By Merrin Alice Abhraham
Edited by Sanchita Malhotra, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
The whole world looks on, as Iraq tries to come to terms with its looming termination. The situation looks precarious with the Jihadist group (ISIS) acquiring important strips of land on the banks of the Euphrates. Saturday saw the capturing of a strategic border that crosses over to Syria, near the town of Qaim, which left 30 troops dead after a day’s long battle. This take over further assists the militants to convey weapons and other required equipments to various battlefields. This progress obviously places Baghdad in an even tighter situation.
Shia – Sunni Divide in Iraq
Thousands of Shia Iraqis have taken to the streets against ISIS, implored on by a call from the country’s highest Shia religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. With this divided attack, secretarian anxieties will only increase. The government has been under pressure to bring together these two communities which have had their differences for quite a long time. The onset of this onslaught has come as a wakeup call to all the Middle East countries and those countries that have multiple interests in Iraq. Iraq is facing an existentialist crisis and there is not much, the government can do. With Iraq losing control of the Turaibil desert border, the only legal crossing point between Iraq and Jordan, the situation has become even more urgent and dangerous.
On the whole, these militants are trying to connect Falluja, which is just 30km from Baghdad, and Ramadi, which is about 40km further west. This way they would be able to control the whole Euphrates from the Syrian border to Baghdad. Hit and Haditha, two government held towns, are the only obstacle standing in their way on that 140km stretch of the river between Aneh and Ramadi.
Everyone is hoping that the talk between US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki will bring forth some positive progress in this ghastly war. Kerry informed journalists in Baghdad that, The United States’ “support will be intense, sustained, and if Iraq’s leaders take steps needed to bring the country together, it will be effective”. How this support is going to surface or how Iraq is going to bring the Shia’s and Sunni’s to an understanding is indefinite. We have to wait and see if those 300 US military advisers are going to bring any change against the reigning insurgents. Obama has pointed out that Nuri al-Maliki has jeopardized the circumstances by ignoring the Sunni’s. A lot of difficulties are arising in face of this mighty trouncing that the Iraqi government has to smoothen out. Strong accusations are arising against Nuri which claim that he has been monopolising power.
There is no pre cooked strategy to help Iraq to squirm out of this mess that has arisen. There is no guarantee that peaceful negotiations will help anyone, but I think it is high time that something concrete is done to handle the insurgents before it gets out of hand. The US air strikes may or may not help the cause. The Gulf States, Saudi Arabia and Qatar should persuade Iraq to lose their fundamentalist ideologies and try to unite them on some even base. Other surrounding countries, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, should also make an effort to leave behind their bickering and stand for what may finally bring an end to Shia – Sunni complications. All we can do is hold our breath and hope for the best. As the popular saying goes, “May the odds ever be in your favour…”
Merrin is currently pursuing an Integrated Masters Program in Humanities and Social Sciences at The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. She has a variety of interests ranging from singing and dancing to playing football. She spends her time writing short stories and reading novels. An avid reader, she can survive without food if she has books to keep her company. She attends church every Sunday and takes keen interest in her religion.