The article below points out: “When Iraqi Sunnis talk about fighting the Islamic State, it is not a discussion of some shadowy and unknowable force. It is about sons and brothers, nephews and neighbors.”
This dark force of Islamic jihad is expansive, and knows no boundaries….
“A War of Brothers in Iraq: ‘I Will Kill Him With My Own Hands,’” by Tim Arango and Filih Hassan,The New York Times, June 18, 2016:
FALLUJA, Iraq — In the days leading up to the storming of Falluja by Iraqi forces, Brig. Gen. Hadi Razaij, the leading Sunni police commander in the campaign, sat on a cot in an abandoned house near the front line. He described the resistance that lay ahead: a determined force of hundreds of jihadists that had months to prepare.
General Razaij’s presence on the battlefield shows that local Sunnis, and not just the Shiite forces that now dominate Iraqi politics, are fighting to liberate their own communities, and has helped tamp down fears that the battle for Falluja would heighten sectarian tensions.
He was dispassionate as he described the challenges, but for him the fight was personal, too. General Razaij’s brother stands accused of being a member of the Islamic State and is in a prison cell after being arrested at a checkpoint with a car full of explosives.
In northern Iraq, Nofal Hammadi, the governor-in-exile of Mosul, is working with the United States to plan for that city’s liberation from the Islamic State. He, too, has family in the fight: Mr. Hammadi’s brother is an Islamic State official, having appeared in a video pledging his allegiance to the terror group and disowning his brother.
Even as the central question of Iraq remains unanswered — whether the country’s Sunni minority and Shiite majority can ever peacefully coexist in a unified state — the experiences of General Razaij, Mr. Hammadi and others add a troubling corollary: It is not clear that Iraq’s divided Sunnis will ever be able to find peace among themselves after a conflict that in many ways is playing out as a war within families.
After all, when Iraqi Sunnis talk about fighting the Islamic State, it is not a discussion of some shadowy and unknowable force. It is about sons and brothers, nephews and neighbors.
“Today we don’t necessarily need reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites,” General Razaij said. “We need reconciliation among one sect.”
(General Razaij has given conflicting statements about his jailed brother, telling the local news media that he had disowned him. But in an interview with The New York Times, he said he believed his brother was innocent.)
General Razaij was asked how many of his men were fighting against brothers or other close relatives who had joined the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. “It’s so many,” he said.
One of General Razaij’s men, Salih Ibrahim Sharmoot, is a policeman from Falluja who has been fighting along the city’s southern edge — a battle in which government forces made quick and surprising gains on Friday, capturing the main government compound.
He said his brother Muwafaq joined ISIS in 2013. Antigovernment fervor was running strong in Falluja, in opposition to the sectarian policies of Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, the prime minister at the time, who had ordered the mass arrests of Sunni men on often unsubstantiated terrorism charges.
“If I catch him during the battles, I will kill him with my own hands because he is a criminal,” Mr. Sharmoot said about his brother.
For Iraq ever to be at peace with itself after the end of the Islamic State, it will require reconciliation on a number of levels, especially within the Sunni community. That minority fell from power after the United States-led invasion in 2003 and has witnessed its own decimation, with millions of its followers now displaced from their homes as fighting between government forces and ISIS rages across Sunni-dominated areas.
The last time this happened, in 2006 and 2007, it took American money and influence to pacify Sunni areas then in the grip of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of the Islamic State. With the so-called Sunni Awakening, former insurgents were paid to switch sides and ally with the government. That required a measure of reconciliation, if not forgiveness, within the Sunni community.
This time, most everyone agrees, will be different. Without the United States as a mediator, or its money to buy loyalty, score-settling and revenge are likely to rule the day….