Why Baghdad’s ‘control and punish’ mentality will harm fight against Daesh

Sectarianism and centralisation by Baghdad leaders against the spirit and letter of the 2005 federal constitution was a major recruiting sergeant for Sunnis to the belief that Daesh was less dangerous to their own interests than Baghdad. That the previous Prime Minister unilaterally cut federal funds to the Kurds in early 2014 consolidated that belief on the grounds that if Shia leaders treated their old Kurdish allies against Saddam in this way, then they would be treated worse. Baghdad’s reaction to a valid referendum about eventual not immediate independence achieved through negotiation may crudely assert the old ‘control and punish’ mentality but could provide tinder to the fire of Sunni grievance and accelerate the ideological rejuvenation of Daesh or some even more toxic version of the death cult.

Gary Kent
Director All-Party Parliament Group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq

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