Iraq is hurtling down a dark tunnel, which promises to lead to more layers of darkness. The whole country is in a state of siege and absolute chaos; the militants are continuing to make advances despite the numerical strength of government troops. They control much of Mosul, the most important city in northern Iraq, and Tikrit, the home of Saddam Hussein’s tribe, they have laid siege to Samarra, which is home to some of Shia Islam’s most sacred shrines, and are edging closer to full control of the country’s largest oil refinery and are continuing to hold out against troops trying to retake the city of Tal Afar. Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki is desperately calling for US support in the form of air strikes on rebels. But the Obama administration has preferred to watch for now. It is worried about the developments, but thinks it’s not yet time to take a plunge. And Iran is threatening to send its troops, which is understandable considering that revered Shia shrines in Iraq are in the radar of militants and are likely to face damage.
The ferocity of the militants’ attack – considering that the Iraqi army just melted in front of them -- and their gains have surprised not only Maliki but the whole world. It proves this attack was not a sudden outburst, but well-planned, and meticulously executed. That Maliki failed to see the ground sinking under his feet speaks of his ineptitude and recklessness. Instead of trying to set things right, he is busy pointing accusing fingers at some Gulf countries –saying they are fomenting and bankrolling this insurgency, while refusing to admit his own egregious blunders and mistakes.
One doesn’t have to dig deep to find out the reasons for the current Sunni uprising against the Maliki government. The seeds for this uprising were sown and watered by Maliki himself, and his American backers. The policy of exclusiveness adopted by Maliki and the sidelining of Sunnis is considered the single most significant cause of this upheaval. Instead of governing a country as the representative of all ethnicities and sections, he considered himself as the leader of Shias. It’s true that the Shia majority had suffered inequities under the Saddam regime, but one mistake cannot be corrected with another. Perhaps Maliki was expecting this to happen, but if he had been shocked at the extent of damage, it’s a fruit of his own miscalculation.
Iraq is on the brink of a civil war and restoring peace will be a Himalayan, if not impossible task. Instability in the country will further destabilize the region and undo decades of harmony and peace. And there is only one person who can solve the problem – Maliki. He just needs to prove that he is a prime minister of all of Iraq. But he seems to be not ready yet.