ISIS-fatigue is setting in.
News stories are dropping out of the headlines and lower down the page, or relegated to the “World” section, even as one crack after another appears in what was supposed to be the Iraqi state. Kurdistan took over Kirkuk and started doing business as though it were a sovereign state. The Maliki government explicitly recruited Shiites to defend Baghdad, further alienating Sunnis, until Moktada al-Sadr (remember him?) recently declared that his Shiite followers in the Mahdi Army would not answer to the central government.
Maliki looked to Iran for support, and Secretary of State Kerry apparently put out feelers in that direction. Now Saudi Arabia is warning Iran off.
Tens of billions of dollars in equipment and training for tens of thousands of soldiers in the Iraqi army were not enough. And before you blame Iraqi soldiers for the failure, consider they have been fighting for months, ignored by Western news media, while their commanders were replaced with inept Maliki loyalists and their cause apparently abandoned by the same Maliki government now pointing its finger at them.
“Political power” is something we in the West hold in disdain. (See the Netflix series House of Cards.) Beyond achieving office and steering legislation for their campaign donors, it is something our politicians regularly misunderstand and neglect. Look at Iraq. This is what the lack of political power looks like.