terrorist” politicians of Sunni persuasion for the attacks, while Sunnis once active in the Anbar Awakening are vowing to resist with force the presence of the Iraqi army in Anbar Province. It is difficult, if not yet impossible, to imagine some kind of negotiated solution. In all likelihood, the violence will get worse as al-Qaeda in Iraq stages a dismaying comeback from its near-defeat during the surge in 2007-2008.
This is exactly the kind of scenario that advocates of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq past 2014 warned about–with no honest broker in the middle, Shiite and Sunni extremists are on the verge of restarting the civil war that was extinguished during the surge at such great cost by American troops.
Unfortunately, President Obama’s pullback in Iraq has coincided with his unwillingness to do much of anything in Syria, raising the danger that the wars in the two countries will merge, involve other nations such as Israel, Lebanon and Turkey, and thus become a true regional conflagration. If we are not there yet, we are fast on the way to such a catastrophic outcome.