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Tue Mar 18, 2014, 05:33 PM

The Sunni revolt in Syria has given al-Qa’ida more power in Iraq

In the third part of his series, Patrick cockburn looks at the growing influence of Isis, al-Qa’ida’s force in Iraq, which dominates Sunni areas and is wreaking havoc among the Shia majority

Events in Iraq are not always what they seem: take two occurrences over the past year illustrating the difference between appearance and the reality in Iraq. The first event took place outside Fallujah after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, aided by tribal militias, took over the city in January. This was a body blow to the Iraqi government since Fallujah is only 40 miles west of Baghdad and was famously stormed by US Marines in a bloody battle in 2004.

But soon after Isis had retaken it three months ago, a reassuring video was circulated on Twitter and Facebook by government supporters. It had some narrative in Iraqi Arabic, was shot from the air and showed insurgents being targeted and eliminated by air-launched missiles. This was morale-raising stuff for the Iraqi government and to those loyal to it, but unfortunately it proved to be a fabrication and after a few hours someone noticed that the video had been shot in Afghanistan and it is of American drones or helicopters firing missiles at Taliban fighters. It is doubtful if Iraqi airpower is capable of carrying out such attacks.

But such deceptions are not all on the government side. In December 2012 the arrest of the bodyguards of the moderate Sunni Finance Minister, Rafi al-Issawi, by the government led to widespread but peaceful protests in Sunni provinces in northern and central Iraq, Sunni Arabs making up about a fifth of Iraq’s 33 million population. At first, the demonstrations were well-attended, with protesters demanding an end to political, civil and economic discrimination against the Sunni community. But soon they realised that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was offering only cosmetic changes and many stopped attending the weekly demonstrations.

In the Sunni city of Tikrit, capital of Salah Ad-Din province, 10,000 people had come to rallies at first, but then the number sank to 1,000. A local observer says: “It was decided that all mosques should be shut on Fridays except for one, forcing all the faithful to go to the same mosque for Friday prayers. Cameras eagerly filmed and photographed the crowd to make it look like they were all protesters and would beam the images back to the Gulf, where their paymasters were fooled (or maybe they weren’t) into thinking that the protests were still attracting large numbers.” The eyewitness in Tikrit cynically suggests that the money supposedly spent on feeding and transporting non-existent demonstrators was pocketed by protest leaders.


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Reply The Sunni revolt in Syria has given al-Qa’ida more power in Iraq (Original post)
Jefferson23 Mar 2014 OP
JayhawkSD Mar 2014 #1
Catherina Mar 2014 #2

Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Wed Mar 19, 2014, 02:12 AM

1. It's not a "Sunni revolt" in Syria.


President Assad's wife is Sunni. The Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Foreign Minister of Syria are all Sunni. Of the 140,000 National Defense Forces (pro-government militia) fighters approximately 75,000 are Sunnis, 35,000 Alawi, 25,000 Christian, and 5,000 Druze. Some 70%-80% of the general population of Syria is Sunni, and if the war was of the sectarian nature that American media is making it out to be the rebels would have won long ago.

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 20, 2014, 12:07 AM

2. +1 but it sure makes it easier for the soundbite crowd to digest and then endorse n/t

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