Leading up to the US withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011, much debate focused on the technical ability of the Iraqi army to secure their country. But intentionally or not, the United States left the Iraqi army in the hands of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki. And in doing so, provided him an asset in his efforts to consolidate leadership over Iraq and defeat his main political rival, the Iraqiya coalition.

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This article was originally published in The National.