BAGHDAD- As Iraq seeks support from powerful tribal leaders against the Islamic State group, the jihadists have launched a campaign of mass killings aimed at sowing enough fear to warn them off.
But while the massacre of members of the Albu Nimr tribe may make it harder for Baghdad to gain more tribal support, tribesmen are still fighting and the killings could yet backfire by encouraging resistance.
The Sunni extremist IS spearheaded a major militant offensive in June that overran much of the country’s Sunni Arab heartland, and the government needs the help of influential tribes to regain it.
It is important for Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s government to bring the tribes on side not only for military and intelligence support, but also as a show of inclusion to Sunnis, whose anger over marginalisation by the Shiite-dominated authorities has helped IS.
In recent weeks, Abadi has held a series of meetings with tribal leaders in both Iraq and neighbouring Jordan.
“Abadi believes that the role of the tribes is fundamental and key in fighting terrorism,” Rafid Juburi, the spokesman for the premier’s office, told AFP.
“Communications with the tribal sheikhs are continuing and the prime minister received at least five tribal delegations from Anbar and Mosul and Salaheddin in two weeks,” Juburi said, referring to areas where IS holds territory.