Old game for saving ISIS in Fallujah

Alwaght- As the Iraqi army and popular forces press ahead with their struggle to recapture the ISIS-held city of Fallujah in Al Anbar province from the terrorists, some Arab officials and media have commenced a large-scale propaganda campaign against the participant forces in a bid to overshadow and subsequently interrupt the liberation operation.

It appears that it became a habit for some of the Arab leaders and media to take opposing stances when the Iraqi forces are in the wake of dealing a major blow to the terrorist groups- an issue clearly observable in the process to recapture Fallujah.

Located in west of the capital Baghdad and some 50 kilometers away from it, Fallujah is historically one of the most significant hotbeds of the terrorists in Iraq. Following Iraq occupation in 2003, the Americans launched two major operations to recapture the city while it was held by the Al-Qaeda militants, during which they lost a large number of their forces there.

In 2014, Fallujah was the first significant Iraqi city to fall to ISIS’ terrorists. The Iraqi forces have since gone to great lengths to restore the city to their control, and now after nearly two years since capture, Fallujah is on the brink of return to the Iraqi forces. But, it appears that Iraqi forces’ difficult job of pushing out of the country the terrorists of ISIS, world’s most dangerous terror organization, does not appeal to some of the Arab states.

“God may bless the Iraqi people who are caught in fire of ISIS terrorism and blazes of (General) Qasem Soleimani- Iran’s leading anti-ISIS figure- and his damned sectarian forces,” tweeted Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, commenting on the Fallujah recapture operation under way in Iraq.

In addition to the recent remarks of officials of some of Arab countries against the forces which are spearheading the anti-terror campaign to defeat ISIS, Arab media also run an aggressive propaganda against the Iraqi forces.

The Saudi newspapers these days are laden with cartoons trying to paint Iraqi forces as moving in line with ISIS forces, and both invading Fallujah jointly.

Some of reporters of pro-Arab regimes media have even gone beyond normal, striving to get across the notion to the audience that Fallujah’s residents favor ISIS terrorists over the Iraqi forces who are there to liberate them from under the yoke of the terrorist group.

Faisal al-Qassem, the senior journalist of Qatar-based Al Jazeera Arabic news channel has held a poll on his Twitter page, with 61 percent of the participants- to the surprise of everybody- preferring ISIS terror group to the Public Mobilization Forces.

This is not the first time that the regime-run Arab media launch noisy propaganda when the terrorists are on the edge of defeat. Even in Tikrit recapture operation, the pro-Arab regimes media were overloaded with reports and comments against the Iraqi forces which were on the way to liberate the ISIS-held city.  The same issue took place frequently during liberation process of Iraq’s Al Anbar and even some of the Syrian cities like Aleppo, majorly held by affiliates of Al-Qaeda terror organization.

The worries of Arab media and officials over Fallujah campaign have stirred reactions by the Iraqi activists.

Hayder al-Khoei, an associate fellow in the Middle East and North Africa Program at the London-based Chatham House has wondered in a tweet “Why didn’t the Arabs support Fallujah residents in the time of ISIS’ attack as much as they support them now in the time of Iraqi forces’ operation to liberate them?”

On the other side, there have been effective efforts to foil the anti-Iraqi forces media propaganda. For example, Iraq’s most respected Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in a fatwa has called the Iraqi fighters to “treat the murders and aggressors according the calls of Amir al-Mu’minin”, referring to the manners of Imam Ali, the first imam of the Shiite Muslims who is known for his mercy and benevolence.

Meanwhile, the independent media have recently published pictures from the battlefields, documenting how the majorly Shiite fighters were helping the Sunni children and women to move out of the war-torn Fallujah to safe places.

By Al Waght