by Chris Mansur, Oil Price:
A rise in sectarian violence in Iraq is complicating the struggle to form a national unity government, the first and vital step in combatting the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, which is now calling itself Islamic State.
US airstrikes against Islamic State seem to have slowed the group’s momentum. When it captured Mosul, Baiji, and Tikrit in quick succession last June, Islamic State’s stunning advance was made possible by a virtually nonexistent Iraqi air force and an Iraqi army that offered no real resistance. Remarkably, two Iraqi divisions – 30,000 soldiers – capitulated to a jihadist force of just 800-2000 fighters. But as US airstrikes continue to mount, Islamic State is shifting its tactics towards blending in with the local population and adopting a traditional guerrilla warfare playbook. In an ironic twist, US airstrikes on Islamic State targets are destroying the very same US-made military equipment that Washington supplied to Iraq, which the militant group inherited when it captured Mosul, a reality that highlights the United States’ failure in post-Saddam Iraq.
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