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On the eve of a major donor’s conference in Washington, Iraq’s foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, would like Americans to know a few things about his country.
First, Iraqis are not a sectarian people: “Coexistence is a culture that lives in Iraq.” Second, Iraqis of all backgrounds suffered equally under Saddam Hussein. (Never mind what those Kurds over there might tell you.) And finally, there are no Americans fighting the Islamic State today on Iraqi soil.
But many Sunni Iraqis are also attracted to the poison of the Islamic State, even if a large majority of them pledge their allegiance to this self-proclaimed caliphate only because they are forced to do so. As Kyle Orton, a British security blogger, has documented, many Baathists purged from the post-Saddam state filled the ranks of Al Qaeda and later the Islamic State. During Maliki’s crackdowns in late 2013 and early 2014, some prominent Sunni tribal leaders stated openly that they preferred the Islamic State to Maliki’s army.
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