• Iraq’s Sunnis Won’t Fight ISIS for U.S.

    October 31, 2014

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    Posted in: Embassy/State, Iraq, Syria

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    Iraq’s Sunnis won’t fight ISIS for the U.S. says NIQASH, a non-profit media organization operating out of Berlin. Without Sunni support, America’s war in Iraq cannot succeed. Here’s why.

    Negotiations Fail

    According to NIQASH, a source at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad said there have been secret negotiations between various Sunni Muslim armed factions, via Arab and Iraqi Kurdish intermediaries, for the past three months. At the request of U.S. diplomats and military personnel, Shia officials from the Iraqi government have also been meeting with the leaders of these groups in Erbil, Kurdistan and Amman, Jordan.

    At the same time General John Allen, the Obama’s appointed coordinator of U.S. efforts in Iraq, has been trying to contact the Sunni tribal leaders he worked with in Anbar during the previous war’s “Awakening.” “But it was surprising,” a NIQASH source reported, “Most of General Allen’s former allies refused to cooperate with us. And some of them are actually now living outside of Iraq because of the Iraqi government’s policies.”

    Oops. With some irony, America’s failure to secure the 2006 Awakening caused those Sunnis sympathetic to America’s aims to flee Shia persecution. Those “good guys” are thus not available in 2014 to help out America in the current war.

    ISIS and the Sunnis

    When ISIS first took control of Sunni areas in western Iraq, anger towards the Shia government in Baghdad caused many to see them as liberators from the Iraqi army. The army, along with paramilitary police from the Interior Ministry, had engaged in a multi-year campaign of beating, imprisoning and arresting Sunnis, to the point where many felt that Baghdad was occupying, not governing, the Sunni majority areas. For the Sunnis and ISIS, the Baghdad government was a common enemy, and a marriage of convenience formed.

    Recent events in Baghdad do little to assuage Sunni fears. A recent report suggests the new Iraqi Prime Minister may nominate a Shia Badr Militia leader as Interior Minister. Since the Shias took control of Iraq following the American invasion of 2003, the Interior Ministry, which controls the police and the prisons, has been a prime tool of repression and punishment.

    Still, cracks in the ISIS-Sunni relationship have started to form. Many of the Sunni groups, especially those led by former Baathists, are largely secular in nature, seeing their Sunni ties more as broadly cultural than strictly religious. ISIS’ requests to pledge allegiance to its cause, coupled with demands to implement Sharia law, have created friction. Some internecine fighting has taken place. The U.S. has sought to exploit these issues to break the indigenous Sunnis away from ISIS, and ultimately to turn the Sunnis into American proxy boots on the ground as was done with the Kurds.

    America’s problem is that most Sunnis are fearful about cooperating via America with the Shia government in Baghdad. They fear history will repeat itself and the Americans and the Shia government will betray them, exactly as they betrayed them only a few years ago when the Awakening movement collapsed. Quite a pickle.

    Sorry America

    The Sunnis seem to be choosing a middle ground, one which does not serve America’s interests.

    According to a 1920s Revolution Brigades (Sunni militia) leader, various militias came to the decision “not to support the international coalition against ISIS. They also decided not to cooperate with ISIS either. If the [Iraqi] army or the [Shia] militias attack [Sunni] areas they control though, they will fight both groups.”

    “We are against the acts of the hardline Islamic State. And we are also against bombed cars exploding randomly in Baghdad,” Abu Samir al-Jumaili, one of the Sunni Mujahideen Army’s leaders in the Anbar province, told NIQASH. “However we are also opposed to the government’s sectarian policies against Sunnis… In 2006 we cooperated with the government to expel al Qaeda from Sunni cities but the government did not keep its end of the bargain. They chased our leaders and arrested us… The ISIS group are terrorists but so are the Shia militias.”

    History is a Witch

    There is no way America can succeed in its goals in Iraq– repel ISIS and keep the country together– without the active participation of the Sunnis. It is very unlikely that that will happen. American strategy rests on the assumption that the Sunnis can be bribed and coerced into breaking with ISIS, no matter the shape of things in Baghdad. That’s hard to imagine. As with al Qaeda in Iraq during the American occupation years, the Islamic State is Sunni muscle against a Shia government that, left to its own devices, would continue to marginalize, if not simply slaughter, them. Starting in 2006, U.S. officials did indeed bribe and coerce some Sunni tribal leaders into accepting arms and payments in return for fighting insurgent outfits, including al-Qaeda. That deal, then called the Anbar Awakening, came with assurances that the United States would always stand by them.

    America didn’t stand. Instead, it turned the program over to the Shia government and headed for the door marked exit. The Shias promptly reneged on the deal.

    Once bitten, twice shy, so why, only a few years later, would the Sunnis go for what seems to be essentially the same bad deal? It appears they will not, and that by itself suggests the current Iraq war will end much the same as the previous one. It is foolish for America to expect otherwise.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “It is foolish for America to expect otherwise.”

      TDCOTP thinks the rest of the world is stupid as US.

      10/31/14 11:35 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      Sounds like the neocon plan to divide Iraq up is succeeding pretty well, though. How about we get the hell out of the ME and let them solve it? Nobody there, or anywhere, trusts the US any more.

      Off-topic: NYPD arrested Ray McGovern before he could even get in the door to a Petraeus event, for which he had a ticket for a seat. Kind of a preemptive arrest, as it were. And from the reports, it sounds like they hurt him:


      10/31/14 1:28 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      ” “Our regular troops which are deployed now in Anbar are not trained to be involved in guerilla fighting. They are able to [hold their positions on] the ground and defend themselves, no more,” said a security adviser to outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

      “Ramadi is a strategic city for us, but we do not have enough elite troops to achieve a victory there. So we withdrew a third of the troops from there and redeployed them around Baghdad,” the adviser said. The adviser told Al Jazeera that maintaining control over Ramadi is a “non-urgent” priority for the Iraqi government at this time.”


      A ‘non-urgent’ priority – right up until the Iraqi government officials are catching helicopters out back to Iran for another exile to begin. Maybe Iran’s own neo-con core within the right wing part of its beauracracy doesnt mind ISIL camped on its borders. Insecurity is business


      It’s more like the neo-con plan to strengthen Iran is going pretty well.

      Everyone is betting on Iraq fracturing; it’s really wait and see. It’s still ‘there’. The groups that bloodied their way to the top have entered a new phase.


      Looks like Mr. McGovern may be off the BOLO list, but some others are still lying around. He’ll just have to file a lawsuit against each and every list like the rest of the country, and exhaust his savings to do so. Forget ISIS, Mr McGovern is the very picture of stealth and danger to our system. It’s too bad the law ties our hands in the fight against terrorism. If it means arresting community activists so only certain American citizens can exert their right to give paid speeches and defend well something, what’s wrong with that??

      (Yes, this is an attempt at sarcasm)

      10/31/14 4:17 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      This link works- if you start at 28:50:

      From I, Claudius (Scene between Sejanus and Senator Marcus) –


      10/31/14 4:29 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      quote”Off-topic: NYPD arrested Ray McGovern before he could even get in the door to a Petraeus event, for which he had a ticket for a seat. Kind of a preemptive arrest, as it were. And from the reports, it sounds like they hurt him:”unquote

      Fuck. The. NYPD. If ever there was a domestic Stasi, they are it. You couldn’t pay me to live in NYC. I don’t know how Peter stands it.

      Meanwhile, one commenter said:

      “It is ten times more likely that you will be killed by the US Police than by a terrorists. Police have also killed more people since 9-11 than died on 9-11.”unquote

      At least we now know who the real terrorists are.

      10/31/14 5:27 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      Because, 0bama! AND, Sunnis know the definition of ISIS : US! They’re not being Fooled TWICE by the Bush Company’s (CIA) al Sham! After all, Poppy & Company were ALLIED with Ba’athist Sunni Saddam, before baiting and turncoating him (and Them, BEFORE)!

      10/31/14 6:38 PM | Comment Link

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