March 17, 2015

TSG IntelBrief: The Islamic State After Tikrit

• Iraqi security forces, which include more Shi’a militia than Iraqi army personnel, have retaken nearly all of Tikrit, with Islamic State fighters still holding out in the center of the city

• The tomb of former dictator Saddam Hussein was destroyed during the fighting; the Islamic State is placing the blame on Shi’a militia while the Iraqi government says Islamic State fighters were responsible

• It is unlikely that the destruction of the tomb will rally many Sunnis to the Islamic State’s cause, though it doesn’t help lower sectarian tensions; it will be far more destructive if sectarian fighting follows the fall of Tikrit and other towns

• The Islamic State will seek every opportunity to turn this conflict into a repeat of Saddam’s 1980-1988 war on Iran, where the Iraqi Sunni battle the Shi’a of both countries; only if the Shi’a militia oblige the group by perpetrating atrocities and oppression towards the Sunni population they liberated will this be achievable.