UK & World News
Iraq: No Turning Back As Country Is Carved Up
It may have taken years to get to this point, but the pace at which Iraq is being carved up is staggering.
Boundaries are being redrawn and alliances are shifting - what is taking days to achieve will take much longer to reverse.
The Kurds are taking advantage of the situation.†
The spokesman for their forces, the Peshmerga, told me they had warned the central government in Baghdad of the growing dissent against them, which allowed the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to advance this much so fast.
"This is just the beginning of ISIS's plan," said Helgurd Hikmet Mela Ali.
"The problem is not ISIS, if it wasn't for the loss of support for the government in these areas then ISIS would not have been able to get this far."
The Kurds are now in de facto control of ethnically mixed Kirkuk, which they have long wanted to stake out as their capital.†
Other gains are also within their sights, some are even talking about pushing for full autonomy.
Meanwhile the government seemingly has no plan to take back lost territory north of Baghdad.†
The governor of Mosul, Iraq's second city that fell to extremists earlier this week, says there is little the army can do because they are so hated by the locals.
The plan, he says, is to use local Sunni militias in Mosul to fight the insurgents.†
But he admits that cannot be done right now.†
The extremists have successfully branded their mission as an uprising against Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and the governor says any attempt to fight them would be seen by locals as an attempt to help Maliki regain control.
"The militias will fight for themselves, for the Sunnis, but they will not fight in the name of Maliki," Atheel al Nujafi told me.
ISIS may be on the frontline and in the headlines, but they are not the only force making this advance.
As they sweep through towns they are recruiting men who are fed up with the prime minister and his American backers.†
There are also reports commanders from former president Saddam Hussein's army are also helping ISIS.
What will happen if their common enemy†Maliki falls is another question that will determine the future of Iraq.