Fear of Liberation: In Fallujah, Anbar and Raqqa The Solutions Are Not Real Or Serious
23 June 2016
By Tariq Alhomayed
In our region, it is clear that areas controlled by ISIS are afraid of
liberation at the hands of regime forces and this can be seen in Iraq and
Syria. Iraq is a glaring example because the areas that are being freed now
were previously under Al-Qaeda's rule, were later freed, are now under ISIS'
control and attempts are now being made to liberate them once again.
This does not mean that the residents of those areas under the control of ISIS
are extremists or that they welcome extremists. However, there is a fear of
oppression carried out by forces that are supposed to belong to regimes, when
in fact they are Iranian militias such as Hezbollah in Syria, Iranian
mercenaries, Afghans as well as the Hashd Al-Shaabi in Iraq. Both Hezbollah
and Hashd Al-Shaabi are led by Iran, and Tehran is always proud of the role
played by Gen Qassem Soleimani!
Today Fallujah in Iraq is under siege so that it can be liberated, and it was
previously liberated from Al-Qaeda. However, we cannot say that Fallujah is an
extremist area and it is therefore easy for it to fall into the hands of
extremist groups. The fact is that the Iraqi handling of the issue, like the
Syrian approach, is what facilitates the fall of cities and the missions of
extremist groups. Serious political solutions are not provided, sectarianism
is not put to an end as can be seen in Iraq and the Iranian- Assad killing
machine in Syria continues.
The simplest proof that areas that fall into the hands of ISIS are not
necessarily extreme is what happened in Baghdad recently, which is 50 km from
Fallujah. The United Nations and the organisation Human Rights Watch said last
month that residents of Fallujah were facing acute shortages of food and
medicine amid the siege by government forces!
When we say ''what is happening in Baghdad'', everyone can see how the Abadi
government is struggling to maintain security in Iraq and protect the Green
Zone which has been invaded twice. Is Baghdad extreme and susceptible to
falling into the hands of terrorists? The same applies to Damascus; if it
wasn't for the Iranian security grip there on the ground and the Russian air
protection, Damascus would have fallen two or more years ago. Does that make
the people of Damascus extremists too?
Therefore, extremism exists in Fallujah, Anbar and Raqqa because the solutions
are not real or serious. As long as there is sectarian extremism, Iranian
intervention and killing, matters will relapse from time to time. Everything
that is happening now in Iraq and Syria is only a formal cosmetic procedure,
and the violence and extremism will continue to prevail because the residents
of these areas choose between death from sectarianism or death from extremism,
both of which lead to despair and alienation from the so-called state
authority, especially when its state is fragile and it is covered in sectarian
flags like the flag of Iran. Hence, as long as there is no real end to the
Iranian-Assad killing machine in Syria and no radical political reform in
Iraq, the bloodshed will not stop, unfortunately. The cities will fall even if
they are freed because they will be freed from repression only to be repressed
again by another oppressor.
Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr.
Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current
affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous
positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the
first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a
bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah.
He is based in London.