Zack Beacuahmp at Vox has a terrific interview with Fanar Haddad, research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute. In it, Haddad explains many of the current issues and adds context to the growing conflict between the Iraqi group Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS):
I’d say this point is crucial to pre- and post-2003 Iraq: the idea of the legitimacy of the state. It’s also sort of crucial to what’s going on now.
When 2003 came along, a lot of Shias and certainly a lot of Kurds welcomed it. They saw it as their deliverance as Shias and Kurds as much as it was the deliverance of Iraq. On the Sunni side, there was no such sentiment because there barely existed a sense of Sunni identity before 2003. It simply didn’t exist in Iraq.
Now, what you see is the reverse. The Iraqi government is not popular with anyone, the popularity of the government is rock bottom, I’d say, but Shias are more likely to accord the state, the post-2003 order some level of legitimacy. Whereas there is a body of opinion of among Sunnis who just do not ascribe any legitimacy to it whatsoever.
That explains why, now, this rebellion is sweeping parts of Iraq. It’s not all religious fanatics. There’s a lot of people who place hope in this rebellion as a revolution, who see it as a nationalist movement. They see volunteering in the armed services as almost a sin, because they do not accord the Iraqi state any legitimacy whatsoever.
Read more: Vox