In his fight to crush the islamists Mr Al-Maliki can count on little help from the neighbours. Syria is out of the picture and a UN embargo prevents Iran selling Iraq military equipment, at least on paper.
Turkey will not want another failed state on its doorstep meaning its airspace will remain open, but Ankara will do nothing militarily unless the jihadists start to overrun Kurdistan.
All nervous Kuwait and Saudi Arabia can do is try to seal their porous borders.
Which leaves Al Maliki once again looking towards Washington for help in the present crisis.
US special forces are already training Iraqi commandos in Jordan as part of a security pact. But what Al-Maliki urgently needs now is air power.
Baghdad has bought F16s and Apache attack helicopters as part of US$14 billion’s worth of American military fire-power. But the full consignment is not due to be delivered to Iraq before the end of the year.
Until now the Iraqis have been grumbling over American tardiness on delivery – perhaps the shock waves of today’s events in Mosul will resonate in Washington and Al Maliki will receive his war planes sooner rather than later.
John Cookson has been reporting from Iraq for 25 years for international news channels including Al Jazeera English and Sky News. Twitter: @Newsman1000