January 10, 2014

Maliki Faces An Authority Crisis, Military Force Won't Solve Anything

 Iraqi offensive in Fallouja pending

1. An excerpt from, "Three-Way Fight: Sunni Tribes Gain Ground Against Govt, al-Qaeda in Fallujah, Ramadi" by Jason Ditz, AntiWar.com, January 9:
That’s because following yesterday’s warnings by the local Sunni tribal leaders, the tribal militias have begun fighting AQI in earnest, having retaken parts of Fallujah and a solid chunk of what AQI held of Ramadi.

That may not necessarily be good news for the Maliki government, however, as while they’ve been pushing the locals to rise up against AQI, the tribal leaders have made clear they’re also willing to fight off any attempts by the military to retake the city.

If AQI is removed from the situation, it’s going to make the growing unrest in Anbar more apparent, and the Maliki government’s crackdowns will be even harder to justify without them.
2. An excerpt from, "A Closer Look at Iraq’s Violence" by John Glaser, AntiWar.com, January 9: 
Maliki’s security forces have detained and brutally tortured thousands of political opponents in secret prisons and denied them access to legal counsel. Amnesty International reported in September that Iraq executed 13 men following unfair trials plagued by allegations of torture. “Iraq is one of the world’s most prolific executioners,” the report stated.

Given these critical, revealing details that are being completely ignored by the media, the argument that Washington should be increasing its military support to Baghdad in order to crush the revolt in Fallujah becomes even more absurd.
Maliki is facing a major legitimacy and authority crisis as Sunni tribal elders assert their power in cities and villages that have been overtaken by Al-Qaeda terrorist groups. These proud people are taking on both Al-Qaeda and Maliki at the same time.

The central government's loss of authority over Sunni areas of the country has been a process, and not all of it can be blamed on Maliki since there has been a conspiracy to undermine his rule and break Iraq apart for a very long time.

But a lot of the violence and rebellion is also natural and springs from deep emotions and legitimate grievances. Iraq as an artificial state that was created a century ago by outsiders cannot survive in this century.

Iraq's history as a nation is less than the age of some people who nowadays live up to 115 years, so it can't rely on its past like other real countries to create unity and engender peace. There is no natural cohesiveness in Iraqi society. It is hard to keep that kind of country together without centralized tyranny and extreme use of military force. And those days are over.

Some say the rebellion in Anbar was expected, others believe it was preventable. It could be that both groups are right. Maliki is certainly not blameless. Instead of calming the situation by visiting Anbar and listening to the demands of the protesters, Maliki has allowed the fire to rise over the last year and a half, and now it has exploded beyond the control of his government.

The war in Syria also has a lot to do with the current crisis and the massive disillusionment in Sunni areas with Maliki's government, who has sided with Assad in his fight with foreign-funded terrorist groups.

Maliki's rule has been criticized by leading Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who said in an interview with Al-Hayat, published in Al-Monitor on January 5, that Maliki should go to Anbar and talk with the protesters:
Personally, I believe that there are several ways to resolve the crisis with our [Sunni] brothers. These include Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visiting the protest areas in the west and north, forming joint Islamic committees to develop solutions that are strategic long-term solutions, issuing a joint statement to condemn all forms of terrorism and government militias, and supporting education [in order] to assuage Sunni fears regarding those who control most of their areas — and here I mean al-Qaeda and similar groups.

At the same time, I believe that everyone is responsible — first and foremost religious and governmental figures. Personally, I will not accept for there to be first and second-class citizens in Iraq … Everyone is equal, no one is better than the other, except in terms of piety and patriotism.
To learn more about Maliki's history and rise to power in the post-Saddam era, read: "Notes From The Underground: The Rise of Nouri al-Maliki" by Ned Parker and Raheem Salman, World Policy Journal, Spring 2013.