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Situation in Iraq

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Published on Jul 22, 2014

Nouri al-Maliki has presided over a government since becoming Prime Minister in 2006 and has exploited sectarian religious tensions in Iraq to the benefit of the previously marginalised majority Shi'ite population under the Ba'athist regime. His regime has been aided -- unfortunately -- and abetted by Iran as part of its own wider regional hegemonic aspirations.

As part of the al-Maliki sectarian approach, Sunni Arab tribes in Iraq's west have faced discrimination and thousands of innocent civilians have been killed, particularly in Anbar province, in the name of prosecuting a war against terrorist jihadi elements linked to ISIS. In so doing, Baghdad has driven a desperate Arab Sunni community, including secular former supporters of Saddam Hussein, into an unholy alliance by teaming up with ISIS to fight government forces.

Meanwhile, the autonomous region of Kurdistan has pursued its own destiny of democracy, secularism and prosperity. Thus we now have three increasingly divergent entities that are jeopardising the territorial integrity of Iraq and one that has offered fertile ground to jihadi terrorists spilling over from the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

ISIS, sadly, is now very well financed by Gulf States and it has captured oilfields and looted money from the central bank and is fully militarily equipped, but it must now be stopped in its tracks. It has now declared an Islamic caliphate and is imposing a barbaric form of extreme Sharia law on the local populations and minorities' heritage, including Christians, and it is being joined by hundreds of EU, including United Kingdom, citizens as fighters who are being radicalised and brutalised by their experience and pose a serious security threat when returning to their home countries.

Finding a solution to this cannot come too soon and we must now look to both international and regional forces that can offer some support. The brave Kurdish Peshmerga, i.e. the Kurdish army, has been very successful in wrestling control of the Kirkuk oilfields previously in the hands of ISIS and securing the Kurdish region's immediate borders and protecting the Christian minorities of the Nineveh plains.

Kurdistan has announced a referendum for independence unilaterally, which I think is very understandable and something that western powers after the First World War promised them in the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920 and may now soon become an inevitable reality.

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