Islamist militants in Iraq seize Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, after overrunning the second city, Mosul, officials say.
This is an unexpected turn. The Kurdish region of Iraq was generally the most peaceable one throughout the troubled country.
This is a highly negative reflection on the Shi'a President of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki. If the Kurdish autonomous region can't be kept safe from onslaughts by what will be very unpopular people, who will?
In all this bloodshed, I wonder where the Shi'a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is. He can rally the Sunni, the Kurds and vast expanses of the Shi'a majority of Iraq to his cause, overthrow al-Maliki, either in elections or through armed revolt and, I think, to a technically better job at governing Iraq and handling Iraqi affairs than the current "liberal-Western" al-Maliki government.
My guess is that he's waiting for an opportunity, if he's waiting for anything at all. He's got the guns, the legitimacy, the popularity and the ties to Iran and their bloc to back him up. Unless he's fearing a Saudi counter or some other thing that I'm not aware of, I don't see a reason for him to delay for much longer, unless he'd rather take over through an electoral victory than a military one. Personally, I think that an electoral victory would be better, because it would give people a chance to dislike al-Maliki more and show to everyone how much support he actually has both in the international community and amongst his own people. I don't think the US and the West would attack him.
But the Sauds?
Who knows what they'd be willing to do as they watch Iran expand its influence, fight a proxy war against them in Syria/Lebanon and fail to maintain a constant dialogue.
Watch the system work.
Think about it.