[Marxism] Sunni Resentment Muddles Prospect of Reunifying Iraq After ISIS
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 13 07:40:20 MST 2016
(So interesting. This article minces no words about the sectarian
viciousness of the American-supported Shiite regime in Iraq that is
punishing the Sunnis in Anbar province in the same fashion as under
George W. Bush. Ten years ago it was Christopher Hitchens, Kanan Makiya,
Harry's Place et al cheering on the onslaught. Now it is
"anti-imperialists" like Phil Greaves, Yoshie Furuhashi and Patrick
Cockburn making the case for round two in the bogus War on Terror.)
NY Times, Feb. 13 2016
Sunni Resentment Muddles Prospect of Reunifying Iraq After ISIS
By TIM ARANGO
AMIRIYAT FALLUJA, Iraq — When Iraqi ground forces and American aircraft
began assaulting the city of Ramadi more than a month ago, Ghusoon
Muhammed and her family fled to the government’s front line, as did many
other Sunni Arab families who had been trapped for months. Soldiers sent
her and the children one way, and her husband another, to be
interrogated in a detention facility.
She has not seen him or heard from him since. She and her children, who
will most likely not be able to go home to Ramadi for months given the
destruction, have been left to wait in a ramshackle tent camp here in
Anbar Province. She is desperate, and adamant: “The innocent people in
jail need to be released!” she said.
Standing nearby on Sunday was another woman, Karima Nouri. Her son, an
auto mechanic, was also taken away by the authorities, and she has had
no word about him for weeks. Ms. Nouri said the government considered
civilians who remained in Ramadi to be sympathizers of the Islamic
State. “But we had no ability to leave,” she said. “We are very poor.”
The retaking of Ramadi, the provincial capital, has been held out as a
vital victory by Iraqi officials and their American allies, and one of
the most crucial first steps in the government’s reclaiming of Anbar
Province and other Sunni Arab places.
But even as military goals are being met, Sunni families like those of
Ms. Muhammed and Ms. Nouri are still voicing their fear and resentment
of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, highlighting that the
broader goal of political reconciliation is not yet being served. Their
grievances today echo those that initially allowed the Islamic State,
also known as ISIS or ISIL, to prosper two years ago as it began seizing
territory from the Iraqi government.
As the military campaign in Anbar shifts its focus to Hit, an Islamic
State-controlled town in the Euphrates Valley, critics say the American
approach to Iraq is shortsighted in its focus on military gains without
a political program to back them up. At the same time, each victory over
the Islamic State sets off new humanitarian crises that Iraq and other
nations have struggled to face. It seems to be the opposite approach to
Syria, where the Obama administration has long said it sees no military
solution and has pushed diplomatic efforts to broker a political settlement.
“There is no political architecture that will convince any Sunni over
the age of 3 that he or she has a future with the Iraqi state,” said
Ryan C. Crocker, a former American ambassador to Iraq and the dean of
the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M
He continued, “The administration is trying to use a limited military
weapon to defeat an adversary that only a political offensive can
overcome, and we’re not willing or able to make that effort.”
Without political reconciliation and an ambitious program to rebuild the
Sunni areas destroyed by the war — or at least restore vital services
like electricity and water — those places are likely to be fertile
ground for the Islamic State far into the future.
Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iraq expert at the Brookings Institution in
Washington, worried that military gains in Iraq without political
overhauls would be counterproductive. “At some point, they make things
worse,” he said.
Anbar, a region of vast deserts stretching across about a third of
Iraq’s territory, is where the Islamic State first flourished, having
risen here in the crucible of the American occupation as Al Qaeda in
Iraq. The effort to pacify the province cost the lives of more than
1,300 American soldiers and Marines, billions of dollars in aid and
intense efforts at reconciliation that resulted in the Sunni Awakening,
the program in which tribal leaders were paid to switch sides and fight
against Al Qaeda.
The group re-emerged as the Islamic State, strengthened, after the
Americans left and as a response to the sectarian policies of the prime
minister at the time, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who failed to deliver on a
promise to incorporate the Awakening groups into the security forces.
“Daesh didn’t come from the moon,” said Sheikh Faisal Essawi, the mayor
of Amiriyat Falluja, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “It
did not grow from the earth. Part of our people became Daesh. Because of
corruption. Because of injustice. Because of the culture of hate.”
Ramadi, a city once numbering hundreds of thousands of residents, is
free of the Islamic State, but it is ruined. About $10 million has been
committed to pay for the first steps in restoring services so civilians
can move home. That money is for the United Nations to buy generators
and set up rudimentary health clinics. But the Iraqi government, facing
a financial crisis amid collapsing oil prices, has little to spend on
programs that would rebuild and stabilize Anbar, said Sohaib al-Rawi,
the provincial governor.
Ramadi itself is so embedded with explosives left behind by the Islamic
State that, at the current rate of clearing, it will take nine months
before civilians can return, said Lise Grande, the United Nations’
humanitarian coordinator for Iraq. And that does not take into account
the rebuilding of homes that will be needed.
“The level of destruction is as bad as anything we have seen anywhere in
Iraq,” said Ms. Grande, who is trying to raise tens of millions of
dollars from the international community to at least fix basic services
Col. Hameed al-Janabi, who leads the bomb disposal crew of the Anbar
Police Department, said more than half of the roughly 40 officers he
oversaw who had received training in years past from the United States
With few experts available and no money, Mr. Rawi said he had asked
local men with at least some experience with explosives to do the work,
on the promise of future payment.
As time stretches on, officials worry that the tent camps that hug the
winding highway here, and the mosques and squatter settlements in
Baghdad where civilians from Anbar also live, are only incubating the
next generation of militants.
In nearby Falluja, under the control of the Islamic State for more than
two years, longer than any other city in Iraq and Syria, the government
has the city under siege. In doing so, it is mimicking tactics by
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria that have outraged the international
“Falluja is facing a major humanitarian crisis,” Mr. Rawi said.
At least 10 people have starved to death, and medicine is running low,
he said. The Islamic State has warned civilians — there are tens of
thousands left in Falluja — that the government will take the men should
they try to escape.
“This message is to all the honest people in the world,” said a woman in
Falluja reached by telephone who gave her name as Umm Muhammad. “We are
caught between the injustice of ISIS and an unknown future with the
government that will accuse us of being with ISIS.”
The United States has pushed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to offer
political concessions to Sunnis, such as creating a national guard to
incorporate more Sunnis into the security forces and criminal justice
reforms to empty the jails of Sunni men. But those efforts have amounted
“He has the willingness, but he hasn’t made any reforms,” Mr. Essawi,
the mayor, said. “He has no power, to be honest.”
That is because much of the power in Iraq is held by Iran, the region’s
dominant Shiite power, which controls militias widely seen here as the
real protectors of society. Those groups, and the politicians allied
with them, have opposed efforts by Mr. Abadi to accommodate Sunnis.
After the deal last year between the West and Iran to curtail its
nuclear program, there was hope that the United States and Iran could
work more closely in Iraq to fight the Islamic State and support the
Iraqi government. That has not happened. Efforts by American diplomats
in Baghdad to meet with their Iranian counterparts have been rebuffed.
Mr. Crocker, the former ambassador to Iraq, said he had given up hope
that the Obama administration would become more deeply engaged in
seeking a political accommodation among Iraq’s factions. But he and Mr.
Pollack, along with other experts on Iraq, have joined a task force
organized by the Atlantic Council, a research organization based in
Washington, that will make policy proposals on Iraq to the next
“Unfortunately, that’s 11 months away,” Mr. Crocker said.
“The Islamic State rose because of a political vacuum,” he noted. “It
wasn’t a military success but a political failure that allowed it to
Falih Hassan and Omar Al-Jawoshy contributed reporting from Baghdad.
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