From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Can Iraq avoid a return to sectarian civil war?
As more towns in Iraq are taken over by the Sunni rebel group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, Shia fighters are rallying to protect religious sites and fight alongside the Iraqi military.
What is driving sectarianism in Iraq, and what outlook do Iraqis have for the future of their country?
President Masoud Barzani welcomed United States Secretary of State John Kerry in Erbil on Wednesday.
During the meeting the President and Secretary Kerry discussed the latest political and security developments in Iraq following the latest Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) advances in Mosul and other areas in Iraq. Secretary John Kerry focused on the urgency for Iraqis to rid Iraq of ISIS and other terrorists.
The Secretary of State made reference to the fact that the Kurdistan Region has achieved remarkable progress in the past ten years and urged other Iraqis to look up to Kurdistan for what it has achieved.
John Kerry added that the Obama administration is closely following the events in Iraq and is concerned about the spread and strengthening of terrorism in Iraq. He also expressed his country’s support for a new inclusive government in Baghdad which would represent all of the components of Iraqi society.
For his part, President Barzani reiterated his gratitude to the government and people of the United States for their sacrifices and continuous support for Iraq. During the meeting the President outlined the various stages in the political process of the past decade in Iraq and noted that [Kurdistan’s] allies have failed to implement the Constitution and subsequent agreements.
The President added that the Kurdistan Region has demonstrated great flexibility and has always been ready to address the issues, but these issues have recently been worsened and that [Iraq] has collectively failed to resolve them.
President Barzani said, “We believe that Baghdad is trying to marginalize us, as was the case with the previous regime, but the people of Kurdistan have made great sacrifices for their freedom and they would never accept this subjugation.”
This article was originally published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, iwpr.net, and it is reproduced by Iraq Business News with permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News
“We used to care about one another. My neighbours were Shia, Sunni and Christian,” Raad Mahmud says as he recalled the life he led until recently in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
On June 10, the armed forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) completed a three-day offensive to capture this major urban centre, and Mahmud, a father of seven, knew it was time to leave. He feared his family would be at great risk purely because they are Shia Muslims.
As news of Mosul’s capture came in, he put his family in their old Opel, and drove out of the city. They left at midnight and kept going till two in the afternoon, when they judged they were well out of ISIS’s reach in the Nineveh Plains east of Mosul.
On June 11, the International Organisation for Migration said its teams on the ground estimated that 500,000 people had fled their homes in Mosul.
Mahmud is grateful for the kindness shown by the people in the Nineveh Plains, an area that has traditionally been home to many of Iraq’s Christians.
“They showed great sympathy and gave us basic essentially like beds and blankets,” he told IWPR.
Mahmud is pessimistic about the future, and doubts he will be able to return home any time soon.
“It’s very dangerous now in Mosul and I expect that this will last for months before I can return home,” he said.
By Mushreq Abbas forAl-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Reports about the June 21 clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and fighters from the Naqshbandi Order organization, led by former Iraqi Vice President Izzat al-Duri, have surprised no one.
In fact, a battle among the armed factions fighting the Iraqi army in Sunni cities and towns was expected to break out as soon as things relatively settled down and the gunmen’s influence in Iraq’s Sunni areas was established.
Although news reports indicate that the latest battles in the neighborhoods of al-Riyadh, al-Rashad and Hawija (all in Kirkuk province) happened because those areas refused to pledge allegiance to ISIS, well-informed sources told Al-Monitor that the conflict arose because ISIS sought to kill a number of tribal leaders who have deep connections in the region, most prominently the al-Asi family, which leads the al-Obaida tribe in Hawija.
This incident suggests that the temporary alliance between ISIS and the armed Sunni factions, which revived their role in the Fallujah battles earlier this year, is fragile and can explode at any moment.
There is one central goal common among ISIS, the Sunni factions, the clans, the clerics and the politicians: ending control by the central Iraqi government on Sunni cities and towns. Uniting these disparate groups are the grievances expressed in the Sunni demonstrations, which went on for more than a year, regarding the practices of the Iraqi government.
But after those forces achieved this goal, with victory spreading gradually from Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit tp areas in Diyala and Kirkuk, the future has become very complex.
Sunni rebels led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, ISIL) have taken control of Baiji [Bayji] refinery, near the town of Tikrit, according to Al Jazeera sources.
While foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that Iraqi special forces soldiers were in control, the news agency’s sources said that ISIL rebels had offered 460 Iraqi troops still near the refinery safe passage to Erbil if they gave up their weapons. The ISIL would then hand the facility to local Sunni leaders, the sources said.
The loss of the refinery, the country’ third largest, would result in a significant loss of revenue for the government.
By John Cookson. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s whistle-stop swing through the Middle East and Europe will likely include a meeting this week with Iraq’s embattled caretaker prime-minister Nouri al-Maliki.
At the Baghdad summit we can expect Secretary Kerry to again hammer home Washington’s demand that the Iraqi premier form an inclusive government of national unity with Sunni politicians given prominent roles. The top US official will also seek assurance that the 300 American military advisers being sent to shore up Iraq’s military are immune from prosecution on Iraqi soil.
In my opinion Secretary Kerry’s visit to Baghdad is almost certainly mission impossible, as Al-Maliki is not likely to relax his hard-line stance on either issue.
On Sunni inclusiveness Washington has made the same impassioned plea for years and Al-Maliki has ignored it, even as unrest raged in Al-Anbar and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Iraq was facing disaster. It was a high-risk political gamble by Al-Maliki, but the recent general election result shows millions of Iraqis supported him and endorsed his policies.
On the question of whether 300 advisers will not be tried in Iraq if they commit crimes; again Al-Maliki is unlikely to U-turn on his consistent policy of non-immunity, especially as few in Baghdad can forget how 4 American Blackwater security guards, working for the State Department, escaped prosecution in Iraq for shooting dead 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007 – their US trial is ongoing.
Al-Maliki’s tough position was boosted Sunday when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came out and expressed strong opposition to intervention in Iraq by the United States – or anyone else – and he insisted that the Iraqis themselves can bring an end to chaos sweeping the country.
Khamenei also suspects Washington wants to keep Iraq under its control and place its own stooges in power.