US Struggles to Find Sunni Tribal Allies in Iraq

Opposes Using Shi'ite Militias to Attack Anbar Province

US officials seem to have agreed with the Iraqi government that, in the wake of taking most of the city of Tikrit, they need to start trying to make gains in the Anbar Province, the largest province in Iraq.

The question is how, with Iraqi officials eager to just copy the Tikrit model of using Shi’ite militias to do all the heavy lifting in the offensive against ISIS-held Sunni towns.

The US, however, doesn’t see this as a great idea, and rather is pushing for Iraq to use mostly Sunnis in the offensive. The problem is that they don’t have significant Sunni allies to do that.

Iraqi PM Hayder Abadi is trying to give lip-service to the US idea, saying they’d like more Sunni involvement. He doesn’t seem to be ruling out the Shi’ite militias, however, and given the looting and lynching the militias have carried out virtually every time they take Sunni towns, the number of Sunnis who might get on board for the offensive are shrinking by the day.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.