The news from Iraq has been so bad for so long, it has become difficult to distinguish the merely depressing from the genuinely disastrous. But the fall of Mosul, the country’s second largest city, to jihadist forces this week provided a shock well above and beyond the quotidian misery — one that looks like a turning point, or even an end point, for post-Saddam Iraq.
Now looming is the specter of a rump Iraq: a Shiite dominated core in the east and south of the country. As the state weakens, the northern Kurdish region may come to the aid of the central government against the rebels on its doorsteps. But over the long term, the Kurdish Regional Government will likely try to slip the noose of Iraq’s Sunni-Shia conflict. Word Thursday that Kurdish peshmerga had seized Kirkuk, the oil-rich northern city that has been a point of dispute since 2003, suggests that the dissolution of the Iraqi state could come soon.