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Iraq's implosion could redraw Middle East boundaries

Published on Jun 14, 2014 2:49 PM

BEIRUT (REUTERS) - The capture of Iraqi cities Mosul and Tikrit by Al-Qaeda-influenced jihadis has not only redrawn the map of a country corroded by sectarian hatred. It could also redesign Middle Eastern national boundaries set nearly a century ago after the fall of the Ottoman empire, and lead to a forging of new regional alliances.

As well-armed forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) raised their black flags over Mosul this week, routing an Iraqi army that fled rather than fight, the future of Iraq as a unitary state hung in the balance.

As they pressed south towards Baghdad, the rest of the region, the United States and other powers woke up to the prospect that this Jihadi comeback could establish a dangerous base in the heart of the Middle East - an Afghanistan on the Mediterranean.

"What we are witnessing is the fragmentation of power. The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will never be able to centralise power in the same way he has," says Mr Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at the London School of Economics.

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