First order of business for the new Iraqi PM

Nouri al-Maliki has been quietly overseeing a very Assad-esque assault on civilians in IS-held areas, including Bashar’s old standby, the barrel bomb:

Sheikh Mohammed al-Bajari, a member of the interim local council of Fallujah, said the battles fought by the army and security forces in Anbar lack ethical and professional standards. He told Al-Monitor over the phone, “The army continues to collectively punish civilians,” and pointed out, “The military aircraft bombed residential neighborhoods in the city of Fallujah using barrel bombs, which resulted in enormous devastation and killed dozens of innocent citizens.”

Bajari accused the Iraqi army of using weapons of mass destruction, saying that military aircraft drop at least 10 to 15 barrel bombs every day on various neighborhoods in Fallujah. Each barrel is stuffed with highly explosive materials and weighs between 250 to 300 kilograms, he said, adding, “These officers responsible should be referred to international courts to be charged for these heinous massacres against civilians.” Furthermore, analysts say the government is pursuing a scorched-earth policy to regain control of the cities it lost to terrorist organizations, which have pushed it to use all possible means to impose its influence on the ground.

Whenever Haider al-Abadi assumes office, and Maliki is still fighting the transition, the Obama administration needs to make it crystal clear that any American aid beyond protecting Iraqi Kurdistan will only be forthcoming if the Iraqi military stops committing war crimes against Sunni Arabs. The kind of campaign Maliki is running in Anbar doesn’t do anything to IS, it just indiscriminately kills Iraqi citizens whose surviving friends and relatives will be more likely to side with IS against Baghdad. It’s as counterproductive as it is contemptible.

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