The Iraq crisis of 2014 or the northern Iraq offensive began on 5th June 2014 in the Northern regions of Iraq led by the Islamic State of Iraq, Syria and Levant (ISIS) against the Iraqi government following the earlier clashes which began in December 2013 (Levant region consists of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Cyprus and Hatay). Iraq is a Shia dominated nation with nearly 60-65% of the population being Shia and 32-37% being Sunnis.
To understand the genesis of the crises, we need to know the schism between Shia and Sunnis: the two principles sects of Muslims which marks the principle fault line in Islam. At the core of the Shia Sunni dispute was an impassioned argument over whether the principle of succession in the nascent Muslim community should be dynastic (Shia) or meritorious (Sunni). Over the period, this principle fault line was exploited to cause a rift between the Muslim communities. Today, the two sides agree on The Quran but have diverging traditions of rituals, laws and practices.
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Now what is Iraq Crises 2014?
In Iraq, 3 forces are fighting their own agenda:
- The Islamic State of Iraq, Syria and Levant (ISIS) which is a Sunni dominated force and had been clandestinely funded by Saudi Wahhabis and Kuwaiti Oligarchs. It consists of the Sunni militia and forces loyal to the Saddam Hussain government as well as the Sunni members of Iraqi national military who had been denied their due rights by Nouri Al Maliki’s Shia majority government. The ISIS aims at establishing an Islamic Caliphate by overthrowing the Nouri Al Maliki government in Iraq.
- The Kurdish forces. Kurdistan is an autonomous region of Northern Iraq inhabited by the Kurds who are Iranian people and speak Kurdish languages. They want an autonomous state of Kurdistan in North Eastern Iraq. Eyeing the weaknesses of Iraq’s central government, the Kurd forces seek to expand their influence towards Syrian Kurdistan and maintaining their autonomy in Iraq. The Kurdish forces have already gained control of the Kirkuk oil fields which were disputed between them and the Central government of Iraq.
- The Central Military Forces: These are the Shia majority forces of the Iraq government loyal to the Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki which aims to protect the Shia government at the Centre from a Sunni onslaught. These Shia forces are conspicuously been backed by the Iranian and US governments as well.
Owing to the infighting between these three forces, Iraq now faces not only a civil war but a potential disintegration.
Reasons for Iraq Crisis 2014:
There have been many reasons which have aggravated and contributed to the Iraq Crises 2014. I have identified some of them. They are:
- Shia Sunni ethnic tensions in Iraq where both these communities are in significant proportions. This situation has been aggravated by the sectarian politics of the Iraqi premier Nouri Al Maliki.
- Injustice done to Sunni army officers and civil servants by denying them promotions and official positions after the US retreat. This has acted as a breeding ground for the Sunni militia.
- There was a considerable power vacuum at the Centre. The Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has failed to provide a quality leadership and has even failed to garner any support from the Kurdish and Sunni leaders for the application of emergency powers.
- Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has followed a very narrow and exclusivist agenda after he was made the premier following the US withdrawal from Iraq. This exclusivist agenda aggravated the country’s sectarian and ideological divide.
- There was negligible amount of involvement shown by the United States in Iraq Crisis 2014. This created a potential power vacuum in the unstable region.
- There was a reported rampant corruption and incompetence of the Iraqi army.
- Clandestine agenda of the Saudi Wahhabis and Kuwaiti Oligarchs.
The Iraq Crises 2014 has pushed West Asia into further turmoil with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon all facing conditions of civil war and potential disintegration. The world super powers such as USA, Europe and Russia should come up with new strategies and ways to solve the crises before it engulfs the entire West Asia, the oil supplier of the world.
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