Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) retains its control over the Iraqi city of Fallujah after a solid weekend of military operations, and with threats of even bigger offensives to come, locals who are able to are fleeing the city.
AQI took over Fallujah and part of Ramadi last week, and has been clashing with both national security forces and local tribesmen ever since. So far, there is no sign of them giving up either territory.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has vowed that the military will forcibly end “disunity” in Fallujah, but the troops have so far been unable to fight them off, and officials say a “major attack” is coming soon.
The situation began two weeks ago with the arrest of a Sunni MP. Protests ensued, and Maliki ordered a bloody crackdown on them, sparking mass resignations of MPs. As Maliki added more troops, riots broke out, and AQI used the chaos as a chance to infiltrate the cities, sacking police stations and setting up their own checkpoints.
Having assumed he could impose a military solution to political unrest, Maliki has ended up setting up a military problem far deeper than he’d expected, and one his military might not be up to.