There is no other way to paint the disaster that is unfolding in Iraq. Sunni Islamic extremists are on the march and have overrun the cities of Mosul and Tikrit:

Al-Qaida-inspired militants pushed deeper into Iraq’s Sunni heartland Wednesday, swiftly conquering Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces.

The advance into former insurgent strongholds that had largely been calm before the Americans withdrew less than three years ago is spreading fear that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, struggling to hold onto power after indecisive elections, will be unable to stop the Islamic militants as they press closer to Baghdad.

Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militant group took control Tuesday of much of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, sending an estimated half a million people fleeing from their homes. As in Tikrit, the Sunni militants were able to move in after police and military forces melted away after relatively brief clashes.

As I warned a few weeks ago, US counter terrorism officials are very worried about the ability of Maliki’s government to defend Baghdad and the foreign diplomats in the Green Zone.

The most likely scenario at this point is that Iran will intervene in Iraq and help its Shia allies fight the Sunnis. This will be an escalation of the war already underway in Syria. The Sunni extremists reportedly had gotten their hands on US weapons and almost $500 million in cash. This remnant of Al Qaeda is now the wealthiest terrorist group in the world.

What is unfolding in Iraq could lead to a dramatic expansion of war in the Middle East. Heck of a job Barack.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.