We must secure military gains in Iraq with a political victory, argue Michael O’Hanlon and Sara Allawi. Otherwise, we risk the emergence of an ISIS 2.0 among embittered Sunni populations. With Mosul and other key cities now liberated from the horrible scourge of ISIS, Iraq stands at a crucial crossroads. Iraqis and Americans have squandered historic opportunities to build a new, stable and prosperous country together before. We must not let that happen again.
The key danger, as before, is this: Extremism combined with sectarianism build on each other in a vicious spiral. That dynamic, in the absence of a functional state, further polarizes populations within Iraq and produces and endless cycles of violence, which creates opportunities for foreign meddling and a deepening of the kinds of resentments and paranoias that led to the emergence of ISIS—and even al-Qaida before that. We must secure military gains with a political victory. Otherwise, we risk the emergence of an ISIS 2.0 among embittered Sunni populations. Unfortunately, early indications are unpromising. Notably, after three years of atrocious governance by ISIS, and more than a year of intense fighting in which Iraqis teamed with coalition airpower and advisors liberated the city, Mosul continues to lie in ruins. READ MORE…
As Iraq celebrates the defeat of ISIS, the Sunni Arab community is confronting an identity crisis in the aftermath of the occupation. For some, accommodation with the Shiite-led government offers a new Iraqi nationalism. While unbridled joy has greeted the defeat of the so-called Islamic State across Iraq, the wreckage left behind includes severe trauma to Iraq’s Arab Sunnis – leaving the minority community facing what some say is an existential crisis. One metric by which to assess this is the numbers: Most of the 5 million displaced persons in Iraq are Sunnis. And most of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who were killed, raped, or kidnapped by ISIS jihadists are Sunnis. Nearly every city left in ruins by the fight to expel ISIS – from Fallujah and Ramadi to Mosul – is predominantly Sunni. Another metric is psychological: The community’s failure has been so acute – succumbing to nearly four years of brutal ISIS rule, and even sometimes welcoming ISIS, at first – that Iraq’s Sunnis are reeling like they haven’t for a century.read more
Oil prices surged to 2-1/2-year highs and U.S. crude touched $60 a barrel in light trading volume on Tuesday, boosted by news of an explosion on a Libyan crude pipeline as well as voluntary OPEC-led supply cuts. Iraq’s oil minister said on Monday there would be a balance between supply and demand by the first quarter, leading to a boost in prices. Global oil inventories have decreased to an acceptable level, he added.read more
Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said on Monday (December 25, 2017) he was optimistic there would be a balance between supply and demand by the first quarter of 2018, leading to a boost in oil prices. The new contact will allow Zhenhua to receive a $3.5 fee for each barrel of crude produced from the oilfield, Ameedi said, and will serve as a model for all upcoming contracts with international companies. Jalal also said his company has plans to upgrade production from the Neft Khana oilfield near the Iranian border to 8,000 barrels per day from the current 2,000.read more
Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki told Rudaw during an interview in Baghdad on Thursday that the federal government has to help the Kurdistan Region to solve the problems it is facing including the ongoing financial crisis before “it is too late.” He called the events in Khurmatu since October 16 “ethnic cleansing” and one that they are following with great concern. Maliki served as Prime Minister of Iraq for two terms from 2006-2014. Under his tenure the central government cut the Kurdish share of budget in early-2014 over the KRG’s plans to export oil independent of Baghdad. He deployed the Iraqi security forces to the borders of the Kurdistan Region at least twice when he was the PM, and became the first senior Iraqi politician to threaten Kurdistan with the use of force against the Iraqi-opposed Kurdish vote on independence. In a wide-ranging interview, he told Rudaw presenter Ranj Sangawi that he wants both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to get over what happened in the past, including the disagreement over the Kurdish vote.read more
Analysts have blamed Egypt’s autocracy for a recent attack that killed hundreds. But that’s not what’s motivating the violence. A few weeks ago, terrorists laid siege to a mosque in the small town of Bir al-Abd that lies just off the east-west road spanning the northern Sinai Peninsula. They killed 305 people and wounded many others. The photos from the scene were macabre—the stuff of Baghdad or Karachi, not Egypt. Until the attack on the al-Rawdah Mosque on November 24, the deadliest terror incident in Egypt occurred in 1997, when a group called al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya killed 57 people—most of them Japanese and British tourists—at the Temple of Hatshepsut near Luxor. The recent bloodletting in the Sinai is believed to be the work of Wilayat Sina, the Sinai branch of the self-styled Islamic State, though no one has claimed responsibility.read more