STRASBOURG, France, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- 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 Ukraine 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 to prevent food and water from reaching the besieged inhabitants. Last week, it bombed Fallujah General Hospital, killing nearly all of the doctors and nurses and many of the patients and forcing the hospital's closure.
More than 300,000 people have been made homeless.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. Assistance Mission to Iraq 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-Shiite 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" to justify his genocidal campaign.
During the Saddam Hussein dictatorship, the Sunnis in Al Anbar fared well. Following the U.S. invasion, it was Al 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 Al Anbar stripped of their jobs and income.
Since the U.S. military withdrawal, the Iraqi prime minister, 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 Al 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-Qaida 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 sporadic evidence of one or two jihadists infiltrating the protests in Al Anbar, attracted by the chaotic situation but they were quickly driven out by the local tribesmen, who want no truck with al-Qaida.
But Maliki's ploy worked well. He persuaded Washington that he was engaged in a war against terror and the United States sprang into action, shipping over rockets, missiles, drones, jets, helicopter gunships and light weapons, which are 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 and a deathly silence from the European Union, do little to stop the murderous onslaught.
Last week, I organized 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 Al Anbar, fueled by a steady supply of U.S. 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 United States.
The European Union 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 wake-up call for West, particularly the United State which continues to back Iraq's government.
The massacre of innocents in Fallujah has exposed the true colors of Nouri al-Maliki, a corrupt and despotic tyrant whom many Iraqis see as worse than Saddam. The sinister involvement of the fascist regime in Tehran, which seeks to spread its brand of fundamentalist Islam across the Middle East, should set the alarm bells ringing.
(Struan Stevenson, a member of the European Parliament, is president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq.)
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)