A number of Iraqi Sunni leaders gathered in the capital Baghdad on Friday and formed a new alliance, with some political leaders sending their blessings from exile.
The leaders who gathered in the home of Iraq’s Sunni parliamentary speaker Salim al-Jabouri, said the aim of the alliance was to be involved in the post-ISIS era and become an authority and mouthpiece for the Sunni population.
“The importance of this is we have found a common view despite all the differences,” Jabouri told Rudaw following the announcement of the Alliance of Iraqi National Forces.
“We must pursue this common ground and put aside the disputes and let people look to a different future,” he added. “Unlike the past when the situation led to the occupation of their land and their own displacement.”
Some Sunni leaders who could not attend the meeting because they are wanted by Iraqi courts on charges of terrorism endorsed the alliance at a press conference in the Kurdish capital of Erbil.
According to Rudaw’s correspondent in Baghdad Bahman Hassan, 300 major political and tribal figures now make up the alliance.
“Our future is in being together with the other side,” the speaker of the parliament said.
The Friday meeting and alliance was the culmination of years of gatherings and diplomatic efforts in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kurdistan Region, and Jordan.
The Sunni leaders want to be able to run the affairs of Sunni areas that fell to ISIS in 2014 and have suffered politically, socially and economically as a result of the ISIS occupation and subsequent military offensives.