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“The insurgency is not only an Iraqi problem, but an international problem, so it requires international co-operation to be defeated,” he told The BRICS Post in an exclusive interview on Saturday.
Despite a splintering of al-Qaida’s leadership, there is a general offensive by insurgents in a range of countries stretching from Pakistan to Libya. In Afghanistan, a summer offensive is underway in parts of the country, while the Pakistani Taliban has increased its activity. Jordan has seen clashes between insurgents and security forces. Egypt is experiencing a rise in attacks, while in Libya there have been clashes between rebels and government forces.
The capture of Iraqi cities Mosul and Tikrit by the insurgents in mid-June sent oil prices to a nine-month high. Iraq is the world’s third largest oil exporter, behind Saudi Arabia and Russia.
“Our security forces have regained control of the university campus in Tikrit and are continuing mopping-up operations in the city, but it will take some time as the insurgents have planted many roadside bombs,” Al-Alawi said.
He said the Iraqi government was grateful for the support shown by countries such China, Russia, Iran, the United Kingdom and the United Sates.
“We have received Sukhoi jets from Russia and we are awaiting the delivery of some F-16 jets from the United States. Iran has offered military assistance if our government requests it, so there is both moral and material support from around the world,” he said.
“The insurgents have killed more than 2 000 unarmed men, women and children in a bid to sow fear amongst civilians, so between half a million and a million people have fled the areas they control to places of safety,” he noted.
“The insurgents are mostly from the security apparatus of the old dictatorship. They have tried to paint this as a sectarian conflict, but this is not so, as the head of the army and the head of the special forces are Sunni, with nine out of 14 divisions are led by Sunni generals. We have divided our revenue amongst the provinces based on population and the two poorest provinces are in fact Shia to the south of Baghdad,” he said.
The Shias, the largest group in Iraq, account for 60 per cent of Iraq’s population and control the central government. In the north, the Kurds with 15 per cent of the population have their autonomous region, while the Sunnis have a 20 per cent share. The remaining 5 per cent are made up of other smaller minorities such as Christians.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s alliance of Shia parties won parliamentary elections in April and the first session of the new parliament was held on 1 July.
“We have had three elections in the past decade and reduced unemployment from 30 per cent in 2003 to 11 per cent last year. We are committed to a democratic united federal state with respect for human rights and the rule of law. The insurgents have committed war crimes, executed 14 prominent Sunni imams and destroyed holy shrines. This is a pattern that they have carried out in other parts of the world, which is why we say this is a global threat and we need international co-operation to defeat it,” Al-Alawi concluded.
Experts however say the dissolution of Iraq into Shia, Sunni and Kurd looks increasingly likely.
“In the event of a military campaign to recapture Mosul, Maliki’s forces will likely find that ISIL has swelled its ranks with thousands of the city’s young men who do not want to see a return of the “sectarian army,” writes Firas Al-Atraqchi, associate professor of Journalism at the American University in Cairo.
“These factors have effectively split Mosul from the rest of the country, partially fulfilling Yinon’s vision of a divided Iraq,” he added.
Helmo Preuss in Pretoria for The BRICS Post