The US has offered “intense and sustained support” for Iraq as they attempt to take back control of areas of the country lost Sunni militants in recent weeks.
US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and key Sunni and Shia officials to discuss the ongoing situation, where he said:
“The future of Iraq depends primarily on the ability of Iraq’s leaders to come together and take a stand united against ISIL…The support will be intense, sustained, and if Iraq’s leaders take the necessary steps to bring the country together it will be effective. It will allow Iraqi security forces to confront ISIL more effectively and in a way that respects Iraq’s sovereignty while also respecting America’s and the region’s vital interests.”
The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS/ISIL) has gained control of a number of towns and cities in the north and west of Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city with two million inhabitants, as well as the border crossings into Syria and Jordan.
Unless Maliki can impose control of the north west of the country soon it may be the beginning of the end for Iraq as defined by Allied powers in the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916.
Sunni Iraqi’s accuse Maliki of pursuing anti-Sunni policies and alienating the 20% of the population that follows the Islamic tradition, and ISIS has been able to exploit this discontent and further divide formerly peaceful Sunni and Shia neighbours.
In neighbouring Syria, the civil war has morphed into a sectarian conflict between Sunni militant groups such as ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra and Shia muslims who tend to be more supportive of the embattled President Bashar al-Assad.
These conflicts have left Kurds, who are spread over an area that covers parts of Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey, to become increasingly independent and self-sufficient in terms of military protection. If the Sunni and Shia are warring on their doorstep and the states of Syria and Iraq are disintegrating, then this could offer the Kurdish people to establish an independent state.