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'Sunni project' needed to fight ISIS, says Mosul governor

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Mosul, says that the "Sunni identity was eradicated after the occupation."
Athil al-Nujaifi, the governor of Mosul, addresses a press conference in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on June 11, 2014.  Half a million people were estimated to have fled Iraq's second city of Mosul, as Islamist militants tightened their grip after overrunning it and a swathe of other territory. AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED        (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

ERBIL, Iraq — While moving among Erbil, Mosul, Kirkuk and Tikrit over the course of four days, I chatted with tribal members, Baathists, former resistance fighters and Naksibendis who joined the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) in what has become a Sunni uprising. These actors appear to be a coalition of revenge in a conflict fast assuming solid sectarian colors, but in reality they are a coalition of opposites and of strange bedfellows who are bound to go after one another even without the end of Nouri al-Maliki's rule over Iraq. This is the view of Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Ninevah province, who fled the ISIS takeover. He told Al-Monitor that a re-enactment of the Syrian scenario is not far off.

I spoke with Nujaifi in Erbil, where he had taken refuge. According to him, the way to confront ISIS should not be through yet another sectarian intervention, but with a Sunni approach. The antidote to ISIS is not Shiism, but Sunnism, he believes. Nujaifi has given up any hope of Baghdad restoring order to the country and is now counting on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

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