This is not Obama's year for foreign policy successes nor is it the legacy former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted as the top Obama official when policy decisions were made to leave
Yet today, with lightning speed, the Sunni Al-Qaeda's uprising as it sweeps across Iraq and recaptures the very areas lost in the war presents the dark dilemma that everything America did from spending $2 trillion over 11 years and having almost 4,400 Americans die in Iraq and over 32,000 wounded, was for naught.
Two and one half years after American troops left, the current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, a member of the Shia Muslim faction, wants the Americans to come back as his country crumbles around him.
The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at
. Brown University
When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war's death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.
The report, the work of about 30 academics and experts, was published in advance of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.
What can we expect if
the Sunni Al-Qaeda uprising? Mass murders, even genocide as the
Sunni take revenge from the Shia. A return to strict human rights
violations as women will be stripped of all rights and children will be raised
to be terrorists if the past is any indication. Iraq
The radical Sunni and Al-Qaeda coalition will be forming the largest geographic Sunni controlled area in the Mideast to include
Iran and Iraq, and will be a direct threat to destroy the
remaining American allies in the Middle East.
The Sunni can also be expected to wage war on the Christians remaining in
the region and to threaten to obliterate . Israel
Newspaper headlines from around the world say it all.
Iraq to Delay Return of Region Oil Exports
Timeline - How al-Qaeda regained its hold in
A spent force five years ago, the Sunni militant group is now stronger than ever
Mosul - If jihadists control Iraq, blame Nouri al-Maliki, not the . United States
Al-Qaeda's uprising in northern Iraq comes five years after had been all but defeated as a result of the US troop "surge". Former Telegraph
correspondent charts the
key points in its rebirth Iraq
After two years of Sunni-Shia civil war, US troops mount a "surge" designed to quell the violence. Among its strategies is turning Iraq's Sunni community against their former allies in al-Qaeda, with whom they had united to fight the US occupation and the US-backed, Shia-dominated Iraqi government. The strategy succeeds and al-Qaeda finds itself largely defeated in
New elections in
sow the seeds of future disconent. Iraqiyya, a secular and religiously mixed
bloc led by Ayad Allawi, a former British exile, win a narrow majority votes,
but the Shia bloc run by current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, wins power
after forming a governing coalitiion with Iranian help. Rather than handing key
security positions to his opponents as promised, Mr Maliki concentrates power
in his own hands, alienating the Sunni community. Iraq
Mr Maliki issues an arrest warrant for Tariq al-Hashemi,
Sunni vice-president, who flees abroad. The government claims Mr Hashemi has
been using his bodyguards for terrorism campaigns, but Iraq 's Sunnis
see it as a sectarian smear campaign against his political rivals. Mr Maliki is
also accused of replacing competent military leaders who had worked with the
Americans with political cronies, undermining the military's strength at the
very time when the Iraq
is pulling out its forces. US
Belatedly inspired by the Arab Spring movements in neighbouring countries, Sunnis around
begin a series of mass civil rights demonstrations, alleging that they are
treated as second-class citizens by Mr Maliki's government. While their
complaints get limited sympathy in the wider world - Sunnis, after all, enjoyed
privileged lives during the reign of Saddam Hussein - Western diplomats in Iraq concede that they
have some grounds for complaint. In particular, the protesters allege
harassment by the security forces and discrimination in getting government
The arrest of Rafaie al-Esawi, a finance minister who is one of the last prominent Sunnis in government, galvanises the protests further. The growing sense of alienation with the government provides a ready source of new recruits to al-Qaeda, which has re-energised in western
thanks to its campaign against President Bashar al-Assad in neighbouring . While
many Sunnis do not share al-Qaeda's extreme religious vision, they are willing
to help it fight Mr Maliki's government. Syria
Iraqi government forces antagonise the Sunni community further when they attack a protest camp in the town of
Hawijah in northern , killing 53 people. While the
Iraqi government claims that the camp had become a haven for al-Qaeda
militants, who had fired on them first, the raid on the camp prompts fighting
that spills across northern Iraq .
Gunmen briefly sieze one town from police and declare it to be
"liberated" from government rule. Iraq
The new joint Syrian-Iraqi al-Qaeda offshoot, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al Shams (ISIS), gains a major coup when it breaks nearly 500 fellow militants from Abu Ghraib jail in
supposedly the most secure jail in the country. Many rejoin their comrades'
Human Rights Watch issues a report criticising the Iraqi government over the scale of its use of the death penalty, often in cases where confessions have been extracted by torture. A disproportionate number of those on death row appear to be Sunni insurgents.
ISIS sends gunmen into the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, west of
The Iraqi army surrounds both cities but does not go for an all-out assault for
fear of large civilian casaulties that would alienate locals still further.
Five months later, both cities remain outside of Iraqi security forces'
ISIS takes over the cities of
Mosul and Tikrit, also threatening . Five years from
being all but vanquished, al-Qaeda's writ in Baghdad is as strong, if not stronger,
as it was before. Iraq