The anti-terrorism operations take in Anbar, too
Because Iraq is a country which was formed by force, it is quite difficult, even after a hundred year, for it to remain joined into a single nation given its religious and ethnic components. The problem is that none of these components can tolerate the enforced nationhood imposed on them by Britain. In other words, the matter is disapproved of twice over by the Kurds.
Nori Al-Maliki decided to launch an attack on Anbar and the deserts of Ramadi at the beginning of last month. Both areas face the same two significant issues: the first is the long-term protest of Sunnis which erupted a year ago; the second is the rise of terrorist activities and Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in the desert and areas around Ramadi. As the UN has confirmed, terrorist activities have escalated in 2013 and some 8,000 people have been killed as a consequence.
One may ask whom Maliki and his force intended to strike: the Sunnis or the terrorist groups? The question needs serious study, because, given the manner of the operation, its timing and its targets, it would appear that Maliki intends to drive both the Sunnis and Al-Qaeda into striking. His move thus has both internal and external goals.
Externally, the Iraqi PM Nori Maliki wants to force Syria and Iran into each other’s arms and convince the US that Al-Qaeda is powerful and that it should speed up its military support to the Iraqi government. And as the British media has indicated, the Obama administration is considering a return to Iraq. Internally, his actions are aimed at various targets:
He wants to strike the protesting Sunnis and compel them to put an end to their protests and demonstrations.
He seeks to draw the Shiites into believing that Nori Al-Maliki and the Da’awa Party are their greatest protectors and defenders.
The upcoming election is another core goal of the operation. On the one hand, it wins Shiite votes and wins over other Shiite fractions; on the other, it splits the Sunnis and weakens their position. Of course, it should also be borne in mind that if the Da’awa Party and the current Iraqi PM continue to move backward, the other parties will follow suit.
The important thing is that Maliki could evacuate Anbar’s Dignity and Honor square, where demonstrations had staged, and then claim to have attempted to raid the radical groups affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh) in Anbar’s deserts. That is why the operation has taken in Anbar, too.
He ordered the 44 Sunni MPs who have threatened to resign to abandon their threats. In return, he would withdraw his troops from the city. But what happened then?
The radical groups stated that they have half of Falluja city under their control and have burned many police stations in Anbar. So is this operation based on safe foundations? Or is it just one scenario among many? Maliki is paving the way for terrorist penetration in order to create an opportunity to hit them and launch a military operation, while the Sunnis also want to use those groups to undermine security and weaken the power of the Baghdad government.
If this were the case, Nori Maliki would have, in practice, to invade these cities, because Al-Qaeda is the one with authority over these areas, which are not only a threat to the security of Iraq, but to Bashar Assad’s regime as well. In choosing this course of action, Nori Maliki is also providing military, humanitarian and logistical support to radical groups in Syria, so any operation of this kind should be welcomed and supported by the US, Iran, Syria and Lebanon’s Hizbullah.
The Speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Osama Al Nujaify, called for support from Iran to end this catastrophe, which means that Iran still plays an important and active role in the region. The governor of Mosul, Atheel Al Nujaify, also raised the idea of establishing a federal Sunni region again. The Kuwaitbased newspaper, Al-Siyasa, revealed that Iran is supporting Maliki in this military operation to regain control of the cross-border areas between Iraq and Syria, and to lighten the pressure on Bashar Assad’s regime.
The outcome of the April 30 election are crucial, and Nori Maliki is going to have a tough fight. The elections are ahead of him, and he needs to strengthen his force and military position with US support. He intends to restrain the Sunnis, and at the same time to weaken his Shiite opponents which are Sadr, Ammar Alhakeem and religious figures. He also wants to stop the KRG developing at its current level. As we said, he is making crucial steps, but it is hard to manage all these disputes and keep everything in balance. Attempting half of what he is currently attempting would be hard, because Iraq is heading toward sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites, and, indeed, towards a Sunni-Shiite split. All the signs indicate that a flood of events and changes lie ahead.