News / Middle East

Maliki: Time to End al-Qaida Presence in Fallujah

FILE - Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki speaks during an interview with Reuters in Baghdad, Jan. 12, 2014.
FILE - Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki speaks during an interview with Reuters in Baghdad, Jan. 12, 2014.
Reuters
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday it was time to clear al-Qaida-linked militants out of the rebel-held city of Falluja, but set no deadline for any military assault.
 
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida offshoot also on the frontlines of Syria's civil war, overran Falluja with help from other Sunni Muslim groups on Jan. 1.
 
Iraqi troops and security forces have set up a loose cordon around the city, 50 km (31 miles) west of Baghdad, and have clashed sporadically with insurgents inside, but Maliki has said community leaders and tribesmen should force ISIL to withdraw, in order to spare Fallujah more bloodshed and destruction.
 
“The time has come to settle this issue and end the presence of this gang in this city and save its people from their evil,” Maliki said in his weekly televised address to the nation.
 
Three hours later, helicopter gunships bombarded eastern and northern districts of Fallujah, residents said. It was not clear if that was the prelude to wider military action.
 
Maliki again urged the people of Falluja to “to take crucial positions on the presence of those dirty people without losses and without sacrifices,” but set no precise time limit.
 
“Those criminals are seeking to ignite sectarian strife and to end up with the division of Iraq,” Maliki said.
 
Maliki faces a parliamentary poll on April 30 with violence in Iraq at its worst since Sunni-Shi'ite killings peaked in 2006-2007. His critics say his policies have fuelled grievances among minority Sunnis, driving some into the arms of ISIL, which has also exploited the war in Syria to make a comeback in Iraq.
 
ISIL militants, who are greatly outnumbered by armed tribesmen in Falluja, have kept a generally low profile, telling mosque congregations repeatedly that their mission is to protect the population, not to impose their harsh version of sharia law.
 
Lawless city
 
However, ISIL circulated leaflets last week announcing the formation of a “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” which recalled memories of the Islamic courts that meted out rough justice in Falluja when it was controlled by a hardline Islamist council in 2005 to 2006.
 
While people in Falluja are hostile to Maliki's Shi'ite-led government, many fear a full-scale army attack that would echo two fierce U.S. assaults on insurgents there in 2004. Tens of thousands of people have fled the city, U.N. officials say.
 
Efforts to negotiate a solution have so far failed. Tribal chiefs and clerics met on Sunday to pick a new mayor and police chief, but ISIL rejected the outcome because it had not been represented in the talks, participants in the meeting said.
 
ISIL militants have brought more fighters and weapons into Falluja in the last three weeks, and other armed groups have proliferated in the security vacuum. Residents said they could not tell the allegiance of the roaming gunmen.
 
Two days ago, armed men abducted a former Falluja police chief in the city's southern outskirts. Relatives and tribal leaders said they were seeking his release by paying a ransom.
 
“The situation in Fallujah is critical and getting out of control,” said one tribal leader. “Everyone is carrying guns and it would only take a spark to ignite a war in the city.”

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid