26/06/2014 - 23:00
Who’s who in Iraq?

On the 10th of June when ISIS took over Mosul, there was no one there to stand in their way.

This indicates that this attack was pre-planned. In a memorandum published by Mosul's Governor Esil Nuceyfi, who left for Arbil that night, he had stated that 'no one should fire at the mujahids entering the city'. In a statement he made in Arbil, Esil Nuceyfi — who is also the brother of Iraq's speaker of parliament Usame Nuceyfi — had claimed that 'the army had betrayed us'. Speaker of parliament Usame Nuceyfi had visited Ankara ten days before these development. Mosul has since become the Sunni centre of the new process in Iraq. Most dynamics of the region were collaborators of this plan; ISIS' attacks were a manifestation of this. In reality, local tribes and the former Ba'athist bureaucracy were 'changing sides'. The socio-political reasons for this should be evaluated.

This development will not only have an impact on Iraq's internal affairs, but will also have a significant impact on all of the regions affairs. However, Iraqis will be the first to feel these impacts. It is a shame that when we take a closer look at the dynamics and 'blocs' involved in this new scenario, it seems likely that rather than a solution, a deepening chaos is visible in the horizon. Regrettably, all developments lead to this conclusion.

The Sunni bloc:

The Sunnis form just over a third of Iraq's population. Although the Sunnis behold many political tendencies, it is possible to categorise these tendencies into five separate movements.

Firstly, there is the Ba'thists; led by Saddam Hussein's former aide Izeddin Eli Duri. Secondly, there is the Iraq Islamic Party of which Tarik El Hashimi is a member of. Thirdly, you have Al-Qaeda and its offshoots like ISIS. Fourthly, there are the Wahhabis. Lastly, you have the Hadba Party led by Usame Nuceyfi.

The Sunni community is represented by the El Iraqiya coalition in Baghdad. The Iraq Islamic Party represents the Muslim Brotherhood; Al-Qaeda type organisations are representing the Sunni states of the region; the Wahhabis represent Wahhabism in Iraq and are backed by the Saudis. Most of the movements that fall under these categories are represented in parliament by the 'El Iraqiya coalition'.

The organisations influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, Tarik El Hashimi's Iraq Islamic Party and the AKP government in Turkey are in full collaboration with one another. In order to strengthen their hands against the Shiite majority, this group is also collaborating with Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Tarik El Hashimi is in Exile and lives in Turkey, unable to go back to Iraq due to accusations of inciting violence. He has special leave to remain in Turkey and Qatar.

One of the leaders of the 'El Iraqiya coalition', Salih El Mutleq, is an extreme Arab nationalist. They see other faiths and identities as a major threat for to themselves. For this reason, they are closed to all forms of dialogue and reconciliation. They are a movement that is struggling for Sunni Arab sovereignty.

The Sunnis have many military formations. Among these, there are many 'voluntary foreign fighters'; the Salafi-Wahhabi fighters believe that they are 'Jiahdists'. A significant majority of those that fall under this bracket have congregated under the umbrella of ISIS.

What is ISIS?

The focus of this article is not the history of ISIS. However, to summarise, ISIS is a hit man organisation for radical Sunni-Arab/Al-Qaeda mentality. All forces of the region have their own version of ISIS.

The Arab-Sunnis within ISIS are largely directed and administered by Saudi Arabia. There is a fruitful societal resource field in the Middle East for this structure. Therefore, to define ISIS as a loosely structured proxy organisation formed by perverted individuals will fall significantly short of describing what it actually is. The real danger is the existing resource field that feeds this pervertedness. This is the most tragic manifestation of sectarian fanaticism in the Middle East.

The Caucasian and Turkish groups within ISIS are funded by Turkey. Turkey formed a sub-structure within ISIS to deploy in Syria and Rojava.

The backbone of ISIS is constructed by groupings within Al-Qaeda who organise themselves under the name of ISIS. It can be said that these groups are affiliated with all the Sunni states of the region.

So what are they key motivations of the latest attacks and developments?

1- For the first time in Iraq's history the Sunni's have forfeited power to the Shiite majority. This is the underlying reason as to why all Sunni organisation, no matter what there ideology, are opposed to the Maliki administration. They see a Shiite government as a threat to themselves.

2- The Sunnis see Mosul and Kirkuk as Arab cities. They believe that these 'disputed areas' — that according to article 140 of the Iraqi constitution can only be determined by referendum — should be indisputably under their own control.

3- The reality of Shiite rule in Iraq is discomforting for Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan. It is possible to include Turkey into this group. In order to weaken the Maliki administration, these countries are actively brokering a unity between the Sunnis in Iraq. A relentless diplomatic effort is being carried out to this end.

4- In the last year, the Sunnis have been extremely alienated from the bureaucracy in Iraq. Maliki has all but forced the Sunnis to rebel. The Sunnis realised that only a unified Sunni stance could cope with Maliki's political and military might. Cue ISIS; this was the aim behind the introduction of ISIS.

The Shiite bloc:

Spiritually, the biggest power of the Shiites is Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Sistani is not only a dynamic in Iraq. He is Iranian and embraces all Shiites. For this reason, he too is accepted and embraced by all Shiites.

Iranian Shiites believe Qom is their holy land, while the Shiites in Iraq believe it is Najaf. In this sense, there is competition between the two. Sistani plays a mediative role between the Arabic and Persian Shiites.

The strongest of the political organisations of the Shiites in Iraq is Maliki's Dava Party.

Another Shiite movements is led by Omar El Hekim...

Muqtada Al-sadr is the leader of a strong political and religious wing. This movement is more in line with Iran.

The Shiites have overwhelming internal conflicts. However, their sole universally unifying point is the Sunni threat. There are some, like Iyad Allawi, within the Shiite community that do collaborate with the Sunnis; however, this is a minority.

It has been said that there are periodic outbreaks of problems between religious leader Sistani and Maliki. However, it seems that these are exaggerated. Although the Shiite community is the majority in Iraq, it is the first time they are in power after the beginning of the expansion of Islam, almost 1500 years ago. It shouldn't be expected of the Shiites to relinquish this opportunity due to internal contradictions. In this regard, even if the actors and dynamics change in Iraq as a whole, the Shiites will most definitely retain a part of Iraq that they themselves will govern. This is the main focal point of the Shiite community. This long-running Shiite aspiration cannot and will not be sacrificed for anyone's political career.

The Kurdish bloc:

Within this chaos that is Iraq, it is difficult to categorise the Kurds under one disposition. This situation is as dangerous as it is opportunus. The developments in Iraq affect the whole of Kurdistan; for this reason, metaphorically speaking, the Kurdish train should be on the same track. If one wagon deviates from the track, this will no doubt be detrimental to the whole train; already there are worrying signs.

The KDP did the one thing it shouldn't have done and took sides in the Sunni-Shiite conflict. The KDP's existing political and economic relations with the AKP and its handicapped approach to Rojava objectively placed it on the same side as the Sunnis and, consequently, ISIS. This not only gravely endangered the whole of Kurdistan, but also has endangered the KDP itself. It is my hope and belief that there are people who have the necessary political foresight that can help the KDP solve this mess. Even the most simplistic evaluation of the past century will lead anyone to the conclusion that the Kurds were mentally eradicated and non-existent in the global system. Now they are determined to exist. Officially, the only place that their existence is accepted is in South Kurdistan and Iraq. This said, how can a political organisation hoping to represent the Kurds collaborate with political structures that are against the existence of the Kurdish people? The KDP's strategic relations with the AKP and Sunni structures in Iraq is in itself contradictory and self-destructive.

The KDP's long-term relations with Iran is also no secret. Recently, Nechirvan Barzani visited Iran for meetings. It was widely reported that Iran had 'warned' Barzani of their position. Iran has made it clear that it will not accept dual allegiances from Iraq's political actors. However, a sole strategic partnership with Iran is as dangerous as a sole strategic partnership with the Sunnis. Iran will do everything within its power to halt the advances of ISIS, so it will be very difficult for the KDP to walk this tightrope through this chaos.

The PUK, however, has always maintained a consistent stance against Arabic chauvinism. Jalal Talabani played a mediative role between the Shiites and the Sunnis. They had relations with Maliki during their time in Syria. Barzani, however, was unable to maintain this balanced relationship. The PUK has always had good relations with Iran. However, this was always a more consistent and principled relationship compared to the relationship between the KDP and the AKP.

In towns such as Khanaqin, the majority of the population are Shiite Kurds; the PUK is the strongest party here. Another reason as to why the PUK has good relations with Iran is due to geography.

The Goran movement has taken a more neutral stance towards the developments in Iraq and Southern Kurdistan. However, Goran will not want to show itself to side with the KDP on any matter. This is due to the simple fact that Goran's popularity rose due to its stark opposition to the KDP. For this reason, when it comes to the situations in Mosul and Kirkuk, the Goran movement will side with the PUK.

The KCK's 'we will defend Kirkuk and Sinjar' statement was a big morale boost for the people of South Kurdistan. Abdullah Ocalan has written volumes on how the ethnic and sectarian violence ravaging the Middle East is exported from the 'outside'. With this perspective, the PKK movement has always proposed a non-ethnic/non-sectarian confederal solution for Iraq.

Islamic parties in South Kurdistan such as Yekgirtu and Komali Islami are opposed to organisations such as ISIS. They have a balanced relationship with Iran. They do not seem willing to show compromise when it comes to Kurdistan.

As this war heats up and the Sunnis gain strength, they will gravitate towards the oil fields in Kurdistan. Currently, their main aim is to overthrow the Shiite government so they will not attack Kirkuk at this stage. In Mosul there is an objective ceasefire. However, as previously stated, the Sunnis will never accept the reality of Mosul and Kirkuk being under Kurdish control. A democratic system is non-existent in the DNA of these chauvinistic structures. The Sunnis were much more adamant in not applying the 140th article of the constitution then the Shiites. In this regard, the KDP is upholding a tacit ceasefire with those structures that are against the application of the 140th article of the Iraqi constitution; forgetting that Iraqi Shiites are much more negotiable than Iraqi Sunnis. KDP's stance has all to do with the joint adventure it has entered into with the AKP. Despite all of these, the joint defence of Kirkuk by all Kurdish parties is a positive development.

What will happen if the Sunnis do gain ground and gravitate towards an attack against Kirkuk and the oil fields? Can the KDP sacrifice Kirkuk in order to gain Mosul? Will this not be suicidal for a 'Kurdish organisation', when in the hearts and minds of the Kurds Kirkuk is a red line? The state of events and the course of these events indicate that these questions will be posed in all there severity.

The Sunni bloc has De Facto gained the initiative in Iraq. The current political and geographic entity of Iraq has no resemblance to what it was two years ago. Iran will intensify its support for the Shiites in Iraq. Saudi Arabia will intensify its support for the Sunni surge in order to ensure Iran does not widen its grip on the region. Everyone is curious as to what the USA's course of action will be. The USA is hoping for the establishment of a strong stable central government in Iraq. The USA and Israel will much rather the Shiites retain power than the Sunnis increasing theirs.

If a confederal solution cannot be attained and Maliki concedes Mosul and Kirkuk to the Kurds, the differences between the Kurdish parties will become even more distinct. In this case, the KDP will either have to accept the overwhelming tendencies of the Kurds by cutting all ties with the Sunni bloc, or insist on one of the biggest mistakes of its political existence. The second option, however, carries immense risks; even the loss of Mosul and Kirkuk.

Regrettably, the only certainty facing Iraq is more bloodshed.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of