19 January 2022
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Saturday, 14 June 2014 00:00

BBC, June 14: Iraq conflict: 'We are stronger than ISIS'. Divisions between the groups fighting to topple Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are emerging. Much of the attention from the current insurgency has focused on ISIS - the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, but it is only one of a number of militia groups fighting. Former General Muzhir al Qaisi is a spokesman for the General Military Council of the Iraqi Revolutionaries, which entered Mosul alongside ISIS and is taking part in the campaign. He told the BBC's Middle East correspondent Jim Muir that Mosul was too big a city for ISIS to have taken alone. He also stressed the differences between the two groups, describing ISIS as "barbarians".
CNN, June 14: Emboldened militants, backed by Sunni tribal leaders, pushed toward Baghdad on Friday as increasingly nervous U.S. officials mulled their limited options to help slow the militants' advance. In recent days, Iran has sent about 500 Revolutionary Guard troops to fight alongside Iraqi government security forces in Diyala province.
The Daily Star (Lebanon), June 14: [Iraqi government air strikes and] military power in the long run remains helpless in the face of determined moves by disgruntled citizens to regain what they see as dignity, freedom and rights.
The Economist, June 14: Mr Maliki has been less brutal but more crass than Mr Assad. By the end of 2011 American forces had almost eradicated ISI, as it still was, in Iraq. They did so by capturing or killing its leaders and, more crucially, by recruiting around 100,000 Sunni Iraqis to join the Sahwa, or Awakening, a largely tribal force to fight ISI, whose harsh rules in the areas they controlled had turned most of the people against it. But after the Americans left, Mr Maliki disbanded the Sahwa militias, breaking a promise to integrate many of them into the regular army. He purged Sunnis from the government and cracked down on initially peaceful Sunni protests in Ramadi and Falluja at the end of last year. Anti-American rebels loyal to Saddam and even Sahwa people may have joined ISIS out of despair, feeling that Mr Maliki would never give them a fair deal. In 2012 Tariq al-Hashemi, the vice-president who was Iraq’s top Sunni, fled abroad, and was sentenced to death in absentia. Sunnis feel they have no political representation, says Mr Haniyeh. “ISIS and al-Qaeda are taking advantage and appropriating Sunni Islam.”
Al-Monitor, June 13: Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki never implemented promised reforms to integrate and share power with Iraq’s Sunni communities. Although the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is trying to exploit the “Sunni cause” to mobilize its fighters and rally supporters, its “jihadist” characteristic reduces its claim to represent the Sunni community to a small segment within this community. Most Sunnis maintain their suspicious view of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, but they do not see ISIS as a good alternative. It is true that ISIS has largely invested in the sectarian tension in Iraq and the region, but its objectives go beyond the Iraqi borders or the major concerns of Iraq’s Sunni community. ... Maliki tried to weaken strong Sunni leaders, deprive the Sunni population of legitimate and reliable leadership and empower those who are personally loyal to him. ... Without reaching a new compact that reforms the system of government and seeks a broader legitimacy for the state, Iraq’s future as a united country remains uncertain.
The New York Times, Editorial, June 12: What’s happening in Iraq is a disaster. ... Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is said to be in a panic. It is hard to be surprised by that, because more than anyone he is to blame for the catastrophe. Mr. Maliki has been central to the political disorder that has poisoned Iraq, as he wielded authoritarian power in favor of the Shiite majority at the expense of the minority Sunnis, stoked sectarian conflict and enabled a climate in which militants could gain traction.
USA Today, June 12: With no obvious replacement for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — and no apparent intent on his part to step down -Washington is largely resigned to continue working with his Shiite-led government that has targeted Sunni political opponents and, in turn, has inflamed sectarian tensions across Iraq. "He's obviously not been a good prime minister," said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "He has not done a good job of reaching out to the Sunni population, which has caused them to be more receptive to al-Qaida efforts." The panel's chairman, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., noted only lukewarm support for al-Maliki, both in Iraq and among U.S. officials. "I don't know whether or not he will actually be the prime minister again," Menendez said. "I guess by many accounts, he may very well ultimately put (together) the coalition necessary to do that."
CNN, June 12: Fareed Zakaria: "The Iraqi government under Nuri al-Maliki has excluded and persecuted the Sunnis. Any insurgency grows on the discontent of the population, and what has happened is that the population in Iraq has gotten more and more discontented. They're joining up with radical groups in Syria and they are now moving to Baghdad. The second-largest city in Iraq has already fallen. I think with the current government in Iraq, it would be a mistake to offer major support like air strikes and things like that. Because ultimately, I don't think al-Maliki can put this back together again. I think what we should demand is a national unity government. Al-Maliki step down as prime minister. A more conciliatory figure takes his place. Bring in Sunnis as well. Under those circumstances, I think that the United States should support, but not this government."
CNN, June 12: These 90,000 "Sons of Iraq" made a significant contribution to the reported 90% drop in sectarian violence in 2007-2008, assisting the Iraqi security forces and the United States in securing territory from Mosul to the Sunni enclaves of Baghdad and the surrounding Baghdad "belts." As the situation stabilized, the Iraqi government agreed to a plan to integrate vetted Sunni members of the Sons of Iraq into the Iraqi army and police to make those forces more representative of the overall Iraqi population. But this integration never happened. Al-Maliki was comfortable touting his support for the Sons of Iraq in non-Shiite areas such as Anbar and Nineveh provinces, but he refused to absorb Sunnis into the ranks of the security forces along Shiite-Sunni fault lines in central Iraq.

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