This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Irreparably Fractured Iraq

"I generally believe it [Iraq] is ungovernable under the current construct."
"[Iraq] is a violent, dysfunctional marriage, and we keep pouring American lives and dollars into it, hoping for a miracle. We should instead seek to broker an amicable separation or divorce."
"[Washington should] abandon its fixation with artificial borders."
Ali Khedery, U.S. former official in Iraq

"The Kurds want compensation for the past."
"The Shia, too. Sunnis still fear from the majority and fear being called in to account for what Saddam did."
Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, Shiite Iraqi, former Prime Minister

"Even if a prophet came to rule Iraq, he wouldn't be able to satisfy all sides."
Hadi al-Ameri, Shiite politician
Iraqis carry coffin of victim of car bombing in Sadr City, Baghdad, during a funeral in the shrine city of Najaf (11 May 2016)
AFP    Many women and children were said to be among the victims in Sadr City

When Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq as its long-time tyrant, his Baathist support came from his tribal peers and his sectarian minority group, Iraqi Sunnis who made up his military. It was, during his reign, Iraqi Kurds and Shiites who were vulnerable to oppression and who paid heavily in the loss of their freedom and their lives by a tyrant who almost wiped out completely various segments of his own population, like the Marsh Arabs.

After his removal from power, the U.S.-led coalition attempted to pacify relations between the sects but was incapable of stemming the viral hatred between Sunni and Shiite both of whom mounted gross assaults against each other's communities resulting in a mounting death toll. When eventually governing the country was divided between the Sunnis, the Shias and the Kurds, it was meant to be an  coalition administration of equals, to bring the country together.

The majority Shias, however, see their opportunity to reverse the situation that had prevailed under Saddam. The U.S.-led coalition had seen to it that the Sunnis were completely disadvantaged by dismissing all the Sunni military figures. Their bitterness led to the eventual rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the vacuum left by Saddam's iron-fisted control of the country's diverse ethnic and sectarian interests.

The majority Shiite government made it evident it had no intention of sharing power equally with the Sunnis, and it seems obvious enough that there will never be conciliation between the two. The Kurds, on the other hand, are prepared to go their own way with full autonomy of Kurdistan leading to complete separation and a final geographic sovereign nation of their own.

A third of the country is lost to ISIL control, though that could change in time. But the ancient hostility between the sects appears timeless. And that being the case, it is likely time for a complete geographic separation between them, to split what is left of Iraq into three distinct geographic regions. The abysmal failure of the sects to merge in the greater interests of Iraq appears too entrenched to continue to hope for a breakthrough.

And the most recent atrocities committed on each side appear to consolidate that view. Although there have been many killings and bombings targeting both Sunni and Shia enclaves in ongoing demonstrations of just how irreconcilable the two solitudes are in considering each the other to be apostates, yesterday was a particularly brutal day with an estimated 93 people killed in three separate car bomb attacks in Baghdad.

People gather at the scene of a car bomb attack in Baghdad's mainly Shia district of Sadr City
The deadliest attack targeted a busy market in a Shia district in northern Baghdad -- Reuters

In one of the bomb attacks a market was targeted in the mostly Shia Muslim area of Sadr City and there 84 people were killed and another 87 wounded. Hours later two suicide bombers left another 29 people dead when they  targeted police checkpoints in the northern district of Kadhimiya and in Jamia, in the west of the city. In the former, the 17 dead included both police and civilians and 43 people were injured, and in the latter a dozen people were killed and 31 injured.

There will be no end to these atrocities, all of them now claimed by Islamic State terrorists. According to figures released by the United Nations, at least 3,379 Iraqis were killed in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in the first four months of this year. A total of 741 died in April alone. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government boasts that it has secured some triumphs against Islamic State; admittedly with the help of the U.S., and particularly of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga militias.

But the government's security establishment is wrought through with corruption and rumours are that officers can be bribed. Security expenditures have been reduced, reflecting the cost to the government of waging its war against Islamic State, and taking into account the effect of declining oil revenues. Militants are known to have found haven in rural areas around Baghdad where local Sunnis who suffer abuse from the Shia-dominated security forces or who have been alienated by the policies of the previous government, choose to give cover to Islamic State forces.

Map of Syria and Iraq showing Islamic State control

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