Iraqi Sunni Leaders Fear US Pullout

Many see sectarian fighting growing

While the 2003 US invasion and military occupation of Iraq centered its regime change on imposing a Shi’ite dominated government in the country, and quickly presented any and all Sunni Arab figures as “Ba’athists” or Islamists (or both), those same Sunni leaders are concerned that a US pullout might be bad for them.

In the grand scheme of things, many Sunnis see Iraq as once again a hotbed of sectarian tensions. As one MP noted, “the US doesn’t concern me. Iran doesn’t concern me. Nothing concerns me as much as Iraq does.”

US domination of Iraq hasn’t prevented the Iraqi government destroying major Sunni cities more than a few times, but for those who have survived politically through all that, any big moves could be seen as increasing the rate of destabilization. That could make things more dangerous for them than the usual Iraq levels of danger.

It was fear of being on record favoring the US pullout that led many Sunni MPs, admittedly a minority in parliament, from attending and voting on the call for US troops to leave. While some are trying to buy some future US support with comments supportive of them staying, many seem to be afraid of what is to come next, and with Iraq facing massive protests calling for wholesale reforms, many likely believe they are safer to just remain off-the-record.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of