Almost every day for a long time now, the daily headline in Foreign Policy has been about the violence in Syria, with the second story typically dealing with a car bomb or suicide bomber somewhere in Iraq. Syria was the main story and from a demographic perspective the refugees have been pouring out of Syria, heading in some cases to Iraq (or back to Iraq because the wars in Iraq over the past few decades have sent many Iraqis to Syria). But with almost the same suddenness as Eric Cantor lost his position as House Majority Leader, Iraq seems to be on the verge of collapse. It was creeping up all the time, but the big news today has been the fact that the Iraqi army, trained by the U.S., apparently laid down its weapons, stripped off its uniforms, and fled in the face of rebels who were not nearly as numerous as the army. BBC News reports that at least 500,000 people have fled Mosul, the country's second largest city, although it is not clear where they have gone.
For the moment at least, this conflict is described in explicitly sectarian terms--Sunni Muslim militants versus Shia Muslim militants (who have taken up arms in the place of the collapsing Iraqi army--which was presumably a mix of Sunni and Shia). The separation is important enough that NBC's intrepid reporter, Richard Engel, reported from Baghdad that the city has become self-segregated, with the Sunni population on one side of the Tigris River that runs through the middle of the city, and the Shiite population on the other side of the river.
This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.
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