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Support of key figures could help fend off IS militants


08-17-2014 10:55 BJT

Sunni tribal leaders and clerics in Iraq say that they could join the new government to fight the Islamic State militants that threatens to tear the country apart. However, their backing is not unconditional. 

Getting the support of key figures in the Sunni community like Ali Hatem Suleiman will be key for the new Iraqi government, but can they meet the Sunni community’s key concerns

"We want to see a change in the political process and to see Sunnis get their rights, which they revolted for. Therefore, we will remain pessimistic until we see deeds and not words, We always try to wait and see what is the program of the government, and what is its vision and if we did not feel any chance, then we will go on with our revolt," Head of Dulaimi tribe Ali Hatem Suleiman said.

As he moves to succeed the much-maligned Nouri al-Maliki as Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi has called on the whole country to unite against the Islamist threat.

Sunni leaders, including Ali Hatem Suleiman, have said the Shiite-dominated government must first restore Sunnis to positions of influence.

And there are other signs of a potential political thaw in Iraq. On Friday, an aide to the country’s most influential cleric Grand Ayatollah Sistani called for unity and backed the new Prime Minister. There is also a push for the incoming government to grant more power to the Sunni and Kurdish regions.

The international pressure for reform continues. While Germany’s first aid supplies arrived in the Kurdish north Saturday the German Foreign Minister visited Baghdad to endorse the political transition. Iraq’s acting Foreign Minister offered a message of hope.

"We affirmed to the minister that we are confident that the Iraqi people will prevail in the battle against terrorism. Throughout our long history, we have confronted similar events and we will preserve an Iraq united, strong, democratic and free that contributes to the peace and security in this restive part of the world," Iraqi Acting FM Hussein Al-Shahristani said.

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