Among the Sunni population in Iraq, many are finding life under ISIS preferable to what they had with the Iraqi government. As the state is mostly run by a Shia majority, Sunnis are now finding a voice through the extremist group. For the most part, in a city like Mosul whose population is predominantly Sunni, people there have welcomed ISIS.
Mosul residents told the Financial Times that ISIS sacked alcohol shops and tore down a church that was under construction, but that otherwise personal freedoms have been unchanged. Their one complaint was the lack of electricity, which they blamed on the central Iraqi government, and said they were cheering on ISIS to seize a nearby refinery to fix the issue.
The trick that ISIS has pulled off here is seizing Mosul but not ruling it directly. The group appears to have handed authority for the large city over to local, tribal, Sunni armed groups. Those groups share ISIS’s hatred of the Iraqi national government, so they’re happy to help oust the Iraqi army, but unlike ISIS they are not as fixated on imposing extremist Islamism. “There is no ISIS in Mosul,” a 58-year-old Mosul resident told the Financial Times. “The ones controlling city are now the clans. The power is with the tribes.”
For the moment, everyone is getting along just fine. But not governing the cities themselves may ultimately be the undoing of ISIS. The decentralized, self-governing situation could quickly and easily turn into civil war as different regions vie for control.
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