Whether it’s ISIS taking over a city, Iraqi ground troops “liberating” a city, or the two sides simply fighting inconclusively, the fighting across Iraq is bringing humanitarian calamity with it, with new crises cropping up seemingly every few days.
UN officials warned that the recent fighting over the Anbar capital city of Ramadi has displaced at least 90,000 civilians. Refugees claim the city of 500,000 is almost empty, so it could be many more.
ISIS is winning there, but even when ISIS loses, the situation isn’t any better, with Shi’ite militias spending the last two weeks carrying out a bloody campaign of looting and lynching around the recently “liberated” Tikrit.
The Sunni villages on the outskirts of Tikrit, similarly taken over by the militias in anticipation of the Tikrit offensive, were wiped out almost entirely, with militia forces burning many homes to the ground.
This has been a recurring problem across the Iraq-ISIS war, with Sunni Arabs facing either the rule of ISIS Islamists, or the bloody crackdowns that inevitably follow when the Shi’ites expel ISIS.
Thus the civilians of Ramadi, the latest city to be ravaged by war, are faced with two bad choices, staying in what is almost certain to be an ISIS takeover, or fleeing to an uncertain future as internally displaced persons in a country where displaced Sunni Arabs are met with suspicion and hostility.