Monday, January 26, 2015

Genocide in Northern Iraq: Then and Now

What follows are two rather vivid and disturbing excerpts from eyewitness accounts of systematic executions of unarmed males.

Herein follows the first,

“Their opponents were helpless and there was no chance of any interference from any quarter whatsoever. Machine gunners set up their guns outside the windows of the houses in which the Assyrians had taken refuge, and having trained them on the terror stricken wretches in the crowded rooms, fired among them until not a man was left standing in the shambles. In some other instances the blood lust of the troops took a slightly more active form, and men were dragged out and shot or bludgeoned to death and their bodies thrown on a pile of dead.”

And the second,

“They took us to an open area in front of a trench. They told us to make a row. We looked down and we saw bodies. We were all lying on top of each other. They thought they killed everyone. They came through and shot everyone in the head and the back. Then they left.”

Both of these accounts describe massacres which transpired in Northern Iraq. They are quite similar. The latter comes from a 15-year-old Yazidi who survived being butchered like his many counterparts by hiding under dead bodies of people who, like him, were being put to death for who they were. That was just a few months ago. The first account however transpired in the same general region over 80-years-ago at Simele, the town after which the Assyrian massacre of Assyrian Iraqis is named.

Genocide is one of those terms which shouldn’t ever be employed lightly. After all given the various horrors and evil the term invokes and given what it has been used to describe in the past (the extermination of European Jewry, Saddam Hussein’s mass-murder of Kurds throughout his so-called ‘Al-Anfal’ campaign and the infamous genocide in Rwanda to name just a few) genocide is one of those words we rightfully reserve for the very worst of atrocities and crimes against humanity.

In Northern Iraq today the representatives of the Kurdish and Yazidi communities are calling on the International Criminal Court to classify as genocide the crimes of the Islamic State group. A Yazidi leader named Hazem Tazin Saeed insists that Islamic State is guilty of this crime. In the town of Sinjar his kinsmen, in his words, “have been displaced, they have been killed, raped, kidnapped, and executed en masse.” He rhetorically asks, “What more proof do you need to label this a genocide?”

As of writing the Kurds are pushing back Islamic States’s earlier territorial gains. In Sinjar Kurdish fighters are fighting to kick out the Islamic State forces who overran the Yazidi community there and, as Saeed reminds us, massacred many of the men (the way they execute unarmed men in large numbers and dump their corpses in large pits is uncannily reminiscent of how the Nazi German Einsatzgruppen systematically murdered Jewish partisans on the Eastern Front in World War II) and enslaved and raped many of their wives and daughters. Those Yazidi’s who managed to escape that onslaught, and ultimately that fate, ran the risk of nearly perishing on the mountains where they became trapped after frantically fleeing in terror.

Now the Kurds are taking the fight to Islamic State and are fighting to rid Sinjar of them while working on the political front to convince the rest of the world that those who they are fighting are guilty of the crime of genocide. The 1948 United Nations Convention on Genocide defines genocide as, “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Nations who have signed the genocide convention are encouraged to prevent genocide and/or punish those who perpetrate it. Given what Islamic State has done in that region in recent months the classifications of their actions as such doesn’t appear to be far off the mark. The group has made no secret of what they wish to do to their enemies and where they have been able to brutalize or butcher those they despise they have done so without any hesitancy, compunction or scruple whatsoever.

It’s remarkable that in roughly that same region of Northern Iraq the actual man, the Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide was preparing a legal presentation about this particular kind of war crime when, to his dismay, he got the news about the aforementioned massacre of Assyrians in 1933. The numbers of dead in that massacre were comparably small to most instances of genocide which transpired in the very bloody 20th century, estimates of the number dead run from around 600 to 3,000. Nevertheless it was the systematic nature of the massacre and the indiscriminate way Iraqi soldiers shot people when they entered the Assyrian communities which made that massacre so horrifying at the time.

End Genocide Now - Iraq

End Genocide Now

Before that massacre Lemkin had already been appalled by the killings of Assyrians and Armenians which transpired as the Ottoman Empire was in its death throes. Even though a century has elapsed there is some acrimony and controversy over whether or not events of those years constituted genocide. In Turkey the idea that the Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign is officially denied, even though an estimated 1 to 1.5 million Armenians and other minorities lost their lives in less than ten years in death marches and massacres. Similarly the Assyrians of Northern Iraq (a region which was then part of the Ottoman Empire) were targeted in a manner which leads most historians to conclude that it was indeed a genocide. Actions and killings such as those were distinctive in Lemkin’s mind due to their uniquely nasty nature. He subsequently explored what it was that distinguishes genocide from other crimes and excesses of war more deeply and ardently campaigned to have it recognized for what it is which led ultimately to the clear definition we have of it today.

Were any of the crimes Islamic State committed in Iraq the past few months genocidal?

While no human rights expert one nevertheless suspects the Kurds have a case here. Just because the number of those killed by Islamic States’ vicious rampage across that region doesn’t add up to the hundreds-of-thousands or millions doesn’t negate the fact that the intent was there on their part to do away with whole communities and peoples just because of their particular creed or ethnicity. That in and of itself makes their criminal actions particularly odious and certainly warrants a legal investigation to conclusively determine if Islamic State is guilty of genocide, the wickedest crime of all.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

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This is an old blog we had years ago for the BaghdadInvest site. A link through to our homepage is available to you here.

Baghdad Invest - Baghdad Invest - Iraqi Dinar News and Intel resource for investors interested in the Iraq story. See you on the other side :-)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Kurdish freedom fighters, Kurdish terrorists

Kurdistan Flag flying high in Kurdish KurdistanIn the view of the United States State Department some armed Kurdish groups simply constitute paramilitary forces (consider the Iraqi Peshmerga) and others terrorist groups, the most salient example being of course the Kurdistan Workers Party (the PKK) which has been on the U.S. list of designated terrorist entities since 1997.

Indeed the two primary political parties in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), were, remarkably, designated as Tier-3 terrorist groups. And even though the U.S. has worked with them throughout the years that classification was only revoked late last year!

This scribbler has wondered that given the fact the primary Kurdish political party in Syria Kurdistan, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) who make up the backbone of the Syrian Kurdish regions fighting force, the YPG, who have been fighting Islamic State tooth-and-nail in defense of Kobani and also happens to be a close PKK affiliate, whether or not that in turn means that any westerner fighting in their ranks is technically a “terrorist”, or is, in a legal sense, aiding and abetting what amounts to a close affiliate of a United States, and European Union among others, designated terrorist group by fighting with them? Even if just for the ad-hoc purpose of confronting Islamic State terrorists?

Photo from Kobani, YPJ female fighter with YPG flag in Kurdish Syria

Photo from Kobani, YPJ female fighter with YPG flag

The U.S. has dropped some small arms to the Kurdish YPG defenders in Kobani and bombed the Islamic State forces who have tried to overrun their positions there. But nothing overly substantial as the U.S. still seems highly reluctant about revising or reevaluating its designating of the PKK as a terrorist group. Nevertheless, in the fight against the Islamic State the PKK is showing itself as quite a formidable militia.

That group has been using Northern Iraq as a safe haven of sorts for years now as part of its campaign against the Turkish state. A campaign which spanned from 1984 until peace talks between the PKK and the Turkish government were initiated in 2013. Turkish Air Force F-16 jets have frequently launched air strikes into Iraqi Kurdistan to bomb PKK positions in the mountains there.

Now the PKK are coming out and onto the front-line in the fight against Islamic State in that region where they essentially have a de-facto military alliance with the Peshmerga. And, as I said, their Kurdish affiliates in Syria are the ones holding the line there against Islamic State. Not only are the Peshmerga fighting alongside the PKK to retake Iraqi Kurdish territory Islamic State seized but they have also sent some fighters into Syria to help bolster the YPG’s defense of Syrian Kurdish territory. It’s also no secret that the Syrian Kurds have crossed into Iraq to help their Iraqi Kurdish brethren liberate places like Sinjar from Islamic State.

So we have reality on the ground whereby a de-facto alliance between these two armed entities is concerned. The Kurdistan Communities Union (the KCK) is an umbrella group which consists of the PKK and affiliates such as the aforementioned PYD. It issued a statement recently insisting that the circumstances dictate that the necessity of a joint Peshmerga-PKK fighting force is now “a must”.

This is interesting. While it doesn’t at all mean that such an intertwining of fighting forces will transpire these statements do come as we see more and more cross-border Kurdish solidarity. BBC News encapsulated this feeling in a recent report about the funeral of a Turkish Kurdish (many Kurdish nationalists find labels like ‘Iraqi Kurd’ or ‘Syrian Kurd’ insulting, they see themselves as ‘Kurdish Kurds’ if anything, who knows perhaps they will all be referred to as Kurdistani’s if they do get their own independent nation state in the future) girl named Gulsum. She had joined the PKK and was killed fending off Islamic State attacks on Kobani. Her father was quoted proclaiming at her funeral that, “Kurdish fighters from all parts of Kurdistan went to Kobani. This means that the Kurds are coming together.”

Indeed Islamic State’s vicious assault on their communities in both Iraq and Syria have brought these Kurdish groups together. Regardless of whether it was a result of battlefield expediency or a feeling of fraternal unity in the face of a common enemy this is indeed the case.

What will all this mean for the PKK in the long run? Will political expediency and the fact it has proved effective in the fight against the Islamic State group (which, even if you do consider the PKK to be a terrorist group, is certainly the “greater evil” in this fight) lead to the United States to reconsider its branding of the PKK as a terrorist organization?

It certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented when you recall that the exiled Iranian group the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) was on that very same U.S. terror list for quite some time but was removed in 2012 under the pretext that the group had cooperated with the U.S. substantially and had been disarmed. Perhaps if they broker a successful comprehensive peace agreement with Turkey coupled with continued advances on the battlefield against Islamic State will see to the PKK go down a not too dissimilar path.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Anbar isn’t Asleep – Far from it, Anbar is Getting Ready to Fight for Iraq

Anbar and its predominantly Sunni Arab inhabitants need to be reinvigorated from the bottom-up, not “awoken”.

We should remember at least that much when talking about a new Sunni “awakening” when talking about how Iraq can effectively and thoroughly root out Daesh from that vast western Iraqi province.

Anbar province of IraqOf course the real reason there is talk about another Sunni Awakening is in reference to the last one which successfully instilled within the Sunni tribesmen of Anbar the confidence and support they needed to do away with the al-Qaeda terrorists trying to seize their territory in order to establish a self-styled “caliphate”. During the pre-surge Iraq War-era sectarian violence which pervaded throughout many parts of the country some Sunnis had very naively believed that Sunni Islamist groups like al-Qaeda could prove to be the lesser evil and protect them against the more violent of the sectarian Shia militias. However once those Islamists rolled into their neighbourhoods most Sunnis saw just how dangerous and vile they really are. Accounts from that period recollected by some of those Sunni Iraqis reveal that just like Daesh (a.k.a. ISIS) today they were gruesome sadists who had no reservations about murdering children to show anyone who dared even think about resisting them how far they were readily willing to go in order to subjugate the populations over which they tried to impose their rule.

Today Daesh still retains its hold over large swaths of predominantly Sunni Arab inhabited Iraqi territory. The Kurds and the Iraqi government, among others, are working to reverse that groups gains and drive them out of Iraq’s Nineveh and Anbar provinces. The latter of which saw Awakening Councils consisting of indigenous Sunni tribesmen drive out al-Qaeda in Iraq Islamists about eight years ago. Those Sunni tribesmen however were never widely integrated into the broader state security forces after the surge and throughout the tenure of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Consequently they were left quite lightly armed when Daesh began terrorizing the population there into submission. Sunni tribesmen have been massacred by Daesh forces who are working to consolidate their control there. Many Sunnis feel betrayed by Baghdad and some see it as a merely a sectarian government which does not represent their interests and actively conspires against them.

PM Al-Abadi meets a delegation from Anbar including Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha and members of the provincial council

PM Al-Abadi meets a delegation from Anbar including Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha and members of the provincial council

This is one of the reasons I was happy to see that the present Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi has stressed the importance of reaching out to the Sunnis and helping them rise up and shake off the Daesh with support from their army when he called for a “tribal revolution”. It’s great to see the emphasis he puts on the importance of cross-denominational cohesion in Iraq in wake of the worst sectarians we have seen in some time trying to sow discord in that war weary state and society.

While the largest community in Iraq is clearly its Shiite Arab community one would be cautious about the state relying too heavily on Shia militias to help in the fight against Daesh. That’s not to say those militias do not have any use in this fight. One really cannot criticize any Shiite Muslim who wishes to take up a weapon in order to defend their places of worship or community from the likes of Daesh. After all how could they readily forget what salafi terrorists like these did to their revered Al-Askari Mosque back in 2006? And furthermore why should they run the risk of enduring another similar attack when they can be armed, prepared and ready to defend themselves?

This is not to say however that it’s a good idea for Shiites who wave the sectarian banners of their militias to go to places like Anbar to fight Daesh. That job should be reserved for the Iraqi Army which really needs to reaffirm its secular nature and make-up at this point in time. Just because its is an army with a majority of Shiites in it does not mean it constitutes a Shiite fighting force like, say, Muqtada al-Sadr’s so-called “Peace Brigades”.

Daesh has inadvertently given the Iraqi state a very important test, that being the re-instilling of badly shattered confidence in the Sunni Arabs and Kurds of Iraq of the state army and security forces as a force that represents them and is there to defend the interests of the state and all of its inhabitants as a whole and is not simply another armed force which furthers the interest of one community over, or at the expense of, another.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

From Sinjar to Kobani

The Iraqi Kurds are on the front-line in the fight against the Islamic State (Daesh) Islamist group presently operating in both Iraq and Syria. From Sinjar in Northern Iraq to Kobani in neighbouring Syria the Kurds are bravely taking the fight to the enemy, protecting their brethren and liberating other minority groups which Daesh have been terrorizing and murdering.

Kurds helping those in need up on Mount SinjarIn both Sinjar and Kobani we see that the Kurds are fighting quite literally “street-by-street, house-by-house” against these violent and ruthless jihadi forces. They are the ones who have been undermining Daesh’s expansion since its rapid territorial gains in Nineveh last June, like a real thorn in their side, when the Iraqi Army was disorganized and rendered essentially powerless to do anything substantial. Also given where their homeland is situated the eight million or so Kurds in Northern Iraq stand in the way of any further gains on Daesh’s part eastward, a demographical and geographical bulwark not wholly unlike the Shia one in Iraq’s south where throngs of devout Shia Muslims recently turned out to mark the Arbaeen commemoration in clear defiance of Daesh, who detest Shia Muslims like they do other groups they deem to be heretical, showing they are standing firm and are not cowering in fear.

In addition to all this the, young and old alike, brave fighters of the Peshmerga are working and fighting hard to reverse the ground which Daesh gained when Mosul fell to them last June. We saw how minorities in Northern Iraq were displaced and massacred by their vicious onslaughts, like those Yazidi’s who fled in terror onto Mount Sinjar, where they risked becoming trapped and perishing or alternatively being enslaved, tortured or massacred by Daesh if they tried to return to, or remained in, their homes.

The Kurds are earnestly fighting to undo this untenable state-of-affairs and rescue the remainder of those trapped and threatened Yazidi’s and take the fight right back to their occupied homes in Sinjar itself. One female Kurdish fighter fighting on behalf of the Yazidi’s to retake their Sinjar community said of those Daesh fighters that, “They don’t respect women’s rights, they have captured and killed many Yazidi women,” before going on to declare, “I’m here to kick them out and liberate my Yazidi sisters.”

Peshmerga fighters are also taking the fight to Daesh in Syria where that Islamist group has been sending a lot of its fighters to try and defeat armed Syrian Kurds who are defending the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. A town that has become a symbol of defiance, not to mention of stoic courage and determination, in the Syrian theater of the war against Daesh who have been earnestly trying to crush it for months, so it doesn’t remain standing as an emulative example to other Kurds and minorities who try to resist and repel their sectarian conquests, and have to date failed in their endeavour. In the face of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fighting alongside the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia (whose defense of that town is being supported by U.S. air strikes aimed at the attackers) Daesh are being driven out of that urban center as they are from various parts of Northern Iraq.

Kurdish YPG fighters in Kobani

In Iraq Kurds are risking their lives to push back Daesh who still retain hold over the entire metropolis of Mosul. Ahead of a planned Iraqi Army offensive – the army doubtlessly has a lot of making up to do after their embarrassing performance last summer – to retake that city the Kurds liberation of territory in areas east of Mosul is undoubtedly helping to pave the way for a more thorough counteroffensive to rid all of Northern Iraq of these Islamists. Late in 2014 the Iraqi Kurds reportedly liberated 2,500 square kilometers and appear to be fighting in order to link-up their front-lines exponentially with each decisive victory on the battlefield building up what is gradually becoming an ever more powerful juggernaut against Daesh.

Standing on a hilltop his forces had recently retaken from Daesh a Peshmerga commander recently declared that, “This area is multicultural and we as Peshmerga are ready to sacrifice with our lives to protect every inch of this land.”

Kurdish fighters fighting Daesh

This underscores a very important point that need not be forgotten any time soon. For the minority communities of Northern Iraq this fight amounts to an existential one as well as a secular one which should be trumpeted by any proponent of civil and human rights of minority groups all across the planet. Iraqi Kurds fighting today are not only securing their homeland for their brethren. It is clear that the actions they are taking is seeing to it that historic communities in Northern Iraq like the Assyrians, and of course the aforementioned Yazidi’s, are protected and are not “cleansed” from their historic homelands by such horrid and tyrannical reactionaries.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Iraq, 2003, today, ISIS and Saddam

In an editorial published on Rudaw Professor Middle East Politics at Missouri State University David Romano took issue with comments made by the German journalist Jurgen Todenhofer, the journalist and writer who went on an official visit to the “Islamic State” and made somewhat controversial comments about its power and influence. Romano’s short critique of Todenhofer centers around this comment which Todenhofer wrote,

“We are now paying the price for George W. Bush’s act of near-unparalleled folly; the invasion of Iraq.”

German journalist and author Jürgen Todenhöfer, 74, spent ten days in ISIS-controlled territories

German journalist and author Jürgen Todenhöfer, 74, spent ten days in ISIS-controlled territories

Romano then goes on to explore the fallacious nature of that claim. Especially the connotation which implies Iraq would be better off had the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein been left in power. Romano charges that,

“Although the likes of Todenhofer might have enjoyed being a guest of the Ba’athists when he visited Mosul in 2002 or Damascus more recently, the Ba’athist Republic of Fear hardly seems better than the Islamic State of Terror.”

Romano then takes us over the numbers of those who were killed during Saddam’s war with Iran, against the Kurds in the late 1980’s and then against the Kurds and the Shia after the 1991 Gulf War as well as the fact that the Saddam regime used the international sanctions to solidify its hold on power over a beggared and impoverished nation wrecked by years of war.

However in countering Todenhofer’s assumption Romano offers what he suspects would have been had the 2003 overthrow of the Baath regime and the consequential upending of Iraqi society which ensued hadn’t happened. Romano posits the following scenario,

“When the Arab Spring rolled around, we might also have seen a Shiite uprising against Saddam, supported by Teheran and Damascus, that would have competed well with the present carnage in Syria. Instead of Islamic State, we might be writing about the “State of Ali in Mesopotamia and its Environs,” which we could dub “the SAME.” At the same time that Saddam did his best to crush the rebels in Syria the way he did during the 1982 Muslim Brotherhood uprising there.”

I found myself scratching my head at this one, especially regarding ‘SAME’ and where he was coming from there. Is he implying we could possibly have been facing a Daesh-like SHiite group today had Saddam remained in power?

Romano is certainly right on the other hand to debunk the ridiculous notion implied by Todenhofer which insists that had the Baath remained in power that Iraq would not only have remained stable but that it would have been better off as a state and society in the long run. But at the same time these “what-if” scenarios can be of dubious quality at times, and Romano admits as much when he writes, “One might just as easily blame the British and French for creating Iraq and Syria in the first place” whereby the present crisis is concerned.

Having had pondered the question of whether or not Daesh is blowback from the Iraq War this scribbler finds that arguments of this nature are invariably prone to be highly superficial. This is usually due to the simple fact that it is very difficult to summarize the numerous factors that lead to transpiration’s such as Daesh’s recent rampages across Iraq. And, of course, generally it can be very difficult to succinctly evaluate such phenomenon without omitting a lot of relevant factors and information. That goes without saying. Furthermore while it is indeed important to ponder ‘what-if’ questions one mustn’t forget that one cannot be certain that one is right when one insists that ‘had this happened instead the following would be the case.’

Romano undoubtedly understands that, but at the same time he speculates a little too much himself when he counters the aforementioned assertion employed by Todenhofer, but at the same time his counterpoints do not pretend to be assertions and demonstrate that Todenhofer’s assertion that Iraq would be better off, more stable and whatnot, to be by definition flawed since Todenhofer, nor anyone else, can claim to know definitely what would have happened.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Hopes and Fears for #Iraq in 2015

Iraq children excited for the future

The next twelve months will more likely than not be very important whereby Iraq’s future is concerned.

If the threat posed by the Islamic State group (referred to herein as Daesh) persists and the Iraqi state, with assistance from the United States and its coalition allies, proves unable to thoroughly uproot them and regain control over the large swaths of Iraqi territory that group still controls we may see the Iraqi state fragment. Some argue that Iraq is already finished for good, this scribbler thinks it’s a bit soon to determine whether or not the present crisis spells the end of Iraq as we know it, or knew it, for good.

It’s not all bad news mind you. While Daesh does retain hold over Mosul, parts of the northwest and most of the western Anbar province, they don’t have a hope in hell of overrunning the rest of Iraqi Kurdistan and certainly no chance of overrunning Baghdad or the Shia south. There is, however, a chance that Daesh will remain entrenched in the territories it holds until larger counter-offensive ground operations are launched against them – which would probably be more effective if they are coordinated with Sunni tribal elements in those areas Daesh presently occupy, areas which conform to the predominately Sunni parts of the country – but, thankfully, very little chance of them expanding much further. Consequently we could see a scenario unfold whereby the coalition just continues to bomb their forces when and where it can, which will probably be the case for the first few months of 2015.

The Children of Iraq

If Baghdad overly relies on Shia militias to fight Daesh they will find it very difficult to retake and consolidate control over all of the country and will likely, in the long run, degenerate into just another sectarian fighting force itself which would likely see to the de-facto partition of Iraq between sects roughly along the lines in which the country is presently divided between Daesh and everyone else. But I must stress that I don’t believe this means Daesh is the result of Sunni discontentment in Iraq, a view which has been promoted by those who went as far as to insist that Sunnis welcomed in Daesh in order to protect themselves from Shia sectarians. In my view Daesh merely exploited the instability which was rife in most of the parts of Iraq they now control to their advantage. How else do you explain the fact that Daesh feels so compelled to violently coerce the Sunni-majority populations over which it rules and frequently subjects to violent campaigns of intimidation and mass-murder?

While many Sunnis in the areas Daesh occupy would fight that group if they could, and some have tried and been butchered by those Islamists as a result, they are ill-armed for such an endeavour and feel let-down by Baghdad. That is why the steps the Iraqi government have taken to reform and reaffirm its function as an inclusive secular representative of the multi-denominational state of Iraq in the aftermath of the, at times, quasi-sectarian policies former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tried to forward. This coupled with the fact that the most senior Shia cleric in Iraq has denounced the idea that this is a sectarian Shia versus Sunni fight – and dissuaded Shiites who seek to fight Daesh from volunteering their services to Shia militia’s instead of the state army. On the contrary. This is a fight to save Iraq and its diverse communities as a whole, not a fight for the largest sect to use state power in order to subvert smaller sects in the political process.

Iraq hopes and fears for 2015

Such political reform will increase the chance the Sunnis now being ruled over by Daesh will see the sight of the Iraqi Army coming over the horizon as a promising sign and a sign of coming liberation as opposed to the coming of another oppressive entity simply replacing the one which oppresses them now. That is where I harbour most of my hope for Iraq, its future and its ability to overcome this deadly threat to its territorial integrity. But that hope will only persist so long as Baghdad continues to make solid and tangible, as opposed to face-saving cosmetic, reforms to ensure they represent an inclusive state. Only by doing that can they thoroughly defeat the fanatics who wish to see such an Iraq fail. An Iraq which, I don’t need to remind you, is well worth fighting for.

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