16 April 2015

Will the Iran Deal Destroy Iraq?

April 13, 2015 

Once again in the Middle East, short term gains are trumping long term interests. As the ink dries on the Iran nuclear deal, the bodies are piling up in neighboring Iraq. Many of them are the bodies of Sunni civilians, killed by Shiite militias backed by Iran and allied to the Iraqi Government in the battle against ISIS.
Reports of reprisal attacks against Sunnis by Shiite militias are mounting. Human Rights Watch issued a report in February claiming 'Residents have been forced from their homes, kidnapped, and in some cases summarily executed'. HRW is investigating allegations of a massacre of some 72 civilians in the town of Barwana by militias and SWAT forces. Disturbing videos have circulated on social media of what appear to be Shiite militia members brutalizing and torturing apparently Sunni adversaries in response to ISIS attacks.In the battle against ISIS, Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga, and Shiite militias including the Badr Organization and Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq are provided US air cover and billions of dollars in military hardware via the Iraqi Government. That puts the US in de facto alliance with Iran and its proxies, who are accused of war crimes rivaling those of ISIS.

In the predominantly Sunni city of Tikrit, Shiite militias, along with Iranian advisers and even religious imams, led the fight to win back the city earlier this month. The US largely sat that one out, providing air cover to the militias at the end of the battle. Tikrit was previously the scene of the single worst massacre in the current Iraq war, when ISIS militants summarily executed around 1000 Shiites last year. Now in the hands of government forces, it is the scene of renewed accusations of war crimes and executions by mostly Shiite members of the Popular Mobilization Forces against those they accuse of backing ISIS.

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