Sunni Tribal Fighters Demand Federalization in Iraq

Key Allies in ISIS War Say Iraq Needs Major Reforms

For much of Iraq, the ISIS war is seen as just a continuation of the sectarian warfare between Sunni Arabs and Shi’ite Arabs which has raged in the country since the US occupation. Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated government has long sought to dispel this notion by recruiting Sunni allies.

They haven’t had much success, but the Sunni Arab tribal factions they have managed to recruit are seen as key allies against ISIS. At the same time, the tribal leaders warn that Iraq needs massive reforms, not just a military victory, to end these conflicts.

The Lions of the Tigris faction are urging federalization as a solution to the ongoing tensions. They are far from the first to suggest this, but as allies in the current war, they may have the government’s ear more than some others.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is seen by many Sunni Arabs as a model for their own portion of the country, a chance to gain real autonomy in a nation where demographics and anti-Ba’athifcation laws ensure they will never be a major political force nationally.

Yet the KRG is openly talking secession as soon as the ISIS war wraps up, and that might be all the more reason the Shi’ite government would object, as between the Sunni Arab territory and the Kurdish territory, they risk “losing” a large majority of the country by area.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of