After The Islamic State: Who Takes Over When Iraq’s Battles Are Won?
A wave of victories against extremists should have seen civilian life slowly return to Iraq’s liberated cities. Instead there’s chaos and nobody knows who’s in charge. What kind of forward planning does the government have in mind?
The cities from which Iraq’s pro-government forces have expelled the extremist group known as the Islamic State are in a state of administrative chaos. Cities like Atheem, Jalawla and Sadiya,in the Diyala province and Tikrit, Dour and Albu Ujail in the Salahaddin province are sites of some of the most important victories for the forces fighting the Islamic State, or IS, group. Yet there are little or no signs of a return to civilian life in these places.
There are no local police, courts or state services and the cities have tended to remain under the rule of the unofficial Shiite Muslim militias that took part in the battles to free them – the militias are mostly made up of volunteers and are not under the control of the Iraqi government.
And many of the cities used to have Sunni Muslim-majority populations. Many of the latter are too scared to return to their homes while members of the other sect are in charge; in fact, some say the militias won’t actually allow them to return.
The various abuses that some Shiite militia fighters have meted out in retaliation for what they see as Sunni collaboration with the IS group, which bases it’s strict religious ideology on an extreme form of Sunni Islam, have been well documented.
The question that remains though, is what happens now?
“The Iraqi government has failed to prepare itself for the post-IS era,” says local political analyst Ahmad al-Alousi. “Before even beginning these campaigns to liberate these areas, it should have held dialogue with local tribal leaders and various local Sunni factions.”