Among the 50.000 fighters that compose the backbone of the Quwwat Surya ad-Democratiah, a very important part is represented by the Sunni fighters, an almost unknown reality.
They are approximately 8000 militiamen organized under different banners, Kata’ib and Liwa’, and belonging to different Arab and Turcoman groups but all part of the Sunni constituency. Like the Christians, the Sunni Arabs are also part of the coordinated Operation Room (Ghurfah al Amaliyyat) and are members of the Democratic Self Administration in al-Hasakeh.
The active involvement of the 2/3000 fighters of the Sanadid forces is an extremely important component of this strategy of appeasement with the Arab Muslims and with the large environment of the Arab tribes. This is for two reasons. First of all because Sanadid forces are led by the Shaykh Hamdi Daham, the leader of the Shammar Tribe in Syria, which has a wide outreach in Iraq and beyond. And secondly, because the Sanadid, contrary to the PKK Kurds who are divided between the PKK factions in Syria and Barzani Tribes in the KRG, represent a unified connection between the Syrian and Iraqi liberation forces and have since always had a privileged channel of dialogue with the Gulf monarchies and with Turkey. They can play a very important geopolitical role within the regional theater of the post-ISIS-war
THE SHAMMAR IS A BEDUOIN TRIBE (QABILAH) THAT GATHERS MANY SUB-TRIBES (‘ASHA’IR), SUCH AS ABDAH, ASLAM, AND ZOBA, WITH AN ESTIMATED 3.5 MILLION MEMBERS IN THE REGION. AROUND 1850, UNDER THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE, THE SHUYUKH OF THE TRIBE AND THEIR UMARA’ RULED MUCH OF CENTRAL AND NORTHERN ARABIA UP TO THE NORTHWEST BORDERS OF SYRIA AND THE TERRITORIES COMPRISED TODAY UNDER THE MOSUL GOVERNORATE (NORTH IRAQ).
Important branches of the Shammar tribe and its ‘Ashirah are today located in the al-Anbar provinces and in the Mosul area, where they are armed and trained by Western military trainers with the objective to be the front line for the next spring campaign to regain Mosul from ISIS. Their shuyukh are landlords and owns large properties today partially confiscated by Da’ysh and their allies.
Moreover the tribal shuyukh like Hamdi Daham have the capacity to exert their tribal power, based on mediation and personal relations, also towards the Sunni-Arab groups that are the real breeding grounds that protected Da’ysh so far in the central part of Syria and within the Sunni triangle in Iraq. They can easly arrange mediations with the Arab tribes who accepted the Ba’yah to al-Baghdady and are therefore exposed to the risk of extermination by the Hash Sha’aby. Cleverly the Da’ysh propaganda centres disseminated videos with the Ba’yah of the supportive shuyoukh and without a tribal mediation these large groups of fighters will be forced to fight till the last man to defend ar-Raqqah or Mosul. In this sense the Shammar tribe and its ‘asha’ir may be a precious ally for the military forces to shorten the war and reconnect the family ties, to convince the external support of Da’ysh to surrender.
Finally they are a key stakeholder for the day after, when the risk of terrorism and revenge will be at its peak and there will be the need to re-build local forms of governance to grant security and the return of the displaced population. Using tribal methods, approaches and connection is an alternative way to win the peace. If the real project is the peace and not the ‘creative chaos’.