Sometimes it is difficult for people to look at events and their causes objectively. People tend to live in the moment and events which maybe news today are usually completely forgotten a week or two later.
A semi undeclared Iraqi civil war is more or less here, it might not be a full blown out faction v faction war in the classical sense, but it is a civil war none the less. Civilians are dying on all sides simply to serve the whims and greedy corruption of the few people at the top.
Many Iraqi bloggers have written very good articles and posts on these latest events. And many have hit the nail on the head with regards to the historic Sunni v Shia’ conflicts in Iraq.
Many bloogers, myself included, have been very critical of the militia’s involvements in these latest events and we have squabbled over and regurgitated many theories behind the intensions and motivations of these militia groups and their friendly neighbourhood paymasters across the way. Whilst some others Iraqis bloggers, have laid the blame squarely at the door of the terrorist Wahhabis and their Sunni supporter who have waged a constant and bloody campaign targeted mainly against the Shi’a population whom they see as infidels and a soft spot for them to hit.
The simple and unequivocal fact of the matter is, all sides are to blame. No one side is innocent of the charge of being responsible for the deterioration in the situation in our beloved Iraq.
I think that in order to have a clearer view of the causes and reasons behind the latest events it is very important to take a step back and look at the events leading up to last weeks all out hostilities.. which were so cynically used by some politicians to further their political power grab.
1- I think the root of the current problems started way back when the American administration refused/ or were unable to capture Sadr and his gang back in 2004. That failure gave a very loaded message that there is a weakness in the coalition’s ranks and that has allowed a rag tag gang of 1000 or so criminals to escape, only to become now a very well armed militia of 10,000-20,000 men whom are well armed and emboldened by political and logistical support from Iran and it’s people in the current government.
2- The refusal of Sunnis to participate in the 2005 January election was and is IMO the most disastrous decision made thus far in Iraq. It was a very stupid thing to do and it gave way to the UIA to consolidate its position in government and to apply this advantage throughout 2005 to consolidate its power in all aspects of the Iraqi political sphere which has had a major impact on current events.
3- The UIA used the January elections and the continuing Sunni impotence on the political front to have a great deal of say so over the articles and direction which were to be included in the permanent Constitution. With the agreement and partnership with the Kurdish political side (whom naively and selfishly, in my opinion, sought only to guarantee that their interests be written in the constitution without any thought or far sight as to the possible outcomes or events those interests might bring in the long run). The two sides produced a document which serves the major interests of their respective sides, with little consideration for the worries and concerns of the Sunni politic, whom were left high and dry out of the process.
It was during this period that the UIA and Al-Hakim hit upon the brilliantly cynical idea of also demanding for a federal governate for the Shi’a in the south. With the same rules that which apply to the Kurds in the north, to apply to the Shia state in the south. He can guarantee that if somehow he lost his chances in Baghdad, he can still guarantee himself a second chance of staying in power by running this Shit-istan in the south. Of course with the clauses regarding the right for each federal governate to develop and sell all new Oil resources independently of central government and to have the final say in internal matters in opposition to possible federal demands from Baghdad. He will be the king of Shit-istan and possibly the whole of Iraq in no time at all.
It is this scenario so dangerously outlined by the constitutional document which has caused more ill will in the Sunni and general Iraqi community than any other events thus far. The fact that the Sunnis were more or less left out of the drafting process, the fact that the constitutional document was ratified in spite of their tremendous reservations (through a referendum that many Sunnis and Iraqis feel were forged and pushed through with the blessing of the American administration in baghdad), is one of the main reasons why there is still so much ill will towards the political process and why there is still support for the Saddami, Bathi, and foreign fighters in Iraq.
The Sunnis were appeased eventually with the promises of having the chance to change the clauses in the constitution if they were willing to participate in the 2005 December elections. A fact that made the December elections possible and so much more important than many actually realise.
4- The 2005 December 15th elections: could really have been the successful turning point in Iraq for making it a success. So much was riding on having the fairest and freest elections possible. An election which would serve as a standard for the region for years to come. Unfortunately that was not the case. And trust the Arabs/ Iraqis to bungle it up, and trust the Americans for being so naïve as to allow Iraqis the responsibility of running such important and historic elections at such a critical point in time.
The Iraqis in charge of so called ‘’free and independent electoral commission’’ turned out to be mostly affiliated with the ruling political parties and they did a bang up job in bungling up the process in a big way. Instead of having water tight anti-fraud election procedures, they were lax to the point where the election itself became a farce not only in Iraq but also at the election centres dotted around the world. Accusations of fraud, unfair electioneering, and ballot rigging had marred any chance of achieving legitimacy to the results of the elections. Instead of us having an unqualified results with no doubts as to the will and voice of Iraqi people, instead, we end up with political squabbling and claims and counter claims of illegitimacy, cheating, ballot rigging. ink wiping, religious pressuring, police intimidation, murder, and political assassinations, , etc.etc.etc..
Something which no new born democracy should ever go through, I hear u agree.
No one expected or still believes that the UIA would have achieved such a majority fairly. Coupled with the fact that during the past year, the government and the UIA have shown a great deal of complacency with the bad dealing and killing of the militia’s and its operatives inside the ministries of interior.
The average Iraqi citizen simply has been left with no recourse, he is now like the a frightened chick contemplating which way to jump: out of the frying pan, or into the fire..
He either supports a government that is extremely corrupt and which has every chance of becoming a Mullahcratic dictatorship, or should he perhaps support those boys fighting against such a government even though some of those boys have an after-hours hobby and tendency to practice the dark arts of head chopping and busy crowded markets citizen control at the most inopportune time of day.
But then again what choice do we have. Hell, the Americans don’t seem to be interested in sorting this mess out.
5- What we have now is a complete mess. The government is non existent and there is very little chance of the UIA acquiescing to the demands of the Americans in accepting the demands of handing over the ministries of interior and defence to non sectarian ministers. The UIA see these ministries as their guarantee of holding power and I doubt they will ever give them up without a fight. So, the politicians will continue to squabble and Iraq will continue to be in limbo without an operating government. The Sunnis will get more and more belligerent as their demands continue to get ignored, and the constitution will get shelved because the Sunnis will never accept a constitution they had no say in writing. The Shia polities will also take heart and finally see that they finally have the power and opportunity to call for a separate Iraqi Shiastan in the south. This will no doubt be the final insult to the Sunnis and Iraqis who don’t want to be cut off from the oil revenues and the black gold fields down there.
The Kurds will finally have no choice but to retreat to their enclave in the north surrounded by hostile governments and factions on all sides. However, they will have the Americans to rely on for support, as Kurdistan is the natural haven where American forces can retreat to and establish their base of operations out off while the rest of Iraq burns itself out into a stalemate.
Of course, we all hope this scenario will never occur. I hope the Iraqis and Americans whom are running the show will get struck down by a bolt of Godly wisdom and enlightenment and finally realise that the only solution is to put the country first and cooperate to stop the rot. It is still not late to bring Iraq out of the desperate situation it is in. For one thing , the Iraqi Army, trained and equipped by the Americans and which has continued to be fairly free of sectarian or militia influences (unlike the Interiors forces), has shown great competence and loyalty to Iraq and its people these past few days. It may still be the hidden Ace up the American proverbial sleeve.
Lets just hope, that the events of the past week will eventually be seen as the turning point towards good. There are still good people in Iraq who love this ancient and fertile land. I prey to God, we get the chance to save it before the night falls upon us all.