Reports about the June 21 clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and fighters from the Naqshbandi Order organization, led by former Iraqi Vice President Izzat al-Duri, have surprised no one.
In fact, a battle among the armed factions fighting the Iraqi army in Sunni cities and towns was expected to break out as soon as things relatively settled down and the gunmen’s influence in Iraq’s Sunni areas was established.
Although news reports indicate that the latest battles in the neighborhoods of al-Riyadh, al-Rashad and Hawija (all in Kirkuk province) happened because those areas refused to pledge allegiance to ISIS, well-informed sources told Al-Monitor that the conflict arose because ISIS sought to kill a number of tribal leaders who have deep connections in the region, most prominently the al-Asi family, which leads the al-Obaida tribe in Hawija.
This incident suggests that the temporary alliance between ISIS and the armed Sunni factions, which revived their role in the Fallujah battles earlier this year, is fragile and can explode at any moment.
There is one central goal common among ISIS, the Sunni factions, the clans, the clerics and the politicians: ending control by the central Iraqi government on Sunni cities and towns. Uniting these disparate groups are the grievances expressed in the Sunni demonstrations, which went on for more than a year, regarding the practices of the Iraqi government.
But after those forces achieved this goal, with victory spreading gradually from Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit tp areas in Diyala and Kirkuk, the future has become very complex.