All eyes on Fallujah
A big battle is about to be waged in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, a haven of ISIS
A big battle is about to be waged in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, a haven of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Iraqi sectarian Shiite militias are besieging the Sunni city. There are Iranian leaders and troops with Iraqi forces in the vicinity of Fallujah. At the forefront of the Iraqi forces are Sunni troops, political leaders, and tribal fighters from Anbar province.
Many crimes are being committed by Shiite militias against Sunnis displaced from Fallujah. Residents also complain about ISIS’s brutality. This is Fallujah today. The presence of these contradictory forces in one camp does not mean they are on good terms.
There is a battle, and all were called to it. The participants have different stances regarding the management of the battle and the city, and how to deal with the situation now and after the promised liberation.
What brought them together is their hatred of ISIS, especially that Fallujah residents are complaining about its crimes and tyranny. Anbar residents, and Iraqis in general, have been living a state of war for years due to ISIS. Shiite extremists are participating, along with Qassem Soleimani - head of Iran’s elite Quds Force - who wants to compensate for his failure in Syria and restore his image.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and other government and parliamentary figures, whether Shiite or Sunni, want Fallujah to save them from demonstrations and threats against their overthrow.
The presence of these contradictory forces in one camp does not mean they are on good terms. What brought them together is their hatred of ISIS.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Sunni tribal leaders want to protect their areas from Shiite militias and get rid of ISIS, then seal a deal with the government and be the ones to enter the city when liberated, to prevent sectarian clashes.
Inside besieged Fallujah, ISIS fighters coexist with their Baathist enemies, who are young disappointed men. Extremist groups value the city because it is the gateway to Anbar, which borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Fallujah is only 30 minutes away from Baghdad.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has succeeded in portraying Anbar as against the political system. He used prosecuting ISIS and the Baathists as a pretext to kill his opponents and dominate the government on the military, security and financial levels.
ISIS and the fools around the organization have helped Iran achieve its goal of seizing Iraq. The Iranians entered the country last year under the pretext of liberating the city of Mosul from ISIS. They did not liberate one inch, and did not get out of Iraq. They are repeating what the Syrians did to Lebanon.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on June 3, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed
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