Sunni collaborators could be ISIS's big weakness

However there are also many reports of kreef and other Sunni friends helping Yazidis. When one Yazidi family from Khana Sor ran to the home of their kreef, he gave them traditional Arab clothes and helped them to escape.

One woman from Hardan, Wahida Rashu, recalled that one of her relatives’ kreef helped her immediate family escape through Rabiaa from Hardan. Another Yazidi man from south of the mountain near Tel Banat told me that his kreef is protecting his sheep.

Many Yazidis say that the powerful Sunni Arab Shammar tribe of Rabiaa district—historic friends and economic partners of Yazidis in Sinjar—did not participate widely in the attacks. Indeed, several of them gave Yazidis their cars to escape.

What all this tells us is why it will be so difficult to push back the forces of ISIS. The vital cooperation and support of the Sunni tribes in the territories they’ve conquered is deeply complicated, and there is no single approach that might enlist the sympathies of them all. Rocket and bomb attacks will not win loyalty nor, for that matter, impose it. That will require an understanding of the villages, the tribes, the sheikhs and the shepherds. Perhaps it is no wonder that President Barack Obama said Thursday he has no strategy yet for defeating ISIS.