Today’s update is about the last few weeks events in Iraq. The absolutely calamitous events which started with the Islamic insurgents known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who with a sudden drive into Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, were able to subjugate it in a very short time which was described by many people as an earthquake. They were able to fight their way northward and southward, controlling most of northern Iraq, which led to almost a complete collapse of the country’s military and a very serious deterioration in the overall situation. The insurgents were not intimidated, on June 30, they said that they were establishing an Islamic caliphate on the territories they control in Iraq and Syria, a proclamation which harkens back to the rise of Islam when Muhammad's followers conquered vast territories and setup a state which was governed under Islamic law. The new caliphate started to enforce in the areas they controlled especially in Mosul targeting the Christians who were before the recent war home to the largest majority of Christians in Iraq, evicting them from their homes, unless they became Muslims, pay a tribute, and those who didn’t oblige they had their heads cut.
The current situation in Iraq is extremely serious, it is worrying and unbelievably dangerous, the politics are medieval and chaotic, they are deadlocked, and the country is rapidly disintegrating into three mini states. One for each of the three main components of the population, the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiites, each of them will have his own administration, a situation the insurgents has capitalized upon the sectarian tensions and disenchantments which were created by the Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Al-Maliki is an authoritarian leader who has put allies from his majority, the Shi'ite in key military and government positions at the expense of Sunnis, driving a growing number of the religious minority in Iraq to support the Islamic State and other insurgents. He is also at odds with the Kurds. He has rejected calls by Sunnis, Kurds and some of his Shiites supports to step aside so a less polarizing figure can form a government capable of easing sectarian tensions and countering the insurgency. But nothing is happening, the man is still insisting of having another four years on the top to add to the for the last eight years of his rule, which would be another dreadful disaster on top that other very shattering event, the invasion-occupation of the country in 2003, which has resulted the truly horrifying situation there now with the dangers of fragmentation and disintegration of the country. Now, I would like to say very few words about some truly astounding events which has happened in the wake of this terrible deterioration of the Iraqi situation. It is about those people from the previous US administration whose actions led to these catastrophes who are becoming re-invented, and are appearing on major TV channels and op-pages offering their opinions about what needs to be done, instead of offering profuse apologies and the promise of penance, but this is politic at its worse.
The insurgents who with a sudden drive into Mosul, the second largest city in the country were able to subjugate it in a very short time, and then started fighting their way northwards and southwards, and were able in a very short time to control very large swath controlling in very short time a very large part of the country. And to celebrate their successes they proclaimed a caliphate on June 30, on the territories they were controlling in Iraq and Syria, a proclamation which is replete with religious, cultural and historical symbolism, they also proclaimed their leader, the mysterious Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph, which means leader for Muslims everywhere and demanded that the faithful should pledge allegiance to him and reject democracy and what they said was garbage from the west a proclamation which was replete with religious, historical and cultural symbolism, they also declared their mysterious leader, Abu baker al-Baghdadi as caliph, which means leader for Muslims everywhere and demanded that every Muslim should pledge allegiance to him and reject democracy and what they said was garbage from the west, they abandoned their early name and adopted a new one calling themselves, the Islamic state, this declaration harkens back to the rise of Islam when Muhammad’s followers conquered vast territories in the middle ages and set up a state which was ruled under strict Islamic law this has become a dream which has been sought by many Muslims. The new state with al-Baghdadi at its head is very different from its forebears. Its announcement will be rejected by many Muslims. It will be cast aside by many even if they believe in the concept of a caliphate, but it will be supported by many.
Now the Christians. The Iraqi Christians are some of the earliest settlers in Iraq, the Christians who have been living there for thousands of years were always a very important part of the Iraqi society, there was a million of them amongst the Iraqi population at the beginning of the 2003 war, they were very active, providing many doctors, engineers, technicians and many other workers which are extremely essential nation builders, but after the war their lives turned into a non-ending nightmare, it was terrible, insecure, a very difficult struggle for survival. It was even better than now. What is happening to the Christians in Iraq now, is a truly earth-shattering. A decade ago, Mosul was home to one of the world’s ancient Christian communities- an estimated 60,000 lived in this northern Iraqi city. For nearly 2,000 years, Christians and Muslims rubbed along together, but now ISIS has forced Christians to convert to Islam or be driven out- or worse. Doors to the homes of Christians have been daubed in red by ISIS, and to speed up the process of mass religious ‘cleansing.’ More than two dozen empty churches now lie abandoned as worshippers run for their lives. Some of those who fled have been afforded protection by the Kurds in the north of Iraq.
This has all happened at a bewildering speed. ISIS has been likened to the forces of Genghis Khan who reached the gates of Vienna through a reputation of merciless brutality. Between 2008 and 2014, hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in building up the civic and military capacity of Iraq. The Iraqi army was trained and equipped with a view to protecting the ‘territorial integrity of the country’. Yet this army has been badly managed by a failing leadership in Baghdad and is melting away. The caliphate has been established with hardly any resistance. Meanwhile, a centuries-old Christian community has evaporated.
On August 4, I was putting the finishing touches to update to the Hanoudi Letter when the political winds in the country started to blow in an entirely different directions and unexpectedly against those of the Prime Minister, the Shiite, Nouri al-Maliki who has been in office since May 20, 2008 , eight years, which brought nothing but misery and rampant corruption and threats to the very existence of the country in spite of which he was still insisting on another four years term, as his indisputable right because his political group has gained the highest number of seats in the parliament which was elected on April 30, a claim which was not accepted even by some of his co-religionists and almost all the rest of the political establishment. The prime minister’s attitude was making the terrible situation in the country even more terrible which has already degenerated into an intolerable mess which has been made worse by the emergence of the so called Islamic State and mayhem they were creating all over the place. When the winds started to spin in a very severe manner, when the president of the country, a Kurd, who himself has been chosen only few days earlier called on another member of the Maliki group , Dr. Hayder al-ABbadi, and asked him to form a government, al-Maliki reacted to the move very violently and viciously and put some of the military units which were under his direct command into a very threatening military takeover position, which must have horrified the regional and international powers which were supporting and helping him to stay in his position for the last eight years. Which brought al-Abadi. More about this in future letters in the Hanoudi Letter.
Monday, August 25, 2014