A significant victory against ISIS in Iraq will require meaningful reconciliation between Iraq’s warring communities. The greatest unknown is Iraq’s Sunni population. Their isolation from the Iraqi political system, stemming from the divisive policies of the previous Iraqi government, opened the door to ISIS’s return to Iraq and lies at the heart of this new Iraqi civil war. If Iraq is to achieve peace again and remain a unified state, one of the most important questions is how to bring Iraq’s Sunnis back into the fold.
On Monday, May 11, the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution hosted a conversation with two key Sunni leaders from Iraq. Rafe al-Issawi served as deputy prime minister and minister of finance under former Prime Minister Maliki, and is one of the most prominent Sunni leaders from Anbar province; Atheel al-Nujayfi is the governor of Ninewah Province and one of the most prominent Sunni leaders from Mosul. These leading Sunni officials discussed the future of Iraq with moderator and Brookings Senior Fellow Kenneth Pollack. They explored the Sunni role in leading Iraq going forward, Sunni concerns about marginalization, and what role the United States might play in this delicate but vital process.