Sunni tribal leaders have announced a tentative offer to back the incoming PM-designate Hayder Abadi, saying they want to ensure that the Abadi government will respect the rights of the nation’s Sunni Arab minority.
It goes further than that, however, as some of the Sunni leaders are pushing for Abadi to agree to a new autonomous region for the Sunnis, along the lines of what the Kurdistan Regional Government has.
The overwhelming majority of Sunni Arab territory in Iraq has already fallen to ISIS, with many locals seeing the Islamists as preferable to the Iraqi government forces when they arrived.
The ouster of PM Nouri al-Maliki has opened up an opportunity for a new rapprochement, at least that’s the hope of many on both sides, and Abadi is already reaching out to the Sunnis, promising to bridge the ever-widening sectarian divide.
Uniting Sunnis and Shi’ites is no small task, and with Abadi a member of the same Dawa Party as Maliki was, there is not much hope of that actually happening. That the Sunni tribesmen are open to the idea at all, however, suggests some growing disquiet about ISIS rule.
Some, including retired US General Jay Garner, a former occupation chief, say it’s too late to salvage a unified Iraq, and that the de facto partition is already a done deal. The Sunni Arabs, the Shi’ite Arabs, and the Kurds, all three are effectively building their own nations at this point.
The US air war is being launched with an eye on taking the Sunni territory back over for the central government. What happens after that is anyone’s guess.