The Unraveling of Iraq, in Eight Charts

On Tuesday, Islamic militants seized control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's victory in Mosul marks a milestone in Iraq's accelerating descent into chaos since the departure of U.S. military forces nearly three years ago.

Whether the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq would have prevented the resurgence of violence is far from certain, but one thing isn't up for debate: Under the rule of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the country has seen a remarkable lack of progress on a variety of economic and security indicators. In many, it's actually taken several steps back. The case against Maliki is laid out in a report by Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cordesman, who has been writing about Iraq since U.S. forces swept into the country in 2003, points out that by several key metrics, the Iraq of today looks worse than it did under Saddam Hussein.

Here, then, in eight charts, is the story of Iraq's unraveling.

Iraq's monthly body count, as seen in the last graph of the triptych, is approaching levels seen during the civil war that marred the American occupation of Iraq:

Meanwhile, Iraq continues to lead the global tables on terrorist attacks, both in terms of the total number of attacks and casualties. Moreover, ten plus years of civil strife has left Iraq with a particularly deadly terrorist problem: The average lethality of a terrorist attack in Iraq is 40 percent higher than the global average.  

And as violence has continued to roil Iraq, the country has struggled to improve its governance rankings. Incredibly, according to World Bank figures, rule of law was better in Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein than during Maliki's years in power:

While Iraq had been making gains on human development indicators, those gains have mostly flatlined:

And Iraq continues to lag relative to its peers:

So it's perhaps no surprise that corruption remains a huge problem in Iraq, leaving it on par with Yemen and Libya:

Consequently, Iraq lags behind its peers on ease of doing business rankings:

Add all these things together and what do you get? Despite their country's massive oil wealth, Iraqis remain relatively poor:

You're also left with another grim conclusion. Iraq, three years after U.S. troops withdrew from a country purportedly on the upswing, is in many ways worse off than ever before.



Iraqis Stream Out of Mosul as Army Flees Islamist Advance

Nearly three years after the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq, Islamic militants on Tuesday overran the northern city of Mosul, the country's second-largest city, and claimed their biggest prize yet in what has become a metastasizing insurgency that has resurrected a level of violence not seen since the darkest days of the country's brutal civil war.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which had been affiliated with al Qaeda until a falling out between the two groups, has reportedly seized police stations, military bases, prisons, and government buildings across the city. Iraqi security forces put up little resistance, fleeing the rapid onslaught of ISIS forces and leaving behind large numbers of U.S.-provided Humvees and other military equipment.

Earlier this year, ISIS seized control of the restive city of Fallujah, but their conquest of Mosul represents something very different. Fallujah had long been a hotbed of the anti-American insurgency and a homebase for large numbers of Islamist militants. U.S. forces, even at the peak of their powers, had trouble holding the city. Mosul, by contrast, has never been seen as a militant hotbed. In earlier years of the war, Iraqis even visited the city for vacation.

The fall of Mosul sparked an exodus of people from the city and led Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to declare a nationwide state of emergency. Meanwhile in Mosul, images and video poured out of the city, where militants exulted in their relatively bloodless victory.

In the aftermath of the battle, Iraqi army uniforms littered the area, reportedly after having been discarded by the soldiers to whom they belonged:

As Iraqi security forces fled the city, children threw rocks at their retreating vehicles:

Some American military equipment has reportedly now landed in the hands of Islamic militants in Syria, where ISIS forces are actively engaged in fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad. 

More captured American military equipment:

Inside Mosul, footage shows vehicles on fire, and widespread destruction, and militants cruising around the city on the back of pickup trucks:

More destruction in Mosul:

Meanwhile, residents of Mosul are fleeing the city: 

Here, cars can be seen jamming the roads out of Mosul:

And, here, families are pictured queuing at a checkpoint into the autonomous Kurdistan region: