1 Center for American Progress | On the Brink
On the Brink
Managing the ISIS Threat in Iraq
By Brian Katulis, Hardin Lang, and Vikram Singh June 17, 2014
In 2005, he Cener or American Progress called or he sraegic redeploymen o U.S. roops ou o Iraq.
Tis comprehensive sraegy combined he wihdrawal o comba roops by a cerain dae wih a deeper regional, diplomaic, and securiy engagemen sra-egy o address he increased secarian divisions in Iraq and across he region ha hreaened U.S. ineress. Te wihdrawal o U.S. comba roops was necessary o creae an incenive or Iraqis o ake conrol o heir own aﬀairs: Iraq had become dependen on an endless supply o American ground roops or is securiy. Te way orward or Iraq was and con-inues o be an inclusive democracy ha ully respecs he righs o all Iraqi communiies, providing a voice or Sunnis and Kurds in he poliical process and in governmen. Te ailure o Iraqi leaders, including Prime Miniser Nouri al-Maliki, o build an inclu-sive poliical sysem has enabled he curren sarling advances o milians across Iraq led by he Islamic Sae o Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS. Te jihadi milian group is so bru-al ha even Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri disowned i.
ISIS has exploied dis-conen wih he Shia-led naional governmen among Iraq’s Sunni populaion and has been able o rally some elemens o Iraq’s Sunni ribes, as well as Sunni armed groups linked o he ormer regime o Saddam Hussein.
As a resul, ISIS was able o quickly seize owns across norhern and cenral Iraq while he U.S.-rained and equipped securiy orces, weakened by Maliki’s poliicizaion o heir leadership and exclusion o Sunnis, meled away.
Iraq is back on he brink o all-ou secarian civil war.In Syria, ISIS has batled he Syrian governmen, moderae opposiion orces o Presiden Bashar al-Assad’s governmen, and Al Qaeda’s aﬃliae he Nusra Fron, and i is a major orce in he disinegraion o he Syrian sae. ISIS’s acions in Iraq his pas week provoked a swif reacion rom Iraq’s ragmened powers: Kurdish Peshmerga orces seized he oil-rich ciy o Kirkuk; Shia miliias mobilized in he srees afer an iniial call o arms rom he Grand Ayaollah Ali al-Sisani; and Iraq’s neighbors have already sared o mobilize, wih Iran’s Revoluionary Guard reporedly moving orces ino Iraq.
urkey, which has seen dozens o is ciizens deained by ISIS, aces subsan-ial hreas rom he exremis group and could reengage in cross-border miliary opera-ions in Iraq as i did over he pas decade.