Fallujah to Samarra
THE ongoing offensive of the US and Iraqi forces on Samarra is being billed as the largest military campaign since the US invasion three years ago. While the Iraqi defence ministry has chosen to underplay the offensive saying it’s a routine anti-insurgency operation, the US has gone to some length to hype the event as the biggest ‘air assault’ after the 2003 war involving at least 50 choppers and hundreds of ground forces hunting for the insurgents.
Since Samarra has lately been in the spotlight after the despicable attack on the Askari shrine, the US is excessively optimistic of breaking the insurgents’ back with this operation.
However, the Samarra offensive is but only a small battle in the larger war on Iraq insurgency or the terrorists who pass themselves off as insurgents. A more crucial and far bigger part of this campaign is restoring the confidence of Iraqi people in their government and its ability to protect and secure them. This is why this war is not limited to an concentrated military exercise against one centre of insurgency, as is the case with Samarra today or was the case with Fallujah yesterday. We all know how the Fallujah operation only led to the destruction of the city and countless civilian casualties while the insurgents managed to flee the city and regroup elsewhere. This is why it is essential for the Iraqi leadership, or whatever remains of it, to win the confidence of their people —Sunni, Shia and Kurd.
The incoming prime minister, who is likely to be a Shia, will have to take some really bold steps to restore Iraqi people’s confidence —especially Sunni minority’s —in their security forces. This can be done by roping as many Sunnis as possible into the security forces. Former members of Iraqi army, who were sent home after the invasion in a costly mistake, can be recalled to make the Iraqi forces more balanced and representative in character. If the US and Iraqi leaders are keen to restore peace and stability in the country sooner than later, they have no option but involve the alienated Sunni community in Iraq’s security and political process. Ideally, Ibrahim al Jaafari should make way for someone who is more assertive and sensitive and who can be the leader of the whole of Iraq, rather than one community.
To build an Iraq that offers security, rule of law, justice and equality to all its people, Iraqi leaders have to reach out to all communities regardless of their religious and ethnic identities. Force alone will not bring peace to Iraq and help it rein in the insurgency. Force and equality go hand in hand. Blind use of force without equality isn’t going to win this war.
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