Friday, January 03, 2014

IRAQ - As 'Democracy' Sinks Further Into the Mud

REMINDER:  Iraq has never historically been, and is not now, democratic.  This is a nation where the people place tribal/ethnic loyalties above national loyalty.

"Qaeda-Aligned Militants Threaten Key Iraqi Cities" by YASIR GHAZI and TIM ARANGO, New York Times 1/3/2014


Radical Sunni militants aligned with Al Qaeda fought for control of Falluja and Ramadi on Friday, escalating a battle over the two cities that have increasingly become centers of Sunni extremism since American forces withdrew from the country at the end of 2011.

Over the past several days, the Iraqi government has rushed troop reinforcements to the areas in the western province of Anbar, where the militants, dressed in black and waving the flag of Al Qaeda, have commandeered mosque loudspeakers to call for supporters to join their struggle.  On Thursday, they set fire to police stations, freed prisoners from jail and occupied mosques.

The fighting picked up again on Friday after what appeared to be a morning lull.

In Falluja, traffic police officers returned to work and municipal workers cleaned the streets and fixed electricity lines.  Messages broadcast from mosque loudspeakers asked merchants to reopen their shops because residents had begun running out of food after days of fighting.

Later in the day, the calm was shattered.  Local imams had decided to hold Friday prayers in a public park, rather than in areas closer to the fighting, and as services were concluding large numbers of masked militants affiliated with Al Qaeda appeared and took the stage.  Waving a black flag, one fighter shouted to the crowd: “We declare Falluja as an Islamic state and we call on you to be on our side.”

“We are here to defend you from the army of Maliki and the Iranian Safavids,” the fighter continued.  “We welcome the return of all workers, even the local police, but they have to be under our state and our rule.”

Also on Friday, gunmen blew up several government buildings in Falluja, including the police headquarters, the local council and the office of the mayor, according to a security official.

As fighting spread, the militants recaptured that had been liberated by security forces and their tribal allies.  Fighting was also said to have picked up again in Ramadi, and one official said four soldiers had been killed.

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