Iraq needs reconciliation not American weapons to end sectarian war

The ongoing violence has claimed the lives of more than 8,000 people in 2013 - the highest annual toll since 2008

Warplanes guided by drones firing Hellfire missiles; tanks rolling into heavy streetfighting; arbitrary arrests and killings followed by assassinations of officials: all sites familiar enough as Iraq went up in flames following the invasion by American and British forces.

They are now being reprised in some of the most ferocious battlegrounds of that time – in Anbar province in the Sunni heartland – in another grim sign of the country sliding towards vicious sectarian strife three years after Western forces pulled out.

The latest flashpoints were at cities which had become synonymous with the insurgency against the Americans. In Ramadi at least 17 people were killed when the security forces of the Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki pulled down a Sunni protest camp. Clashes in Fallujah, meanwhile, left 15 soldiers dead and several injured.

Mr Maliki has declared that the violence has been instigated by al-Qai’da and its allies as his army and police tries to root them out from newly established bases. “The Anbar operations are the biggest blow to al-Qa’ida which has lost its safe haven in the sit-in camps” he declared.

Indeed, it is for this supposed conduct of the ‘war on terror’ that he recently received 75 Hellfires and ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the Obama administration.

Others, however, do not see it that way. The assault on the camp was followed by the resignation of 40 Sunni members of Parliament, another sign of polarisation between the communities.

The MPs also demanded the release of Ahmed al-Alwani, a colleague who was arrested in Ramadi at the weekend amid violence in which his brother and five guards were killed. The government stated that he was wanted on charges of terrorism without specifying what they were.

Support for the Sunni stance had come from some Shia public figures, including Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical cleric who was a vehement opponent of the presence of American and British forces in his country. Sheikh Abdul Malik al-Saadi, an influential Sunni cleric, has asked the Shia tribes in the south of the country not to send their sons to participate “in this blatant aggression on their brothers”.

While it is true that al-Qa’ida and its associates are once again increasingly in evidence in Iraq, with a spate of savage suicide bombings, there is a strong argument that it is Mr Maliki’s partisan policies which had led to the Sunni unrest that jihadist extremists are trying to exploit.

The current round of protests started in December 2012 following a raid by security forces on the home of another Sunni politician, the finance minister, Rafi al-Issawi. Mr Maliki and his allies have further alienated many Sunnis from the electoral process and driven many towards militancy.

The ongoing violence claimed the lives of more than 8,000 people in Iraq in 2013, the highest annual toll since 2008. The only way to avoid even more bloodshed in the coming months, and push back the influence of al-Qa’ida, is for the Sunni population to be brought back into the political mainstream. The Obama administration, busy supplying arms to Mr Maliki, needs to press him towards this path of reconciliation or risk being drawn back into a murderous pit in Iraq.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital