• Violence on the Rise in Iraq; Let’s Blame America, All Around!

    Stuck with this guy after Saddam

    Here in the US, the far right neoconservatives and ultra-left ideologues (on the surface, each others’ sworn enemy) have a bizarre commonality: overestimating the impact of US military actions around the world. Believe me, guys, not everything in this world is so uni-factorial; a  little open-mindedness won’t harm.

    Here is some context.

    Parts of Ramadi and all of Fallujah were lost by government forces last week, the first time militants have exercised such open control in major cities since the height of the insurgency that followed the 2003 US-led invasion.

    Security forces and tribesmen failed to retake south Ramadi from Al-Qaeda-linked militants in an overnight attack, police said.

    On the far left, we have those who pompously proclaim “Imperialism is the ultimate issue”. Translation: America is always to blame, for everything. Such people will never fail to blame Iraq’s Muslim-on-Muslim cycle of violence can always be traced to US actions. Even though the US forces left Iraq long ago, the fact that Iraqis are not living in peace together is somehow to be blamed on “Imperialism”. Or maybe that is Al Qaeda’s imperialism, trying to merge Iraq and Syria into one extremist satellite state?

    And then, on the neoconservative side, we have this.

    Rising bloodshed in Iraq has Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) convinced that failure of the American military effort there now falls on President Obama’s shoulders. McCain went on Fox News on Tuesday morning to once again blast Obama for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq and ending U.S. involvement in the unpopular war. “Could I just say, we could have left a residual force behind,” McCain insisted. “It could have been done.”

    He indicated that the U.S. “had won with a great sacrifice,” but the Obama administration “blew the whole thing.”

    With an al Qaida-linked group seizing control of Fallujah — site of one of the Iraq war’s bloodiest battles — McCain said the U.S. should “get some people over there at a high level” to provide counsel to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

    The current situation in Iraq brings the “concordance” between these two bands into sharp relief. Both the senator and the “Imperialism” minded terrorism apologists need a reality check, and neither one of them has been paying close attention to what has been going on in Iraq since it stopped being often in the news. Shiite prime minister Al-Maliki has been trying to concentrate more and more power in his own hands, while harassing the country’s prominent Sunni politicians by trumped up charges against them, based on “confessions” obtained from their associates under duress.

    Here is an example: former Iraqi vice president, Tariq Al-Hashimi.

    Hashimi was leader of the largest Sunni block, Iraqi Accord Front led by the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP). The block entered the 2005 elections, but withdrew later. Hashimi opposes federalism, wants oil revenues distributed based on population, de-Baathification reversed and more Sunnis in the new military and police.

    On 15 December 2011, government forces surrounded Tariq al-Hashemi’s residence in the Green Zone and two of his bodyguards were detained and beaten. On 18 December, five more of his bodyguards were arrested. The Iraqi government banned him from travelling abroad. In addition, on 19 December 2011, Iraq’s Judicial Council issued an arrest warrant for Hashimi, accusing him of orchestrating bombing attacks. The arrest warrant was based on the testimony of his bodyguards, and came just one day after the final U.S. troop withdrawal of remaining forces from Iraq.

    Hashimi has since been tried in absentia and sentenced to death.

    Here is another one.

    Late Thursday, Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi accused an unspecified “militia force” of “kidnapping” members of his staff and said at a news conference that he held Maliki responsible for their safety. Issawi suggested the prime minister knew of the move and urged the parliament to hold a no-confidence vote against him.

    Iraqi authorities said Friday that they have arrested 10 bodyguards of the country’s Sunni finance minister in a terrorism-related sweep, the first official confirmation in a case that is inflaming the nation’s simmering political and sectarian tensions.

    Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar said Friday that the chief of Issawi’s protection force was arrested Wednesday on the strength of confessions obtained by the authorities. The chief had confessed that he took part in terrorist attacks, Bayrkdar said, and nine other bodyguards were held while the investigation proceeds.

    Protests broke out in response to the detentions in at least two cities in the Sunni-dominated western province of Anbar, and the United States said in unusually strong terms that it is pressing Iraq’s Shiite-led government to uphold its commitment to the law.

    Critics of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accuse him of unfairly sidelining Sunni political rivals while seeking to consolidate power in the hands of Iraq’s majority Shiites. Maliki’s government says it is committed to the rule of law and does not follow a sectarian agenda.

    And another one:

    Awani, a well-known supporter of Sunni anti-government protesters, was arrested on terrorism charges on Saturday after security forces raided his house in the Ramadi district in Anbar. His brother and five bodyguards were killed during the raid that ignited clashes.

    Following Awani’s arrest, clans in the Anbar province gave Maliki a 12-hour ultimatum to free him.

    And not surprisingly, the cornered Sunnis are not taking it anymore.

    Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi confirmed he sent his resignation to President Jalal Talabani on Dec. 31. He further condemned the “bloody” measures taken by the government against the people, “especially Sunni Arabs.” He urged the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to reconsider their reading of the situation in Iraq, and said in a Dec. 31 interview with Al-Hayat in Doha that he “gave the countries of the region information on plans to hit their security and stability.”
    Hashemi urged the United States not to arm the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which he said “used arms to kill people.” He called on President Barack Obama to “complete the US task started in Iraq because it was not completed,” and demanded an “end to Iranian predominance and influence in Iraq.” He stressed the need to “peacefully overthrow Maliki.”
    “It is time to resign after the bloody measures carried out by Maliki, the arrest of the courageous MP Ahmad al-Alwani and the use of excessive force to suppress peaceful demonstrators. We have to show a sign of solidarity with our people in Anbar. This is why I found that there was no reason to keep my post anymore. I will officially submit my resignation today [Dec. 31],” he added.

    Senator McCain, please note: taking sides in Iraq’s ethno-religious divide is a bad idea. And to my “Imperialism” obsessed friends: the tyranny of the majority in one country cannot be blamed on another country on the other side of the planet.

    I hope the Al Qaeda militants will be driven out of Ramadi and Fallujah soon, however, Iraq will never, ever be a stable country, if minority rights are not guaranteed by the government in Baghdad.



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