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

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail