Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Everybody’s Gathered at the Gates of Fallujah | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Media ID: 55351865

Smoke rises from ISIS positions at the frontline during fighting outside Fallujah, AP

Discretion stars the Fallujah current state-of-affairs, as imminent war approaches; the ISIS-infested Sunni city is also engulfed by bigoted Shi’ite militias. Presence of Iranian leaders and ground forces about and around the city is also being registered. As for Iraqi army forces sieging Fallujah, Sunni parties and political leaderships are included alongside Anbar tribal fighters who are partaking in the preparations for entering the city.

Reported crimes of Shi’ite militias against uprooted Fallujah citizens are a reality. Fallujah citizens also complain about the insufferable brutality of the so-called Sunni terrorist organization ISIS. Despite, the loud contradiction present in the previous statements, they all are evidently true. Fallujah’s case is the apparent Iraqi paradox.

On the city’s frontier, Iranian militias commander Qassem Soleimani sides with Sunni Iraqi Minister of Defense Khaled al Obeidi, Sunni Iraqi Parliament Spokesperson Salim al-Jabouri, Shi’ite Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, bigoted Popular Mobilization Forces, and with Sunni Anbar tribal factions in a mission to besiege ISIS.

The concoction of Iraqi forces lining up on Fallujah’s gates and deploying in one camp does not necessarily mean there is consensus among them. On the contrary, it represents the lack of trust and the widened gap of differences, so that everyone showed up to fight the same battle.

All those contributing to the Fallujah mission, come with a different aim and opinion on how the battle should be carried out. They disagree on how the current circumstances should be dealt with, and how the liberated Fallujah should be molded.

What unifies the mixed bag of forces is the united hatred to a common enemy, ISIS– a terrorist organization which delivered Fallujah, Anbar and Iraqi citizens in general to an excruciating humanitarian low.

Shi’ite extremists have come to contribute to incitement to sectarian strife. Iranian General Soleimani -who had made the besiegement of Fallujah the slogan of alleged IRGC heroic deeds to be sold back home- hopes to compensate for the crushing defeat he suffered in Syria and to clean up his image.

As for PM al-Abadi and other parliamentary leaders- both Shi’ite and Sunni- all they pursue is a self-sought salvation from the escalating national crisis and the threat of them being ousted.

On the other hand, Anbar Sunni tribal leaders seek to protect their territory from a Shi’ite militias overrun, in addition to their desire for getting rid of the locally-pervading enemy, ISIS.

The tribal leaders also look forward to strike an agreement with the government to be in charge of entering Fallujah after its liberation in order to prevent sectarian clashes.

Moreover, the inner city debuts ISIS terrorists coexisting with enemy members of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party and the spiteful youth of Fallujah.

As to why do extremist groups return to Fallujah, despite the massive 10-year-old record of losses at hand, it is simply because Fallujah represents the Sunni gate to the Anbar governorate they long to dominate.

Anbar, strategically located, borders three countries – Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Not to mention that Fallujah is a 30 min drive to the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Former Iraqi PM Nouri al-Malki had pictured Anbar as a governorate which goes up against political authorities, and had used ISIS as an excuse for taking down rivals, and taking over all strings to the government into his personal hand, whether the security, military or financial sectors. Nowadays, ISIS and the likes of Iran attempt to exploit the same strategy to take over Iraq.

Iranians have entered Iraq last year allegedly to free the then ISIS-occupied Mosul. However, not a single parcel of land was freed—while Iranian presence is ongoing.

With all that being said, Iranians still boast about their protection of Baghdad from ISIS-held Fallujah posed threats. Iranians are drawing parallels to what the Syrian administration once did in Lebanon, a foreign country taking in a legally excused cover for it to help the central government against both ISIS and those who rebel against it.