WHILE the international community is worried about the growing power of Daesh, pro-Iran militias in Iraq are using the fight against Daesh as a pretext to drive thousands of Iraq’s Sunnis from their homes.
Hadi Al Amiri — a pro-Iran leader who heads the most powerful Shiite proxy militias of Iran — asked Sunnis to leave Fallujah.
All of this takes place under the nose of the American forces. Just a few days into the Iraqi military operation to roll back Daesh out of Fallujah, more than 50,000 residents are trapped between Daesh and Iraqi Shiite militias.
Needless to say, the Sunni majority of Fallujah trust neither the ruthless Shiite militias nor Daesh.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi announced that his forces, backed by American air strikes, launched an offensive on Sunday.
In an attempt to dislodge Daesh from Fallujah, Abadi seems respond to the demands of the pro-Iran militias that care about nothing but driving the Sunni out of their houses.
This reminds one of the similar ethnic cleansing that is taking place in Syria. In both situations, the Sunnis are targeted and the international community is complicit, with this grand strategy being implemented by Iran. Obviously, many in the Iraqi government feel that there is a score to be settled with the Sunnis of Fallujah.
Located some 60km west of Baghdad, the Sunnis of Fallujah gave the Iraqi army a bloody nose.
In fact, the Iraqi army suffered over the last decade or so from the anti-government sentiments that are ubiquitous in Fallujah. When the American forces stormed Baghdad in April 2003, the citizens of Fallujah supported the Sunni insurgency that fought against American forces and the Iraqi army.
During the Arab Spring, Fallujah again became the heart of anti-government protests. The people of Fallujah rose up against the sectarian policies followed by the previous prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, who was widely seen as nothing but a protégé of Iran.
At the heart of the Sunnis’ resentment is the perception that they are being systematically marginalised, made to pay the price for the long decades when Shiites were marginalised under the Baath regime.
The Sunni population of Fallujah finds it hard to fit in Daesh rule. And this should not be taken lightly. They would like to see the back of Daesh. However, they fear the abuse at the hands of the Popular Mobilisation Forces and Shiite militias.
The assurances of the Iraqi military officials that Shiite militias will not be allowed to enter the city of Fallujah are not enough to allay people’s fear.
They know who calls the shots and at one point, pro-Iran forces will make the final decision. Sadly, the American administration knows very well that the Iraqi army and all militias are not efficient on the battlefield, and yet, it has not imposed the rules of the game.
The American forces play a double game.
They claim they do not want to see sectarian cleansing, but at the same time they go along with what the Iraqi forces (the army and the pro-Iran militias) are doing.
The Obama administration’s obsession with Daesh has given the anti-Sunni Iran the golden opportunity to refashion Iraq to guarantee its dependence on Tehran.
Important in the fight to eradicate terrorism is to deal with conditions that lead to extremism. Unfortunately, what pro-Iran forces are doing under the nose of the American forces is to further deteriorate the socio-economic and political conditions of Sunnis, forcing them to embrace extremism.