World View: Iraq in Major Crisis After Catastrophic Fall of Mosul to ISIS

World View: Iraq in Major Crisis After Catastrophic Fall of Mosul to ISIS

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Thailand’s military junta uses sexy ‘army girls’ to change minds
  • Iraq in major crisis after catastrophic fall of Mosul to ISIS
  • Iraq’s president Nouri Al-Maliki declares state of emergency

Thailand’s military junta uses sexy ‘army girls’ to change minds

The coup d’état by Thailand’s army on May 22 overthrew the governmentof Yingluck Shinawatra but did not, as feared, lead to massive streetprotests. Nonetheless, for 2/3rds of the population that supportedYingluck, Thailand is no longer the stereotypical “land of smiles.”

But the military junta is hoping to bring back some smiles by adoptinga public relations campaign led by sexy “army girls,” wearing shortcamouflage-style dresses and ammunition belt-style dog collars.The girls will sing and dance, and will host street partieswith free food and music.

Thailand has imposed martial law, and anyone opposing junta rule risksbeing jailed. But whether playing to one Bangkok stereotype, the “sexcapital of the world” will bring about a return to the otherstereotype, “land of smiles,” remains to be seen. Bangkok Post and Telegraph (London)

Iraq in major crisis after catastrophic fall of Mosul to ISIS

The jihadist Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has takencontrol of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, after Baghdad.Some 1300 ISIS fighters besieged the city, and took control of it infour days, as members of Iraq’s army dropped their weapons and fled.The opened the jails and freed 2,400 prisons.

Mosul is a major strategic prize for ISIS, being on the main exportroute for Iraqi oil, and a sophisticated center for transportation andcommerce. Mosul is the second large city to fall to ISIS, the firstbeing Fallujah in January. ISIS now controls a wide swath of landextending deep into Syria to the west and deep into Iraq to the east.Al-Qaeda has been trying for years to take control of an entirecountry, to mimic Iran’s Great Islamic Revolution that created ahardline Shia Muslim state. Al-Qaeda has tried to create a hardlineSunni Muslim state in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia,Mali and others, but they’ve never succeeded. But now ISIS issucceeding where al-Qaeda has failed, by creating an as-yet unnamedIslamic state straddling Syria and Iraq. (ISIS is not part ofal-Qaeda, from which it was ejected for not following orders inSyria.) CNN andReuters

Iraq’s president Nouri Al-Maliki declares state of emergency

In a move of desperation, Iraq’s president Nouri al-Malikideclared a national state of emergency on Tuesday, after thefall of Mosul, and granted himself dictatorial powers.

Nouri al-Maliki has been president of Iraq since 2006, but has seenIraq fall apart since the Americans withdrew in December 2011. TheShia leader practically declared war on the Sunnis immediately afterthe withdrawal. He ordered the arrest of 13 of the bodyguards ofSunni vice president Tareq al-Hashemi, leading several Sunni blocs inthe parliament to boycott the government, causing the government to bedestabilized.. Al-Maliki continually isolated the Sunnis, who are aminority in the population, and now he’s paying the price for it.There were new elections held a couple of months ago, but anew government has not yet been formed because of the politicalchaos.

There are so many terrorist bombings in Iraq on an almost daily basisthat they often don’t even make the news outside of Iraq. But infact, the number of deaths has been increasing almost every monthsince the Americans’ withdrawal. In May alone, about 800 people werekilled in terrorist bombings.

During the Iraq war under President George Bush, the American armypressed very had to pacify the Sunni tribal chiefs and populations.President Bush’s surge succeeded not just because additional troopswere being sent in, but because the entire surge program was gearedtowards getting the Sunnis in Anbar province to expel Al-Qaeda inIraq. (See “Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq” from April, 2007.)

Before he became president Barack Obama bitterly opposed the surgethat led to victory in Iraq. After he became president, his onlypolicy was to withdraw as quickly as possibly, with no concern for arelationship with the Sunnis, or with getting al-Maliki to develop arelationship with the Sunnis.

So it’s not surprising today that there are many reports thatthe disaffected Sunnis in Anbar Province, the same ones thatdrove jihadists out in 2007, are now joining with the jihadiststo oppose al-Maliki’s government. This has been a major factorin the growing strength of ISIS in Anbar Province, on the borderwith Syria.

The other major factor in the growth of ISIS is the war in Syria.With no leadership from American to stop them, and especially with themajor flip-flop after the chemical weapons “red line” was crossed lastyear, many Sunnis in Syria have come to believe that their only hopeis to join ISIS in fighting Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. AsI’ve written many times, Syria has become a magnet for jihadistsaround the world, and is now the world’s biggest training ground forjihadists.

(The news this week is that Hillary Clinton says that as Secretary ofState she favored helping the opposition rebels, in the beginning,before ISIS had a chance to form. I’ve always said that Clinton wouldhave been a much better president than Obama, because she knowssomething about what’s going on in the world, while Obama doesn’t havea clue. And John Kerry, the current Secretary of State, is as dumb asa doorknob.)

All the Mideast trends I’ve been talking about for years are comingtogether. From Pakistan to Syria, we see the growth of Sunnimilitias, and possibly armies, while we see Shia militias grow inLebanon, Iran, Iraq and Syria. ISIS is continuing to spread and gainstrength, and a number of analysts believe Jordan will be its nexttarget. BBC and Bloomberg and CS Monitor

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