Armed tribal fighters take part in a mission to secure an area from militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in the Hamrin mountains in Diyala province July 25, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer
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Salman Khaled has already lived through Baghdad's sectarian disintegration; with Iraq now splintering into Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish regions, he says this time the survival of the country is at stake.Iraq's latest – and gravest – crisis erupted when mostly Sunni fighters swept through the north last month.Across Baghdad a Sunni living in the Shiite area of Maalef, cut off from the rest of the city by a checkpoint where nonresidents are turned back, said life there had become unbearable for those who do not belong to the majority Shiite community.The government's inability throughout the first half of 2014 to recapture the Sunni city of Fallujah, just 50 km west of Baghdad, from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) underlines how ill equipped it is to reverse far greater militant gains since then which have displaced more than a million people.ISIS, a relatively small vanguard, has exploited Sunni disgruntlement with Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to assert itself in the predominantly Sunni regions.Many parts of central Iraq are mixed Sunni and Shiite regions, and any such partition would probably leave a million Sunnis in those areas stranded under Shiite control.
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