The Daily Beast reports: Behind Iraq’s front lines against the so-called Islamic State, Kurdish and Shia factions already are drawing a blueprint for what could be the region’s next major conflict.
In the city of Jalawla in Iraq’s Diyala province, near the Iranian border approximately 80 miles east of Baghdad, Kurdish forces have given the boot to the Shia militia they previously allied with to take the city from ISIS in a bloody November battle. Last month, the commanding Kurdish Peshmerga general in Jalawla threatened to start shooting if the Shia refused to leave the city immediately.
“This area is ours now, and that’s not changing,” Brig. Gen. Mahmoud Sangawi told The Daily Beast. He added that Jalawla, an abandoned city that previously had 83,000 people and was 80 percent Sunni Arab in 2003, would soon have a Kurdish mayor. Sangawi bragged that henceforth the city would also be called by its new Kurdish moniker, “Golala.”
Not so fast, say the Shia militias. They were recruited in the name of a fatwa from Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in June 2014, following the Iraqi army’s humiliating loss of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, virtually without a fight. Many are trained and advised by Iranians, and they have been the spearhead of Baghdad’s efforts to recover lost territory in the name of the national government. [Continue reading…]