A variety of indicators at the political and military level explain Iraq’s deteriorating security situation in 2013. First, in terms of the violent physical conflict, the resurgence of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) and its bombing campaign has reached a level unprecedented since the 2006-2008 sectarian conflict, and was highlighted by the recent raids on the Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons. Second, armed clashes between the Iraqi security forces and Arab Sunni protestors have led to calls to reactivate Arab Sunni militias. Third, in the face of these threats, both the regular armed forces and the intelligence agencies remain divided, with various units either reporting directly to Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki or the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Fourth, the security forces suffer from the problem of divided loyalties, where members use the coercive arms of the state to pursue the interests of militias, such as the Shi’a Badr Corps, Muqtada’s Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, the Arab Sunni Reawakening militias, or the Peshmerga forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) or the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
Ibrahim Al-Marashi is Assistant Professor of Middle East History at California State University San Marcos.