Who Bears Responsibility for the Fall of al-Anbar Province?

If the reasons for Nineveh province’s fall are numerous — mismanagement, military cowardice, politicians with their own special agenda, Islamic State supporters, corruption — then what were the reasons for the fall of al-Anbar province? While the fall of Nineveh province may have come as a surprise to us because we, apparently incorrectly, believed that we had a professional army and wise leadership, did the fall of al-Anbar province surprise us as well, or not? Furthermore, how can we accept the fall of al-Anbar province? There is an international alliance; people’s mobilization units; the budget is directed toward war and not construction, manufacturing or agriculture; and there is no clear inability to pay state employees.

The liberation of Tikrit is a clear example of the effort exerted by security forces, the people’s mobilization units and the tribes. This effort made us sure that everything was heading in the right direction and we thought that we were on the cusp of liberating Nineveh province, but what happened?

After the victories in Salah Ad-Din province and Bayji, neither the supposed strategic ally — the United States — nor the supposed compatriots — representatives of Sunni forces — were pleased by what they considered a Shiite victory, not an Iraqi victory; and an Iranian victory, not an Iraqi victory. The United States and representatives of Sunni forces prevented and denounced Shiite mobilization units’ attempts to enter and liberate Nineveh province and al-Anbar province instead of standing in solidarity with them. They worked to isolate the people’s mobilization units and did not stop there, but went on to insult the people’s mobilization units. When Ramadi fell they blamed the army, though everyone knew with certainty that the army by itself was not able to purify the land of the desecration that is the Islamic State group.

The setback in al-Anbar province can be attributed to three reasons:

First: The political force that represents al-Anbar province, while ineffective on the ground, is effective at creating conflicts with the native populace, who represent the key to getting power. This political force was not convinced that they were the second power after the Shiite alliance, and spent their efforts weakening the national Shiite alliance in order to receive power, completely disregarding the killing and displacement suffered by the peoples of Nineveh province, al-Anbar province and Salah ad-Din province.

Second: The United States and its regional and international allies suffered a setback as American strategic policy failed to counter the Islamic State group, resulting in a stronger Islamic State group. The Islamic State group gains new territory, captures, kills and retaliates not only in Iraq but also in Syria, where it moved into the city of Palmyra at the same time it moved into al-Anbar province. A year after the international coalition was announced, the Islamic State group of today occupies half of Syria as well as Nineveh and al-Anbar provinces in Iraq. This is a failure in general and not just for Iraq. How is it possible that in a couple of days the Houthis in Yemen were destroyed, though they were better equipped than the Islamic State group ever was, yet America is saying it will take years to eliminate the Islamic State group?! How is it that America is aiding the terrorists in Syria, while at the same time striking them in Iraq; two separate strategies for one enemy?

Third: The quota system is in dire condition, having operated in crisis situations since 2003 — moving from sectarian war, forming successive governments, to the theft of public money by the Islamic State group. These crises repeat themselves as it fits the two sects.

The repulsive sectarian quota system has resulted in nothing but conflict, lost wealth, provinces falling one after the other and the splitting of what was once a single society into multiple pieces. Despite this, political forces insist on the quota system in the name of the success of the political process.

Mr. al-Abadi has done everything asked of him for the success of the “political process”: changed the Shiite military leadership of Salah Ad-Din province, Baiji, al-Badiyah and al-Anbar with a Sunni one, distributed arms, armed tribes, prevented the people’s mobilization units from entering al-Anbar province while pulling them out of Tikrit, and what was the result? The occupation of the Baiji refinery, the occupation of al-Anbar province and lost weapons.

Despite all that has happened, the military leadership has fooled itself into thinking that it does not have the weapons needed to stop the Islamic State group. We say that we may need weapons, but the most important weapons are patriotic, professional fighters, which we appear to be lacking; though in the opportunities provided to us we liberated Amirli, Diyala province and Salah Ad-Din province, so is the defect really in the weapons or the fighters?

We fear for the people’s mobilization units, the security forces, the army and the honorable tribesmen due to the depravity of politicians who have their own agendas which destroy the country. We fear for isolated citizens due to the treachery of these politicians. We do not fear on behalf of the politicians, as the Islamic State group is a clearly visible enemy.

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