By Kamal Taha ,AFP
AMMAN, Jordan — As U.S.-led warplanes pound jihadists in Iraq, prominent Sunni exiles say that empowering their marginalized minority will be more important than bombs and missiles in defeating the Islamic State (IS) extremist group. Deadly sectarian tensions have riven Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago, with Sunni anger at the Shiite-led authorities seen as a key factor behind the rise of IS. ��Dropping bombs from planes will not eliminate the terrorism of the so-called Daesh,�� said Iraqi Sunni cleric in exile Sheikh Abdel Malik al-Saadi, using an Arabic acronym for IS. ��What is needed to eliminate this terrorism is to eradicate the motives behind injustice, marginalization and genocide, and to give people back their rights and freedoms,�� he told AFP in the Jordanian capital Amman, home to thousands of Iraqi refugees. Sunni-led IS has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, declaring an Islamic ��caliphate�� and committing widespread atrocities. Under Saddam, Iraq’s Sunni community �X although a minority �X kept a tight grip on power. But since Saddam was ousted in the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and later executed, the Shiites have emerged as the driving political force. Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki are both Shiites. About 60-65 percent of Iraq’s Muslims are Shiite, and the remainder Sunni.
Sharing Power Maliki, who in August bowed to huge domestic and international pressure to step down, made few concessions to Sunni Arabs while in office, instead unsuccessfully seeking to address the problem with military force. Neighboring Iran, which is also majority Shiite, was a key backer of Maliki until the escalating turmoil prompted Tehran to distance itself from him. Sunni clerics and community leaders living in exile in Jordan say power-sharing in Iraq between Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites will be needed to bring stability to the violence-wracked nation. Without a political consensus between all Iraqis, ��we will not be able to beat Daesh, and even if we succeed another group will emerge �X another Daesh,�� warned Yahya al-Kubaisi, a consultant for the Amman-based Iraqi Centre for Strategic Studies. Saadi, the cleric, said the U.S.-led coalition carrying out air strikes on the jihadists must ��revise its positions because the situation will get worse across the world.��