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The violent road to Fallujah

Perhaps some media outlets have fallen into the trap of sectarian and political polarization when addressing the campaign

Diana Moukalled

Published: Updated:

Iraq’s government is confused by international condemnation of the invasion of Fallujah, resorting to the usual justification and blaming the media instead of confronting the situation.

The government issued a detailed statement to refute Arab media reports on the military campaign to liberate the city from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The statement said the media has exaggerated individual violations.

Perhaps some media outlets have fallen into the trap of sectarian and political polarization when addressing the campaign.
However, before we even talk about Arab and international public opinion, and their comprehension of all these violations that have been documented by videos and testimonies, does this excuse even convince the government?

Sectarianism

The Fallujah battle depicts one of the real faces of the sectarian struggle in the region. Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi was forced to accept Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, as leader of the fighting Iraqi forces, which mainly consist of sectarian militiamen who have committed grave violations.

What is happening in Fallujah today is not media exaggeration, but a repetition of previous mistakes that happened in the same place, except this time with a more sectarian approach

Diana Moukalled

Could the goal of liberating Fallujah not have been possible without adding a sectarian dimension by including Soleimani as leader?

Media reports from inside the city show how its residents are trapped between the villainy of ISIS, which has ruled them for several months and is using them as human shields, and sectarian members of the Iraqi forces and militias, who have been filmed humiliating and executing people there.

Eliminating ISIS is a goal that brings everyone together, but the Fallujah battle in this sectarian context, with all the abhorrent violations associated with it, has increased tensions and confused aims.

People in Fallujah and surrounding areas have been punished by those fighting to liberate the city. This will produce a bigger tragedy than the past two wars that Fallujah experienced during the presence of US forces in Iraq.

It seems no lessons have been learnt. Ten years ago, battles were launched to eliminate al-Qaeda in Fallujah, but the accumulating mistakes - whether from the US command or Iraqi government, which is protected by Iran - resulted in the emergence of ISIS.

Today, battles are being fought while committing similar mistakes, if not worse. Between American retreat and Iranian maliciousness, the whole of Iraq will not be safe from atrocities.

It is an experience that we are tired of seeing repeated, and it seems citizens are the only ones paying the price. What is happening in Fallujah today is not media exaggeration, but a repetition of previous mistakes that happened in the same place, except this time with a more sectarian approach. How will the battle be successful when Soleimani gave it the green light?

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Jun. 13, 2016.
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Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.