Iraqi forces must obey the law
THE Iraqi forces retaking Fallujah from Daesh (ISIS) have an exceptionally difficult job, but that should not be an excuse for them to operate outside the law. They should know that by defeating Daesh they are helping to restore a national government with the institutional and inclusive stability that should exist in any state. And any gross violence or abuse will not just be illegal, it will also have a disastrous political effect as the people of Fallujah (and the whole of western Iraq) will draw their own conclusions and see that the Iraqi government and its forces do not have the people’s interests at heart. If that happens it is all too likely that the people of Anbar, Nineveh and Salah Al Din will refuse to give the state their allegiance, as they have done before.
The problem is that the forces doing the fighting are mainly Hashd Al Shaabi who are not formal Iraqi Army, but militias that support the government and are also backed by Iran. These largely Shiite forces have failed to attract many Sunnis, which makes them deeply suspect in the eyes of the people of Ramadi and Fallujah who are overwhelmingly Sunni. Overcoming this Iraqi sectarian divide is Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi’s largest and most important challenge. Therefore, it is very disturbing that there have been reports of militiamen executing 49 men from Fallujah, who had surrendered to the Iraqi forces. It is essential that the Iraqi government looks into the matter and it is hopeful that arrests have already been made. Al Abadi must get the message out to the forces supporting his government that arbitrary detention, torture and executions are not acceptable. Iraqi forces said that fighters have been attempting to blend in with civilians who are escaping the besieged city. The Iraqi forces detain all men and boys to see if they are genuine civilians or not. They have arrested 500 suspected members of Daesh who should now stand trial in open court. — Gulf News