The U.S. did all it could to paper over Sunni-Shi’ite hostility in Iraq, but now it is stronger than ever, exacerbated by the conflict in Syria, which has morphed from being an anti-Assad operation into a Sunni-Shi’ite jihad. American analysts, true to form, underestimated how difficult it would be to heal a 1,400-year-old antagonism.
“Iraq PM calls for “jihad” against Anbar jihadists,” by Hamza Mustafa, Asharq al-Awsat, May 29, 2014:
Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi Prime Minster Nuri Al-Maliki called for “jihad” against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq’s restive western Anbar province on Wednesday, pledging to crush the Islamist insurgency before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that is set to be begin in late June.
In his weekly speech from Baghdad, Maliki also called for a “national dialogue” on Anbar, stressing that the Iraqi people must “stand with the security forces,” and that residents of Anbar must work with “their brothers from the tribes of Anbar and the local and central governments to accelerate the cleansing of Anbar” of ISIS militants.
“Everybody must unite and return to the ranks of jihad to fight against ISIS and its offshoots, as well as the conspirators who are manipulating the fate of the people of Anbar,” he said.
ISIS forces took control of Iraq’s largest province in December 2013, seizing the towns of Ramadi and Fallujah amid mass popular discontent in the Sunni-majority province towards the central government over perceived bias on the part of Baghdad.
Anbar’s tribal hierarchy has split over ISIS’s presence, with some tribesman fighting alongside its members and others joining government forces seeking to retake the province. Many inhabitants have fled following the government’s continued inability to drive out the Islamists militants, and amid fears that ISIS will seek to unite territory under its control in eastern Syria and western Iraq to form an Islamic emirate.
“It will not take long to quickly eradicate and eliminate [ISIS fighters] and achieve the great purpose of easing the suffering and [facilitating] the return of the displaced families,” Maliki said on Wednesday.
The Iraqi prime minister is currently seeking to form a new government after failing to secure a majority in recent parliamentary elections, with many opponents criticizing his security record….