Military victory over ISIS in Ramadi and expelling it from the Sunni Arab areas may not mean anything if there was not a clear vision for the day after and the nature of the relationship between the Shia and Sunnis of Iraq. In other words, the presence of a clear will, not only amongst the leaders but also amongst the people, to achieve real national reconciliation and establish permanent peace in the country.Instead of talking about national reconciliation for the sake of taking about national reconciliation and being preoccupied with the process as opposed to the results; the real question should be: What will Reconciliation Day look like?
In the absence of a clear document that all parties agree on and work on a roadmap to reach Reconciliation Day; every party tries to draw their own Reconciliation Day and that often does not take into account the will of the other side or the partner.
This discrepancy in vision for the future created the the gap that was easily filled by ISIS and extremist militias on the other side.
Leaders who enjoy a historic or revolutionary legacies and legitimacies usually are brave enough to break certain taboos and norms amongst their people. In the absence of such leaders today, who would normally be seeking a solution to the issue of civil peace in society; government institutions, political parties, and opinion makers jointly shoulder the responsibility of drawing the characteristics of Reconciliation Day and promote it to the various sectors of their societies.
In drawing the vision for Reconciliation Day, many difficult questions are asked and everyone should be ready to answer them. For example:
On reconciliation day, will the family of Saddam Hussein be able to come back to Iraq and live in a house in the capital Baghdad? Will the government protect them from retaliation? Will the widow of Saddam Hussein get a pension, since her husband was once the president of the republic? What is the legal status of those who were killed in the last decade while in the armed groups that were fighting the Iraqi government? Will the Sunni Arabs handover all the suspects and culprits of Spiker (massacre), the genocide against the Yezidis and the Christians? Will Iraq ever have a unified and agreed narrative (a museum or memory foundation) for all the crimes committed over the past 50 years and it is taught in the schools to all children? Will there be a national pact that defines extremism and bans it. Will there be fatwas banning sectarian practices? Will a Shia family name their new born baby Omar? Will a Sunni family call their baby Abdul Zahra? Will there be a fatwa that allows the Iraqi Muslim woman to marry an non Muslim Iraqi? These questions are a small number of a long list of questions that await answers for decades. They also highlight the size of the challenge that faces everyone if they want true national reconciliation that makes ISIS and extremist militias on the other side a minority that is faught by the people of their own sect before the other.
Only then, will a military victory have any real value.