Baghdad ignored Sunni problems - EU ambassador on rebellion


06.07.2014 17:36

Brussels/Baghdad - The central government in Baghdad mostly used force in reaction to the problems of the Sunni inhabitants for a long time, EU Ambassador to Iraq Jana Hybaskova has said about the Sunni rebellion in the northern part of the country.


Ilustrační foto - Na snímku z videa bojují kurdské ozbrojené síly proti povstalcům. ČTK/AP neuveden

Not only militants but also the Sunni tribes are behind the success of the rebellion, she said.

She indicated that it is no wonder that the Sunni tribes asked for help in the neighbouring Syria because of the way the government military and police dealt with them.

Hybaskova said media often show a distorted picture of the current development in Iraq when they do not see the key role of Iraqi domestic politics.

"It was a problem of home politics that created a political vacuum and consequently a security vacuum that was filled in this way," Hybaskova said about the Islamic State militant group, formerly called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which seized control of the Sunni part of northern Iraq in the past several feews.

Behind the facade that can be seen in the media there is a rather complicated society of unfulfilled ambitions of Iraqi Sunni tribes, former Baathists and various Islamic armed groups, she said.

Many jihadist statements show that the Iraqi election held in April was a key moment. The radicals seemed to be waiting whether the election would bring such a change that would make military operations unnecessary, but, unfortunately, the politics of the present government remained unchanged, Hybaskova said.

This probably led to the decision to start a Sunni attack or rebellion, she added.

"The Sunni population was marginalised already in the time immediately preceding the U.S. invasion in 2003," Hybaskova said.

She said the Sunni population itself was also to blame for its marginalisation because it often was not represented in the Iraqi parliament despite calls for its participation in politics.

The government in Baghdad reacted to the situation on the Sunni territories only with massive arrests of the protesters. The tribes were protesting more than a year, Hybaskova said.

"We knew that hundreds of thousands of people were in the desert without water, electricity and schools. We know it is big trouble, but we actually have not done much to change the situation," she said.

Hybaskova said the Sunni were financially supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

She said she believes the military action was extensive and planned months before. The militants took hold of some 1500 armoured vehicles, 52 modern tanks, 14 helicopters and a large ammunition store, she said.

Hybaskova said soldiers from the original Iraqi army that was dissolved after the U.S. invasion contributed to the Sunni military success.

The Sunni allegedly gained $470 million from the central bank in Mosul and they were selling a considerable part of oil to Bashar Assad´s Syrian regime, she said.

Hybaskova also pointed to a threatening humanitarian disaster in the Sinjar region in northwestern Iraq near the Syrian border, where a Shia minority from the city of Tal Afar fled. More than 80,000 people are without water, electricity and basic needs and in imminent danger of attack.

"A horrible human tragedy may occur there," she said.

Another risk is that the Sunni may attack the Shia holy city of Karbala.

"This might provoke a terrible and extensive Shiite reaction that might threaten Baghdad´s Sunni population," Hybaskova said.

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