Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Massive Lethality of MidEast Malfunction

"The stories coming out of Fallujah are horrifying. People who managed to flee speak of extreme hunger and starvation. Now they are caught in the crossfire with no safe way out."
Nasr Muflahi, Norwegian Refugee Council aid group

"All our security forces are preoccupied with liberating Fallujah and nearby areas, and imposing pressure on them in Baghdad and other provinces to protect the demonstrations will affect this issue [the Fallujah offensive]."
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
AFP / Ahmad al-Rubaye<br />Iraq's counter-terrorism service (CTS) reach al-Sejar village in Iraq's Anbar province, on the boundaries of Fallujah, on May 28, 2016, as they take part in a major assault to retake the city of Fallujah, from the Islamic State (IS) group
AFP / Ahmad al-Rubaye    Iraq's counter-terrorism service (CTS) reach al-Sejar village in Iraq's Anbar province, on the boundaries of Fallujah, on May 28, 2016, as they take part in a major assault to retake the city of Fallujah, from the Islamic State (IS) group

Iraq is a country in a slow self-destructive passage to truncate its territory into zones exclusively protective of ethnic groups, tribes, clans and sectarian militias. There is no central governing body capable of stitching back together the geography that once expressed Iraq, in the absence of its tyrant, Saddam Hussein. Which says a great deal about the dynamics of the Arab Middle East with its irresolvable enmities and constant warfare.

It is a country destined to be divided in reflection of its demographics; a Sunni, a Shiite and a Kurd portion of complete autonomous sovereignty. The reality is that the largest part of divided Iraq is in the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadists who claim it for their caliphate which they intend to expand, despite world powers attempting to aid the Iraqi regime in recapturing that territory.

And the Shiite government of Iraq, replacing the previous Saddam Sunni Baathist government, saw fit to shut out the Sunnis of Iraq from any portion of governance, effectively creating the climate for the rise of a Sunni-radicalization led by former Saddam army officers and supported by the Iraqi citizens resentful of their second-class status.

It is an unfortunate fact of life in the Middle East that intransigence of a lethal nature informs the traditions of strife, enmity and death in the name of tribal entitlements and religious conviction. While the country is embroiled in massive conflicts the population suffers displacement and death. The regime cannot even manage a coalition of Shiites to fight together to combat ISIL.

The Sadrists flying the banner of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, with no doubt the expedited blessing of Shiite Iran, are contesting the government and in the process stage protests challenging the government in their reform demands. For the moment, the government is focused on retrieving Fallujah from ISIL.

And aid agencies are reporting "extreme hunger and starvation" stalking the 50,000 civilians trapped there, though ISIL has sold exit permits for families, and had other solutions for their own embattled troops wishing to exit the surrounded city by torturing and shooting them. While the Islamic State has planted snipers on the main routes out of the city and the roads have been mined, the regime's forces have ensured that no supplies, food or medicine enter the besieged city.

This is a technique especially beloved of regimes planning to punish those who challenge their authority, and it is one that was well honed and practised by Syria's Bashar al Assad where the same sectarian-led conflict is ongoing. So when the fleeing families report that people in the city are malnourished as a result of lack of food, it is largely because the government, in trying to starve out the jihadists are doing the same to the civilians.

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