After World War I, the allies drew arbitrary boundaries in the Middle East which subsequently led to the establishment of the states of Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Rebellions against British colonisation after the Great War, the Turkish war of independence which led to the settlement of Kurds in Northern Iraq, and the Iraq government’s grant of autonomy to the Kurdish population in 1970 is ancient history, but relevant to today’s politics in the region. Since 2003, the US has spent over $1 trillion on the Iraq intervention. Hundreds of thousands have died only in the last decade, yet the conflict keeps escalating, with the IS’ recent inclusion into the mix.

Al-Abadi’s appointment as the new Prime Minister is being looked at as the only hope to lessen the effects of sectarianism in the country. Al-Maliki’s openly pro-Shia policies against the minority Sunnis, the mass extermination of Yazidis, Christians and other minorities by IS, the Kurdish region’s fight against the terrorists and the constant power-grabbing for oil have all been inherited by the new Prime Minister, and the next few weeks will be crucial to save the state from crumbling completely. Various power groups will be tussling for a larger share in the formation of the new cabinet, and the Prime Minister must ensure that all sects of Iraqis are adequately represented. While the IS is brutal and is hated by a vast majority in Iraq, further marginalization of the Sunni minority might lead to greater support for its activities in the country, which Iraq cannot afford.

If the state of Iraq does succumb to the pressure from IS, all of the Middle East will suffer as a result. While Saudi Arabia has rubbished reports of Pakistani and Egyptian troops deployed along the Iraqi border, the royal family must be viewing the entire situation with trepidation. The IS extent of control in the northern areas of Iraq makes the Syrian border very vulnerable, and free for the movement of militants across both countries. With important supply routes such as this lying open, the IS can keep its troops well supplied in both countries with moderate resistance from the Kurds in northern Iraq and with assistance from the US air force, and the extended fight with Syrian forces in the country. The coming weeks will be decisive, and the entire world will be hoping that Al-Abadi is the change that Iraq needs.