Sec­tar­ian cleans­ing ‘un­der the nose of Amer­i­can forces’

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

HAS­SAN BARARI HILE the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is wor­ried about the grow­ing power of Daesh, pro-Iran mili­tias in Iraq are us­ing the fight against Daesh as a pre­text to drive thou­sands of Iraq’s Sun­nis from their homes.

Hadi Al Amiri — a proIran leader who heads the most pow­er­ful Shi­ite proxy mili­tias of Iran — asked Sun­nis to leave Fal­lu­jah.

All of this takes place un­der the nose of the Amer­i­can forces. Just a few days into the Iraqi mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion to roll back Daesh out of Fal­lu­jah, more than 50,000 residents are trapped be­tween Daesh and Iraqi Shi­ite mili­tias.

Need­less to say, the Sunni ma­jor­ity of Fal­lu­jah trust nei­ther the ruth­less

WShi­ite mili­tias nor Daesh.

Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider Al Abadi an­nounced that his forces, backed by Amer­i­can air strikes, launched an of­fen­sive on Sun­day.

In an at­tempt to dis­lodge Daesh from Fal­lu­jah, Abadi seems re­spond to the de­mands of the pro-Iran mili­tias that care about noth­ing but driv­ing the Sunni out of their houses.

This re­minds one of the sim­i­lar eth­nic cleans­ing that is tak­ing place in Syria. In both sit­u­a­tions, the Sun­nis are tar­geted and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is com­plicit, with this grand strat­egy be­ing im­ple­mented by Iran. Ob­vi­ously, many in the Iraqi govern­ment feel that there is a score to be set­tled with the Sun­nis of Fal­lu­jah.

Lo­cated some 60km west of Bagh­dad, the Sun­nis of Fal­lu­jah gave the Iraqi army a bloody nose.

In fact, the Iraqi army suf­fered over the last decade or so from the antigov­ern­ment sen­ti­ments that are ubiq­ui­tous in Fal­lu­jah. When the Amer­i­can forces stormed Bagh­dad in April 2003, the cit­i­zens of Fal­lu­jah sup­ported the Sunni in­sur­gency that fought against Amer­i­can forces and the Iraqi army.

Dur­ing the Arab Spring, Fal­lu­jah again be­came the heart of anti-govern­ment protests. The peo­ple of Fal­lu­jah rose up against the sec­tar­ian poli­cies fol­lowed by the pre­vi­ous prime min­is­ter, Nouri Al Ma­liki, who was widely seen as noth­ing but a pro­tégé of Iran.

At the heart of the Sun­nis’ re­sent­ment is the per­cep­tion that they are be­ing sys­tem­at­i­cally marginalised, made to pay the price for the long decades when Shi­ites were marginalised un­der the Baath regime.

The Sunni pop­u­la­tion of Fal­lu­jah finds it hard to fit in Daesh rule. And this should not be taken lightly. They would like to see the back of Daesh. How­ever, they fear the abuse at the hands of the Pop­u­lar Mo­bil­i­sa­tion Forces and Shi­ite mili­tias.

The as­sur­ances of the Iraqi mil­i­tary of­fi­cials that Shi­ite mili­tias will not be al­lowed to en­ter the city of Fal­lu­jah are not enough to al­lay peo­ple’s fear.

They know who calls the shots and at one point, pro-Iran forces will make the fi­nal de­ci­sion. Sadly, the Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion knows very well that the Iraqi army and all mili­tias are not ef­fi­cient on the bat­tle­field, and yet, it has not im­posed the rules of the game.

The Amer­i­can forces play a dou­ble game. They claim they do not want to see sec­tar­ian cleans­ing, but at the same time they go along with what the Iraqi forces (the army and the pro-Iran mili­tias) are do­ing.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ob­ses­sion with Daesh has given the anti-Sunni Iran the golden op­por­tu­nity to re­fash­ion Iraq to guar­an­tee its de­pen­dence on Tehran.

Im­por­tant in the fight to erad­i­cate ter­ror­ism is to deal with con­di­tions that lead to ex­trem­ism. Un­for­tu­nately, what pro-Iran forces are do­ing un­der the nose of the Amer­i­can forces is to fur­ther de­te­ri­o­rate the so­cioe­co­nomic and po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions of Sun­nis, forc­ing them to em­brace ex­trem­ism. —Cour­tesy: TJT

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