On Tuesday, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) succeeded in capturing the second largest city in Iraq-Mosul. This loss caps off almost three years of lackluster security efforts by the Iraqi forces and leads many to question Iraq’s future as a democracy.
The gradual destruction of northern Iraq accelerated as the Syrian Civil War grew in intensity and exploded across Syria’s eastern border with Iraq. This overflow of violence, combined with Iraq’s security forces’ tenuous hold on the young state, has led to a major conflict unfolding across the north. The Iraqi security forces have not been successful at containing the violence since US troops departed three years ago.
ISIS is responsible for the lion’s share of the extremism in both eastern Syria as well as western and northern Iraq. Shaky video recordings document these terrorists conducting drive-by shootings on isolated security installations and leading major military offensives in both Syria and Iraq, casting doubts over the safety of all citizens in the affected regions. ISIS’s mission is to establish a radical Islamic caliphate governed by Sharia law between Syria and Iraq. ISIS’s success continues to grow in the lands between the two states, because the Syrian regime is focused on the population centers surrounding Damascus and the amateur Iraqi security force is focused on peace around Baghdad.
ISIS forces have grown more and more bold in their fight against the security forces as a formidable paramilitary force. They have held the city of Falluja, just 36 miles east of Baghdad, since January. As they poured into Mosul, soldiers abandoned their uniforms and weapons and fled on foot while city officials left residents alone to fend for themselves.
American troops died by the hundreds in cities like Mosul, Fallujah, and Baghdad in an effort to deliver Iraq stability and peace. These sacrifices seem to be short-lived, as the situation worsens. Did the Iraqis fail our service members’ efforts to equip them to fight for democracy?
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