The unfolding tragedy in the Iraqi city of Fallujah seems to have slipped off the international radar screen, as the focus of the global community drifts from Syria to Kiev and back again. The humanitarian situation in Fallujah is dire. The sectarian prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki has surrounded the city with thousands of troops, effectively sealing it off. The Iraqi air force has mounted daily bomb attacks, cutting off electricity and water supplies and destroying several bridges in an effort to prevent food and water from reaching the besieged inhabitants. Last week, they bombed Fallujah General Hospital, killing nearly all of the doctors and nurses and many of the patients and forcing its closure. More than 300,000 people have been made homeless.
Ban Ki Moon and the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) continue to plead with Maliki to provide humanitarian aid to the city and to enter into negotiations that can bring an end to violence in the predominantly Sunni, Al Anbar Province. The sharp response from the aggressively pro-Shia prime minister was there would be "no negotiation with terrorists." In a single sentence he has labeled all of the residents of Iraq's largest province as "terrorists" in order to justify his genocidal campaign.
During the Saddam Hussein dictatorship, the Sunnis in al Anbar fared well. Following the US invasion, it was Anbar where the Americans suffered most casualties and after Maliki came to power, he implemented a ruthless de-Baathification policy that saw tens of thousands of Sunnis in Anbar stripped of their jobs and income. Since the US military withdrawal, the Iraqi PM, egged on by his puppeteers in Tehran, has escalated the daily intimidation of the province, with assassinations, bombings, arbitrary arrests and atrocities that finally drove the Sunni population onto the streets in protest. For the past 18 months, hundreds of thousands of people in Fallujah, Ramadi and other Anbar cities have mounted large demonstrations, calling for an end to corruption and the abuse of power by Maliki.
Their protests provided Maliki with the perfect excuse for a bloodbath. Claiming that Fallujah and Ramadi had been infiltrated by Al Qaeda and terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Maliki mounted his bloody offensive on the civilian population of al Anbar. There is some sporadic evidence of one or two jihadists infiltrating the protests in Anbar, attracted by the chaotic situation, but they were quickly driven out by the local tribesmen, who want no truck with Al Qaeda. But Maliki's ploy worked well. He persuaded Washington that he was engaged in a war against terror and the US sprang into action, shipping over rockets, missiles, drones, jets, helicopter gunships and light weapons, which are now being used to annihilate the Sunni population of al Anbar. Innocent men, women and children are being massacred daily, while America counts the dollars from its lucrative sale of weaponry to oil rich Iraq. Futile protests from UNAMI and Ban Ki Moon and a deathly silence from the EU, do little to stop the murderous onslaught.
Last week, I organised a major conference in the European Parliament in Brussels, attended by Iraqi political and spiritual leaders, including the Grand Mufti of Iraq, leader of the Sunni religion. They all denounced the horrific genocidal war that is being allowed to rage in Anbar, fuelled by a steady supply of American arms. I read out a letter signed by 128 scholars, sheiks and tribal leaders from Al Anbar Province who called for help from the West. The European Parliament in Strasbourg will this week debate and vote on a resolution on Iraq. It is Europe's chance to make its voice heard; to condemn the atrocities being carried out by Maliki and to demand a stop to the flow of weapons from the US. The EU doesn't have an army, but it has massive economic power. Maliki must be told that unless he stops the bloodshed, all economic ties with Iraq will be cut.
This is a wakeup call for West, particularly the US who continues to back Iraq's government. The massacre of innocents in Fallujah has exposed the true colours of Nouri al Maliki, a corrupt and despotic tyrant whom many Iraqis now see as worse than Saddam. The sinister involvement of the fascist regime in Tehran, who seek to spread their brand of fundamentalist Islam across the Middle East, should set the alarm bells ringing.
Follow Struan Stevenson MEP on Twitter: www.twitter.com/struanstevenson