As Iraq battles for Falluja PM Maliki tells Iraqis to Fight or be attacked some wonder who is in control of Falluja. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki released a statement, in a state television broadcast, urging residents and tribal leaders of Falluja to fight back against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or prepare for an imminent military attack.
Malaki advised tribal leaders and the Sunni Falluja citizens to expel the rebel forces or face armed clashes from the Iraq military forces. These are the same Sunni who have been protesting the Iraq government for years. The flash point likely occurred when
The ISIL took control of Falluja and Ramadi in the Anbar province in recent days. The rise in anti-Iraq government sentiment has been fueled by fighting across the border in Syria. As ISIL groups took desert strongholds along the Syrian-Iraq border they were able to gain strength and structure.
Falluja is the site of numerous U.S. skirmishes during the Iraq War that led to the death and injury of many American soldiers. It, along with Ramadi was the Sunni stronghold of Saddam Hussein supporters. When Saddam was toppled the Sunni looked to America to protect their lives and interests from the Shiite as they rose to power through the interim government and power take-over by Prime Minister Maliki.
Some fear that this is a reprise of Shia and Sunni ethnic clashes that were occurring prior to America’s involvement. The Sunni have been protesting the oppression of the Shiite led government for over a year. Now, Iraq PM Maliki is telling the citizens of Falluja to fight the rebels or be attacked themselves by the Iraq military. Little has been heard from the world media regarding the issue of protests against Maliki and the Shiite led government. As the Iraqi military launches attacks on the ISIL the Sunnis are caught in the middle, fighting against and with both sides according to NPR news and other news outlets. While Maliki calls for the citizens to fight against the rebels the Iraqi military continues to shell contested areas. This could make choosing a side for Sunni tribe members difficult.
The Sunni are also in hot protest of the arrest of Dr. Ahmed al-Alwani who was an Iraqi Member of Parliament and detractor of PM Maliki. For a year al-Alwani has been protesting by setting up a camp on a highway in the Anbar province near Ramadi. Maliki accused him of terrorist acts and issued a warrant for his arrest in December of 2013. On Dec. 28, 2013 The arrest was conducted in a military style engagement of tanks and heavily armed soldiers. Several deaths were reported on both sides of the arrest. The action likely further distanced Sunni members from the Iraq government. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan said Alwani’s arrest would fuel tensions in the country. Tension remained high as ISIL rebel members began the military operation of taking Ramadi and Falluja. Meanwhile, Sunni were protesting the arrest in Ramadi and Falluja taking up arms against their presumed Shia oppressors.
While the U.S. goverment states that American soldiers returning to Iraq is not ‘on the table’ they will expedite the sales and delivery of weapons to the Iraqi government. According to White House spokesman, Jay Carney, the U.S. will speed up delivery of Hell Fire missiles and attack drones to Iraq to assist in quelling the al-Qaeda military forces. Analysis from BBC News, Jim Muir, questions how the Sunni are supposed to fight back against the Islamist militants. Sunni tribes are in contest to Iraq and PM Maliki as the government battles for Falluja while telling the Sunni to fight or be attacked. Some Sunni feel as though they have been attacked by Iraqi government forces for years and it remains unclear who among the fighting factions are in control of Falluja. At this moment the news outlets report it is definitely not the Iraqi government. But few can agree if it is being held by al-Qaeda, ISIL, or Sunni tribesmen.
By Anthony Clark