Since the departure of U.S. troops, it’s only heated up.

Sectarian war has reignited in Iraq. Iranian-backed Shia militias have remobilized, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is conducting an intensive and escalating campaign of spectacular attacks against Shia targets, and some of the former Baathist insurgents are staging an effective campaign against the Iraqi Security Forces in the vicinity of Mosul.

The deteriorating security results from two trends that have caused both Sunni and Shia extremists to mobilize and gain traction. The first is Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s deliberate marginalization and ouster of prominent Sunni national politicians, which has led to a six-month-long Sunni protest movement. The killing of 53 protesters and wounding of another 200 in Hawijah on April 23 caused some protesters to rejoin the insurgency. The second trend is
the radicalization and mobilization of Shia militants, both to serve in Syria and to oppose Al Qaeda in Iraq.

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