— The Erimtan Angle —

‘In Iraq, the army is preparing an all-out attack to regain control of Fallujah after it was seized by Al-Qaeda linked militants who declared it an Islamic state on Friday. Several airstrikes have already hit the city. Meanwhile the country’s Prime Minister has called on residents to help drive-out the insurgents. Gerald Celente, publisher of the Trends Journal, joins RT studio for more on what’s happening in Fallujah (7 Jan 2014)’.

Celente is merely saying what should have been obvious for most, if not everybody watching the Middle East and its environs: Colonialism, post-colonialism, followed by an invasion introducing neo-colonialism and now Balkanisation and inter-ethnic or rather inter-communal violence as a result of a sectarian and arguably authoritarian government . . . Patrick Cockburn, who first went to Iraq in 1977 and has since written three book on the topic, noted in March last year that “[t]en years ago, Iraqis, even if they had originally opposed them, hoped that the US invasion and occupation would at least bring an end to the suffering they had endured under UN sanctions and other disasters stemming from defeat in the first Gulf War in 1991. Today, people in Baghdad complain that they still live in a permanent state of crisis because of sectarian and criminal violence, pervasive corruption, a broken infrastructure and a dysfunctional government. Many Iraqis say that what they want in 2013 is the same as what they wanted in 2003, which is a visa enabling them to move to another country, where they can get a job”.[1]

Cockburn continues in his Nation piece that “Baghdad was once a city where Sunni, Shiite and Christian lived side by side, conscious that they belonged to different sects but not frightened of one another. This all changed during the 2006–08 civil war, during which, at its peak, more than 3,700 Iraqis died in a single month, the great majority of them in Baghdad. ‘There are not many mixed areas left today’, says a Shiite woman who lives with her mother in a Sunni-majority district and tries to hide her sectarian identity from her Sunni neighbors. At the moment, she is worried that she may be asked to give evidence against one of these neighbors, who is in prison charged with murdering a Shiite man five years ago. She suspects he also left a round of ammunition in front of her house as a threat. She does not want to give evidence against him, as it would become obvious she is a Shiite, leaving her open to retaliation. The sectarian civil war was at its most intense in Baghdad and the central provinces of Iraq, where a third of the country’s 33 million people live. It ended with a decisive defeat for the Sunnis, who were driven out of most of east Baghdad, and in west Baghdad were compressed into several large enclaves surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods. Iraqi friends say blithely that ‘everything is safe now’, but they don’t act as if they really believe it. They become nervous when they enter hard-core areas controlled by another community or, if living in a mixed district, they panic if there is the slightest threat, such as a hostile slogan on a wall or an anonymous leaflet. After what happened before, nobody is going to take a chance. Even today, there is a constant drumbeat of bombings and assassinations; 220 Iraqis were killed and 571 injured in February [2013] alone”.[2]  Russia Today now adds that ‘[w]ith over 7,000 civilian casualties . . . 2013 has already become the deadliest year in Iraq since 2008 . . . Following the withdrawal of US troops in December 2011, instead of engaging in post-war and occupation recovery, Iraq has been with each day plunging deeper into inter-ethnic violence, prompted by ever-growing tensions mostly between the country’s majority Shiite community and the Sunni minority. 2013 saw the situation aggravate to its worst, with almost daily deaths of civilians becoming the harsh reality the country is facing today’.[3]

In the Washington Post Liz Sly posits that the “eruption of violence in Iraq is threatening to undo much of what U.S. troops appeared to have accomplished before they withdrew, putting the country’s stability on the line and raising the specter of a new civil war in a region already buckling under the strain of the conflict in Syria. In the western Iraqi province of Anbar, Sunnis are in open revolt against the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Militants affiliated with al-Qaeda have taken advantage of the turmoil to raise their flag over areas from which they had been driven out by American troops, including the powerfully symbolic city of Fallujah, where U.S. forces fought their bloodiest battle since the Vietnam War . . . The Obama administration has responded to the crisis by promising to accelerate weapons deliveries to the Iraqi government, including Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones. White House spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. officials are working with the Iraqi government ‘to develop a holistic strategy to isolate the al-Qaeda-affiliated groups’. But most analysts and Iraqis say the problem is rooted, above all, in the Maliki administration’s failure to reach out to Sunnis and include them in the decision-making processes of the coalition government, thereby enhancing a sense of Sunni alienation from the authorities in Baghdad that began when U.S. troops invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, in 2003”.[4]

[1] Patrick Cockburn, “The American Legacy in Iraq” The Nation (20 March 2013). http://www.thenation.com/article/173416/american-legacy-iraq#.

[2] Patrick Cockburn, “The American Legacy in Iraq”.

[3] “Iraq 2013: Deadliest year since 2008 with 7,000+ killed” RT (08 Nov 2013/24 Dec 2013). http://rt.com/news/iraq-2013-year-carnage-405/.


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