The implications of the conflict in Iraq for U.S. policy were examined in a new report from the Congressional Research Service. See Iraq Crisis and U.S. Policy, June 20, 2014.
The CRS report notably includes open source reporting and translations from the DNI Open Source Center. This sort of material had been routinely available to the public for decades until the CIA cut off public access to it last December 31.
The CRS report on the Iraq crisis was reported in the Washington Times on June 24.
CIA’s own open source intelligence effort leaves something to be desired. The CIA World Factbook continues to report that Syria’s population is around 17.9 million, while every other authoritative source puts it at between 22-23 million. (Secrecy News, 06/06/14).
The traditional borders and spheres of influence of the nation of Iraq appear to be deteriorating and shifting, perhaps giving way to a new, unknown order in that vast region in the Middle East.
One of the primary forces driving these violent and chaotic changes is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or al-Sham (also referred to as ISIS, or ISIL), a jihadist Sunni group that has poured out of Syria and has advanced rapidly toward Baghdad and other cities. That group is led by Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, who has drawn together fighters from around the region — and Sunni sympathizers within Iraq — and organized a fighting force estimated at perhaps 7,000. While this figure is impressive, according to a 2013 report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, Iraq’s Ministry of Defense has 279,103 personnel (primarily the army, air force and navy), while the Ministry of the Interior has 649,800 (local and federal police, as well as other units ) — a total of 933,103. Yet the insurgent fighters have succeeded in driving many Iraqi soldiers to desert posts and leave their command structures… MORE