Increasing Wave of Violence in Iraq and Free Iraqi Army

September 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Bilgay Duman, ORSAM Middle East Specialist 

It seems that, with the effect of increasing acts of violence in Iraq in the recent period, the issues such as insufficiency of government; rivalry between Kurdish Regional Government and central government; ethnical, religious and sectarian conflicts have been at the top of the agenda again. While it is mentioned that Al-Qaeda has become active in Iraq again particularly following the actions carried out against Shiites, the allegations regarding that Ba’ath Party and former Sunni resistance started their actions occupy the agenda. On the other hand, the “Free Syrian Army” expression that we are used to hear along with Syria has now started to be mentioned along with Iraq as well. Similar to Free Syrian Army, the formation of “Free Iraqi Army” was declared through the founding declaration published on 19 July 2012. Three main goals are mentioned in the founding declaration published by the Free Iraqi Army on their websites(1). Accordingly, it was stated that the Free Iraqi Army was created;– to fight against the Iranian (Safavid) invasion in Iraq,
– to support the Syrian people and the Free Syrian Army,
– to gather mujahid (Sunni warriors) in Iraq under a single roof.

In the declaration, in which it was argued that Iraq was invaded by Iran in political, economic and social terms; and that Iran took control of all military and civilian government agencies, it was stated that this situation requires all Iraqis to fight for their dignity, religion and country. In addition to this in the declaration, where it was stated that Iran started to pose danger not only in Iraq but also in Gulf countries, Africa and Southeast Asian countries, all the Iraqi people were therefore called to fight against Iran. Then in another declaration published on 1 September 2012, in a nutshell Free Iraqi Army argued that Iraqi government executed thousands of Sunni people, and stated that they would take revenge against them, and that the Safavid government (the Iraqi central government, where Shiites are in majority and in administrative positions, is meant) would be subverted.(2)

Who is this “Free Iraqi Army”? The information about the Free Iraqi Army, which is a brand new formation, is quite limited. The main theme of Free Iraqi Army’s emblem is composed of “an eagle” figure, which is also found in the emblems/symbols of many institutions and organizations in Iraq, on khaki green background and the Iraqi Flag of the Saddam Hussein period. However, both the information in the media organizations and the information we have obtained from the field are not sufficient enough to know Free Iraqi Army for now. It might be useful to mention the news related to Free Iraqi Army in certain Iraqi media organizations. According to the information on media, it is alleged that Free Iraqi Army is organized by a Sunni cleric Taha al-Dulaimi(3). Taha al-Dulaimi is known for the Islamic themed (but which rather reflects Sunni Islamic perspective and opposes to Shiism) programs on Al-Wesal TV broadcast from Saudi Arabia. Taha al-Dulaimi, who is affiliated to Dulaimi tribe in Anbar province of Iraq, is actually a medical doctor. Dulaimi, who stopped practicing his profession and studied divinity, is known as a person who devoted himself to Sunni Islam. Because considering the declarations issued by the Free Iraqi Army, the anti-Shiism is seen quite clearly. Considering the fact that Free Syrian Army is generally composed of Sunni Syrians, the resemblance between them grabs the attention. Similarly both forces adopt an attitude against the current regime.

On the other hand, it is stated that the former Ba’athists, former military men, and Sahwa forces (Awakening Councils) are found within the Free Iraqi Army. It is said that especially Sahwa members constitute the majority of the Free Iraqi Army. As is known, Sahwa forces, whose all needs (money, arms, ammunition, clothes etc.) are met by the U.S., were created by the U.S. by coming to terms especially with Sunni Arab tribes in 2007 within the concept of “fighting against terrorism” in Iraq, to fight against the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in the area where all tribes are in control. Then all responsibilities of Sahwa forces were transferred to Iraqi central government in order to include Sunnis in political process. However, following the withdrawal of the U.S. from Iraq, Sahwa forces constituted a problem for the Iraqi government, and problems related to the salary payment of Sahwa forces took place for a long time. As a result, at the recommendation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi government declared the dissolution of Sahwa forces on 10 July 2012. Considering the aforesaid development, the fact that the formation of Free Iraqi Army was declared on 19 July 2012 grabs the attention. It is stated that Free Iraqi Army is active/strives to be active in Anbar, Diyala, Salahaddin, Mosul, Kirkuk and Baghdad where Sahwa forces are active. In fact, it is alleged that there are training camps of Free Iraqi Army in Mosul and Anbar.  According to the information we obtained from Mosul, it is stated that Free Iraqi Army organized a military ceremony as a “show of force” in late August.

Besides, it is argued that Free Iraqi Army has a close relationship with Haris al-Dari, who is the Head of Association of Muslim Scholars and is alleged to be related to Al-Qaeda. In fact, it is also argued that Taha al-Dulaimi who is said to be the leader of Free Iraqi Army and Haris al-Dari have a personal relationship. In addition to this, certain media organs in Iraq put forward that Free Iraqi Army receive external support, that it is organized especially by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, and even that Turkey contributed to the formation of Free Iraqi Army by gathering former Ba’ath Party members and Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi who was sentenced to death for crime of terrorism in Iraq.(4) Considering the fact that the source of allegation is one of the parties, it is possible to suggest it would not be right to take the news seriously.

On the other hand, it is suggested that Free Iraqi Army is striving to be active in southern Iraq. It is alleged that Free Iraqi Army members purchase arms from the provinces in southern Iraq by offering high prices. Thus, it is argued that the goal is to disarm Shias in southern Iraq, and to provide arms to Free Iraqi Army. As a matter of fact, Bashir Al-Najafi and Kazım Al-Hariri from the Ayatollahs in Iraq gave fatwas suggesting not to sell arms to unknown people and suggesting that selling arms is equal to selling “dignity”.

In conclusion, it is possible to suggest that Free Iraqi Army might create a new conflict and problem for Iraq, even if its effect and future is not known for sure. As it was particularly stated in the founding declaration of the Free Iraqi Army, sectarian polarization and engaging in conflict are quite dangerous for Iraq. Considering the recent acts of violence in Iraq, it is seen that the first sparkles started to be observed. Besides, it is likely that this conflict might turn into a regional polarization. This situation might incite a new conflict dynamic in the Middle East, as it could also create an extremely complicated problem for Turkey. In the developments taking place in Syria, both the attitude of Turkey and the problems with Iraq as well as the position of Iran in the region might replace the stones of the wall encompassing the regional dynamics.  What is ought to be known is that all parties are under this wall and in case this wall is destroyed, everybody will be buried under the wall. Therefore, it is believed that it would be useful for all parties, shaping the Middle East politics, to develop reconciliatory and conciliating policies along with more careful policies.
(1) For the website of the Free Syrian Army see;, Access: 24 September 2012.

(2) For the full text of the Declaration in Arabic see;, Access: 24 September 2012.

(3), Access: 24 September 2012.

(4), Access: 24 September 2012.

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