Middle East Conflict Between Sunnis And Shiites Makes ISIS Defeat More Difficult

The conflict between Shiite (Shia) and Sunni Muslims throughout the Middle East map is usually the driving force of what complicates every effort made by Western countries to engage.

Last week, Reuters was one of the sources to provide an update on the status the U.S.-led coalition forces — which includes Shiite militias — to battle the Islamic State in Iraq, and their Middle Eastern strongholds. The report included the insight of those in the intelligence department who have said that Islamic State could make gains even as they’re being defeated.

The report says ISIS could still cause a lot of damage by hitting soft targets, planting dirty bombs, and triggering lone wolves throughout the world.

Some intelligence officials are also saying that because the U.S.-led coalition forces have collaborated with Shiite and Kurdish groups, that Sunnis will be further motivated by the fall of the Islamic State to stage more attacks.

In short, the suggestion by military leaders is that defeating ISIS could backfire.

Brett McGurk
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk speaks during the daily briefing at the White House about the gains made on ISIS in Lybia, Syria and Iraq in Washington, Friday, June 10, 2016. [Image by Susan Walsh/AP Photo]
The article also refers to a White House press briefing with Brett McGurk, who is the presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, where he covered the recent gains against ISIS in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.

It also points to a quote by Seth Jones who is an analyst with RAND on potential guerrilla warfare.

“It looks like the areas that the Islamic State has lost, they are generally abandoning, and that would mean preparing to fight another day.”

This view isn’t new as it already happened toward the end of the Bush administration, as U.S. forces were hampered down with precision guerrilla strikes.

The secret to beating ISIS is to not exploit sectarianism
Demonstrators hold a poster depicting former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, right, and former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, left, during a demonstration at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Thousands of people demonstrated in cities across Iraq on Friday to show support for a reform plan put forth by the prime minister this week while still demanding that greater measures be taken to target corruption and restore basic services. The Arabic sentence on the poster reads, “it was the third version of dictatorship because the people was bowed.” [Image by Khalid Mohammed/AP Photo]
But the article also points to a very different solution to the Sunni versus Shiite problem, which former Prime minister al-Maliki exploited when he was in power. Reports have mentioned that coalition forces are including both sides, working together against ISIS.

On the same day as the press briefing, during the international round up hour of The Diane Rehm Show, a caller named Jerrod talked about the Syrian conflict where he said that lately, U.S. forces have provided more support to the Kurds and Shiite militias to handle most of the conflicts on the ground, sending the wrong message to the Sunni groups.

To this, a journalist for al-Monitor responded.

“Yeah. I mean, you sound like a lot of the Syrians opposition that I talk to and that are on Twitter and saying the same thing. You know, why doesn’t the U.S. support a moderate Sunni force. And, you know, of course the U.S. does in Syria, the Free Syrian Army. But they found, I think, the Kurds more effective fighters and been able to take territory more.”

Further on in the discussion, it was mentioned that Assad stirs up the conflict again and again by going in and killing more people, much as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tried to do with a peaceful protester after the U.S. left Iraq, and he began to purge the Iraqi army of Sunnis.

Shiite and some Sunni forces go into Fallujah, despite reports that Sunni civilians are being executed, suspected of being ISIS
Iraqi forces advance in Fallujah, Iraq, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Pockets of Islamic State fighters continue to hold neighborhoods along the north and west of the city. [Image by Hadi Mizban/AP Photo]
It would appear that the new coalition could be trying to establishing a new relationship with these groups.

But the Reuters article also points to this.

“Sunnis in Iraq no longer view the ISIL radicals as liberators, and the Shiite role in the fighting is less important than it was a year ago, officials in Baghdad told Reuters. As a result, they said, the Iraqi army has gained Sunni acceptance and is seen less as a Shiite-led sectarian force than it was under former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.”

In an article published on Inquisitr about the difficulties of the battle in Fallujah, where Shiite militia were said to not be a part of the campaign for fear that they would fan the flames of sectarianism.

Many sources, along with the Reuters article, have reported that a Shiite militia has executed 100 Sunni fighters outside of Fallujah, saying that they were ISIS fighters. This became an issue, especially since the same Inquisitr article points to one case, where a Shiite militia group was making propaganda videos saying that all Sunnis in Fallujah were actually terrorists, motivating the Shiite groups to kill them when they caught them, as there were no innocent civilians there.

[Image by Hadi Mizban/AP Photo]

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