Violence has been decisively on the rise over the past few months in Iraq, with death tolls that are multi-year highs. Much of the violence has come from the Sunni west of Iraq, with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) showing surprising staying power.
Predicted “defeated” more times than we can count over the course of the eight year US occupation, AQI is once again on the rise, with projections that the group, which had gotten down to about 1,000 fighters last year, is now about 2,500-strong.
In the US the comeback of AQI is being turned into a political issue, with some hawks claiming their resurgence is a function of the massive US occupation force having left. The history of the occupation suggests the US wasn’t particularly effective at handling AQI either, however.
And indeed, the latest growth of AQI seems to be bolstered by the Western-backed civil war in Syria, with the group setting up training camps along the Syrian border, and AQI, having sent fighters into Syria at the behest of Ayman al-Zawahiri, is taking advantage of a new influx of jihadists into the region and massive amounts of weapons and cash flowing in from around the world.
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