Monday, July 28, 2014

Let Sunnis Defeat Iraq’s Militants

By RAFE AL-ESSAWI and ATHEEL al-NUJAIFI, NYT, JULY 27, 2014

ERBIL, Iraq

THE situation in Iraq today is perilous, particularly for Sunni Muslim Arabs. Their prospects for inclusion in Iraq’s government and fair treatment from it have been declining since 2010, when Iraqiyya, the nonsectarian coalition to which we belonged, drew more votes than any other parliamentary bloc but was denied a chance to form a government. We might not have succeeded, but letting us try would have built public trust in democracy.

Instead, Iran and the United States used their influence to insist that Nuri Kamal al-Maliki remain prime minister. A sectarian-minded Shiite Muslim with authoritarian tendencies, he also pressured Iraq’s judiciary to decide in his favor. Since then, Mr. Maliki has detained thousands of Sunnis without trial; pushed leading Sunnis out of the political arena by accusing them of terrorism; stopped paying members of the Sunni Awakening, the movement that fought Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007; and labeled all Sunnis as terrorists.

A request by provincial councils in Salahuddin, Diyala and Nineveh to hold votes on how to reorganize as more autonomous regions — as the Constitution allows — was rejected, and for a year peaceful Sunni protests were met by violence. As Iraqi security forces killed dozens of unarmed protesters, Mr. Maliki again bent the judiciary to his will, leaving Sunnis to feel they could not receive justice.

Now the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has burst onto the stage well organized and funded: In Falluja early this year, then Mosul last month, it seized territory, claiming to defend Sunnis against Mr. Maliki’s Iranian-backed government.

(More here.)

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