Sunni fighters increased their attacks near an unstable territory of the western province of Baghdad, Iraq, seizing three key locations. This newest attack came as a large blow to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who continues the fight to keep his political career afloat amidst a the threat of a possible Sunni and Shiite clash. Thousands of armed Shiite soldiers, marched on some of the same Iraq cities where they once came face to face with U.S. soldiers in battle five years ago. So far the Sunni have laid claim to the towns of Rawah, Qaim, and Anah located in the, mostly Sunni, Anbar province to the west of Baghdad. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) faction overran Fallujah, and areas of the province capital Ramadi earlier in 2014.
As of Sunday the Sunni continued to push forward in the western portion of Iraq as they took control of Rutba, in the Anbar province. As the violence increase, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a spiritual leader from Iran, spoke out against U.S. involvement stating that he believes that the conflict can be solved by religious leaders, government, and the people. He rebuke the U.S. government for trying to intervene in the creation of policies with the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, considering that the religious majority in Iraq is Shiite.
Even as the Sunni continue to seize more territory in Iraq, Khamenei continued to say that he believes the main reason for the conflict in Iraq originates with the idea that some wish to join the U.S., and some are seeking an “independent Iraq.” He also claimed that he believes that the conflict can be solved without the involvement of the U.S. government. Baghdad currently also has the support of Shiite Iran who has said they are willing to consider military action, should it be asked of them. President Obama commented on the situation by stating that the U.S. will not “play whack-a-mole” by sending American troops to occupy countries where these terrorist groups pop up. With Sunni fighters seizing more Iraqi soil, the President commented that the U.S. is going to switch to a “more targeted strategy.”
The President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, further stated that Saudi Arabia as well as Qatar must stay out of the internal troubles taking place in Iraq. Rouhani continued on by sending a warning to those supporting terrorists, saying that they shouldn’t think that they are only encouraging these insurgence against others, and that “it will be their turn tomorrow.” This comes after the Iraq Al-Qanoun news website reported that the government from Riyadh, and Roha as well, are providing these militants with $700 USD a month each.
The ISIL group, now having cleared the way, has a mere 4 hour drive to the Iraqi capital, from their garrisons in Syria. Controlling around 70 percent of the western Anbar province, the militant group continues to make inroads toward Baghdad and is nearly 100 km from its outskirts. The ISIL continues to attack, and towns are not their only targets. Khalidiya is a military base that was attacked by the militant group, but the insurgents were unable to take the base and retreated Sunday morning. Al-Asad, a large Iraqi air force base, and the nearby town of Hit, are expected to be attacked next. As the Sunni fighters move forward, it is unclear whether the acquisition of Iraqi territory will end anytime soon.
By Phillip Schmidt