During the summer of 2014 the Baathist Naqshibandi cooperated with the Islamic State to seize Mosul and Tikrit, but that alliance quickly collapsed. The Islamic State asserted control over all of the areas captured by the insurgents and demanded that the Naqshibandi pledge allegiance or be eliminated. That led to a series of gun battles and executions with IS coming out on top.
Every month there is a report of a confrontation between the two insurgent groups. On August 19 there was a firefight between the two in Hawija in southern Kirkuk. In September, IS executed 34 Baathist fighters in Zab and Hawija in Kirkuk, and in Shirqat, Salahaddin. On October 2, 28 IS and Naqshibandi men were killed in clashes in western Kirkuk. The next month 14 more fighters were killed in a gunfight south of Mosul. At the start of December IS kidnapped 35 members of the Naqshibandi and Ansar al-Islam in Rashad, Kirkuk because a senior IS leader had been killed. A few days later 3 Naqshibandi leaders were killed in Hawija, and then there was more fighting in Yarmouk in Ninewa. These kinds of incidents have gone on for months. IS will not let any group operate in its territory unless it is subservient. That has led it to hunt down Naqshibandi cells in an attempt to co-opt or destroy them.
The Naqshibandi made a huge error last year allying with the Islamic State, and is paying for it to this day. The group believed that it could work with the Islamic State and carve out its own sphere of influence after the summer offensive. Instead, IS ended up forcing it out of all of its strongholds in places like Hawija. The Naqshibandi was so devastated as a result that these clashes with IS are almost all that’s heard of the group these days. It also challenges some of the recent reporting that Baathists have taken over the Islamic State and are simply using it as a means to return to power. The Naqshibandi is the main Baathist armed group and led by Izzat al-Douri, Saddam’s former number two. If the Baathists really ran both groups there would be no fighting between them. Instead IS is systematically trying to eliminate the Naqshibandi from its territory in Iraq.
Bas News, “Inernal Islamic State Clashes Leave Seven Dead,” 12/10/15
NINA, “/28/ elements of Daash and al-Naqshabandiya killed in clashes between the two sides in Kirkuk,” 10/2/15
- “Daash Arrests Dozens of Other Armed Factions South And West Of Kirkuk,” 12/1/15
Al Rayy, “14 killed in clashes between criminal Daash and Naqshbandi south of Mosul,” 11/14/15
Sotaliraq, “35 members of Ansar al-Islam and the Naqshbandi abducted southwest of Kirkuk,” 12/1/15
- “Daash executed 34 members of the Naqshbandi in Kirkuk,” 9/10/15
- “Daash executed three Nashibandi leaders in Hawija,” 12/8/15
- “Violent clashes between Daash and Naqshbandi in Hawija,” 8/19/15