EU Approves Military Action Against African Smugglers


This morning’s key headlines from

  • ISIS seizure of Ramadi Iraq raises concerns of Sunni-Shia war
  • European Union approves military action against migrant smugglers

ISIS seizure of Ramadi Iraq raises concerns of Sunni-Shia war

Shia pilgrims carry a symbolic coffin in a funeral commemoration in Baghdad last week (AP)
Shia pilgrims carry a symbolic coffin in a funeral commemoration in Baghdad last week (AP)

As we reported yesterday, the Islamic State defied the predictions of both the American and Iraqi governments, and seized the city of Ramadi after soldiers in the Iraqi army dropped their weapons and fled for their lives. ISIS is now in control of 80 percent of Anbar Province, the heart of the minority Sunni population in Iraq.

In the aftermath, the Iran-backed Shia government in Baghdad has ordered Iraq’s Iran-trained Shia militias, also called Hashid Shaabi or “popular mobilization units,” to deploy to Ramadi and recapture it from ISIS.

When Shia militias were deployed last year to recapture Tikrit from ISIS, they did so — but committed atrocities against the Sunni population, looting and destroying their homes. Some 400,000 people fled their homes as this writer described, and Tikrit is now a ghost town.

The Shia militias are now entering Ramadi, and Sunni militias in the region are not going to tolerate the same kinds of atrocities.

This writer has heard several analysts on Monday raise concerns about a major Sunni-Shia bloodbath, as Ramadi is being recaptured.

Nothing like this will happen. There may be some clashes between Sunni and Shia militias, but a Sunni-Shia bloodbath is impossible.

Iraq’s last generational crisis war was the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. As many as 1.5 million people were killed in that bloody war, but it was not a war between Sunnis and Shias. During that war, the Sunnis and Shias in Iraq were united in fighting against the Persians in Iran. In other words, it was an ethnic war, Arabs versus Persians. (There was also a third ethnic group, the Kurds.)

So now Iraq is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the Iran/Iraq war. There are millions of survivors of the Iran/Iraq war who remember its horrors and have no intention of letting anything like it happen again. In particular, with Sunni and Shia Arabs having fought shoulder-to-shoulder against the Persians, they have no intention now of having a bloodbath war with each other, just because their children are doing some looting and committing some atrocities. (For more information, see my lengthy 2007 analysis of the Iraq war: “Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq.”)

Even without resorting to generational theory, this argument is proven by the experience in Tikrit. When the Shia militias started committing atrocities in Tikrit, why did 400,000 Sunnis leave their homes and flee for their lives? Why didn’t they fight back against the Shia militias to save their homes? Why didn’t they start a full-scale Sunni-Shia bloodbath in Tikrit?

The answer is because the survivors of the Iran/Iraq war want nothing to do with those horrors again, so there was no Sunni-Shia bloodbath in Tikrit. And for the same reason, there will be no Sunni-Shia bloodbath in Ramadi. USA Today and Reuters

European Union approves military action against migrant smugglers

The European Union on Monday approved a multi-phase military operation to combat human smugglers trafficking “migrants” from Libya to Europe. Smugglers charge migrants thousands of dollars each to make the trip, and there’s no guarantee of reaching Europe.

The initial phase, to begin in June, will be to use spy planes for intelligence-gathering and surveillance, with the particular objective of finding and identifying the smugglers’ boats.

Once the boats are identified, naval forces could stop the boats in the Mediterranean and force them to return to Libya. Other options could include removing the migrants and destroying the boats.

Also approved was a “boots on the ground” option, where special forces would be sent to Libya to hunt the smugglers and stop the problem at its source. The special forces would also destroy smugglers’ boats in port.

Anything that requires military action on Libyan soil would presumably require either approval by the United Nations Security Council or approval from one or both of the two competing Libyan governments. Furthermore, several EU countries, including Ireland, Sweden, and Austria, are opposed to any military involvement in the region.

No one believes that any of these proposals would stop the flow of migrants to Europe, or even reduce its scope. The  smugglers stand to make millions of dollars. And so, the migrants and the smugglers find a way to circumvent any steps that the EU takes.

There would still be thousands of migrants arriving in Europe. Last week, the European Commission in Brussels approved a plan to distribute newly-arrived migrants to each country, with a quota set by the size and wealth of the country. Under European treaties, Britain and Ireland are able to opt out of any such proposal. Britain has already said it will do so, and Ireland has three months to decide.

This is only one of the two major migration crises that have been in the news lately. (See “16-May-15 World View — Thousands of Bangladeshi and Burma Rohingya migrants stranded at sea in southeast Asia”.)

In the Asian crisis, thousands of migrants and refugees from Burma and Bangladesh are trying to migrate to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. In those cases, there are already robust military operations in place to prevent the migrants from reaching land.

Those military operations don’t seem to be stopping the flow of migrants. If that lesson is applied to the situation in Europe, military operations won’t stop the flow of migrants there, either. Irish Times and Daily Mail (London)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Iraq, Ramadi, Baghdad, Anbar province, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Tikrit, Hashid Shaabi, popular mobilization units, European Union, Libya, Burma, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Ireland, Britain
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