“War Carves Divisions Among Iraq’s Sunnis”
The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2014, p.A10
“Islamic State’s rise is dividing Iraq’s Sunni minority, pitting tribes loyal to the militant group against those who support the government and, in some cases, cleaving tribes apart from within. Sheikh Dhaher Bedewi, a tribal leader in Anbar province, said that while in the mid-2000s his fighters handed captured Sunni insurgents over to U.S. forces, mercy is no longer an option. ‘This is a tribal issue for us right now. There’s no way to let them live,’ he said during a recent trip to the capital Baghdad. ‘I’m not going to leave any of them alive. It’s them, their family members and all their property. We’re going to destroy them all.’ This conflict within the conflict is drawing new battle lines that could leave permanent scars. Islamic State is more competent and better armed than its predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq, and it has demonstrated a greater readiness to carry out mass killings, a formula that has deepened the anger of its Sunni foes. … The strife within the Sunni community is stoking bloody tribal vendettas in Anbar—Iraq’s largest province—that threaten to leave it nearly ungovernable if and when the militant threat passes. … The Iraqi government is now unable to exert much control over how Sunni fighters deal with their vanquished foes. Compared with the Sunni tribes, Iraq’s military has played a supporting role in the fight against Islamic State, and its authority doesn’t extend far past the Baghdad suburbs. … Sheikh Bedewi’s tribe and other Anbar tribes have already begun a process of gradual punishment through killings, confiscations and disenfranchisement. Sheikh Bedewi is suing those who collaborate with Islamic State in special tribal courts, which either prescribe the death penalty or force perpetrators to pay Islamic compensation, or ‘diya.'”
Quickie Analysis: One can fight fire with fire, but sometimes one’s own house burns down.