Saturday, January 16, 2016

Re-Charge of the Knights

In a good sign that we are still contesting Iran for influence in Iraq, the Iraqi government has sent forces to reassert control in the southern city of Basra:

Iraq has sent an armored army division and a police strike force into the southern oil city of Basra to disarm residents amid intensified feuding among rival Shi'ite Muslim tribes, local officials and security sources said on Friday.

Forces had been deployed earlier to restore calm to rural areas running north of the city towards West Qurna and Majnoon oilfields on Wednesday, but a local official reassured foreign companies their assets were secure.

Iran isn't mentioned, but I assume this is an effort to blunt Iranian influence with armed Shia groups in the region.

Iraq had to do this in spring 2008, recall. But as with Sunni jihadis, the problems in the south emerged again after we left Iraq at the end of 2011.

Oh, and in a reminder that Iraqis remain their own potentially worst enemy because of corruption, cast your eyes north where a Saddam-era dam is on shaky ground:

More than 16 months after Iraqi and Kurdish forces reclaimed Mosul Dam from Islamic State fighters, the structure faces a new threat: the danger that it may collapse because of insufficient maintenance, overwhelming major communities downstream with floodwaters.

In the worst-case scenario, according to State Department officials, an estimated 500,000 people could be killed while more than a million could be rendered homeless if the dam, Iraq’s largest, were to collapse in the spring, when the Tigris is swollen by rain and melting snow.

It is rather disturbing that the hatred of ISIL might be dwarfed by simple corruption when it comes to the ability to inflict mass slaughter.

To our credit, the administration is pushing Iraq to do something.

Which is in our interest because if the dam goes on its own, I imagine ISIL and every other jihadi group out to kill will try to repeat the carnage with explosives somewhere else.

So let's have a charge of the rule of law, too.