Sectarianism tearing Iraq apart
Since the last 27 years, Iraq has been the same. Very little has changed in Iraq, even after the departure of the dictator, Saddam Hussein. The Sunni Saddam who persecuted the Kurds departed, and then we had the Shiite Al-Maliki oppressing the Sunnis. America can claim that the reason for its presence there was to “bring democracy,” sectarian conflict in Iraq is worse than ever. The US secret state removed Saddam, whom it backed and brought to power, and then Al-Maliki, whom it also backed and brought to power. There was full Iranian support for both decisions.
There was talk of more moderate policies when Al-Abadi came to power. Sectarian discrimination would be brought to an end, the government would represent Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, and the climate of conflict would be ended. These expectations have not been fully met. The Islamic State (IS) factor was an excellent opportunity for those who do not wish sectarian and ethnic conflicts in Iraq to come to an end.
Iraq is currently trying to win back Mosul, which it handed over to IS with no resistance, by playing the Shiite card. The first step in that was the operation against Tikrit last week, led by the Iranian general, Qassem Sulaimani. The Quds force led by Sulaimani is the most effective unit among the Revolutionary Guard, set up to spread the Iranian revolution abroad after 1979. Those who know Sulaimani know that he is someone who determines and implements Iranian policy in Iraq.
The way that the US has stepped out of the picture and entrusted the Tikrit operation to Sulaimani means that it wishes Iran to become directly involved. Sulaimani has to date led such units as the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, the Badr Brigades, the Imam Ali Battalions and Muqtada Al-Sadr’s militias in Iraq. Shiite militias and troops loyal to Baghdad are both under his command in the Tikrit operation.
Those who interpret this as a Shiite alliance or Iranian policy of expansion are not completely wrong. Because the infrastructure for powerful Sunni-Shiite conflict has been established in Iraq, and this has again turned into violence. While Sunnis fleeing the fighting are not allowed to return in some areas, efforts are being made to turn other Sunni-dominated areas completely Shiite. Some of the Peshmergas have made their opposition to the Arabs clear by taking part in this alliance. A Human Rights Watch report confirms this, saying that Peshmerga forces are preventing Arabs fleeing the fighting from returning to their homes. Arabs fleeing from places such as Makhmour, Zumar, Shayhan and Tel Kaif are not being allowed back, although Kurds are allowed free entry into these areas. Dozens of villages inhabited by Arabs are surrounded as potential sources of support for IS.
A press release by the Brussels-based European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) describing ethnic cleansing and genocide against Sunnis in the Diyala region of Iraq in particular, forced displacement and the burning of Sunni mosques and homes is shocking. The report says that the attacks are carried out by Shiite militias commanded by Iran and that Iraqi army personnel also sometimes take part. The Iraqi Shiite leader Ayatullah El Uzma Ali Sistani, who issued an ultimatum warning Shiite militias against this type of ethnic cleansing apparently is not that influential in the north of the country, where most of the fighting is taking place.
The situation in Iraq is more confused than ever, and the region is headed in the direction of even more intense sectarian conflict. Iran may have established its own concept of a policy of “Islamic Union” but it would seem to be one based solely on military force and a Shiite alliance. When the Houthi uprisings aimed at overthrowing the government in Yemen, and increasing action by the Shiite opposition in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Arab world are added to the list, Iran’s policy becomes even clearer. Alliance within Muslims is always a good thing, but if this is used against a Muslim community, then the Middle East suffers further violence.
The way that the US, which has been running the operation against IS with the coalition from the outset, has left the running of the Tikrit operation to Iran is perhaps the most striking thing. It is no secret that some circles in the US secret state do not wish to see an end to the turmoil in the Middle East. Are the events happening now the product of the same mentality that initiated the Iraq war on the pretext of nuclear weapons? Is sectarian conflict being regarded as a more effective means of stirring up disorder in the Middle East?
The fact is that sectarian conflict is the scourge that most weakens the community of Islam from the inside. Circles wishing to set Muslims against Muslims have always used this huge weakness among Muslims. This mindset has turned the Middle East into a wound down the years. Muslims who believe in the same faith and the same prophet and who say “Allah is One,” have been set against one another by this false division. Division has spelled tragedy for Muslims In Syria, and now the target is Iraq. The solution lies in Muslims’ hands alone. When Muslims realize that they have a responsibility to turn aside from division and establish unity and alliance, then the sinister plans for the Middle East will be thwarted and the land of the prophets will no longer be an open wound.
The writer has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He tweets @harun_yahya.
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