This year has seen a major escalation in violence in Iraq, with the government seemingly unable either to protect Iraqi citizens or to provide the necessary security for expatriate oil personnel and field facilities.

The factors contributing to the deteriorating situation include the return of large numbers of jihadist fighters from Syria; the government’s inability to train professional military and security forces; Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s decision to rule Iraq alone through his Islamic Da’wa Party without meaningful participation by the other parties; and the prime minister’s sectarian, pro-Iranian policies that have alienated Iraq’s large Sunni community. (CONTINUED - 916 WORDS)