In case you've forgotten about Iraq, it is still A Country That Exists with 36 million people living in it. And the biggest northern city of Mosul was just completely overrun by extremist insurgents, whose first order of business seems to have been to burn anything that has wheels attached.
CNN, amazingly, actually has a pretty good explainer as to what is going on over there. Assuming you don't actually go over to CNN to read it, what you have to know is this:
- As the civil war in Syria spread and became infiltrated with non-Syrian and extreme Islamist fighters, the concept of an Iraqi/Syrian/Jordanian border became practically non-existent.
- A group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, has spearheaded the assault into Mosul. ISIS is widely regarded to be an offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and its membership is composed of fighters from all over the Arab world, in addition to places like Europe and Chechnya.
- ISIS is considered to be so nuts by Al Qaeda that Al Qaeda has disowned it. Yeah. It's like that.
- At its most basic, ISIS demands an Islamic Caliphate in the Levantine region.
- 500,000 civilians have fled the fighting in Mosul.
- Those 500,000 civilians weren't the only ones to flee the fighting. A lot of those abandoned, burned-out, up-armored Humvees you see were abandoned by Iraqi security forces, who decided to turn tail and head south.
- Oh yeah, after taking Mosul, ISIS decided to take the city of Tikrit as well.
Surely if we just pump a few more billion dollars into Iraq, this problem will be solved.