It’s relatively easy to highlight the appalling situation in Syria, where violence, displacement, fragmentation and corruption prevail. Analysts can chart the slow collapse of state institutions and wonder how the country can survive under its current regime.
But an equally appalling situation exists in neighboring Iraq, where influential neighbors and other countries are busy waging war and talking about how to assist the Iraqi authorities in their bid to stabilize the situation.
In fact, the political entity that was Iraq has ceased to exist.
Domestic politics is largely in the grip of politicians who put Iran’s interests before their own. The north is an autonomous Kurdish region whose ties to Iraq are growing weaker and more contentious every day. Western Anbar province is in limbo, caught between jihadis and a decade of failed policies that won’t change anytime soon.
The current prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, is conducting an anti-corruption campaign that touches only the tip of the iceberg, since there is no serious effort to halt the growth of nonstate actors, mainly Iranian-backed militias.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and its terror-obsessed allies are busy throwing bullets and bombs at a problem that requires a political solution. Instead of supporting policies that address Iraq’s structural problems, all the public hears are buzzwords: training, support and assistance for a regime that will only delay the hard work that needs to be done.
Until an alternative vision is put forward for Iraq – one that guarantees justice for its diverse communities – the frightening vision of the jihadis will seem like the only game in town for too many people. And the consequences will be felt in Iraq, as well as outside its borders.