August 10, 2006
Asia Times

Iraq's Sectarian Bloodshed 'Made in the USA'

Iraq never had a history of sectarian conflicts. U.S. policy choices provided a perfect road map for starting one

by Erik Leaver and Raed Jarrar

As each day is greeted with news of Iraq's daily death toll, the media debates whether Iraq is embroiled in an all-out civil war. While conventional wisdom holds that the country is being cleaved apart by religious differences, this conflict actually stemmed from the U.S. government's political miscalculations.

Foreign politicians have a history of misguided analysis about the potential for civil war in Iraq. In 1920, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George warned of civil war if the British army withdrew from Iraq. The exact same thing is heard today in the United States. Ironically, the same Iraqis George wanted to protect from each other instead united in a revolution against the British occupation forces. With rising opposition within the Shi'ite ranks against the occupation, the United States could see a similar revolt in the coming months.

Iraqi Shia and Sunnis have lived in harmony for centuries. Historically, the two sects lived in the same areas, intermarried, worked together and didn't fight over religious beliefs. During the decade of U.S.-imposed sanctions, Iraq's generally secular society became far more religious. This transformation even affected the secular Baathist regime, which gave Islam a bigger role in schools and other aspects of everyday life. Still, there were no social conflicts based on religious differences in the country.

When the United States ousted Saddam Hussein in April 2003, crime spiked and full-scale looting erupted. But there were still no signs of sectarian clashes. That quickly changed, however, as the U.S. administration assumed control over Iraq, led by Paul Bremer.

Bremer, attempting to put an Iraqi face on the occupation, appointed members to the Iraqi Governing Council. Instead of reflecting how Iraqis saw themselves, the council's makeup mirrored and reinforced the U.S. sectarian view of the population . . .


[The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.--Ralph Peters, " Constant Conflict" Parameters, US Army War College Quarterly, Summer 1997, pp. 4-14]

Enver Masud, "Basra: Were the 'British' Undercover Agents Carrying Explosives? Why?," The Wisdom Fund, September 28, 2005

[From the founding of the United States, the federal government has relied on subterfuge, skullduggery, and secret operations to advance American interests. . . .

The post-invasion stage in Iraq also is an interesting case study of fanning discontent among enemies, . . . Like their SOG predecessors in Vietnam, U.S. elite forces in Iraq turned to fostering infighting among their Iraqi adversaries on the tactical and operational level.--Thomas H. Henriksen, "THE WAR: Divide et Impera," Hoover Digest, 2006 - No. 1 - Winter Issue]

"Mosque Bombing: Who Benefits? Iran Blames U.S.," The Wisdom Fund, February 23, 2006

[Unity between Shias and Sunnis has always been a barrier to the success of the occupation.--Dahr Jamail and Simon Assaf, "United Iraqi protests against US divide and rule policy,", March 4, 2006]

"Puppet Government Takes Charge in Iraq," The Wisdom Fund, May 21, 2006

[Al-Mash'hadani accused the American forces of standing behind terrorist attacks in Iraq--"Mashhadani on Americastan in Iraq," Al Hayat, August 8, 2006]

[ . . . anything other than the continuance of government under the national-unity government, with Iraq as a unified country, would be disastrous.--Ehsan Ahrari, "Iraq's downward spiral toward partition," Asia Times, August 11, 2006]

[As for those who refuse to "think the unthinkable," declaring that boundaries must not change and that's that, it pays to remember that boundaries have never stopped changing through the centuries. Borders have never been static, and many frontiers, from Congo through Kosovo to the Caucasus, are changing even now (as ambassadors and special representatives avert their eyes to study the shine on their wingtips).

Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works.--Ralph Peters, "Blood borders: How a better Middle East would look," Armed Forces Journal, August 2006]

[In Iraq, in contrast to the embedded lie that the killings are now almost entirely sectarian, 70 per cent of the 1,666 bombs exploded by the resistance in July were directed against the American occupiers and 20 per cent against the puppet police force. Civilian casualties amounted to 10 per cent. In other words, unlike the collective punishment meted out by the US, such as the killing of several thousand people in Fallujah, the resistance is fighting basically a military war and it is winning. That truth is suppressed, as it was in Vietnam.--John Pilger, "Return Of People Power," New Statesman, September 4, 2006]

[The Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James Baker, the former US secretary of state, is preparing to report after next monthÕs congressional elections amid signs that sectarian violence and attacks on coalition forces are spiralling out of control. --Sarah Baxter, "America ponders cutting Iraq in three," Sunday Times, October 8, 2006]

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