The Sunni political arena has witnessed rapid developments in the past weeks, after the return of the former political figures -who were wanted by the law- (Rafi al-Issawi and Ali Hatem al-Suleiman) to the Anbar Governorate; In a move that was understood as an attempt to limit the role of Parliament Speaker Mohamed Al-Halbousi, who was able to contain most of his rivals in Anbar and other Sunni areas within the Sovereignty Alliance – led by Khamis Al-Khanjar.
Al-Halbousi’s euphoria did not last for the second term, and the Sunni political scene was at the fore for a long time after the entry of two personalities; One of them has a deep tribal dimension, such as Ali Hatem al-Suleiman – who is considered one of the Emirs of the Dulaim tribe – and the other has a wide network of internal and external relations, as well as its tribal extension in the city of Fallujah and its surroundings – the former Minister Rafi al-Issawi.
The impact of the return of politicians to the Sunni scene will not be limited to Anbar alone, but it may be enough to draw the political map in the Sunni areas, which have recently begun to witness a clear polarization between Al-Halbousi’s supporters and opposers.
First: The position on the political process.
Before delving into the details of the current conflict, it is necessary to return to the beginnings of Sunni participation in the political process after 2003, when most Sunni forces were not willing to participate. Because they believed that they had lost power and that any gains, no matter how large, would not compensate them for what they had lost in terms of power, influence, and ability to run the state.
The Sunnis decided to boycott the first elections that the country witnessed on January 30, 2005. As a result, the turnout rate in Anbar was 4%, and in Nineveh less than 10%. The abstention of about six million voters in Sunni areas led to the belief that there are reasons and motives that require examining the negatives and positives behind this abstention.Because their abstention was an exercise of the right to vote – it is a right and not a duty – but that boycott, which took on a sectarian character, did not achieve the results that the boycotters were hoping for, but on the contrary, exaggerated the results of the components that the boycotters wanted to weaken represented by the Shiites and the Kurds. The threats and intimidation tactics launched by some parties against the elections have backfired. However, Shiites and Kurds defied these boycott calls and voted in favor of their candidate lists, while the Sunnis lost their appropriate representation in the legislature.
After the elections, Sunnis felt remorse and realized that a boycott was not a valid option, which prompted them to participate in the elections that took place on December 15, 2005, within the Iraqi Accord Front formed by the Iraqi Islamic Party, which won 37 seats, and the Iraqi National Dialogue Front headed by Saleh al-Mutlaq, which won 9 seats.
The elections that took place at the end of 2005 witnessed an increase of 25% in the turnout rate over the previous one. The reason for this is due to the participation of Sunnis in the elections; After realizing the mistake they made when they boycotted the previous electoral process.
After the Sunni forces reached the fact that their participation in narrow sectarian terms would keep them weak, they decided to ally with Ayad Allawi within the “Iraqi National List” in the 2010 parliamentary elections, which won first place with 91 seats. However, this list disintegrated, and lost prominent leaders in the Sunni community between 2012 and 2014, after that, “Al-Karābilah” inherited the Sunni share in the government and parliament; To appoint “Mohamed Al-Halbousi” as governor of Anbar, then as speaker of parliament for the first session in 2018, before al-Halbousi formed the “Takadum” party; Which turned into a broad alliance, swept the Sunni areas in the 2021 elections, and came second at the national level with 37 seats. And with this number; However, he did not find sufficient; Which prompted him to form a broader alliance called the “Sovereignty alliance”; Which included the “Azm alliance” headed by Khamis Al-Khanjar, who assumed the presidency of the Sovereignty Alliance.