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Battle For Fallujah Prompts Sectarian War Among Sunni, Shi’ite Opinion Makers

JAFFA, Israel – The intense campaign to liberate the Iraqi city of Fallujah from the grip of Islamic State has led to a sectarian war on social media, including among Sunni and Shi’ite opinion makers.

Sunni users tended to side with the opponents of Iran and the Shi’ite government in Baghdad and claimed the campaign was a decoy to quell protests against state corruption, during which thousands of demonstrators rallied in Baghdad’s government district.

The Sunnis said that the government launched the campaign in an attempt to drive a wedge between Sunnis and Shi’ites, who both protested for the ouster of the government and prosecution of its heads.

Sunni twitterati launched the hashtag #Faluja_faces_Iran, which was used both by opinion leaders and laymen.

Hamed Hadid, the head of Al Jazeera’s Iraqi desk wrote: “Allah loves Fallujah and her people, don’t leave them out of your prayers. They will help more than anything else.”

Muhamad Aljumeili, the director for the Iraqi television station Alraredeen, wrote that the government forces and Shi’ite militias are accompanied by Sunni militias made up of local tribesmen.

“[Qassam] Soleimani [the Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander] leads the war in Fallujah against the Sunnis. He executes its men, blows up its mosques, and is recognized as an international terrorist, he wins the support of the American air force,” he wrote.

He later added: “The Sunni sheikhs try their luck with the Americans who support the occupation army against the resistance in return for promises and temptations. But they will get few results and a lot of shame.”

And then: “When you ask Sunni sheikhs whose side they’re on they say Soleimani and the Shi’ite militias, in order to expel IS terrorists from our cities. But when asked what’s the point of replacing one terrorist with another, they remain mute.”

Dr Muhamad Nujeifi, a lecturer at Oxford University, posted a picture of the Iraqi Speaker of Parliament, Salim Jaburi, a Sunni Muslim and deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic Party, pictured together with the commander of a Shi’ite militia.

Nujeifi wrote: “The science of realism. The speaker of the Iraqi parliament gives his blessings to the commander of a Shi’ite militia, on the occasion of Fallujah’s liberation and in the wake of Diali’s.”

The journalist Moussa Alomar wrote: “The Iraqi official Yad Alawi declared that the battle of Fallujah is ethnic cleansing. This message is brought to the supporters of the Shi’ite militia courtesy of the Sunni idiots.”

Other commenters stressed the unlikely cooperation between the United States, whose air force gives the anti-IS troops aerial support, and Iran, whose units reportedly fight on the ground.

Shi’ite social media users have launched the hashtag #popular_organization_wins, alluding to the name of their militia, Hashd Sha’abi. The famous Syrian movie star Doreid Laham wrote: “In a few hours the men will enter Fallujah… Only then, IS men will know on whose side Allah’s justice is.”

Koka wrote: “IS and Saudi Arabia are like a mother and a baby. Whenever the baby is in pain the mother suffers, too. That’s how the bombs fall on Fallujah, but the cries of pain come from Saudi Arabia.”

“The relationship between Saudi Arabia and IS are like those between a prostitute and her illegitimate son,” Wassn wrote.”She can’t publicly acknowledge him, but she can’t sit still when he’s being hit.”

Wafiq Alsamurai wrote: “Most of IS’s fighters in Iraq came from the Gulf countries, where they belong. The fate of the Iraqis will be to expel them from their land.”

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