In 2003, US along with its allies invaded Iraq to remove Saddam’s regime in the name of saving the world from a despot who controls Weapon of Mass Destruction and making Iraq a democratic state. After 11 years, despite sacrificing more than 4500 US soldier, killing more than one million Iraqis and spending several hundred billion dollars in Iraq that dream remains unfulfilled.
Iran became the biggest beneficiary of US invasion of Iraq and made Iraq a client state within the period of three years. The Iranians got a stronger edge with the coming of Mr. Nuri al Maliki, the Shi’ite PM of Iraq. During the term of Mr. Maliki, a sense of depravity fostered amongst the Iraqi Sunnis who were systematically persecuted and alienated by the government. The Sunni tribes who initially supported the United States and Iraqi security forces in diluting the power of Al-Qaeda had a change of hearts, which resulted in the emergence of militants, once again from Northern Iraq.
The developments in the past three weeks, a surprising takeover of Mosul (Iraq) and Tikrit by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, former Al-Qaeda in Iraq has shocked the world. The falling down of these two most important cities and some strategic towns of North and West of Iraq has resulted in the eviction of security troops by ISIL. The entire northern command of Iraqi army consisting of 30,000 strong men trained by US Special Forces just threw their uniforms and melted away; leaving US weapon arsenal as well as several hundred millions of dollars deposited in the Central Bank of Mosul in the hands of Sunni extremists.
Very little is known about the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, the militancy group led by Abu Omar al Baghdadi, a person who was incarcerated during the United States occupation of Iraq! The methods and tactics adopted by the operatives of ISIL are so extreme that even Al-Qaeda parted ways with it officially in early 2014. The non-kinetic warfare skills honed by ISIL on the Syrian battle field promoted their clout in Iraq’s Sunni tribes. The alliance with the shadowy Naqshbandi Army (JRTN) headed by Izzat al Douri, the former vice president of Iraq in the Saddam era, further cemented the resolve of disillusioned Sunni Iraqis who considered it as a golden chance to uproot Maliki regime. Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash, the founder of Islamic Army of Iraq, another antigovernment militancy group disclosed that it is a Sunni coup against Nuri al Maliki. As per him, the extremists of ISIL are small in number but have made alliance with other militancy groups to dispose of the Iranian influenced government. The humiliation meted out by US, followed by Iraq incumbent PM vengeful policies towards Sunnis got morphed into the current scenario. The psychological duress felt by the children who have grown up into young men and women witnessing all the injustices throughout their youth have created a trust deficit between the Sunni ethnics and the government.
Mr. Maliki’s appeal for outside interference to stop the ISIL advance was responded to, by an extra ordinary agility by the Iran’s government. A contingent of special Al Quds forces, an elite unit of IRGC was dispatched under the headship of Commander Qassem Soleimani to guard shrines and other sacred places from ISIS conquest. Thousands of Shi’ite volunteers have also mobilized in response to a help-call endorsed by the Iranian and Iraqi clergies. A Pakistani from Parachinar, Mr. Javed Hussain was also reportedly killed in the onslaught yesterday with ISIL fighters near Sammara. The United States has responded by sending in 275 Special Forces operatives to guard the US embassy and 300 intelligence officers to support Iraqi Army. Strange bedfellows in the making, the Governments of Iran and the USA have united themselves against the onslaught of Sunni extremists from the North. If the militants take over Baghdad, it will undo all the gains of USA after the 2003 Iraqi invasion. The only solution to save Iraq from disintegrating is to have a national unity government that represents all ethnicities including Arab, Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. The rational endorsement of Ayotullah Sistani, the grand cleric of Iraqi Shi’ites calls for the same.
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