Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Iraq in Crisis (Part 2 of 3) - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Various Iraqi political forces have invested in an environment of violence comparable to that created by the previous regime. Instead of learning a lesson and opting to transcend narrow partisan interests, and to establish wide national reconciliation that makes up for all the lost years, those forces instead played the most dangerous card in Iraqi society, which is factionalism.

It was clear that an international terrorist group tried to issue religious edicts that labeled the Shi”ah as infidels. Therefore, they attacked Shi”ah mosques and Husseini centers just to cause factional dissension. In addition, Sunni elements who were protected during Saddam”s era, managed to seclude the Sunni population from political participation when they called on all Sunni”s to boycott elections, which caused a major social imbalance.

On the other hand, some Shi”ah parties strummed the same factional cords. Even organizations as influential as the Higher Council for Islamic Revolution and leaders as prominent as Abdulaziz Al Hakim, played the same game, when they opted for factional federalism rather than democratic federalism. This further complicated matters and contributed to the unhealthy situations that were exploited by the factional forces.

We can safely say that factionalism in Iraq is merely a commodity that its politicians are trying to encourage despite their knowledge that Iraq was never a factional society.

The social structure of Iraq is against factionalism because the tribes, clans, and families all include both Sunnis and Shi”ahs. The biggest tribes such as Shamar, ”Ansah, Sa”doun, Tamim, and the majority of the tribes of central and southern Iraq are all composed of both Sunnis and Shi”ahs. In addition, mixed marriage is spread throughout Iraqi cities. as a result, some political parties, especially former Ba”thists and pro-Iranian parties who lived in Iran and are influenced by its ideology try hard to promote factionalism and present Iraq as a factional state.

However, the fact remains that there has not been a single civil war in Iraq”s contemporary history that was based on factional loyalties. There has not been a single Shi”ah leader who was killed by a Sunni or vice versa. Even Saddam”s regime that practiced &#34the Democracy of Assassinations&#34 never caused factional uproar even when he played the religious card by exploiting Sunni loyalty.

Unfortunately, these Iraqi political factions that have employed violence to push forward their political agenda are utilizing the perilous concept of factionalism. They are trying to create a state of tension and factional polarization, which is highly threatening to all of Iraq.