On Servility and Survival: The Sunni Opposition to Saddam and the Origins of the Current Sunni Leadership in Iraq


Since the first suicide attack on an U.S. checkpoint in Iraq in March 2003, much attention has been given to the Sunni Arab (henceforth “Sunni”) resistance. There is almost a unanimous agreement that this resistance is the result of the U.S. invasion, implying that this was the formative event for the insurgency. Very little attention is given to the political and social currents among the Sunnis, thus amplifying the role of supporters of the former regime in its ranks. This paper examines whether Sunni resistance to the regime existed under the Ba’th, and how it might be related to the current phenomenon. Such a wider perspective will contribute to a better understanding of Sunni discontent in today’s Iraq. Additionally, it will help to assess the historical significance of the U.S.-led invasion.