FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Saudi Troops Mass at Border

by

Saudi Arabia has sent 30,000 soldiers to its 500-mile border with Iraq after claims that Iraqi soldiers had abandoned their positions along the frontier, though this is denied by Baghdad.

The Saudi-backed al-Arabiya channel said it had obtained video footage in which an Iraqi officer said 2,500 troops had been ordered to pull back from the border. The Iraqi army still appears to be dissolving after its retreat from the northern half of the country when Mosul was captured by Isis on 10 June.

A brief counter-offensive to retake Tikrit, north of Baghdad, on the day of the opening of parliament on 1 July failed to make any ground. Tikrit is without water and electricity and has been largely abandoned by its people.

Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region looks set to take advantage of the turmoil to declare an independent state. The region’s President, Massoud Barzani, asked the parliament prepare to hold a referendum on independence, saying “the time has come for us to determine our own fate”.

Meanwhile, Isis has been securing control of the territories it has conquered in Iraq and Syria and has declared them subject to a caliphate called the Islamic State. After two days of negotiations in Mosul it has told its militant allies, who had helped it to drive out the Iraqi army, that they must pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and give up their weapons.

As a result, tribal and Sunni militants who are not part of Isis are less likely to be able to oppose the jihadis or split from them, as happened in 2006-07 when the US-backed Sahwah movement divided the Sunni insurgency.

In declaring the Islamic State and demanding that all Muslims pledge allegiance to it, Isis has challenged the legitimacy of all Muslim rulers – including those of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, who have fostered the opposition in Syria and been sympathetic to it in Iraq.

Studies show that where Isis takes over a district it can often recruit five or 10 times the number of fighters it used to secure control. It is offering about £400 a month for recruits with military experience, and Iraq is full of jobless young men of military age.

Iraq is also facing a political crisis as it tries to form a new government after the parliamentary election on 30 April. Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, did well in these by presenting himself to Shia voters as a man who was tough on security and who knew how to cope with a Sunni counter-revolution. Discredited by military defeat and loss of control of most of the country north and west of Baghdad, Mr Maliki still clings to power.

He is helped by the deep divisions within the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities, which have not been able to pick which of their leaders should be chosen as candidates. The speaker of parliament is normally a Sunni, the president a Kurd and the prime minister a Shia, but no decision on choosing them is likely within the next three or four weeks, say MPs. After the 2010 election it took 10 months to choose a new government.

Talks on forming a national government will continue inside the heavily defended Green Zone.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of  Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail