March 14, 2006

Intercommunal warfare in Iraq

There has been a gruesome and grotesque rise in the level of intercommunal violence between Sunni and Shi'a Arabs in Iraq since the attack on the Shi'a shrine in Samarra (a true act of blasphemy, by any standard, as opposed to some Dane's scribblings).

Note, however, that contrary to what you may hear, intercommunal violence is not new in Iraq. In the past, a largely Sunni Arab led army committed genocide against Kurds and Marsh Arabs. The state was, under many regimes in Iraq, a vehicle for the ascendancy of one community (not the largest) over the others.

Nor can the “insurgency” be treated as a different phenomenon to intercommunal violence. Contrary to the myth that the “insurgents” are Iraqi patriots, the insurgency in western and northwestern Iraq is overwhelmingly composed of Sunni Arabs. Their victims have been Sunni Arabs who have decided to accommodate themselves to the new Iraq, Shi’a Arabs and Kurds. For the victims, particularly many Shi’a who are not being allowed to enjoy the fruits of voting, the “insurgency” feels like a form of sectarian, intercommunal violence.

All of which means that scuttling out of Iraq now and betraying the Iraqis again is not a viable option. Even the BBC seems to have worked that one out (the penny drops very slowly here).

Andrew Apostolou (in his pyjamas)

Posted by Andrew Apostolou at March 14, 2006 3:52 AM
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