News You Really Need To See: “Baghdad’s Middle-Class Sunnis Say They Prefer Militants to Maliki”

“Baghdad’s Middle-Class Sunnis Say They Prefer Militants to Maliki”

The Washington Post, July 13, 2014, p.A8

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-baghdad-middle-class-sunnis-say-they-prefer-militants-to-maliki/2014/07/11/fa0b66a7-1b09-409a-a5ed-ab580bc93a4a_story.html

The Sunni worshipers who visit the main mosque in this relatively affluent neighborhood of west Baghdad are a far cry from Islamist extremists.  ‘We are intellectuals,’ the mosque’s imam, Aday Moussa, said of a group that includes doctors, professors — and, especially, former members of Saddam Hussein’s army and security services.  The worshipers and other Sunnis interviewed in Baghdad said they have little affinity for the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State that routed Iraqi forces last month and declared a ‘caliphate’ across a vast swath of the country.  But as the militants take aim at Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, these educated, professional Sunnis leave no doubt that their sympathies lie with the insurgents. … Iraqi Sunnis span a wide spectrum, including rural tribal sheiks, violent jihadists, urban intellectuals and whiskey-swilling adherents to the old ruling Baath party. … But the militants’ sweep to power in Sunni-dominated provinces has been fueled to a significant degree by support from these other Sunnis. … Some Sunnis interviewed made clear that they despise the Islamic State militants but that their feelings about the group’s territorial gains are more complicated.  ‘They are not Muslims,’’ said a Sunni heart surgeon in Yarmouk who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he said he feared reprisals.  ‘Their solution — to cut and to kill people — that’s not Islam.’  But the surgeon said that he agrees with the militants that Maliki’s government should be defeated — although he said he would prefer that it be at the hands of the Sunni tribesmen fighting alongside the extremists.”

Quickie Analysis:  An estimated 85% of the fighters who have taken Iraqi cities and villages are an assortment of disaffected Iraqi Sunnis, not ISIS fighters.  A marriage of convenience, to be sure, but a marriage supported not just by Iraqi Islamists, Baathists, and tribal leaders but by a broad swath of Sunnis who find the Maliki government a greater threat.

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