Al-Nail originally organized anti-government protests in 2013, before the emergence of ISIS in Iraq, who later took control of over a third of the country. Anti-government protests which began in July 2013, and lasted late into the same year, followed complaints that the Shiite-led government, headed by Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, were neglecting the Sunni provinces and depriving them of basic rights, investment, government jobs and employment. The protesters demanded that the government troops leave the Sunni populated area, but instead their protests ended with violence as the government cracked down on the protesters and organizers. Al-Nail was one of many who fled Iraq, fearing Maliki’s government as they were accused of having links to radical Islamic groups. Maliki claimed that al-Qaeda elements had infiltrated the Anbar protests. Al-Nail said the protesters had no links to or affiliation with ISIS and he described himself as only being in opposition to the then government. “ISIS does not believe in any political work.
ISIS is an organization outside of all the frameworks as they do not recognize the United Nations, government or any party,” said al-Nail. He added that the Sunnis have never embraced any radical group. Al-Nail described Maliki as “responsible” for any hardships that the Sunnis have been enduring in the Nineveh province after ISIS took over. He claims that Maliki paved for the way for ISIS to take over Mosul “after it failed to end the public revolution in the Anbar province.
“ He also stated that Maliki “intended to let the borders open in agreement with the Syrian regime after it withdrew five army divisions and left weapons worth $30 billion for ISIS to seize them.” Al-Nail also commented on a military Sunni force called the Resistance Forces, which came into being after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. He accused Paul Bremer, America’s Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq, of allowing the force to emerge since “he neglected 16 million Sunni Arabs,” he claimed. Al-Nail believes that there is possibility for another similar group to emerge “if a just resolution is not found and the authority of the militia of Hashd [al-Shaabi] and tribal forces continue to destroy the Sunni populated areas.” He warned, “in this case no other options are left but to defend ourselves.” Sunni leaders currently present in the political arenas of Iraq do not represent the Sunnis, he claimed, describing them as the stooges of Maliki. “They are created by Maliki in the name of representing the Sunnis.
But they do not represent us,” he said.
He went on to say that part of the plights Sunnis go through is due to the Sunni leaders as they “were ready to get involved in a political process which initially was designed to marginalize the Sunnis.” There are still certain Sunni social, political, military and religious leaders in Iraq.
However, regional players, notably Iran, do not allow them to come forward as they see them as threats to their hegemony in the country. “They know that if Iraq becomes stable, huge countries like Iran will be damaged,” he noted. In parts of his speech the prominent Sunni activist, who currently resides in Jordan, commented on the creation of the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi.
The top Shiite cleric, Ali Sistani called upon people to take up arms to defend the country from ISIS, especially when the group posed serious threats to holy Shiite sites in the country.
Many people believe that had it not been for Hashd al-Shaabi, ISIS would have taken over Baghdad, but al-Nail disagrees saying “this point of view has no value because whoever created ISIS is also the founder of the Hashd,” possibly referring to Maliki. Al-Nail believes Hashd made ISIS stronger and that they “made the situation more complicated.
Supporters of ISIS grew as many foreigners joined the group due to some tribal militias cursing Sahabah [companions], which provoked the Islamic nations,” referring to the companions, disciples, scribes and family of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He also shared the Shiite firebrand leader, Muqtada al-Sadr’s, view to dismantle the Hashd al-Shaabi. “He [Sadr] understands the dismantling of the Hashd al-Shaabi will become a new phase to restore stability in Iraq,” he stated. The only solution to end the ongoing turmoil in the country, al-Nair believes, is if the local governments of the provinces are handed over to the townspeople to administrate. “The authority should not be given to those people appointed by Maliki to impose on the provinces.
Let me give an example; in Anbar, Maliki had appointed cow thieves and dumbek [Goblet drum] players to become Sunni leaders.” He presented another solution to restore stability and peace in Iraq, which is through the establishment of a national forum. Although there was a similar suggestion by Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, al-Nail says “the political solution Hakim is referring to has expired.
Hakim himself needs a new solution.” Al-Nail goes on to state that “Hakim still occupies the estates of Christians in the Karrada and Nizal areas,” of Baghdad.