Fear, sec­tar­i­an­ism be­hind Iraq army col­lapse

The Covington News - - SPORTS -

CAIRO (AP) — The video, set to sweetly lilt­ing re­li­gious hymns, is chill­ing. Is­lamic mil­i­tants are shown knock­ing on the door of a Sunni po­lice ma­jor in the dead of night in an Iraqi city. When he an­swers, they blind­fold and cuff him. Then they carve off his head with a knife in his own bed­room.

The 61-minute video was re­cently posted on­line by the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant, an al-Qaida splin­ter group of Sunni ex­trem­ists. The in­tent was to ter­ror­ize Sun­nis in Iraq’s army and po­lice forces and deepen their al­ready low morale.

That fear is one fac­tor be­hind the stun­ning col­lapse of Iraqi se­cu­rity forces when fighters led by the Is­lamic State over­ran the cities of Mo­sul and Tikrit this week, sweep­ing over a swath of Sunni-ma­jor­ity ter­ri­tory. In most cases, po­lice and soldiers sim­ply ran, some­times shed­ding their uni­forms, and aban­doned ar­se­nals of heavy weapons.

Even af­ter the United States spent bil­lions of dol­lars train­ing the armed forces dur­ing its 2003-2011 mil­i­tary pres­ence in Iraq, the 1 mil­lion-mem­ber army and po­lice re­main riven by sec­tar­ian dis­con­tents, cor­rup­tion and a lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

Many Sun­nis in the armed forces are un­pre­pared to die fight­ing on be­half of Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Ma­liki’s Shi­ite-led govern­ment, which many in their mi­nor­ity com­mu­nity ac­cuse of sharp bias against them. The Is­lamic State has ex­ploited this by tout­ing it­self as the Sun­nis’ cham­pion against Shi­ites.

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