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The militant group ISIS has spearheaded a lightning offensive in Iraq and set off alarm bells in world capitals, anxious about the rising threat of Al-Qaeda militancy.While the insurgency is routinely described as a "Sunni" phenomenon, it is far from generating a single group that can claim to speak in the name of Iraq's second-largest community.Juan Cole, an Iraq expert, recently published on his blog "seven myths about the radical Sunni advance in Iraq," which he termed a "pluralist urban rebellion" and not a categorical victory for the extreme ideology and policies of ISIS. At least two large categories of non-ISIS insurgents have surfaced, in the form of ex-Baathists and tribal groups, and for Cole, the fall of Mosul can't be explained by thousands of army and security personnel in Iraq's second-largest city fleeing from a relatively small number of ISIS militants. Experts and commentators have also identified the remnants of "sahwa" tribal groups as one partner of ISIS. Ironically, the sahwa groups fought the predecessor of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq, during the U.S. occupation, amid wide-scale popular resentment of Al-Qaeda's extremist ideology and its tactic of bombing civilian areas and places of worship.
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