Former administration adviser: Iraq is a failed state, increasingly sectarian and extremist

Former administration adviser: Iraq is a failed state, increasingly sectarian and extremist
Emma Sky

The state of Iraq has descended into fractured sectarian madness that is unlikely to get better any time soon, according to a top adviser during the country’s reconstruction post-2003.

Emma Sky, a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute and former Iraq adviser to Army Gen. Ray Odierno, expressed optimism just a year ago about the Obama administration’s potential role in brokering a political solution by promoting the formation of a new Iraqi government.

Since then, the Yale scholar’s view has changed. Writes Sky in an article for The Atlantic:

The state of Iraq has indeed failed. It no longer has the legitimacy or the power to extend control over its whole territory, and the power vacuum is being filled by a multitude of non-state actors, increasingly extreme and sectarian, who will likely continue to fight each other for years to come, supported by regional powers.

Since the Shiite-led Iraqi government lost control of territories to the Sunni Islamic State, a number of players in the region have battled to regain territory. Among these are Iraqi security forces, Iraqi Shiite militias supported by Iran, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and Sunni tribes. Each has its own aims in securing territory, sometimes trumping the interests of ensuring a safe and secure Iraqi state.

Sky worked in the Middle East for 20 years, according to the biography of her book, “The Unraveling: High Hopes And Missed Opportunities In Iraq.” She initially signed up for a three-month assignment to help rebuild Iraq under the Coalition Provisional Authority, but ended up staying for more than four years.

Sky, an Englishwoman, earned respect in U.S. military circles. She was appointed as adviser to Odierno at the beginning of the troop surge in 2007. Shortly after the Islamic State swept through and overtook major areas of Iraqi territory in the summer of 2014, Sky outlined the issues in an article appearing in Foreign Affairs titled “Who Lost Iraq?”

Iraq’s security forces were inept, allowing the Islamic State to secure territory although outnumbered by about 100 to one. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki ostracized Sunnis by misuse of power and cracking down on protests in Sunni areas.

Future Iraqi generations represent the hope of rebuilding on the country’s vital role in history, says Sky.

This report, by Erica Wenig, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

 

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