Three leaders of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces appeared on television and issued threats against Fallujah, rather than Daesh. The threats, which do not distinguish between Daesh and the people of Fallujah, are reminiscent of the events that began in late 2003, during which the people of Fallujah in a confrontation with the American occupation and then in a conflict with the government representing the “Iranian occupation”. This government ultimately handed over the majority of the Sunni provinces, within hours, to Daesh.
Today, despite the fact that the army is leading the process of removing Daesh from Fallujah, and despite the fact that the prime minister promised the Sunni parties not to include the Popular Mobilisation Forces, Iran had the final word in Baghdad and imposed itself. Haider Al-Abadi was then forced to surrender and adapt to the reality on the ground.
Iran’s Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani’s picture was in the Popular Mobilisation Forces’ command centre and some even say that he is leading the battle. However, all the official statements insist that the leadership is divided between Al-Abadi’s government and the Americans along with the international alliance, and that these two sides agree to include the so-called “Tribal mobilisation forces” which include fighters from the area and its tribes. Now Nouri Al-Maliki is coming out of his room to visit the leaders of the Popular Mobilisation Forces and spread his poison, as he knows that everyone in Iraq is holding him responsible for the disaster that occurred in mid-2014, after he refused for the past two years to address the political crisis with legal and constitutional means with a nationalistic and co-existent spirit. However, all the Shia party leaders believed that this man served their purpose of leading the Popular Mobilisation Forces and did not care about the fact that they were contributing to increasing the sectarian tension and incitement. It is strange, however, that none of them tried to say anything that may change the approach or direction of the Shia discourse. Instead, they insisted on showing hostility to Fallujah itself, i.e. its people, more than towards Daesh.
The prime minister’s sources tried, in vain, to convince everyone that the Popular Mobilisation Forces are employing propaganda, more than playing a role in the actual battle. However, the people of the villages located on the outskirts of Fallujah have reported looting, the burning and destruction of their crops and property; is it the Iraqi army committing these acts? If this is the case, what is the position of the Americans, who are supervising the re-training and qualification of the army? The more important question that was posed was: Where are the Americans? Where did they and their field partners in the battle disappear to? Why haven’t we heard their voices like we did in the past when they stubbornly and firmly refused the intervention of the Popular Mobilisation Forces in order to avoid problems? No clear position was issued in this regard, which provoked angry Iraqi and Arab reactions. They instead were content with saying that America and its allies are targeting Daesh sites with strikes in Fallujah, Mosul and other areas.
Therefore, it is legitimate to wonder if the Americans themselves are still holding a grudge against Fallujah, or if they are accepting the Shia militias’ claims that the city is a popular incubator for Daesh. This is despite the fact that 90 per cent of its population left the city after Daesh took control. In any case, the Americans’ neglect and overlooking of the Popular Mobilisation Forces’ intervention is unacceptable and unjustified, not only because it deviates the course of Fallujah’s liberation and employs it for sectarian provocation, but more importantly, because it doubles the obsession of Iran’s agenda, which aims to change the demographic structure in Fallujah due to its proximity to Baghdad.
Translated from AlKhaleejOnline, 30 May 2016.
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