Sunni Muslims in Iraq are caught between violent militants and violent government troops

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Marco Werman: As we just heard the spectre of an all-out sectarian civil war has many Iraqis worried. Fareed Sabri is with the Iraqi Islamic Party. Most of its support comes from the Sunni population. Sabri, who's based in London, says many Iraqi Sunnis fear the government in Baghdad and its security forces, both of which draw most of their members from the country's Shia majority. Fareed Sabri: The fear is from the government now because on the ground they don't see the fear from ISIS and this is really an irony, when people see ISIS less harmful than the government. Let us think about it, what kind of failure this government has done in Iraq. Werman: Let's get to the government in a second, but we've heard about alleged executions of 1,700 Iraqi army personnel. Doesn't that scare people, even Sunnis? Sabri: Yes, it scares people but many people will say that those people had been committing human rights crimes and crimes against the population. People are apprehensive now, they're fearful. Until now, ISIS hasn't turned against the population because they are anticipating an attack from the government, so the situation is very fluid and people on all sides are in fear of the danger of not knowing what will happen in the future. Werman: We've heard about some Iraqis welcoming ISIS fighters in places like Mosul. Is the dissatisfaction among Sunnis in Iraq with the Maliki government so bad that you could imagine Sunnis actually supporting ISIS? Sabri: Nobody supports ISIS because people know that it's a murderous organization, but what you're saying is true. People equate ISIS with the government. They see that the government in the past 10 years has committed one of the most heinous crimes against the population in Mosul, Tecrete and other parts of Iraq. Werman: What about you? You're from Iraq, you're also Sunni, how are you feeling about what many are saying is a situation that will lead to civil war? Sabri: Yes, hearing the prime minister yesterday, Maliki, hearing what he said in his speech, he was talking about treachery of political parties, he's talking about eradicating areas of terrorism. What he means is he's been using the army against the Iraqi people for the past 10 years and this is what people are most fearful of, of using the army against cities. For example, now in the Anbar province, villages and small towns have been obliterated by bombardment from the Iraqi army. The human rights abuses by the Iraqi army and by Maliki, it's so great that people sometimes find solace with terrorism rather than the Iraqi security forces. Werman: If Sunnis are so angered with Maliki, are they offering also some solution? Do you have an idea of some solution that will fix this sectarianism that they see at the heart of the Maliki government and also avoid a civil war? Sabri: I think the American government and the European government should really reach out to people on the ground, groups on the ground who are holding the ground in Iraq. Not ISIS of course, but there are tribal leaders, there are some other fighting groups who are on the ground who have a lot of grievances with ISIS itself. There is a kind of truce between ISIS and other groups on the ground but this will not continue. I think the best thing to do for the American government is to reach out, to make a channel with those people in order to incorporate them in a way in the political process. I'm telling the United States to not commit the same mistake of 2003. In 2003, you didn't talk to the people on the ground to see what will happen. Now, this mistake will be committed again because we will see that you will help, in fact, a dictator in the disguise of a democratic leader. This is the problem in Iraq, when you have a population with at least 40% that has been sidelined for the past 10 years. Werman: If the White House were to speak to people on the ground today, what would they hear? What would the people in Iraq say to the White House? Sabri: One of the main reasons why six divisions have fled in front of 1,800 to 2,000 people was because they knew if they were caught by the population they would be punished. I think people are very angry. What I'm saying is the solution is not to help such a dictator under the disguise of democracy, because democracy is not just the ballot box. Werman: Fareed Sabri, thank you very much. Sabri: Thank you.