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Would the Sunni revolt lead to an all-out war in Iraq?


Sunnis revolt in Iraq
Sunnis revolt in Iraq

Extracted from an article in Washington Post

The current unrest in Iraq has raised a prospect of a war among international analysts and experts.
Though most analysts and Iraqis say the problem is rooted, above all, in the Maliki administration's failure to reach out to Sunnis and include them in the decision-making processes of the coalition government, thereby enhancing a sense of Sunni alienation from the authorities in Baghdad that began when U.S. troops invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, in 2003.
“Extra weapons and drones are not going to solve this problem. In fact, they will make it worse, because it will encourage Maliki to believe there is a military solution to this problem, and that is what perpetuates civil wars,” said Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution in Washington.
The latest violence erupted after Maliki dispatched troops last week to break up a year-old protest camp in Anbar’s capital, Ramadi, where Sunnis had gathered to air grievances against the government.
In Ramadi, local tribesmen have been fighting the militants and have ousted them from most of the areas they had seized.
The Iraqi army, demoralized and running short of supplies, has proved unable to dislodge the militants from the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and the ad hoc tribal forces confronting them lack weapons and ammunition, said retired Brig. Gen. Hassan Dulaimi,
a former deputy police chief in Ramadi who is working with the tribal forces battling the al-Qaeda fighters.
“The Iraqi army is not up to standard,” he said. “Their morale is low, and they are not capable of street fighting, while the tribes are willing to die to keep the Iraqi army out of their towns.”
Anger against Maliki
Few support the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria who have claimed control of Fallujah, a local journalist said.
But most don’t dare turn against al-Qaeda, he added, while also having no wish to allow Iraqi security forces back into the city after years of perceived discrimination and abuses by the government.
A resident who has participated in protests against the government sought to play down the role of the al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.
“We are all rebels against Maliki,” he said, adding: “Our goal is to liberate the whole of Iraq from Maliki, his militias and the Safavids,” a reference to Iran, whose government has a close relationship with Maliki.
After years of some of the bloodiest fighting of the Iraq war, the United States managed to quell al-Qaeda in Anbar by arming and funding local tribes against the militants. But Maliki neglected to sustain the relationships forged by American troops and instead embarked on a campaign of arrests, harassment and persecution of his Sunni opponents.
Nationwide elections due in April have served only to heighten tensions and may have given Maliki further incentive to confront Sunnis, said Toby Dodge, a professor at the London School of Economics.
“Maliki is running an increasingly overt sectarian election campaign, and this is a part of it,” Dodge said. “Maliki needs to solidify the Shiite vote before the election, and the bigger the al-Qaeda threat, the better the chance he has of doing that.”


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