Time’s article last week about the great Sunni-Shia divide attempts to shed light on why the two sects hate each other so much. Its a long read, but a few things stood out to me. First is the ever present dark cloud that Islam sheds on life, whenever you read about what Muslims do to their own kind. There is so much hate running through their veins, more than just towards Israel or the U.S., but also towards the opposite clan. The hate is serious, and runs deep. Deeper than my loathe of Al “heed my prophetic words, just don’t check my electric bill!” Gore. That deep.
Pessimists believe that Muslim people are “barbarians” and will never learn, and that we should just leave them to their own demise…but what if that isn’t true? What if, even if it took decades, we could slowly teach them the idea that people can disagree but still co-exist? I don’t know if this can happen, but the article’s dark tales make me want to believe that peace among the Sunni-Shia is possible (even if it might never happen), because the opposite belief is too depressing [cue impending doom music].
Second, there is one thing that does unite them, as we all know too well, and that is their hatred of the Jews and Americans:
FOR TWO YEARS AFTER SADDAM’S FALL, such ties [between Sunni and Shia] were strong enough to keep widespread sectarian violence at bay. There were provocations: Sunni jihadi groups, such as Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda, began a bombing campaign against Shi’ite targets. But many Shi’ite extremists, rather than lashing out at Sunnis, sometimes joined them in the insurgency against the Americans and their allies. When Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army rose against the U.S. in the summer of 2004, it was supported by the Sunni insurgency. That fall some of al-Sadr’s fighters joined Sunnis in the battle of Fallujah. Al-Sadr portrayed himself as a defender of Arabs, not Shi’ites alone. Even the hard-line Sunni clerics’ group, the Association of Muslim Scholars, hailed him as an Iraqi hero; Sunni politicians spoke of a political alliance with the Mahdi Army.
After the article’s long drawn out explanation of how horrible the two sects are to each other, we read how quickly the opposing terror organizations mobilized against the U.S. What’s the key component here? Al Qaeda. It’s clear to me that Al Qaeda had no problem bombing Shia, but the attacks were made even sweeter by the fact that they would fuel fires against the U.S., Al Qaeda’s real target. Two birds with one stone, as far as they’re concerned.
But why would the Shia terrorists join the Sunni/Al Qaeda insurgency? Well, for one, they are terrorists. Also, it helps that they hate the U.S. So, by joining in the attacks on us, they can then go about their own antics against Sunni’s, wreaking more havok in the country, all the while letting the U.S. take the blame for all the big bad going on in Iraq (it’s all our fault, remember?).
But Al Qaeda kept going, and pushed too far:
Then came Samarra [where the Golden Dome was destroyed last year]. The operation carried the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi’s fingerprints, but Iraqi Sunnis were the ones who would endure the bloody fallout. For many Shi’ites, this was an atrocity too far. They turned to militias such as the Mahdi Army to avenge the desecration of the site, and those militias ran amuck, slaughtering Sunnis and attacking many of their mosques.
So, Al Qaeda bombs one of the holiest Shia sites, setting off a campaign of genocide on the part of the Shia terrorists against Sunni civilians (terrorists are too cowardly to fight armies or people who are armed), and somehow, this is all, still, President Bush’s fault?
The article finally gets to some good news, kinda sorta admitting that the current surge campaign seems to be working. However, the writer is no dummy, and includes a few quotes from Iraqis saying its all doomed to fail anyway:
Al-Sadr himself and several of his top commanders are believed to have left for Iran. But few in Baghdad doubt that he will be back. “He is just bending to the wind because he knows his fighters can’t face the Americans,” says Hussain al-Moed, a rival Shi’ite cleric. “But he also knows that the Americans will leave. The Mahdi Army can afford to wait.”
How does he know the Americans will leave? Hmmmm…any thoughts on this one Democrats?
But what if it does work?
With a large supply of luck, Operation Imposing Law, the new security operation enabled by President George W. Bush’s “surge” of U.S. troops, may halt the sectarian fighting in Baghdad long enough for Shi’ites and Sunnis to start mending fences.
Whoa, imagine that. You think our cut-n-run politicians back here at home will allow the success to continue? Will they allow any “luck” to happen in Iraq?
Not one to disappoint, the articles makes sure to speak truth to power in the last two lines of the article:
[...] Iraq’s Sunnis and Shi’ites may now be contemplating a future that they cannot share. There could be no more bitter legacy of the Bush Administration’s fateful decision to go to war in Iraq.
‘Scuse me? Didn’t I just read further up in the article how Saddam killed Shia at will, with no regard for age, gender, anything? Didn’t I just read how for 2 years before Al Qaeda stepped in with its proxy attacks against America (vis a vis Shia civilians) things were improving between the two clans? How can the Sunni and Shia not learning to “share” their future be blamed on the war? If nothing else, there was at least an attempt on our part to help them co-exist, and it actually worked for a while. That was because of US. It was not just a coincidence. Let’s hope the politicians let our soldiers stay in Iraq long enough to finish the job.
Hat tip: Muter