Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi offered a final ultimatum towards Sunni tribal fighters to abandon the Islamic State group by March 8th, before the planned attack on the hometown of the late dictator Saddam Hussein (Tikrit). The city was overtaken by the Islamic State last summer, but the planned offensive has begun stationing Shiite militias and Iraqi security forces around the city in preparation for the city’s “return to its people”. It is predicted that sending Shiite militias into the Sunni city may result in extreme bloodshed, such as the insurgent battles that followed the U.S’s 2003 invasion. To prevent this from happening al-Abadi made a final attempt to pardon the Sunni tribal fighters, “I call upon those who have been misled or committed a mistake to lay down arms and join their people and security forces in order to liberate their cities”, this appeal to the fighters is an attempt to remove some of the support to the Islamic State.
It will be interesting to see how many Sunni fighters take al-Abadi’s offer because if the pressure of the encroaching Iraqi government (and allies) provides enough intimidation to warrant the Sunni fighters’ acceptance of the offered ultimatum then the positive gain of being pardoned for their crimes outweighs the religious/political reasons justifying their actions, but on the other hand if the Sunni fighters’ have enough faith in the strength and goals of the Islamic State then the pressure and incentives that the government is offering/applying may not be enough to force the Sunni fighters to abandon Tikrit. If they believe in the strength and political/religious/moral justification of the Islamic State in relation to their own cause then the ‘ultimatum’ proposed by the government may not be an ultimatum after all; an ultimatum must be presented by the one in power, if the rebel groups do not think that the government possesses the power that it is implying it has then there is no true ultimatum.