Monday, May 15, 2006
Two Iraqi Views on Why There Is Sectarianism In Iraq Today
When Saddam’s party came to power, it oppressed Shiites and Kurds a lot starting from arresting and killing anyone of a political interest other than the Baath. Kurds also suffered a lot as their areas were arabized by Saddam and his regime, their sons were killed in fierce battles. In 1991, Shiites and kurds revolted against Saddam but the uprising succeeded in one part only. It was only the Kurds who succeeded in liberating their areas from Saddam’s regime as their uprising was supported by US helicopters while the Shiites were left alone fighting Saddam’s forces at the time and eventually failed.
When the occupiers came, they brought the exiles-some came on US tanks-and overcame the country. The first thing the occupiers did is that they formed the Governing Council on sectarian basis.
After that, elections took place also on sectarian basis. Shiites and Kurds won. There is no problem about that at all. But the problem is when the Shiites political parties that were in exiles came to power, they used their power in taking revenge from Iraqis in general. The Shiite militia, Badr, are part of the interior ministry. Most of the members of this militia were sons of exiled and executed people under Saddam. They think only of taking revenge. So they kill Sunnis and say they did not.
On the other hand, most insurgents entered Iraq before the war, specifically when the US started threatening Saddam in January 2003. After the invasion, the borders were left loose, intentionally by the occupiers. I say intentionally because they protected the areas and buildings they want only. The majority of these insurgents are Sunnis and extreme Wahabis and Salafis that came from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt and Kuwait. They believe that the Shiites are “infidels” and that anyone works for the government or the occupation is an “infidel”. They started killing Shiite people and forcing them to leave their homes and works in the Sunni areas where they get support from.
At the end, it was mostly the fault of the US forces. They brought the criminal exiles and paved the way to the foreign terrorists to enter Iraq turn it into chaos.
Ali at "Free Iraqi" says that sectarian resentment was always present roiling under the surface of Iraq:
Another thing is that sectarian tension has always been there under the ashes in Iraq. Saddam's policy of not allowing anyone to even talk about it or admit its existence made it only stronger and now as the oppressive power is removed you can see it clearer and stronger than ever. I read both Sunni and She'at papers and what I read is horrifying. Most of those papers don't even care to hide that hatred and scorn they have towards the other and they go with their insults and hatred back to the 7th century.
When I served in the military I made friends with a devoted She'at Captain, well not made friends but actually I was paying him so that I spent most of the 3 months I had to serve in my home. This guy was very proud of his job and accomplishments. He often talked about his heroic actions against the "saboteurs". Who were those saboteurs? No, not just the Badr Brigade which was active after 1991 but mostly anyone who stood against Saddam during the uprising and that meant the vast majority of the She'at. Yet this Captain always refer to the She'at Imams and quote them during our conversations saying this Imam "Peace be upon him" or that Imam "God bless his secret" which I'm sorry I don't know what it means!I asked this guy once about how he, a devoted She'at see the bombing of holy shrines in Najaf and Karbala back then during the uprising. He didn't answer the question and kept blaming the saboteurs and Iranians. There were no Americans at that time or he would have blamed them.
No, we were ALL part of the tragedy and those massacres and we all have to own that to finally come clean and start fresh. Only the Kurds seem to have the right to claim that they always stood against Saddam, which is true but then again their motives were not patriotic at all and certainly not humane. They were ethnic.
BTW, if memory serves me right, Ali was born Sunni and converted to Shi'a when he married.
My oft-stated opinion is it is an Iraqi myth that there was, generally, so much love among Iraqis for other sects until Saddam's vile regime fell. Concomitantly, I consider it further to be a myth that sectarian hatred was imported either by the American "occupiers", by al-Qaeda, or by Iran. Granted al-Qaeda, Syria's Ba'athist government, the people of Saudi Arabia, the West Bank, Jordan, and Egypt, and certainly the government of Iran too have all nurtured and funded sectarian violence. It is true that they have exported murderers. But, I assert, all they've done is cast tares into a rich compost of sectarian distrust and resentment -- a heap that Saddam deliberately piled in order to keep the Iraqis in line. Finally, I assert that Saddam's compost heap eventually would have caught-up, if not with Saddam himself then at least with Iraq, and that what is happening in Iraq today is a mere taste of what would have happened (*cough* Afghanistan) if the U.S. had not stepped in.