Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and a key commercial and trading centre, fell early on the morning of June 10 to militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This is a major blow to security and stability in Iraq and the larger Middle East. After the fall of Fallujah a few months ago, the fall of Mosul will reverberate across the world and cause widespread angst about the rise of al Qaeda. Since the withdrawal of American troops some two years ago, Iraq’s government, led by the unpopular and divisive Nouri al-Maliki, has failed to establish its writ amidst growing violence. The fall of Mosul is evidence that things have reached a tipping point.
The manner in which Iraqi security forces capitulated in Mosul showcases that they are incapable of defending Iraqi cities. Meanwhile, ISIS fighters are battle-hardened and have gained vital field experience in Syria. With Syria already home to a large number of radical militants, the fall of Mosul means that radical militants now control large swathes of land in the heart of the Middle East. To counter this offensive by ISIS, the Iraqi government has declared a state of emergency and Mr. Maliki has appeared on television appealing for a unified effort to stop terrorism. A similar effort was made by the Iraqi leader after the fall of Fallujah, but efforts to wrestle back control from militants largely failed.
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