News You Really Need To See: “Why Iraqis Living Under the Islamic State Fear Their Liberators”

“Why Iraqis Living Under the Islamic State Fear Their Liberators”

The Washington Post, April 11, 2016

While the Iraqi military and its allies may be slowly retaking cities from the Islamic State in the Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq, most Iraqi Sunnis fear and distrust the forces that are ‘liberating’ them from those militants.  But what do the majority of Iraqis want for their country’s future?  A recent study sheds light on this, painting a picture of an Iraq deeply divided by sectarianism. … Our data from February 2016 shows Sunni Arabs fear the forces meant to liberate them from the Islamic State.  In Mosul — where a campaign to liberate Iraq’s second-biggest city from Islamic State control just started — 74 percent of Sunni survey respondents say they do not want to be liberated by the Iraqi army on its own.  But this distrust for the Iraqi army is surpassed by distrust for the Shiite militias and the Kurdish Peshmerga.  Of the 120 Sunni respondents in Mosul, 100 percent do not want to be liberated by Shiite militias or the Kurds.  There is a very deep distrust of forces that are meant to free Sunni Iraqis from the clutches of the Islamic State.  No, it is not because most Sunnis support the Islamic State.  In fact, an overwhelming majority of Iraqi Sunnis oppose the Islamic State.  An IIACSS poll conducted in January 2016 showed that 99 percent of Shiite and 95 percent of Sunnis across Iraq oppose the Islamic State.  If so many Sunnis oppose the Islamic State, why are they so concerned about the Iraqi Army, Shiite militias and Kurdish Peshmerga working to liberating them?  The answer lies in the collective identity that Sunni Iraqis hold — and the sense that their community is and will not be treated fairly by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government and its allies. … A vast majority, 91 percent, of Sunnis do not believe that Iraqis are treated equally in terms of their rights.  On the other hand, nearly 60 percent of Shiite believe that the Iraqi government applies equal protection of rights to all Iraqis.”

Quickie analysis:   Troubling evidence that the Iraqi government has done almost nothing to address the underlying discontent that led to ISIS’s advance in the first place.

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