Questions have arisen as to just how ISIS could take Mosul, Tikrit, and Bayji, and now Taji as well, according to Rudaw, while hardly firing a shot. While conspiracy-mongering is par for the course in the Middle East, making Maliki’s claims of betrayal sound initially suspect, names are beginning to come up that make the matter a little clearer.
Rudaw has reported that refugees coming out of Mosul are saying that several of Saddam’s Baathist officers are now in charge in the city. Al Akhbar has named General Abboud Qanbar, Lt Gen Ali Ghaidan, and General Mahdi al Ghazzawi, all former Baathist officers, as being complicit in handing over Mosul to ISIS. Al Akhbar claims that upwards of forty senior officers in the Iraqi Army were involved in abandoning their positions to ISIS.
Just how accurate these assertions are remains to be seen. Rudaw has said that nine of Saddam’s former generals accompanied the attackers, while three who were with the new Iraqi Army changed sides.
With the dismantling of the Saddam-era Iraqi Army following Saddam’s overthrow, many of the Baathists were known to be working with the insurgency. While the Baath party externally was generally secular, it was predominantly Sunni, and upheld the Sunni domination of the country. One of the grievances that has led to so much of the Sunni-Shi’a bloodshed in recent years has been the shift in the balance of power from Sunni domination to Shi’a. The increasing rapport between Baghdad and Iran further exacerbates the situation. It should come as no surprise that Sunni Baathists would ally with a group that takes Sunni hatred of Shi’a to its logical conclusion.