Shock at the disintegration of the army in Mosul and other Sunni-majority districts of northern Iraq is still determining the mood in Baghdad weeks later. The debacle marks the end of a distinct period in Iraqi history: the period between 2006 and 2014 when the Iraqi Shia under Maliki sought to dominate the country much as the Sunni had done under Saddam Hussein. The Shias’ feeling of disempowerment after the Mosul collapse has been so unexpected that they believe almost any other disaster is possible. In theory, the capital should be secure: it has a population of seven million, most of them Shia, and is defended by the remains of the regular army as well as tens of thousands of Shia militiamen. But then almost the same might have been said of Mosul and Tikrit, where the insurgents may have had popular support but were always outnumbered and outgunned. Before they collapsed – four or five divisions have still not been re-formed – the Iraqi security services counted 350,000 soldiers and 650,000 police. They were opposed by an estimated 6000 Isis fighters, though these were backed up by local tribes and former army officers. Even if Isis is seen only as the shock troops of a revolt by the six or seven million-strong Sunni community in Iraq, it was still an extraordinary military success on one side and an unprecedented failure on the other.