Re-settling refugees: Iraq’s endgame?

By Robert Tollast.

Loveday Morris, who usually reports on Iraq for The Washington Post, has written an engaging piece on the returning “internally displaced persons” or IDPs, to Tikrit following the expulsion of Islamic State forces in the town.

Morris’ piece touches on some of the nuance that is often lost in reporting on Iraq. For example, she quotes an un-named US official who describes inter-Sunni tribal conflict in the area as one of the problems. The official notes that the situation is far more complex than “Sunni, Shi’a, Kurd.”

For some years now, Sunni tribes in Anbar and Salahaddin (where Tikrit is located) have been divided over support for salafist terrorism and support for the former regime, with others backing the Iraqi govt. or supporting US forces during the occupation.

During the June ISIS offensive last year, some Sunnis in the province made way for the terrorists, following years of resentment toward the central government, while others–most notably members of the Jabour tribe, made a stand against ISIL.

Remarkably, some of those tribesmen were among the first Sunnis to join with Shi’a paramilitaries, the mass mobilized Hashd al Shabi fighters, a development that stunned many analysts. Many tensions remain.

The safe return of Sunni IDPs to Tikrit, and the restoration of services to the town will be critical in winning over Sunni support for the central govt. or at least ensuring more Sunnis do not join the “Islamic State.”

This author notes that current Iraqi govt. policy towards Sunni IDPs varies greatly, with some former battlegrounds such as Jurf al Nasr now virtually devoid of people. In other areas, Baghdad has been sending humanitarian aid to IDPs and providing them with temporary housing.

That is not just morally right, but makes for sound counterinsurgency policy. You can read Morris’ piece in full here.

Source: The National Post.




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