UPDATE: Since we first published this piece two weeks ago, embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki agreed (on August 15) — after days of tense standoff that brought the possibility of a military coup — to relinquish power and accept the nomination of Haider al-Abadi as the country’s new leader. Abadi, also a Shiite, belongs to the same party as his predecessor. Additionally, on August 18, President Obama announced that Iraqi special forces and Kurdish fighters, backed by American war planes, had retaken a strategic dam near the northern city of Mosul, which had previously been captured by Islamic extremists.

Less than three years after the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Iraq is again in a state of crisis. In June, an extremist Islamic group swept through the north, taking control of Mosul, the second-largest city. And as tensions between Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups reach a boiling point, the survival of the fractured country is at stake.

How did things get so bad? Cartoon journalist Andy Warner illustrates that the near-constant turmoil in Iraq isn’t as shocking as it might seem; the current struggle has deep roots in the nation’s embattled colonial past.

(Click images below to view as a slideshow)

Download complete illustration.


Numbers and maps:




Good articles/books for more context



The Great War for Civilization by Robert Fisk

SelfPortraitAndy Warner’s comic journalism has been published by Symbolia, Slate, popsci.com, American Public Media, Campus Progress and more. You can see more of his work at: andywarnercomics.com and andywarnercomics.tumblr.com

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