|Al Anbar Sunnis protest for women held in Maliki's sectarian prisons|
|Al Anbar Sunni protesters that the Maliki sectarian regime blood libeled as the "Camp of Yazeed"|
Iraq is in the news again and not in a good way. The Al Anbar region, a Sunni majority area in Iraq, is again mired in violence. Al Anbar is a region that has seen a disproportionate amount of violence in the post 2003 invasion. There are a number of books written on the US military efforts in Al Anbar and how the US was able to win the confidence of the marginalized and victimized Iraqi Arab Sunni community in the post 2003 Iraq. The lesson of the American war in al Anbar is that it takes empathy, inclusion and strength to gain the trust of the clans of Al Anbar. Blunt force, humiliation and marginalization do not work. Today Maliki is trying to subjugate Anbar under the false claim of fighting al Qaeda.
In fact, al Qaeda has no better friend that al Maliki and his bigoted and sectarian policies.
Calling the fight in al Anbar a fight with al Qaeda is inaccurate and misleading now just as it was inaccurate and misleading when American soldiers were doing the fighting. PM Maliki is a sectarian fanatic mired in sectarian hate and delusions. He called the Sunni protesters the "camp of Yazeed." That is the equivalent of a Christian politician calling his Jewish political opponents Christ killers. Maliki, a former Shiite clergy, is a sectarian bigot of medieval proportions. Next time PM Maliki visits the US he should be sent to a psychiatric ward and not to the White House.
What do Iraq observers think of the conflict in al Anbar? I have chosen an excerpt from Fouad Ajami’s column in the Wall Street Journal and a column by an Iraqi American of Sunni Arab descent, attorney Mohammed Alomari. Fouad Ajami is an American political science professor of Shiite Iranian and Lebanese descent. Both are helpful in understanding Iraq and Maliki.
Fouad Ajami, Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2014
Obama and the Sunni-Shiite War
Having quit Iraq, the Obama administration developed a vested interest in the narrative that all was well in that country. What influence the U.S. still had was tethered to the rule of Mr. Maliki, even as he drifted away from the Sunnis and the Kurds. Borrowing from the book of the Arab authoritarians of old, Mr. Maliki depicted his bid for dominion as part of a campaign against terror. When he turned up in Washington last October, he came to ask for weapons and diplomatic support, but above all to convey to his rivals that he had Washington’s blessing for his campaign for a third term as prime minister.
The Obama administration played along when it would have been the better part of wisdom to deny him the visit in the midst of a political campaign. Mr. Maliki is a lucky man. His political bid for yet another term has the endorsement of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and that of Mr. Obama and Mr. Assad.
The U.S. tilt to Iran is upsetting allies and disrupting the Middle East
Iraq’s Real Problem: A US Occupation legacy of Sectarian Politics by Attorney Mohammed Alomari
Violence in Iraq is again in the news. The biggest problem we face about what is going on in Iraq is the disinformation campaign to which we have been subjected since the 2003 invasion and occupation.
Iraq, which had its infrastructure and institutions demolished in 2003, was rebuilt on political and sectarian lines. Originally Iraq’s army had been based on a nation-wide forced conscription (in which all sects and ethnicities were represented according to their percentages in society). All that was abolished in 2003 in favor of a militia-based structure. Iraq’s current military and security forces are made of former Chalabi-led Iraq National Congress militiamen, Iran-based Badr militia, Mahdi Army militia and other sectarian based militias.
It is as though the President of the U.S. were to abolish the Armed Forces and form a new military force from recruits from extremist groups. Imagine the racial and sectarian killings that would happen here
The recent issue with Anbar province (and the other 5 provinces) is a result of ignoring the year-long demonstrations/protests and sit-ins in Anbar, Salahadeen, Diyala, Mosul, Kirkuk, and Samarra. Tens of thousands of people have been demonstrating in these provinces for over a year to free thousands of political prisoners, stop the mass expulsions of families from their homes, and other similar demands.
Thousands of Sunni families have been expelled from their homes in Diyala province by government-sanctioned militias this past year (in Miqdadiya, Baquba, other towns) with complete silence from most of the media outlets.
Additionally tens of thousands of Sunni young men have been rotting in jail for years or are being tortured and executed under provision 4 of the Terror Law. Army units like the infamous Muthana brigade march into predominantly Sunni towns and neighborhoods swearing and cursing anti-Sunni insults (using expletives against Sunni religious symbols like Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Mohammed, or Omar, the Prophet’s brother-in-law).
About two weeks ago, the Iraqi government decided to move against the peaceful protestors using military force, claiming there were “terrorists” protesting with the demonstrators.
In fact, the people of Anbar and other provinces have had enough of the sectarian repression, mass expulsion of families, mass arrests, hit squads, torture, and executions. The people of Anbar and the other provinces reacted to the attempt of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to take over cities like Ramadi and Fallujah by rebelling and establishing the Tribal forces.
Theses tribal forces are the same groups (Awakening councils) which fought the extremists back in 2007 and expelled them from the cities. But they don’t want the sectarian government forces either.
Supporting the Baghdad government with arms is big mistake; instead, the White House should open talks with the Tribal leaders in these provinces, with the Sunni leaders in the Parliament and pressure the Iraqi government to reform their military and security apparatus and keep the commitment to the April 2014 elections. Unfortunately the media is still playing the old movie of supporting the central government to “fight the bogeyman.”
If this failed policy continues, of blindly supporting the central government without looking beyond the headlines to see what is really going on, Iraq will boil over worse than Syria.
Peace will only come to Iraq if the institutions of power and military/security apparatus are reformed to include all segments of society, and not allowed to be monopolized by one group. Otherwise continuing this failed policy is like throwing gasoline on a burning fire; Iraq will as a result remain a bloody mess for years to come.
Attorney Alomari’s article originally appeared on University of Michigan professor Juan Cole’s website: http://www.juancole.com/2014/01/occupation-sectarian-politics.html