Tag Archives: Sunni

Iraq Sunni Leader Accidentally Killed

American troops in Iraq accidentally killed a Sunni leader of the Awakening Councils that have played an important role in reducing violence in the country. Jassim al-Garnout was killed when he rushed to the site of an ambush and in the ensuing exchange of fire between the opposing forces, he was shot. American troops said they had warned their Sunni allies to stay clear of the area but Garnout went to the assistance of US troops. The incident is not important in the general frame of events in Iraq but it does highlight a shift that is occurring in Iraq. The US funded Sunni movement has encountered several such incidents in which friendly fire results in the death of their soldiers.

The Sunni Awakening Councils are growing restive, not simply because of such incidents, but due to the attitude of the Shiite Iraq government which has refused to accord respect to the Sunnis who have played such a key role in lowering the level of violence. The real question is what will happen once American soldiers leave if the Shiites refuse to share power and jobs with the Sunnis.

Iraq Shiite Government Cracks Down On Sunnis

The Iraq government has begun to impose its will on Sunni groups which played an important role in reducing the power of al-Qaeda. The Sunni Awakening Councils were vital to the success of the American”surge” efforts but it appears the presence of armed Sunni groups is threatening to the Iraq government. The United States military which placed many of the Sunni fighters on its payroll has urged Prime Minister Maliki to incorporate them within the regular Iraq army, but this suggestion apparently has been rejected.

Maliki’s decision to wage war on Sunni fighters raises the possibility of a resurgence of militant action once American forces leave the nation. An important belief behind the “surge” was uniting Sunni and Shiite as a combined force to deal with terrorism. it may well be the failure to achieve this goal will result in more terrorism.

Iraqi Troops Move Against US Backed Sunni Forces

The Shiite government in Iraq had begun cracking down on US supported Sunni Arab fighters in the turbulent area of Diyala province. The Sunni groups known as Awakening Councils have played a key role in dealing with militant insurgents, but apparently, they now face being attacked by the very government they were defending. A Sunni official said his forces had been evicted from all but seven of about 100 offices in Diyala. American military sources have confirmed the Shiite assault on Sunni forces.

A major problem facing Iraq is failure on the part of the Shiite Iraq government to support efforts aimed at incorporating Sunni fighters into the armed forces. This raises new possibilities for instability if the Sunnis become estranged from the current government and once again support militant insurgents. Iraq can not have a stable government until Sunnis become part of the armed forces as well as serving in key leadership positions.

Sectarian Fighting Rages In Lebanon

Lebanon is a nation blessed with natural beauty, but cursed by ongoing rivalry between opposing religious and sectarian factions which refuse to live in harmony with one another. Deadly gun battles between rival sectarian factions in the northern city of Tripoli have temporarily ended as the nation’s military entered the area in order to restore some semblance of peace and order. During the past few months dozens have people have been killed, and, as a resident in Bab Tibbaneh noted, “after the battles there is blood on the ground. Things will get worse. There is fear.”

In theory, the Doha agreement of last months created a national unity government in hope there could be an end to violence but there are so many groups and rivalries within Lebanon, the prospect of peace ever grows dimmer. The latest episode involved Alwaite gunmen who belong to a pro-Syrian party and Sunnis who oppose the Syrians. The Alawites are a small secretive sect of Islam who have close ties to fellow Alawites in Syria and fear being overwhelmed unless there is a Syrian presence.

Lebanon essentially has ceased to be a nation and is now reduced to rival groups vying for power.

No Solution In Sight In iraq

Abdel Rahman Hussein, writing in the Cairo Daily News commented: “As the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion draws upon us, the war torn country is still bogged down with no solution in sight. What was sold as a swift victory would be the basis of the democratization of the region can now be seen as the heart of the region’s troubles.” Bush declared victory within weeks after the invasion was launched and promised the people of Iraq were now free from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. “Whether it is or isn’t is for history to judge, but what is certain is that things did not go according to plan.” Professor Walid Kazziha of the American University in Cairo, pointed out: “Ironically, I think they misread the situation either because of the Iraqis informing them or due to the administration’s willingness to be misinformed in the rush to occupy Iraq.”

Abdel Hussein notes, “Proof of the quagmire is that on Tuesday a conference aimed to reconcile warring factons in Iraq descended into farce when it started because the Sunni representatives felt they were not properly invited. And the violence continues.”

Professor Kazziha points out ironic aspects of the American invasion. “As a result they have ended with the Iranians taking advantage of the situation and the Americans defeating their own purpose. They also reinforced the divisions of the country. Instead of going into Iraq with the perception of unifying it, Iraq became divided and the Americans are in the midst of all this and it is very difficult to change that after five years.

The concluding words of Professor Kazziha speak volumes about the success of the American invasion: “There isn’t much to be optimistic about.”

Shiite Officials Freed After Murder Charges Dropped

Two former senior Shiite government officials who were charged with kidnapping and killing scores of Sunnis have been unexpectedly ordered released after prosecutors dropped the case against them. American and iraq government offiicals who spent a year assembling evidence were shocked at the development. A US legal adviser noted: “this shows that the judiciail system in Iraq is horribly broken. And it sends a terrible signal: If you are a Shia, then no worries you can do whatever you want and nothing is going to happen to you.”

The trial of Hakim al-Zamili and General hamid Alwan Abbas al-Shamari, who led the security force, were supporters of the Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr. They used ambulances to transfer weapons to Shiite militia and kidnap and torture Sunni patients. The prosecutor suddenly ended the case claiming there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

There is evidence many witnesses were promised their names would be kept secret, but somehow names were leaked and their families threatened. Many did not even show up for the trial. There were rumors one of the judes had promised to render a not guilty verdict.

Mirmbe Nantongo, speaking from the US Embassy in Baghdad, commented in an upbeat tone: “The very fact the charges were heard and investigated show modest progress toward the rule of law.” If that is what the Bush administration considers the triumph of the rule of law we can well understand why it welcomed the fraudulent election in Florida in 2000.

Iraq Violence Down–But Will It Last?

The commander of American forces in the Middle East claims there has been a dramatic decrease in Iraq violence but warned it m ight not be permanent. Admiral William Fallon told members of Congress, “In almost every measure, the security situation has improved significantly.” But, “multiple strains of violent extremism remains a threat to the government and population and some of these groups benefit from external support.” He emphasized to Congress, although General Peraeus will make recommendations in the coming months, there will also be the voices of others who have expertise and experience in Iraq. In his testimony Fallon blamed Iran and Syria for aiding extremist elements. Both are giving support to Hizbullah and Hamas.

The Admiral’s comments came as President Ahmadenijad was visiting Baghdad where he is being welcomed by the Iraq government. On one hand, the United States insists Iran is a destabilizing force in Iraq, on the other hand, the Iraq government welcomes their support. In fact, Iran signed an agreement with Iraq to improve municipal services in Baghdad.

Admiral Fallon failed to clarify the underlying causes for violence in Iraq which stem from the Sunni-Shiite divide. There are reports indicating rising tension from Sunnis who are blocked from positions of power in the Iraq government. It is not Iran which poses the greatest threat in Iraq but the Iraq government itself. Unless it reaches out to dissident groups within its own nation, violence may return to higher levels.

Conflict In Dyala Province As Police and Sunnis Clash

Fierce clashes erupted in Diyala province between Sunni militia, which are supporting the US effort to fight al-Qaeda, and local Iraqi police. Tensions between Sunni and Shiite forces center around rival claims of unfair treatment. It is reported in Azzaman that American troops have been assisting the Iraqi police fight against the Sunni who were trained by the American armed forces. Azzaman also reported Baghdad municipal workers claim half the capital lacks adequate water supplies.

The American media and military reports things are improving in Iraq, but Iraqi newspapers like Azzaman present a different story. For example, the newspaper claims last week U.S. gunships attacked the village of Zad in northern Iraq and killed eight people including five children. “This incident took place last week and U.S. and Iraqi sources have kept it under wraps.” Obviously, writing from the United States it is difficult to ascertain the reality of what is happening in Iraq. This war is characteized by an inability of the American or international press to gain access to on-the-scene accounts.

Did The Surge Succeed- An Evaluation!

A year ago many neighborhoods in Baghdad were controlled by militant forces, but twelve months later due to more troops, new allies, and a few lucky breaks the situation is not as dismal looking. Today’s problem is how to build on whatever success ensued over the past year, but, when one examines that issue, things do not appear as bright. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is still struggling to create a viable government and bridge differences between Sunni and Shiites. The most fortunate aspect of the surge was inept policies by al-Qaeda which angered civilians by indiscriminate suicide bombing and creating ongoing terror that disrupted normal life. Many Sunni groups turned on al-Qaeda just as the surge began which proved to be among the most important factors in achieving success.

In all, 831 American troops died during the surge although a majority of the casualties occurred during the initial six months of the operation. Iraqi civilian casualties are now closer to what they were in 2005. An unexpected factor is the role of Iran which supposedly supports the current Iraq government. Iranian agents no longer give unqualified support to the Mahdi army of al-Sadr. There is still an Iranian presence and its agents continue supporting various groups within Iraq. It has most probably thrown its support behind the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council of Abdu-Aziz al-Hakim, the nation’s most powerful Shiite leader.

Return To Fallujah

Patrick Cockburn returned to Fallujah after being absent for a few years in order to examine what has happened to the Iraqi city in its fight against terrorism. There was definitely an absence of bombings and random killings, and although he counted 27 manned checkpoints, it was clear al-Qaeda and other militants had lost their ability to dominate the city. Cockburn spoke with the police chief who had previously been in the Saddam Hussein army. Col. Feisal’s brother controlled a 13,000 man which is part of the Sunni Awakening Movement. In visits to hospitals, Cockburn repeatedly was told about lack of medicine, clean water and electricity. The doctors also complained “The American provide us with nothing. They bring only destruction.”

There is little doubt the surge has lessend the ability of militants to proceed with their bombings and murders at the same rate as previously. But, as Fallujah indicates, the struggle for peace in Iraq is far from over. The United States has poured immense money into military development and far less to economic assistance. People lack jobs, they lack access to clean water, and they have sporadic use of electricity.