Iraqi Sunnis set conditions to fight Islamic State militants

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By Nourideen Hameed

Azzaman, August 16, 2014

Iraqi Sunnis will only start fighting Jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) if the newly appointed premier meets their demands and ends their marginalization, the elected council of Anbar Province said in a statement.

The statement, which included the conditions for the Sunni tribes to start fighting IS, whose militants have occupied large swathes of the county, were read by Sabah Karkhout, the council’s chairman.

The statement laid down more than a dozen conditions for the new premier Hayder al-Abadi and warned that failure to have them implemented would aggravate conditions in the country further.

It said Abadi should issue an amnesty that will even cover the released of the commanders of the former army under Saddam Hussein

Other demands included the “release of all unconvicted Sunni prisoners and the return of all properties among them mosques that belonged to the Sunnis.”

“There must be balance and equity in government establishments in all levels and that the judiciary must be safeguarded against factional and political interference,” it added.

IS Jihadists have spread their control on large parts of Anbar Provinces including the strategic town of Falluja and swaths of the provincial capital, Ramadi.

They are in full control of the strategic Province of Nineveh of which the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest, is the capital. They are reported to be merely 30 kilometers away from Arbil, the regional capital of the Kurdish region and about 60 kilometers from Baghdad.

IS has found a haven among Iraqi Sunni tribes and is reported to have been winning over minds and hearts as well as new recruits.

The list of demands which Karkhout read was too long and it is not clear whether Abadi would be prepared to address all of them.

According to the statement Abadi should reinvigorate the law of the provinces under which provincial authorities are given massive powers. It cited the predominantly Sunni Provinces of Nineveh, Anbar, Salahuddeen and Diyala.

“In addition (the Sunnis) should take part in military decisions through the formation of a general command that reflects the country’s diversity,” the statement said. “Abadi must quickly embark on a plan to reconstruct the provinces that have been affected by military operations … put an end to the bombing of these provinces and work for the return of the displaced people and compensate them.”

“Once (Abadi) agrees to these demands, the sons of the Province of Anbar and its tribes will start fighting al-Qaeda (IS) and expel them from across the country,” the statement said.