Monday, March 02, 2015

The 'liberation' of Tikrit

The assault on Tikrit has begun.

Dominic Evans (Reuters) reported yesterday that "Iraq's army and Shi'ite militia" were attacking Tirkit.

Meanwhile, Arthur Bright isn't.  "Bright," that is.

The Christian Science Monitor's chatty 'correspondent' misses a whole lot regularly.  We'll skip his Mosul nonsense and note this from his latest coffee clatch:

Regardless of the implications for a Mosul campaign, the Tikrit operation could have a profound impact on Iraq's sectarian divides. Tikrit, the birthplace of former President Saddam Hussein, is a staunchly Sunni city. When IS captured it last year, the militants drew support from Sunni militias in the city who were frustrated over then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's uncompromising Shiite government. Though Mr. Maliki was ultimately replaced by Mr. Abadi, who publicly accepted US demands for a more inclusive Iraqi leadership, many Sunnis remain suspicious of the still strongly Shiite government.
Abadi, in the run-up to the Tikrit offensive, offered an amnesty to any Sunni group that had supported IS if they abandoned the militants now. “I call upon those who have been misled or committed a mistake to lay down arms and join their people and security forces in order to liberate their cities,” he said Sunday in Samarra, adding that it was the "last chance" for Sunni militias to recant before the city was "return[ed] to its people," the Associated Press reports.

Haider offered an amnesty, did he?

Because even when you selectively quote, as Bright has, it reads more like a threat.

And why might "many Sunnis remains suspicious" of Haider al-Abadi?  He's been prime minister since August and what has he done for Sunnis?

Oh, that's right September 13th he denounced the daily bombings of the civilian areas in Sunni dominated Falluja and declared that they would no longer take place, he would not allow the Iraqi military to continue to attack civilians.

Then came Sunday September 14th.

Woops, they did it again.

They bombed as they had bombed every day prior.

The military didn't stop bombing civilians in Falluja, it continued targeting them.

So what has Haider done?

Other than lie to the world, what has he done?

More than just being suspicious of Haider, the Sunnis in Tikrit are right to be suspicious of the 'liberation' being attempted by the Shia forces.

Sheren Khalel and Matthew Vickery (Middle East Monitor) speak with a man, Kareem Abbas, whose Diyala Province village was 'liberated' by Shia forces:

According to Abbas, the massacre didn’t start until the day the Islamic State was pushed out. The Badr Brigade, an Iranian-funded Shiite militia with a force between 10,000 and 15,000, advanced on his village, and forced the Islamic State out of his hometown in a move the Iraqi central government called liberation.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented several cases of kidnap and summary executions by the Badr Brigade in Diyala province.
“Iraqi civilians [in Sunni areas] are being hammered by ISIS and then by pro-government militias in areas they seize from ISIS,” Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East and Africa director, said in a statement.
Visibly upset with hands shaking, Abbas tells MEE that on that first day militiamen gathered the villagers together, crosschecking their identification with names of known Islamic State fighters. Terrified, Abbas and other adult male villagers co-operated with the armed men.
“But then a man with a facemask approached the fighters,” Abbas explains. “He started screaming at them ‘Are you really doing this? We know they [the villagers] are not with the Islamic State. We are here to kill.’”
According to Abbas, the masked man raised his gun to the nearest villager and fired several shots at point blank range into the man – the rest of the militiamen started shooting indiscriminately. 

Back to Bright and his thoughts that the attack on Tikrit could advance the attack on Mosul.  The Wall St. Journal reported yesterday that the US government had decided to back up the plan to attack Mosul -- back it up another month or two.  So it might be June or July.

And here's where people aren't yet paying attention but should be.

Xinhua reports, "Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said on Monday that Turkey will consider taking part in military operations by U.S.-led coalition forces to retake control of Mosul from jihadists in Iraq."  This appears to be more than the arms and supplies spoken of on Sunday.  Taking part in military operations usually means bombing or ground forces or something similar.

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