Yesterday, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) made a very public show of tearing down part of the earthen barrier between Iraq and Syria, reflecting their control of both sides of the “border” and their view that it’s going to remain AQI territory for the foreseeable future.
Today, in a move that seems to be acknowledging that reality, Iraq’s own security forces have withdrawn from one of their last border positions in Anbar, near Qaim.
It’s a stark admission of the situation on the ground, as Qaim was virtually surrounded on the Iraqi side by AQI, and the Syrian side of the border, al-Bukamal, is also an AQI territory, captured from rival Jabhat al-Nusra.
With Anbar and Nineveh both pretty well lost at this point, there was no point in Iraq trying to sustain a “border crossing” for a border that no longer exists, and which is miles outside of their own de facto territory at any rate. Withdrawing, however, indicates that Iraq finally recognizes this fight won’t be won in a matter of days or weeks, and that AQI is, at least in Iraq’s west, here to stay.