One reason for its rise is the power vacuum created by the American/British invasion and the failure to plan for the occupation. But that failure is only a small part of the article.
The bigger part is the portrait of an organization that helps the day-to-day lives of thousands of people. The article focuses on one Islamic party member, Salah Battat, and his daily work arranging jobs, restoring cut wages, making sure that his party controls the police department, reducing crime (some),and spreading the Islamic faith, as he and his party see it.
This fits with a pattern visible in many other countries (Egypt comes to mind). It is Islamic groups that provide many of the essential social services and, when possible, act as ombudsmen between individuals and the powers-that-be. They provide medicine. They help people find jobs. In short, they do what the governments we support should do. They do what we should be doing now. They treat people with respect, and they help people in a very basic way to have better lives.
I know that our forces (and those of other nations) have been attempting to do these things. But the coalition consists of outsiders, most hampered by ignorance of the language and the culture. That we have done as well as we have is a tribute to their energy (Certainly planning had little to do with it).
But at this point, it looks like we are failing to build an Iraq with a western vision of Islam. On the bright side, we have said that we want to spread democracy in the Middle East. The invasion did make it possible for the Islamic Party to flourish.
Is that the victory we fought for? Well, that depends on how attached we are to democracy. This quote by one of the secular parties indicates why the US and its supporters have opposed quick elections:
"What's the danger? The danger is direct, free elections," said Hikmat Othman Saad, the representative in Basra of the Coalition of Iraqi National Unity."At that point, a university professor and an illiterate person in the street will be equal."
If he represents the secular choice, then the illiterate, in their wisdom, will likely vote against secular interests. Because it makes sense.
Is that victory?