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2014年6月18日 (水)

イラク情勢緊迫 過激派の攻勢をどう抑えるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
What can be done to stop offensive by extremist Sunni insurgents in Iraq?
イラク情勢緊迫 過激派の攻勢をどう抑えるか

The situation in Iraq has become ever more strained. Rebels led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni extremist group advocating the creation of a new Islamic state, have seized several cities in northern Iraq.

The Iraqi administration of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is fighting back with air strikes, while recruiting volunteer soldiers from among his Shiite supporters.

This is indeed an alarming situation that increases the turmoil in the Middle East.

The ISIS is an Al-Qaida-inspired armed group. Having expanded its influence by riding the tide of Syria’s civil war, the ISIS is said to have grown to about 5,000 fighters. Upon entering another theater of war in Iraq, the group even declared it would eliminate the border with Syria.

The United States has announced a $10 million reward for its leader, who is dubbed the second Osama bin Laden.

Imposing strict Islam in seized areas, ISIS militants have killed people for refusing to pledge allegiance to the ISIS. This is a horrific situation from a humanitarian viewpoint. The United Nations has rightly condemned the ISIS, saying the executions were carried out immediately without any legal process. As the turmoil has been spreading, oil prices have begun rising on the market.

Maliki should also be held strictly responsible for having brought about the current situation. He has given preferential treatment to Shiites, who represent the majority of the Iraqi people, in the administration, while persistently driving out their Sunni political opponents.

Morale deteriorating

Even within the military forces and public security organizations, sectarian conflicts have surfaced, undermining the morale of personnel.

In the areas attacked by the ISIS, officers and soldiers are said to have fled, discarding their uniforms and equipment. These are the prices Maliki is paying for failing to pursue national reconciliation.

It would be difficult for his administration alone to stem the ISIS offensive. For the time being, it is necessary for the international community to support and cooperate with the Maliki administration to avoid further turmoil.

Holding the key to such efforts is how the United States reacts to the situation. U.S. President Barack Obama said he would not rule out any options. Later he sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, with possible air strikes in mind. But he remains negative about U.S. intervention in the conflict in Iraq and has already ruled out the possibility of putting U.S. troops on the ground there.

Obama was elected to the presidency by advocating the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and completed their withdrawal in 2011.

The deteriorating situation in Iraq raises a question for Obama: Has the United States taken sufficient measures to maintain law and order in Iraq following its withdrawal?

A key point now is how Iran, a major Shiite country neighboring Iraq with a large influence on the Maliki administration, will act. The country is said to be ready to hold direct talks with the United States over assistance to Iraq, despite the fact that the two countries have broken off ties.

Other neighboring countries in the Middle East are urged to present a united front against the ISIS by joining international efforts.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 17, 2014)


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