ISIS bringing enemies together
By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat
on : Sunday, 17 Aug, 2014
We are witnessing a unique situation in which different countries, parties and tribes now have no choice but to take a position against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). ISIS is the reason behind a strange gathering of opponents. Most of the Iraqi forces—whether Sunni, Shi’ite or Kurd—agreed to reconcile out of a mutual fear of ISIS. ISIS has also accelerated the departure of Nuri Al-Maliki from the premiership with most of his Sunni opposition now returning to Baghdad, ready to cooperate. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) reconciled with the government in Baghdad, returning two oil fields to its control and ending the enduring state of estrangement. Even US President Barack Obama has been forced to renege on his promise not to involve US troops in combat operations in Iraq since the pullout. Likewise, Iran has abandoned Maliki and Saudi Arabia has accepted his successor Haider Al-Abadi. What an extraordinary turn of events! The moral of this story is that there is no place for ISIS and that it is impossible to use it to manipulate the region. There has been a heated dispute over ISIS among the tribal leaders in Iraq’s western Sunni-majority Anbar province. Some tribes have declared that with the departure of Maliki, they are now ready to cooperate with the government to fight against the terrorist organization that threatens all. Other tribes have announced that they will continue to refuse to fight against ISIS, hoping to use its advance to ensure that all their demands are met. The fight to defeat ISIS will be a long and perilous one. While its opponents agreed to put aside their disagreements in order to fight against it together, ISIS is also demonstrating its intelligence, including the intelligence to exploit the political scene. ISIS wants to exploit the disagreements between the Sunni tribes in Anbar and Nineveh. While some regional governments are trying to be even more intelligent, seeking to use ISIS to threaten not only Iraq, but also Saudi Arabia. They sought to use the Sunni tribes that rebelled against Maliki to cover ISIS’s deployment in western Iraq, enabling it to recruit the largest possible number of angry and disenfranchised Iraqis.
Now, the terrorist organization has become a serious force in different parts of Iraq. It owns oil and wheat after seizing governmental silos. It also has advanced weaponry after seizing Iraqi army stores. ISIS is able to control large areas thanks to the increase in its numbers and the money it seized. ISIS, the common enemy, has now become a general red-line, regardless of the different goals and objectives being pursued by each party in the regional game.
Sunnis must learn from their mistakes in Iraq
By: Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 17 Aug, 2014
The head of a prominent Sunni Arab tribe in Iraq has said that Arab Sunni leaders and clerics in Sunni-majority provinces are prepared to join the new government, but only if certain “conditions” are met.
The news reports that covered this statement failed to clarify precisely what these “conditions” are, however wisdom tells us that Sunni participation in the new Iraqi government that Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi is seeking to form is vital. Abadi comes to replace Maliki, who has been rejected by all political forces in Iraq, not just the Sunnis. It is not in the interests of Iraq’s Sunnis at this point to repeat the mistakes that they committed following the fall of Saddam Hussein, when they boycotted the political process and let the opportunity to fix the situation in Iraq slip through their hands. This enabled some parties in Iraq to resort to political exclusion and rely on sectarian quotas. This is a state of affairs that the Americans also contributed to.
Today, Iraq’s Sunnis have a new opportunity to correct the situation and force all other political forces to respect their rights. This is something that cannot be achieved by boycotting the political process, only by participation and negotiation, particularly given the current attention that regional and international parties are giving to the situation in Iraq. It is important to strike the balance between meeting the legitimate demands of Iraq’s Sunnis, and others, and criminalizing and confronting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Iraq’s Sunnis have an important opportunity, and they must not repeat the mistakes of the past. The same applies to regional and international states; they too must not repeat their past mistakes. Mr. Haider Al-Abadi may not be the ideal alternative in Iraq, but ultimately he is the one who has been tasked with forming a new government. Abadi is someone who I first met in 2007, I know him, and have spoken with him.
Therefore, the story today is not about the fall of the tyrant Nuri Al-Maliki, but how to make the best political use out of this historic moment to serve the interests of Iraq and all Iraqis, as well as the region at large. Most importantly, Abadi today is incapable of becoming another Maliki.
Iraq’s Sunnis must participate in the new government and genuinely seek to fix the political and economic situation in the country. Regional states must also take the initiative to send envoys and ambassadors to Iraq. Now is the time for action, not hesitation or boycott. The only people who would benefit from this are the extremists, and most particularly Nuri Al-Maliki.
Therefore, we are confronted with a new and important political opportunity that Iraq’s Sunnis must take advantage of. Iraq’s Sunnis must also now take pains to differentiate themselves from ISIS, while the influential regional Arab states—and in particular Saudi Arabia—must restore normal political relations with Iraq by returning their ambassadors, and more, to the country. The goal is not to promote Iraq’s Arabs or Sunnis so much as it is to ensure that Iraq is for all Iraqis, and for the country to return to its traditional place in the Arab world.