Wednesday, October 21, 2015

COTW: The Crisis in Iraq

The nation's short attention span has been diverted by football and the recent US war crime in Afghanistan, but the crisis in Iraq deepens anyway. American troops barely disguised as advisors are fighting on the ground to help its inept creation, the Iraqi army, hold on to territory against ISIS. ISIS was able to rise to power in the region by the temporary absence of US military forces and, more importantly, a region this fundamentally divided along religious lines. There are forces at work that want to redraw the colonial-era boundaries imposed on the inhabitants. The region is trending towards something like this:

The map shows the lines of underlying sectarian division driving the various regional military forces on the ground. The two regional powers Saudi Arabia which is majority Sunni, and Iran which is majority Shia are funding the conflict in Syria. Right now the situation is what miltary analysts refer to as "fluid" In reality that means civilians are displaced and fleeing the heaviest fighting. This map shows the approximate level of civilian deaths in Iraq up to last year:

The database estimates about 150,000 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives in the conflict. Why is the United States government and other foreign powers willing to embroil themselves in a regional civil war they walked away from in December, 2011? The answer is fundamentally simple, control of the globe's fifth largest oil reserves as shown here: