On 2 June 2015, PAFI President Sheikh Jamal al-Dhari attended a meeting with international media outlets in Paris, France where he discussed a strategy to strengthen and better coordinate a political solution to the rise of ISIS. Al-Dhari spoke at length on the current state of affairs in Iraq following the fall of Ramadi to ISIS in May 2015.
“We need genuine reconciliation…to find a political solution…then the Sunnis will get rid of Daesh (ISIS),” al-Dhari said to Reuters in France. Of particular concern to al-Dhari and many Sunni tribesmen he is in contact with is the alignment of the Baghdad government, headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The current government is seen as heavily favoring the Shia population in Iraq and as acting heavy-handedly toward Sunnis even going so far as to support militias which target Sunnis.
A military strategy is not seen as a viable long-term option for reconciliation. “But we do not get rid of Daesh to put in place Qassem Soleimani (Commander of elite Iranian forces)” said al-Dhari, referring to the man who is seen as orchestrating Iran’s effort in Iraq. Many Sunnis have felt marginalized both politically and socially by the government in Baghdad. The struggle against ISIS and the work toward peace would be made more difficult without tangible progress in those areas.
The meeting that PAFI convened in partnership with the Thomas More Institute coincided with a conference in Paris attended by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Anthony Blinken, U.S. Undersecretary of State, and more than twenty other officials from the coalition assembled to combat ISIS.