Iraq has been a nation free of occupation for just over a mere two and half years and is already facing a potential national collapse. ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), a Sunni terrorist organisation whom even al-Qaida have dubbed as “too extreme”, are running rampant capturing towns, cities and other areas of economic importance in the North of a country already prone to volatility and instability. The attacks have been inflicted following a culmination of opposition towards Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his sectarian administration, a corrupt Shia dominated government with an enthusiasm for persecuting those living in the Sunni dominated region. Alongside this the Kurds, from the autonomous region of Kurdistan, are exploiting the situation to their advantage by consolidating power, which they had previously been unable to do so due to the presence of Iraqi forces. This three way split of national power has led to many fearing a partition; an action which would see the ending of Iraq as we know it and an increase in the instability of the entire region.
At present (15th June), the ISIS forces are being held just 60 miles North of Baghdad because of an Iraqi Army counter-offensive bolstered by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Shia militia groups but the situation looks far from any form of resolution. A Syrian-style civil war appears imminent; leaving the worry as to which response the West will take.
Concern has been raised at The Foreign Secretary’s announcement as regard to this conflict, Hague recently told press: “We will support the United States in anything that they decide to do”. Another shambolic invasion of Iraq has been envisaged by many, especially after Obama admitted that the US must consider all options for resolving this conflict. Thankfully in response to this confusion, the government have outlined explicitly that military intervention is most certainly not an option for this particular crisis. An already cripplingly unpopular government would certainly face electoral suicide should they be perceived as making the same mistakes as the Blair administration back in 2003. Extensive budget cuts initiated by this same government act to make this an almost impossibility regardless of intention, with the ongoing process of a 20% reduction in the number of army personnel by 2018 limiting any intervention where a long occupation period is a potential outcome.
On the other hand, no action is not an option. The picture is certainly bleak for al-Maliki’s Iraq. The Iraqi army unequivocally outnumbers ISIS forces, yet in most towns and cities personnel have abandoned their positions without even attempting to engage in combat. In Mosul, Iraq’s Northern capital, the army outnumbered ISIS insurgents 37 to 1, yet had no qualms about fleeing the scene; perhaps the government is unlikely to weather this storm. The most likely British response will be nothing more than the sending of both military and humanitarian aid, the government has already sent an initial £3million on the 14th June. American sources, which hint at the possibility of drone strikes, have caused a stir of concern, even though the course of action for the British appears improbable (Parliament rejected a motion just under a year ago to initiate strikes against Assad in Syria). If Hague and the government remain true to their word, government aid will be the limit of British intervention, and a repeat of the Iraq War and subsequent occupation in 2003 will not be repeated.