In the wake of the United States withdrawal from Iraq, a government made up of mainly Shi’a political figures emerged. Today, that government is led by Kurdish President, Bahram Salih, and Shi’a Prime Minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
Under Iraq’s postwar constitution, the president must be a Kurd, the prime minister a Shia, and the speaker of parliament a Sunni. The divisions of authority give the three dominant sects a stake in the country’s affairs. However, power is often bitterly contested along sectarian lines leading to regular governance breakdowns and a long list of grievances – including complaints of rampant corruption, sclerotic services and a bloated, inefficient public sector.The Guardian
While this arrangement would seem to be the best possible distribution of power among the factions in Iraq, it has been far from successful.
Ben Taub, of The New Yorker wrote an outstanding article on the aftermath of the tacit defeat of ISIS in Iraq. His piece goes into detail about facile trials of individuals rounded up supposedly having ties to ISIS and being executed whether there was actual proof of ties or not. This is breeding an amazing contempt within the Sunni populations and when murderers like Muqtada al Sadr have enormous power in the government, it is not hard to see how show trials could continue for quite some time. And Taub’s article is spot on when he points out that there is no true defeat of ISIS in that it is an idea rather than an actual sect of peoples. While Donald Trump prepares to pull out of Syria with the blessings of Turkey and Russia, Kurdish fighters there are on the verge of releasing over 3,000 ISIS fighters back onto the battlefield. Considering there are still close to 30,000 ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq, according to the Defense Department, a job well done may be a bit premature.
With the Iraqi government and court system conducting a scorched earth campaign against the Sunni population in Iraq, 35% of the country is subject to softening to ISIS in a desire and need for protection and being brothers in persecution.
Suspects are tried under a law that makes no distinction between a person who “assists terrorists” and one who commits violent crimes on behalf of an extremist group. The conviction rate is around ninety-eight per cent. Family members of the accused rarely show up to watch the hearings, out of fear that they will be detained, too. It’s not uncommon for relatives to be rounded up by the security forces and sent to remote desert camps, where they are denied food, medical services, and access to documents. “We’re deleting thousands of families from Iraqi society,” the official told me. “This is not just revenge on isis. This is revenge on Sunnis.”The New Yorker
30,000 members today would mean ISIS has substantially maintained and/or replenished it’s ranks, even through thousands upon thousands being killed over the last four years, to near peak levels. There have been a wave of kidnappings and assassinations in the past year attributed to ISIS that have citizens in Iraq and elsewhere afraid the group will be back terrorizing them again.
Indeed, with the murders of Norwegian student tourists, Maren Ueland and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, in Morocco, at the hands of IS supporters, the idea that ISIS has been defeated is a bit stale. That the government of Iraq is creating a culture that will breed a multitude more people with this vile thinking, is intolerable. That Donald Trump has chosen to declare a false victory, is unconscionable.