This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Anju Anna John. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Is The Iraq Conflict A Sequel To The Invasion In 2003?

More from Anju Anna John

By Anju Anna John:

Some say they should never have invaded Iraq in the first place. Others believe that the troops should have remained in Iraq longer. The fact remains that, when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 (on what could only be surmised to be a misguided apprehension of how Iraq’s alleged possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) posed a security threat to the United States and its regional allies), it unleashed a Pandora’s Box. Now, a little over two years after Obama sought to fulfil his campaign promise by pulling out the troops from Iraq, he is faced with the dilemma of sending more ‘military advisers’ into Iraq in order to ameliorate the situation.

iraq

The real problem in the present Iraq conflict has its roots in the dispute over the Prophet’s successor. This led to the formation of two distinct sects known today as the Shias and Sunnis. Following World War I, the British and French divided the territories of Iraq and Syria, and also divided the Sunni tribal population in the process. In Iraq, the Shiites form the majority of the population (60-65%), while the Sunnis and Kurds form the minority. Before the Iraq Invasion of 2003, Saddam Hussein’s Baath party constituting of Sunnis were in power. In the elections that followed the invasion, Nouri Maliki (who was the United States’ preferred candidate[1] ) was elected as the Prime Minister. Around this time, the civil war in Iraq had surged.

At this point, Senator Joseph Biden and Leslie Gelb of the Council of Foreign Relations wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times[2] , in which they suggested that Iraq should be divided into 3 autonomous zones according to ethno-religious groups — Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab, citing the success of this method in Bosnia. However, the Bush government went ahead and ordered for additional troops to be sent in, in order to reign in the insurgent groups. At that time the Sahwa (or Awakening), the Sunni tribal force assisted in ejecting Al-Qaida from Iraq. However, after the US withdrawal of troops on the 18th of December, 2011, in a great blow to the Sunni group, the Maliki government did not recognize the Sahwa for their assistance. Moreover, he arrested various prominent Sunnis and ordinary folk on charges of terrorism. In April 2013, his troops shot at around 50 protesters in a peaceful sit-in.

It is into this background that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) finds its way. The group led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is a group that grew out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. It has about 10,000 members in Iraq and Syria and is now joined by many Sunni militant groups. As its name suggests, it is working towards an Islamic emirate which encompasses the territories of Iraq and Syria. In January this year, it exploited the rising tensions among the Sunni group and the Shia government by taking control of the Sunni city of Fallujah.

It is interesting to note here that the ISIS had joined the war in Syria in late 2012, but was considered to be too violent by the Syrian Rebels and too extreme by Al-Qaida.[3] On the 17th of June, the Syrian Islamic Council condemned ISIS as ‘a stooge of Mr. Assad’. The Al-Qaida has renounced it too.

The conflict took a new turn on the 5th of June this year, when the ISIS clashed with the government forces. In about 5 days’ time, they had managed to take over the city of Mosul. This prompted Maliki to call for an emergency and appeal to the international community for help. The ISIS responded to this, by taking Tikrit[4] (Saddam Hussein’s hometown) on the 11th of June.

In their move to realize their regime ambitions, they have left mass violence and destruction in their wake. In the video footage and still photographs released, hundreds of men are seen transported by trucks and marched off, according to the statement of ISIS, to their deaths. The Shia militiamen on their part have returned these deeds in kind by slaughtering Sunni detainees in a jail located north east of Baghdad. Sunni youths have been found slain in the Shia neighbourhoods . In Mosul, the ISIS has kidnapped some 40 Indian construction workers of the Tariq Noor Al Huda Company and left 46 Indian nurses stranded in a hospital in Tikrit. Further, the conflict has forced many Iraqi people to abandon their homes and head to the refugee camp in the Kingdom of Jordan.

Amidst all the sectarian killings and the abandoning of cities by the Iraqi soldiers, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces have fought to take control of the cities and towns that have been deserted by the Iraqi soldiers, even as the jihadists advance to these regions. The cities and town that the Peshmerga forces have taken control of include the city of Kirkuk and the surrounding area that constitutes the disputed land between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Central government. However, the Prime Minister of the autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq has ruled out the possibility of the Peshmerga fighting off the ISIS. He stated that, it was not just a question of terrorism but ‘about the Sunni community feeling neglected’ by the policies taken in Baghdad.

The Kurdish people are not the only ones to look past this terrorist activity and blame the policies of the Maliki-government for the situation in Iraq today. The Obama-government that had agreed to provide 300 ‘military advisers’ to Iraq last Thursday and has even found an unlikely ally in Iran , has stopped short of granting the request of the Iraqi-government for an airstrike. The US president has asked Maliki to do more to improve the situation of the Sunni population in Iraq. This comment was echoed in the speech of the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as he reiterated the need for a national unity government “with or without” Maliki. As the US military advisers are sent in to help the Iraqi troops to secure Baghdad, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, plans to visit Iraq to press for a more inclusive cabinet.

While the United States waits on Maliki to reshape his cabinet before they start attacking the ISIS, the jihadist group has been advancing on the country’s biggest oil refinery in Baiji, disrupting the national energy supplies. The ISIS have also captured the Tal Afar airport in northern Iraq and a disused chemical weapons factory in the north-west of Baghdad. Meanwhile, the Shia militia have been parading the streets of Baghdad. Moreover, many Shia Iraqis (mostly Shiites) have volunteered to fight the ISIS in response to a call from the Shia religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who also advised that a new government be formed that would find “broad national acceptance” and to “remedy past mistakes”.

In the concluding lines of the Greek Mythology, it is said that the last thing to come out of Pandora’s Box was actually not evil; it was Hope. When the US army pulled down the Saddam Hussein’s statute in Firdos Square, at the centre of Baghdad, they had not won a war, but opened a Pandora’s Box. In hindsight, the hasty withdrawal of troops may not have been America’s smartest move. Whether they carry out air strikes or push for an inclusive government, let us hope that the United States’ next step goes on to solve the problems of the Iraqis.

Reference:
[1] Iraq in turmoil: The rise of ‘Syraq’
[2] Unity Through Autonomy in Iraq
[3] Terror’s new headquarters
[4] Iraq conflict: Forty Indians abducted in Mosul

You must be to comment.
  1. Zadeed

    They (US, UK, UN) since the 80’s caused this by
    drawing up fucking borders out of nowhere like
    cutting a piece a cake. Funded dictators to oppress
    the people and keep them in check. Then decades
    later, fund the same people who were being
    oppressed , to topple the government by providing them with arms and logistics support.
    But I guess it doesn’t matter to the gullible Arabs
    who are so eager to wipe each other out through
    mass executions, be-headings, car bombings in
    order to maintain economic/religious/political
    opportunities or whatever it is they want.

    1. Anju Anna John

      I guess, I get your essential point about how the human race is generally heading for extinction if they continue down this road, but seems like we as a race are incapable to consider the consequences of our actions before we approach the problem and act to resolve it in a sensible manner. We need more people who can do this to step forward and take charge of the situation.

  2. Anubhav Shankar

    Very articulate and extremely well written.

    1. Anju Anna John

      Thank you! 🙂

More from Anju Anna John

Similar Posts

By Bidisha Bhatacharya

By Raj Iyre

By Yash Johri

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below