Iraqi President Fouad Massoum said this past week that the government was looking for an independent Sunni Muslim to fill the post of defense minister in an effort to improve chances of reunifying the country and defeating the group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS).
When, all of a sudden, ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) emerged on the scene and in a matter of days occupied large swathes of mainly Sunni-inhabited parts of Iraq and Syria, including Iraq’s second city Mosul and Tikrit, birthplace of Saddam Hussein, and called itself the Islamic State, many people, not least Western politicians and intelligence services, were taken by surprise.
Millions of words have been written about the rise, conquests, and savagery of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Both have declared an “Islamic State” in their areas although Boko Haram has not claimed the mantle of a successor to the Prophet Muhammad as ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has done in Greater Syria. The two groups are the latest in a string of terrorist organisations in the past two decades.
Is this one of those rare occasions where policy-makers self-critically correct a gigantic blunder? Or is it a cold turnabout guided by pure self-interest?
The Islamic State’s territorial expansion and barbaric executions in Iraq and Syria are a gathering threat and must be confronted. American air bombardment, however, is the wrong course of action, and will not necessarily weaken ISIS or DA’ISH, as it’s known in Arabic.
Concerns about supporting a national army collaborating with a ‘terrorist organisation’ in Lebanon have in recent times been superseded by threats inherent in growing regional conflict.
The mob that surrounded the home of Mohamed Nour, an Egyptian Shia living in Cairo’s Bab El-Shaariya district, claimed it was on a mission to “inoculate” Egypt against Shia religious beliefs. Without intervention, Shia doctrine would spread across Egypt “like a cancer,” they had warned.
Armoured vehicles and thousands of soldiers masked in black balaclavas guard the entrance to the city of Mosul, 350 kilometres northwest of Baghdad. Arriving here gives one the unmistakable feeling of entering a territory that is still under occupation – only this time, the Iraqi Federal soldiers, not the U.S. military, play the role of the occupying army, locals tell IPS.
"I want justice,” says Shukria Jamali, 20. “But I wouldn't want my worst enemies to feel the intense pain I am feeling now."