Sunni tribesmen battling Islamic State demand federalism in Iraq

Members of the Lions of the Tigris and part of the Hashid Shaabi take part during a military operation against Islamic State militants in Shayyalah al-Imam

From Reuters:

“As mortar bombs landed ever closer, Sunni tribal fighters preparing to attack Islamic State seemed more preoccupied by the failures of Iraq’s political class than the militants trying to kill them.

The men – and one woman – from the Lions of the Tigris unit gathered on Wednesday in Shayyalah al-Imam, a village near Mosul, with some of their leaders expressing deep distrust of the politicians and saying Iraq’s governance must change once Islamic State is defeated.

“Iraq needs serious reforms,” said Sheikh Mohammed al-Jibouri, the top commander of the tribesmen. “Only serious reforms will lead to the unity of Iraq.”

The unit is part of the Popular Mobilisation Committee, or Hashid Shaabi, which was formed to take on Islamic State after the hardline Sunni group swept through northern Iraq in 2014, facing little resistance from the army.

Hashid Shaabi is mostly comprised of Shi’ites but there are also Sunnis, such as the 655-strong Lions of the Tigris unit.”

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