Saudi-Iran Feud Poses Threat to Iraq’s Effort to Combat ISIS
Wednesday, 06
January 2016 12:27
Most analysts believe he has done a decent job of this, at least better than his predecessor, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who presided over discriminatory policies that alienated many Sunnis. His challenge now, as he looks north to the greater challenge of trying to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is to retain the support of Sunni tribes
Tensions flared last summer after Shiite forces helped oust the Islamic State from Sunni areas like the city of Tikrit. There were reports that Shiite fighters forced Sunnis from their homes and looted their property. But by contrast, Ramadi was taken by a combination of Iraqi security forces and armed Sunni fighters from the area — with the help of heavy American airstrikes, which had been less forthcoming when Iranian-backed militias led the fight in Tikrit.
Hamid al-Mutlaq, a Sunni lawmaker from Falluja, said that the success of Iraqi security forces in Ramadi was because the government had found the right force to fight for the city.
“In Anbar, we refused letting the popular mobilization groups come to work with the army and the police,” he said, using the local term for Shiite militias and referring to the province. “We asked the sons of Anbar to work with the security forces to liberate Ramadi, fearing the problems that happened elsewhere.”

He said that rising sectarian tensions in the region were not good for the fight against the Islamic State, which has appealed for recruits and support by characterizing Shiites as the enemy.
This tension pulls apart the unity that we need to fight ISIS,” he said.

At the same time, Zaid al-Ali, a lecturer and fellow at Princeton University and the author of “The Struggle for Iraq’s Future,” said the specifics of the Saudi-Iran split would have relatively little effect on Iraqis.

Iraqi history has left Saudi Arabia with a more complicated relationship with Iraq’s Sunnis than it has with its sectarian brethren in other Arab countries.
“The Saudis consider Iraqi Sunnis to be republican agitators, and the Iraqi Sunnis don’t really like the Saudis either,” he added. “Although some are happy to take their money.”