By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk
The prevailing situation in Iraq remains febrile and wrought with tension and violence amidst a series of devastating car bombings and shootings this week, which has resulted in many hundreds being killed, predominantly in the Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad during the end of Ramadan celebrations.
In line with previous assessments there appears to now be a significant increase in the Al Qaeda (AQ) / ISI capability after the Abu Ghraib jailbreak of 22 July where up to 500 members were reported to have escaped. This number of additional personnel on the ground coupled with a steady stream of supplies from Syria and the Iraq border will undoubtedly have enabled AQ / ISI to significantly increase the volume and number of simultaneous attacks, especially in the Sunni heartlands around Baghdad and the Tigris River Valley
The transnational influences of the Syrian conflict continue to exacerbate and affect the security situation in Iraq. Despite an already confusing situation the KRG has now suggested that they may enter the fray adding further weight to reports that they would be prepared to engage in the Syrian conflict with the president of Iraqi Kurdistan saying his region was prepared to defend Kurds living in neighboring Syria, in what appeared to be the first warning of a possible intervention by the KRG, something that potentially poses a serious problem given the already toxic mix of groups in Syria but one that also further highlights the regional shift and spread of the Syrian conflict along sectarian lines.