From Jewish News One. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraqi soldiers mark Army Day with subdued celebrations as battle rages with al-Qaeda insurgents.
Iraqi soldiers have half-heartedly celebrated the 93rd anniversary of the army’s creation amid the deteriorating security situation in Anbar province as government troops battle militants for control of the region:
This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Out The Back Door: Secret Deal with Anbar Tribes Sees Al-Qaeda Leave Fallujah
A secret deal was done between the tribes of Anbar and Sunni Muslim extremists this week – the result has seen extremists withdraw from Fallujah. But questions remain: Will PM Nouri al-Maliki still react with military force? How did Al Qaeda manage to take over a city like Fallujah in just two days? And why did they react so diplomatically when asked to leave?
Sources from within the tribes in the city of Fallujah in Anbar province say that on Tuesday evening, a secret deal was done by the tribes of Anbar and members of the extremist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Sources told NIQASH that the extremist group, also known as ISIS or Daash, said they would withdraw from the city so that the Iraqi army did not invade.
For several days now Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been threatening to send his troops into Fallujah to re-take the city; as Iraqi army troops massed on the outskirts of the city he even put out a call to locals to expel the extremist elements themselves – or face an attack by the Iraqi military.
The deal, done in the central city, was reached in order to prevent any further damage to the city. The city is mostly home to members of Sunni Muslim tribes who tend to be conservative when it comes to religion and to tribal customs. And despite their antipathy toward al-Maliki’s government –a Shiite Muslim-led coalition that Sunni Muslims say has alternately sidelined and targeted them – locals apparently do not want to see a repeat of 2004, when the US army stormed the city after the gruesome deaths of four contractors there.
Although it is unusual for ISIS to react in what may best be described as a diplomatic way, they apparently had good reason.
“Only several dozen Daash fighters actually entered the city in the first place,” says Ahmad al-Jumaili, one of the tribal leaders in Anbar. “They were only carrying light and medium sized weapons with them. And there is no way they could control a city like Fallujah where all the people of the city have at least one weapon in their homes.”
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov (pictured), said that the UN is working closely with the Iraqi national and regional authorities as well as with humanitarian partners to ensure safe passage for humanitarian assistance and emergency supplies to both the stranded and displaced families of Anbar province.
Mr. Mladenov said:
“There is a critical humanitarian situation in Anbar province which is likely to worsen as operations continue. The UN agencies are working to identify the needs of the population and prepare medical supplies, food and non-food items for distribution if safe passage can be ensured.
“This remains a primary challenge. The situation in Fallujah is particularly concerning as existing stocks of food, water and life-saving medicines begin to run out. According to our preliminary assessment, over 5,000 families have fled the fighting and sought refuge in the neighbouring provinces of Karbala, Salahadine, Baghdad and elsewhere.
“The UN is working with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration to identify their needs and meet them immediately.“
London-based Aegis Defence Services has been selected by the Governor of Basra to provide him and his Security Committee with support in the procurement of enhancements to their security.
A formal contract was signed recently in Basra between the Governor and Aegis Chief Executive Graham Binns (pictured), who as a Major General commanded the British 7th Armoured Brigade when it led the siege of Basra in 2003. According to a report from The Telegraph, four years later he supervised the handover of the city to Iraqi security forces.
Maj Gen Binns told The Telegraph that the new role in Basra would involve “consultancy” rather than “boots on the ground”.
Shafaaq News said the parliamentary integrity committee debated the issue at the request of Maysan’s governing council, and that the parliament’s oil and energy panel is still investigating alleged corruption in the contract.
By Mushreq Abbas forAl-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Resolution of Anbar crisis requires security, political coordination
When the Iraqi army marched on the Anbar desert on Dec. 22 to wage war against al-Qaeda fighters along the Iraqi-Syrian border, the operation was viewed as an opportunity to restore the hope of achieving internal consensus around the necessity to fight extremism.
Instead, however, it resurrected a state of confusion, leading to questions about the decisions being made in Baghdad as countless al-Qaeda militants brought the fighting from the border to the streets of the cities in Anbar province following the arrest of Sunni MP Ahmed al-Alwani, the dispersal of yearlong Sunni protests and the resulting rise in tribal anger.
The situation in Anbar was unstable to begin with. These areas had for 10 years been the scene of numerous security disturbances and skirmishes, as residents there continued to be subjected to marginalization and exclusion at the political level.
Al-Qaeda also played a major role in the instability plaguing Sunni cities, contributing to the necessity for military intervention, various conflicts and accusations of collusion burdening the local population. The Sunnis in the affected areas complained that accusations of their belonging to al-Qaeda were used to attack them and target their political figures, clan leaders and social and religious personalities.
It should have come as no surprise when in late December in Anbar hundreds of fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) flooded into cities to burn security stations and other government sites. During the past 10 years, al-Qaeda has learned to exploit social unrest in Iraq to expand its activities and has used the tense relationship between authorities in Baghdad and the Sunni cities as an avenue for spreading its influence. The roots of the situation in Anbar are many.