Iraq and Gulf Analysis

An Iraq Blog by a Victim of the Human Rights Crimes of the Norwegian Government

Blame It On the Iraqis: Christopher Hill Goes Rural

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 20 January 2012 13:50

In his tireless efforts to convince the world that political problems in post-withdrawal Iraq cannot possibly be attributed to his own tenure as the US ambassador in Baghdad from 2009 to 2010, Christopher Hill today presents a new twist to his narrative.

Having apparently realised the failure of his previous attempt to explain that it is all the fault of Iraqis, Hill now informs us that the really, really deep sectarian conflict in Iraq is rooted in the rural parts of the country. According to Hill, we other mortal Iraq analysts who focus on the politics of Baghdad (“urban bias”) are incapable of seeing the big picture because we are not privy to the ambassador’s unique rustic insights. Forget about Baghdad and its artificial coexistence between sects; instead consider the countryside: “Trips outside of the capital to Sunni-dominated Anbar or Shia-controlled southern Iraq often reveal a country much more focused on, and animated by, the Sunni-Shia divide. And this phenomenon did not begin with the US-led invasion. It had a thousand-year head start.”

It is hard to know where to begin. For example, did Hill take note of the recent episode in Dhi Qar where a Sunni soldier, Nazhan al-Jibburi, sacrificed his life to stop a terrorist attacking mainly Shiite targets and immediately had streets and new-born Shiite children named for him? 

Maybe that was not rural enough. Let’s venture further away from the urban distortions of the real Iraq and try to reach the rural purity that Hill doubtless found, unadulterated of course by any possible presence of American security details or other distractions of non-Iraqi origin. Did Ambassador Hill consult some of the best anthropological material on Iraq like the Marsh Dwellers of the Euphrates Delta by SM al-Salim (1962) relating to Chubayish (between Basra and Dhi Qar) or Shaikh and Effendi by R.A. Fernea (1970) relating to Daghara in the mid-Euphrates? There really is not much about sectarian conflict in those volumes.

But maybe the 1970s were exceptional. Maybe the 1960s were exceptional too. Perhaps the generally peaceful monarchical period and the late Ottoman eras were exceptional too? If the ambassador is so sure about a “thousand-year head start” for sectarian problems, why doesn’t he at least do us the favour of enumerating some historical empirical examples of bloody sectarian conflict in Iraq, say between 1650 and 1970, to back up his own impressions?

Today, Hill is telling us that Iraqiyya is essentially a Sunni party, and as such it should by definition accept a secondary role in Iraqi politics. There are many good reasons for Iraqiyya to reconsider its relationship with Maliki, but the idea of accepting that “Shia majority rule is an immovable fact of life” just isn’t one of them. The examples of Shiites bitterly disagreeing with each others are simply too many for Iraqis to accept this kind of simplistic and essentialist formula for their politics.

Do these problems really have nothing to do with the “conflict paradigm” of Iraqi politics that seems to have been a staple of most US ambassadors in Baghdad from Paul Bremer, via Zalmay Khalilzad and Ryan Crocker to Hill himself? Does Hill not realise that some of his own policies actually abetted sectarian tensions – for example when he was apologetic about the de-Baathification excesses of early 2010?

One good thing about the latest revelation by Hill is that it may help explain some of his own Delphic policies: Most of the time, Hill was out in the desert, hiking with camels and doing anthropological research, hopefully to be published in a soon-to-come landmark tome!

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64 Responses to “Blame It On the Iraqis: Christopher Hill Goes Rural”

  1. Observer said

    hahaha Thumbs up RV.

    Your dry sense of humer reminds me of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. Speaking of which, I hope that one day some enterprising Iraqi comic takes to the air waves to ridicule politicians in iraq and the region…

    Peace

  2. Observer said

    “The results of the March 2010 general election gave Iraqiyya 91 parliamentary seats, two more than the second-place finisher, Maliki’s State of Law coalition. But Iraqiyya was unable to forge a government coalition; indeed, it failed to attract a single additional MP, let alone the 72 that would be necessary to control a 163-seat majority in the 325-seat legislature. Meanwhile, Maliki, with 89 seats, was able to reach out to other Shia parties and the Kurds, eventually assembling a ‘national unity’ government to gain a second term as prime minister.”

    No mention of the court rigging the interpretation of the constitution on Electoral block vs Parliamentarian block. The truth is that what should have happened is that Iraqia should have been given a chance to form a government and IF they fail, then it would be somebody’s else turn.. But that is history or some would say it is crying after spilled milk or maybe even sour grapes. Each to his own.
    Peace

  3. Santana said

    Chris Hill has gotta be one of the dumbest politicians I have ever met- he is one of many reasons Iraq is in the mess it’s in.

  4. anonymous said

    Dear Reider,

    Do you accept that Saddam Hussein employed a divide and rule strategy in Iraq during his 35 years of rule? Do you accept that he discriminated along ethnic and sectarian lines, treated Kurds and Shiites like second class citizens? I have read many explanations that say he punished Shiites not out of intrinsic sectarianism but as a result of fears that they were sympathetic to the Iranian revolution and wanted to overthrow him in the same manner. Nevertheless, these commentators do not dispute that Shiites were discriminated against during Saddam’s era. He also appeared to form some kind of alliance with Wahabis in his last few years of rule. A bewildered friend of mine returned from a visit to Anbar in 2003 and could not believe that some of his extended family had turned to wahabism and were overtly sectarian.

    I do agree that American policies perpetuated sectarianism and quotas. However, I do think the opposite myth of racial and sectarian tension being a creation of the war fails to tackle the problem. I don’t think romantic delusion will take away from the decades of bitterness felt by both Kurds and Shiites about their treatment under Saddam Hussein. And I know everyone suffered under Saddam, and he even killed his own sons in law. But these two groups suffered a distinct campaign of marginalisation and discrimination solely on the basis of their religious affiliation or ethnic origin.

    Commentators have been quite understanding and almost sympathetic of Kurdish sentiment in the post-war period, but any Shiite attempts at emancipation have been treated with utmost outrage and hostility. I accept that some Shiite politicians are sectarian. But there are definitely those who were not, yet were completely alienated by Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world, pushing them reluctantly into Iran’s open arms. There was open sectarianism in the Arab world towards Iraq in the early post-war period, with comments like the Jordanian King’s Shiite cresent etc. and I think this sectarianism in the Arab world has lead to more sectarian tendencies in Shiites who were previously a lot more nationalist. You mention in your last comment of Hill’s analysis how Saudi Arabia sabotaged a coalition between Maliki and key Sunni figures. But the Saudi campaign against Maliki has not weakened him vis-a-vis Iraqi Sunnis. Sadly, it has weakened him vis-a-vis Iran and the Mahdi army.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Dear Anonymous,

    My interpretation is that Saddam, like many Iraqi politicians, oscillated between sectarian and more national phases of his rule. Clearly, subsequent to the Iranian revolution there was large-scale targeting of the Shiite community of a horrible discriminatory kind. Similarly, during the 1991 uprising, some of the propaganda by the regime, and especially a series of editorials in the Thawra newspaper, was pure sectarianism. But I think what makes the case of Iraq different from, say, the Balkans, was the fact that Saddam never tried to exclude Shiites entirely from the state. He never made the exclusion of Shiites into formal ideology. I think this is an indication that the legacy of coexistence in Iraq is stronger than many commentators seem prepared to admit.

    I think the biggest challenge for the future is to deal honestly with the legacy of the Baath party. Crimes were committed and these should be addressed at the individual level. But what we are seeing today is that good people who collaborated with Saddam are systematically allowed back in if they are Shiites but not so often if they are Sunnis. That in turn could create informal sectarianim similar to that seen under the Baath, but with Sunnis being discriminated against instead of Shiites.

  6. Anonymous,
    “distinct campaign of marginalisation and discrimination solely on the basis of their religious affiliation or ethnic origin.”
    I don’t think this is correct regarding both the Kurds and the Shia. I think this is your feeling of Victimhood.
    Unfortunately, people in power agree with your view and a multi-ethnic society cannot be ruled by victimhood, even if the the federal constitution was perfect.

  7. anonymous said

    Reider, compare your response to my comment to FaisalKadri’s. Even commentators who are the most pro restorative justice and believe that the transitional phase should be one of forgiveness and reconciliation argue that there should at least ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of crimes, if not apology. I agree with Faisalkadri to the extent that a multi-ethnic society cannot be ruled by victimhood, but neither could it be dealt by denial. I think we need an honest reckoning with the past and some national dialogue about how it could be dealt with. Unfortunately it is such a loaded and touchy subject, I just don’t know if that is even possible.

    I do wonder if you have any statistical evidence for your argument that Shiite Baathists are systematically allowed back while Sunnis are not? I was under the impression that, at least in the early years, it was the other way round. Shiite Baathists could not use the sectarian card to win international support and sympathy while Sunni Baathists could.

    I don’t think we will ever be able to hold accountable every Baathist who committed crimes against the Iraqi people, there are just too many of them. I still think we need an open and honest policy about what we will do as a country, which respects the Baath’s victims enough to be honest with them about why it is not feesible to hold all perpetrators accountable.

  8. Ali W said

    Observer

    I think you misunderstood my question.

    But firstly let me answer your question. As a Muslim I deplore the hypocritical stance the Iraqi government has taken in regards to Syria, whom themselves were once oppressed by a Baathist minority. I think most Iraqi Muslims agree with me, unlike the Saddamist’s position in regards to Bahrain.

    My point is this, if Allawi wants to get elected in the next election he needs to play better Politics. If I was him, in order to get elected I would condemn Iranian, Turkish and SA meddling. And State that the SA gov need to so more for its minority Muslim population economically and politically, and announce a political boycott of Bahrain. Trust me, he will smash current parties in government.

    He should fire Ani, forget about Hashemi because its over for him now, and try to maybe reform Mutlak, bring in Yawer, Mithal Alusi, etc.

    The point that you missed is not that I’m trying to state the facts as to the dangers Iraq is facing, or who is better or more corrupt etc, but on how to win an election. It doesn’t matter if Saudi Arabia loves ALL the Iraqi people (which it doesnt). I’m just stating what Allawi needs to do to win an election. Pure and simple. Don’t try to persuade me about the current government’s corruption, that is well known. Just telling you simply how to win an election.

    If you dont do that, and dont distance yourself from SA, forget about winning an election.

    Reidar, one quick question, did Allawi condemn Saudi Arabia for sending troops into Bahrain and the Bahraini government strongly on TV as well as press releases?

    Thanks

  9. Reidar Visser said

    Anonymous, I agree there should be acknowledgement, but on both sides. What I mean is that there are many sources which show that Shiite tribes participated massively with Saddam in repressing the (mainly Shiite) uprising in 1991. Some of the pro-Saddam tribes in the 1990s were even Banu Malik!

    I don’t have elaborate statistics, but scattered evidence seems to paint the same picture re the inclusion of ex-Baathists of Shiite origin. Abbud Qanbar is but the most prominent example that comes to mind. Recently, Maliki ally Shirwan al-Waili had Baathist accusations directed against him.

    Ali, I don’t remember about Allawi and Bahrain but I think Nujayfi played a role in getting the Iraqi parliament to condemn violence against demonstrators.

  10. anonymous said

    Of course Shiites participated in the oppression. The biggest myth which in my opinion benefited Baathists is equating Baathists with Sunnis. Every time there is an attempt to pass some anti-baathist measures, there is an outcry that it is an attempt to marginalise Sunnis. There is a lot of bitterness in the south about the Shiite Baathists not being held accountable and have remained in their home towns with impunity. It is completely misconceived to imagine that victims families want to see a Sunni held accountable who might have committed his crimes in a far away place, and not the local Shiite criminal who harmed their own loved ones.

    The fact that there were Shiite Baathists who participated in the oppression of their own does not take away from the fact that Shiites were targeted because of their sect. Afterall, the apartheid regime in South Africa used black gangs to target black activists, but there is no suggestion that it wasn’t part of the oppression of Black people in SA, even if not physically carried out by white men.

  11. Mohammed said

    Reidar and all:
    I would like to advance a slightly more narrow view of sectarianism in Saddam’s days. My extended family is very diverse and includes Shiites and Sunnis. My view on Saddam is that the people he kept at the positions of power were really narrowed down to his Tikriti clan, and a few closely aligned tribes. These tribes just happened to be Sunni. My Shiite uncles were officers in Saddam’s military/police/security services. One of them even achieved a reasonably high rank… On the day they hung Saddam, he cried, and cried. My uncles really have nothing to do with religion, and were quite secular Shiites. Today, two out of three are working for the government (police, army). The highest ranking of them retired.

    I agree that Saddam did not have an official policy to discriminate against Shiites like my uncles at the low-level foot soldiers as they were quite loyal baathists in their day. However, let me advance the concept that Islamist Shiites WERE SYTEMATICALLY PERSECUTED (Malikis, Hakims, etc). You can be a Shiite, but outward expression of your faith was a no-no. Even selling or displaying Shiite religious books was frowned upon. Shiites who went to mosques and grew beards were automatically referred to as either dawa, 3jam, or the like. Saddam didn’t care for religious sunnis, but at least after Gulf War I in 1990 he started to go on a mosque building spree and tolerated religious sunnis in ways he never tolerated Islamist Shiites.

    The big elephant in the room is that Islamist Shiites are now calling the shots. They were hunted down and suffocated under Saddam. They truly were victims to Saddam’s regime and they naturally will go through a cycle of victimhood. So, to debate about how much sectarianism there was in Saddam’s time is an oversimplification. Islamist Shiites were meant to be eradicated, and I challenge anybody to dispute that.

    Now, with respect to politics today, I am not sure I can agree with how you are characterizing decisions on which former baathists are brought back in from the cold. Yes, al-Maliki has allowed some Shiite baathists to go back into their positions. But, this really boils down to trust. He won’t let all Shiite former baathists back. Allawi is a secular ex-baathist (who has a considerable secular base of support in Iraq), and you will see pigs flying before al-Maliki would ever let Allawi have his coveted national security council position. It has far more to do with trust than anything else. He doesn’t trust Allawi, period. Iraqiya proposed many people for the defense position. I don’t know who all these people are, but as I recall one of them was Jawad Bulani. He is a Shiite that has called al-Maliki “a snake.” If I was al-Maliki, would I want somebody like that as my defense minister? Hell no!! Al-Maliki seems to trust Saduun Al-Dulaiymi (a sunni) and would be happy with him as defense minister.

    However, people criticize this choice because they find this particular al-Dulaymi to be too close to Al-Maliki. Find me one sunni leader who has a strong sunni following, who gets along well with Al-Maliki? Prior to the elections, Abu Risha was thinking about such an alliance, but it fell through (Saudi interference maybe?). It costs any Sunni leader legitimacy with their base now if they are seen to be close to al-Maliki. I would also hazard to guess that the rehabilitated ex-baathists that now serve under al-Maliki would never have the audacity of continuing to glorify the baath regime like Mr. Saleh Mutlaq.

    Personally, I believe all this sunni-shiite stuff is a big game used by the elite of society to control the streets. Observer, has attributed the following to himself: “She3a Iraqi who hates wiliat al faqeeh and political islam.” You have also called belief in Imam Mahdi “a myth.” To each his own my friend. What really puzzles me is why you even bother to refer to yourself as a She3a? OK, so your grandfather was an ayatollah. So what? Shiism is by definition having a belief in the legitimacy of leadership and guidance by the Imams (including Imam Mahdi) in the line of Ali and Fatima. It is certainly not an ethnic group or even unique culture asides from the obvious religious ceremonies, etc. So you lost me there.

    The elite have figured out that this is all a big ruse but unfortunately the plebeian masses have not caught on. The wahabi suicide bombers will blow up anybody who identifies themselves as shiites, and the mahdi army went on a killing spree to wipe out the sunnis of baghdad for no crime other than having a son with the name of Omar. It would be funny if it were not so tragic.

    Observer, I have to disagree with a certain aspect of your recent post. You said: “As for SA and Turkey’s meddling in Iraq (as opposed to Iran). As far as I am concerned it is a counter to Iran’s and it is needed at this point in time.” However, Saudi Intervention is having horrific side effects on Iraqi politics due to the sectarian nature of the Saudi system. Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia is based upon wahabi doctrine that is determined to oppress shiites (their leading scholars call shiites kuffar, and al-sisatani a zandeeq). How can you expect them to have a positive influence in Iraq? They are even more backwards in their wahabi doctrine then are shiites who espouse willayat al faqeeh. The only way Saudi Arabia can ever have positive influence on Iraq is if they first have wholesale structural changes to how they treat their own shia. With respect to Iraq, Saudis should change the goal from ensuring sunni dominance, to securing Iraqi shia alliance away from Iran (I am pretty much echoing what Ali Allawi has written).

    Observer, can you please explain to me what your logic is about the benefits of saudi interference? I have no problem with you being secular (If I was in Iraq, I would gladly have you over for Bamia and threed ;-). But, I do hope that you at least have friends and colleagues who are religious shiites that you can discuss politics with. If so, are my assumptions very different than what you hear from them in Iraq? If not, there is a danger to “groupthink” among secular and religious people who confine themselves into cliques.

    Regards,
    M

  12. Reidar Visser said

    Mohammed, thanks, your comment raises several interesting questions. One of them is a problem that I keep coming back to: Where are the Sunnis and the secularists that Maliki trust and can work with? There have to be some.

    Until now, the tendency has been that either they don’t have constituency, or the relationship with Maliki breaks down:

    2008: Mahmud al-Mashadani. Limited support base.

    2009: Nujayfi, Mutlak and Abu Risha. Didn’t work out.

    2010: Ali Hatim al-Sulayman. Didn’t work out. Probably limited support base anyway.

    2010: Hajim al-Hasani and Izzat Shabandar. No support base.

    2011: Qutayba al-Jibburi (White). Limited support base

    Today, the Karbuli faction of Iraqiyya seems more interested in a deal than the rest. How about Nujayfi, again?

    I’m wondering whether Maliki has a circular approach to this: If they have too much popular base, he doesn’t dare to have them as partners…

  13. Observer said

    Ali W,
    do I really need to remind you that Allawi and Iraqia won the elections!!! I am surprised that you choose to ignore the fact that Maliki controls the judiciary and have deemed Hashimi guilty by virtue of confessions obtained three years ago under torture. Not that I like Hashimi or what he stands for, but do you relaly believe that Hashimi would be stupid enough to pay for the killing of a policeman? Even if he were an evil man, you should give him enough credit for being smart enough to have a cut-off man!!!

    So your advice on how to win elections are superfluous since the elections was won by Iraqia but the rules were rigged afterwords.

    Fo the next elections (if there is one), Maliki and Da3wa would have to run with the rest of the NA to make sure that the she3a have the PM ship but this time the others will not allow Maliki to be the PM candidate. That might tell you why Mliki is in fact desperate to agitate sectarianism (as opposed to Muhammads’ claim that it is iraqia that is enflaming the atmosphere). He may be hoping that he will become THE MAN for the average Iraqi she3a (good luck with that when there are no services and the security is deteriorating).
    Peace

  14. Observer said

    Muhammad,
    In the old Baath days, I was counted as a she3a just because of my name and my heritage now you want me to pass a higher threshold to call myself a she3a. For the the record, I believe that religion is something between me and god and you or any other being on earth have no right to judge me? But for the sake fo politics in Iraq, I am counted as a she3a, your litmus test not withstanding. One day I will get to tell the tales of the behavior of pios, ring wearing, worry bead using, turban headed dorks running around making fortunes off the poor who believe in the myths of sects… But that is for the future.

    As for SA.. once again you display either an ignorance of the facts or willfully overlooking such facts. Do you deny that AAH are sponsored by Iran and are responsible for the killings of thousands? I am not saying that it is ok for SA to send wahabis to blow themselves up, but you are willing to ignore what Iran is doing but not so when it comes to SA. Both are guilty and both are protecting their interest.

    I will repeat it once more for you. The way out is to address the concerns of those who are marginalized (if ti s real or perceived – it matters not for the end is the same — civil disobedience). The era of the monopoly of the state on the instruments of violence are over, and even in that era, neither saddam was successful in suppressing the Kurds, or the SHe3a, not was england in suppressing the IRA).
    Peace

    PS
    and yes I am a follower (and an acquaintance of) the late Christopher Hitchens….. read into that what you wish.

  15. M,
    “Islamist Shiites WERE SYTEMATICALLY PERSECUTED” And Islamist Sunnis were not??
    “I believe all this sunni-shiite stuff is a big game used by the elite of society” Do you really believe that the “elite of society” whoever they are are in control? Nobody is in control, not even Maliki and his Iranian sponsors.
    “Yes, al-Maliki has allowed some Shiite baathists to go back into their positions. But, this really boils down to trust” You are selectively using this trust criterion to absolve Maliki. It can be used to absolve Saddam and all dictators. You are also assuming that Maliki is rational in his trust or mistrust. I think it is now clear that Maliki is beyond being rational in his fears, most notably he does not trust Democracy.

  16. Muhannad said

    Thank you Mohammed for the enlightening comment. I agree with everything you wrote.

    And thank you Reidar Visser for a great blog.

  17. Santana said

    Mohamed and Ali W.-

    I am at a loss trying to find out where in hell is all this “Saudi- meddling” that you guys keep talking about ????…I totally agree with Observer that it IS needed to counter Iran and just like Turkish intervention is needed as well but I also wanna ask Observer “where is it” ???…It’s bad enough that we have to beg for it – it would never come to mind if Iran wasn’t so entrenched like bone cancer in Iraq then all these other outsiders would not be needed at all….Can any of you show some examples of Saudi meddling or presence in Iraq !

    Over the years I have made SO many trips to the Arabian Gulf and begging the leaders to help Iraqi Seculars and Liberals in balancing Iran’s infliuence and I heavily lobbied the Arab Governments to assist us in our lobbying efforts in DC and convince the U.S government that Iran will not only be in full control of Iraq by the end of this year but will start problems with Iraq’s Arab neighbors….and I always got the same response from top GCC leaders …they say ” Abu XXXX” we love you but we cannot do what you are asking or else we will be seen as supporting Sunnis against Shiites ……and just cuz Iran supports Shiites and encourages them to go after Sunnis and commit genocide , that does not mean we should do the same”. Of course my point with them is NOT to go after Iraqi Shiites nor commit genocide -like Iran wants to-but we need serious backing in order to go after these
    Iranian militias like Jaish Al-Mahdi, Asaeb Al-Haq, Hezbollah Iraq, Promised day brigade….etc and also
    help cleanse the Iraqi Army and Police from these tabaaiyah that have NO loyalty to Iraq whatsoever and also help stabilize Iraq and enforce the establishment of a shared government cuz Maliki will not share anything- not in a million years.

    I think the only time we will get any real intervention in Iraq from U.S, Saudi or Turkey is when the civil war starts….and if you guys think civil war is far fetched then wait till
    Iran blowsup a major shrine in Karbala or Najaf just to get the civil war going- It worked in 2006 when Iran blew up the Askari mosque and will work again in 2012 ….but for Iran this would be a desperate measure- they are doing
    just fine
    taking over Iraq right now using the scumbag Maliki and his Iranian Daawa party to carry it out.

  18. anonymous said

    Reider,

    From your previous response to Hill:
    “For example, the United States failed to use their leverage with the Saudis to prevent them from intervening against Maliki in his various alliance-building projects. Instead, it was widely reported that Saudi machinations in the summer of 2009 led to the abortion of a promising alliance bid involving Maliki, Abu Risha and Jawad al-Bulani, the secular interior minister.”

    I think it is in Saudi’s interest that Maliki/Dawa continue to fail to build alliances with key Sunni figures, as it will always undermine their legitimacy. And it is of course in Iran’s interest to keep them reliant on other Shiites for support. There are a lot of reasons for sabotage.

    Also, as you mention in your other peace, Turkey, Saudi and other countries went to great effort to get Sunni figures to put their differences aside and join Iraqiyya and therefore Sunni politicians faced a similar anger within their communities for joining State of Law that some Shittes expressed towards State of Law for dividing the shiite vote. Other Sunni members in State of Law even reported threats being made against them for joining, and it is not implausible to imagine that people like Hajim al-Hasani lost some of his popular support for joining, as there is no indication of how much support he may have had before the elections.

    I am not arguing that Maliki has always negotiated on the best terms with these figures – I simply don’t know as I wasn’t there. But I don’t think it is fair that all the blame is put on him that these alliances don’t work out.

  19. anonymous said

    Mohammed – I agree with your analysis to the extent that Shiite Islamists were specifically targeted by Saddam Hussien. But the campaign also included their relatives and anyone accused, however loosely, of aiding or sympathising with them. This widened the circle quite significantly.

    But there was also the discrimination against Iraqis accused of having iranian roots who were displaced in their thousands. Again this tended to target Shiites. As you mention, the 3ajmi label was a popular one with the Baath.

    And then there was the aftermath of the bloody quelling of the uprising – a last straw for Saddam that turned the inhabitants of the south into deamons for him. People from southern states like Nasiriya talk about how they were refused education, jobs or even purchasing land in baghdad after the uprising.

    So all in all, the numbers and feelings of discrimination add up. But as I stated above, that is at all not to say that the agents carrying out this oppression were not also Shiites. I too have extended family that were in the Iraqi army at relatively high levels (though as you say the top echelons come from a very narrow group). Out of interest – any idea why your uncle was still crying for Saddam? I was under the impression that even Baathists who are still committed to their party wanted to see new leadership.

    As I said above, it is the very frustrating equation of Baathist with Sunni that has made it so difficult to deal with this thorny issue. I think the media holds a significant amount of responsibility for this. For example, after Saddam’s execution, there was no mention of Shiite Baathists mourning him, only reports about how groups of Sunnis north of Baghdad were mourning!

  20. Seerwan said

    @Mohammed regarding your comment on politicians promoting sectarianism, “The elite have figured out that this is all a big ruse but unfortunately the plebeian masses have not caught on”.
    I would disagree with that.

    I respond as I did to Observer when he said, “What you also need to acknowledge is the any election is still going to be decided in a sectarian fashion with the margin of error at around 10% (the percentage of those who are willing to jump the sectarian divide).”

    http://gulfanalysis.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/the-arbil-agreement-versus-daawa-authoritarianism/#comment-9715

    My response is that since 2003 Iraqis haven’t been given the option of voting for a non-sectarian party.

    Iraqiyya is primarily a party of ex-Ba’athist Sunnis, so extremely few Shia will vote for them.
    The two Kurdish parties, KDP and PUK, are based on the Kurdish ethnic group, so the Arabs won’t vote for them.
    Then of course there are the Shia Islamist parties divided between the extreme Islamist blocs like Sadr & Hakim and the less serious ones like Maliki.

    I do not agree with the insistence that Iraqis vote purely on a sectarian basis no matter what, when they haven’t been given the option to vote for a non-sectarian bloc.

    Thank you gentlemen. Peace.

  21. Seerwan said

    Dear brother Observer,

    How did Iraqiyya ‘win’ the elections? =s

    Firstly, my understanding of ‘winning’ is when over 50% of the votes (and the seats) are won. Iraqiyya got 24.7% of the votes. Far from over 50%.
    Secondly, as for candidate votes Maliki received 622,961 votes Vs the runner-up Ayad Allawi with 407,537 votes.
    Lastly, parliamentary blocs were formed after the elections. Just two months after the elections were held, http://www.rferl.org/content/Iraqs_Shiite_Announce_Alliance/2032919.html the National Alliance Bloc is formed from the State of Law & National Iraqi Alliance who combined had won 48.92% of the popular vote, significantly more than Iraqiyya’s bloc who combined had at most 28% of the votes.

    From any perspective, Iraqiyya can’t be viewed as a winner.

    Do let me know how the latter statement is incorrect.

    Best regards.

  22. Reidar Visser said

    Anonymous, I agree regional forces have militated against Maliki when it comes to alliance building. Nonetheless, at this point in time, there are members of Iraqiyya who openly criticise their leaders for alleged ties to regional forces and criticise the boycott. Is Maliki reaching out to them?

  23. Anonymous said

    Reider, I sure hope so! But if he is not doing it in view of the media, it does not mean he/Dawa are not doing it at all.

  24. Mohammed said

    Observer:

    You may have misunderstood my question. I am certainly not judging you regarding your religious beliefs. I am in 100% agreement with you that religion is something personal (between you, and your diety (if you believe in one)). There was nothing in my question that was intended to ascribe an inherent goodness or badness to your beliefs system. Yes, I realize that under the old system, you would have been classified as a Shiite (probably because your parents were considered Shiites). I personally do not like to describe myself as a Shiite because I believe these sectarian labels have led us to nothing but trouble. When people ask me what sect I belong to, my usual response is: “What sect did the Prophet Mohammed belong to? That’s the one I want to belong to.” And invariably, the questioner is left perplexed.

    I may be a practicing Muslim, but I strongly believe in the separation of religion and state (and I also do not support the doctrine of Willayat ul faqih). I too enjoyed listening and reading Hitchens as well. I have religious friends, secular friends, and atheist friends. The only thing I demand from people is that they will respect and defend my right to practice my religion as much as I should defend their rights to have beliefs different than mine.
    I purposefully used the word “game” because I am quite cynical of these so-called “religious” leaders irrespective of sect. I would not at all be surprised by the unscrupulous behavior that you have witnessed amongst them.

    Observer, I am big a big believer in strength of diversity. In my prior post, I asked if you have friends or colleagues that are practicing/religious Shiites that you can have political discussions with. What do they tell you? (perhaps that question was lost in all my ramblings)..In all honesty, my view from afar is that Iraqiya is very out of touch with the Iraqi mainstream Shia population. You may use the same label for yourself as a “shiite” but my guess is your outlook is starkly different than the average person who calls himself “shiite.”

    The example of Saudi intervention is a classic example of how I really fail to understand your thought process in relation to Iraqi politics and sectarianism. I am not defending the virtues of Iranian interference (and I am sure you have read the many passages in which I have condemned Iranian intervention.) However, as I previously stated, Saudi intervention is quite poisonous to Iraqi society for the following reasons:
    1) Wahhabi doctrine has rapidly infused itself into Iraqi Sunni society and is transforming many Sunnis from a very tolerant version of Islam to a much more austere and extremist strain of religion. This is leading to the “takfir” ideology that makes Sunnis and Shiites recoil from one another.
    2) The venomous Saudi-funded satellite TV programs that spew their hatred of Shiites is also polarizing Iraqi society.
    3) The horrific example of how Saudi Arabia persecutes Shiites outside of Iraq make Iraqi Shiites wary of Saudi interference, and they have no choice but to seek an alliance with Iran out of fear of the Saudi big bad wolf.
    4) Although I cannot prove it, my guess is that the Saudi put heavy influence on Iraqi “sunni” parties to avoid having relationships with shia parties like SOL and the like.

    If Saudi Arabia was the exemplary model country of moderation, then yes— having their input may bring some balance and prevent one powerful neighbor like Iran from having too much influence. Can you please clue me in on an example of helpful Saudi interference in Iraq? Do those positive benefits outweigh the horrendous side effects I have listed above?

    You notice that I don’t criticize Turkish interference as much because Erdogan seems like a much more reasonable man in comparison to the Saudi Arabia. Turkey has mainly backed Iraqiya, although I don’t totally agree with Turkish strategy either. They were recently echoing predictions of doom and gloom like Iraqiya with fears of an imminent civil war. Even if those fears are well-founded, they would have been well-advised to discuss them with al-Maliki in a more private and respectful way. Al-Maliki interpreted this diplomacy by “news headlines” as a direct swipe at his leadership, and Al-Maliki unwisely snapped back at them with harsh language also in a public way. But yes, I want to see Turkey more engaged in Iraq (and not just with Iraqiya).

    Finally, regarding your dire predictions of civil war, you stated: “Look at the situation from the prospective of those who are being marginalized and tell me what there options are? They have no income and are dependent on the largesse of the central government and they will continue to be so if they do not develop alternate means.”

    Since you referred to lack of income as a reason for civil war, please explain what economic disparities exist in Iraq between mainstream sunnis and shia currently? In discussions with my sunni and shia relatives in Baghdad, they pretty much have exactly the same challenges and complaints. They are equally worried about security, electricity, income, healthcare, etc. Do the people of Basra receive more electricity than Mosul or Ramadi? Are sunni elementary school teachers in Mosul making much less than teachers in Hillah?

    What is a civil war going to deliver to your average joe? Sunnistan?

    What do you think would happen to my Sunni relatives of Baghdad (and the other million sunnis in Baghdad)? They would be forced to give up everything they owned and flee because they know that they would be subject to roving shiite gangs and rogue security services in Baghdad (tyranny of the majority as they say). My wife already lost a sunni uncle to jaysh al mahdi and her family would never want to lose another person to those goons. It would be a disaster for Iraq and everybody knows it, and I seriously doubt that the people of Iraq would be willing to take such a reckless gamble.

    regards,
    M

  25. observer said

    M
    For the record also, I do believe that Ali was robbed by the monied interest of Quraish, though also I recognize that had Ali been the Khalifa, Islam would have stayed in Mekka and the area around. To me it is historical facts that count and all the myths of sects are pointless playing along the margins. Within any religion there are agreements on 95% of the content, yet all the civil wars and religious wars are somehow about the 5% of difference. Anyway. this is boring stuff and is not for this blog.

    For the sake of arguments in iraq, i am a she3a and I do have friends from many of the other sides that I have frank and brutal discussions with. I especially have contacts in the south that are high up in the hierarchy of their respective parties. My views, however, are not based on what is political expedient, but again that is also boring and is immaterial to the discussion. You either believe me or you don’t. Call BS on what I state and you do not agree with and I am ready to defend my positions. At the end of the day, you have the right to agree or disagree. It is a free world – are at least outside Iraq ;)…

    Your fixation on SA continues to puzzle me. All outside interference is BAD. I think we agree on that. Yet you seem to have different grades for outside interference. From my reading of your posts, you seem to rank SA is the worst, then Iran, then Turkey, then US (please do nto let me push words into your mouth). To me SA and Iran are just as bad (and Santana, while Iraqia does not get money from SA, I am told that some of the component parties of Iraqi do get support from SA or the gulfees).

    Turkey did not get involved in Iraq until it saw its own interests being undermined by the sectarian divide and the US seeming involvement in allowing such a divide. It is part of the re-orientation of Turkey to the middle East with the impending failure of its attempts to join the EU. To me, turkish interference is also bad for Iraq, but when I see Iran and SA/US duking it out with a clueless DOS quarterbacking the plays, I actually am relieved to see Turkey getting its hands in and telling SA to piss off (that happened during the last elections).

    Look, from the looks of things and the think tank talk in the US, it seems to me that the echo chamber effect has resulted in somehow everybody convincing themselves that Muslim Brotherhoods are the only ones capable of reforming the economic failed states in the ME (based on what evidence, i do not know) and thus the US would like the brotherhood to adopt the policies of Turkey as a successful mode. That in itself shows you how little the brain trust in DC understands the brotherhood, political islam, etc. It seems that we are destined for another 20 to 30 years of instability while the Muslim/Arab world figures out that Islam is NOT the solution (as opposed to the Brotherhoods slogan “Islam is the Solution”).

    On civil war predictions, i really have little time to explain the minutia. But you have misunderstood the issue of income. When I mention income, it is not with respect to the individual, but rather to the provinces. Baghdad has not developed the gas fields of Anbar or Musil (or the KRG for that matter) for a reason. They want those provinces to be dependent on Baghdad for income. As long as Baghdad controls the access to mineral resources, they can keep the rest of the country tied up.

    Suffice it to say that regardless of the argumentation I (or you make) facts on the ground are supporting the position that continued domination of Maliki and Da3wa of Baghdad WILL/is result/ing in centrifugal forces causing the division of Iraq. It is not just a bunch of politicians leading the charge. Recall that the first calls for regional separation were from Basra, then it is now becoming vogue all over. These do not come from vacuum nor are they dictated by outside forces. Maliki will go down in history as the man who caused the disintegration of Iraq. If it happens peacefully, then that would be ok (iraqis are tired of fighting and they just want to live), but I am afraid that disputed territories will be the cause of much blood shed. A couple of days ago I wrote up a post about how to resolve disputed territories and have an alliance between sunnis and kurds (lets say anti iranian axis with the blessings/godfathering of Turkey) and a she3a islamic parties dominated south and central Iraq. I still think that it is workable…..

    As for the suffering of sunnies and she3a in civil war. I would ask you to ask that question to Da3wa and others who have the tools in their hands to address the concerns of those who are being marginalized. The costs of unrest and tensions are always paid by the poor and those who have no way of saving themselves and getting out of harms way. That is the way of history. Don’t blame the messenger…
    Peace

  26. observer said

    Kak Seerwan,
    I have gone over this specific subject many times before and I believe even RV agrees with my chronology. Iraqia won the largest number of seat for any electoral block con testing the elections nation wide (91 seats to sol 89). The rules were changed by a Da3wa controlled court to allow for muddying up the waters and wipe the distinction between electoral blocks and parliamentary blocks. Barzani on no less than 4 occasions pronounced publicly that Iraqia should be given the chance to form the government and if they failed to do so in 30 days then SOL gets the chance.
    I hope that makes it clear to you…
    Peace

  27. Salah said

    Both Idiot Chris Hill & Thug Nouri

    Hill and most of US those Iraq was bad luck has them on his land they are the most idiot and stuped ever we heard about them and their saying about Iraq.

    There is doubt to debate the US hardened the sect divide. He can’t own up to that but he’s not good at owning problems. He can lie. He’s a world class liar. Here he is lying: in preparation for the 2010 elections, the Sunnis set aside their internal differences and united under a single political party called Iraqiyya (the Iraqi National Movement). Of course, its organizers are loath to describe it as a Sunni party. Rather, it is described as a national party that invites people of all orientations to participate.”
    This just a lie by Hill, it’s clear he is a liar

    As for Malik he is running gangster leader, over the past several months, detaining many of them in secret locations with no access to legal counsel and using “brutal torture” to extract confessions, his chief political rival has charged. Reported by McClatchy Newspapers, Guardian newspaper.

    More over during last two weeks there are two incidents which realty brings Malki and his regime to many questions he should answer?

    – Four Americans (two men & Women) holding PM office documents arrested in Baghdad with weapons and explosives near house of one of Iraqiyya member?
    تضارب الأنباء بشأن المعتقلين الأميركان في بغداد

    http://www.almadapaper.net/news.php?action=view&id=57610

    – Iraqi police arrested, band many diplomats from Czech Republic when they found some weaponry and explosives in their luggage when they trying leaving Iraq,
    المالكي يتستر على فرق الموت في السفارة التشيكية

    http://www.uragency.net/ur/news.php?cat=secret&id=7617

  28. Muhannad said

    Iraqi Shia have not been the only victims of takfir. Wahhabis have exported takfir to Pakistan and Afghanistan as well. The oil-rich Gulfies have influenced Egypt too.

    From today’s LA Times: “The relatively moderate Brotherhood and the puritanical Salafis will likely battle over how deeply Islam should shape the constitution and be ingrained in public life. Both parties have said social and economic challenges are the most pressing concerns, but the Salafis, who receive funding from Persian Gulf nations, are certain to push for an Egypt more rooted in sharia, or Islamic law.”

  29. MBS said

    Worth remembering it was only the Islamic Dawa Party which had a law put against it by Saddam with the punishment of death for membership, helping or supporting them.

    So they were persecuted more than any other Arabs in Iraq.

  30. MBS,
    The Baathists have the constitution put against them now, do you thing the right of victimhood trumps the right of election? Do you expect Dawa to be in power for ever??

  31. Santana said

    Faisal-

    This “victimhood cry” as illogical as it is , has yielded great results to crybabies worldwide over the years…..many many groups used this- the Jews used it after WW2 (and still do) and his had tremendous results……..Every Daawa member I have met uses this victimhood and reminds everyone what they had been thru during the Saddam years woith extreme exaggerations….they are pathalogical liars with no morals- they lie, cheat and have twisted logic when arguing- for example I ran into one in DC last week at the State Dept and I mentioned to him that it’s a shame that a great country like Iraq would appoint an Ambassador to Washington that does not speak English (refering to the new Iraqi Amb that was just confirmed )….so he felt he must defend all Maliki’s guys and he shouts back at me ” oo shenoo ya3nee?? hasa lazem Safeer al Iraq lil Seen (China) ye3ruf Seenee?? “……to non Arabs – his idiotic reply to me was ” So what ? does the Iraqi Ambassador to China have to know Chinese?” I said ” Tu3ruf-moo soochak- sooch ellee yehchee weyak” and I walked off…..

  32. anonymous said

    Lol @ Santana –

    read your comment
    ” Abu XXXX” we love you but we cannot do what you are asking or else we will be seen as supporting Sunnis against Shiites ……and just cuz Iran supports Shiites and encourages them to go after Sunnis and commit genocide , that does not mean we should do the same”.

    in conjunction with your comment
    “they are pathalogical liars with no morals- they lie, cheat and have twisted logic when arguing”

    I am not sure that between you and “every Dawa member” you don’t come across as one who is rather economical with the truth!

    What Saddam did to people doesn’t need extreme exaggeration, the photo of that Kurdish man clutching a baby and lying dead in the street after Saddam gassed his village is etched into every decent Iraqi’s memory. Iraq has a problem – an overwhelming number of people who participated in these heinous crimes that everyone needs to learn to live with. Would make the job a lot easier if they would at least acknowledge their filthy crimes.

  33. Anonymous,
    Saddam was executed for his crimes and there supposed to be a judicial process. Who exactly are you referring to by “they” in: if they would at least acknowledge their filthy crimes? Do they really have anything to do with the problem of government? I doubt it.
    Guilt-by-association, blaming the victim (like Christpher Hill blaming the Iraqis) and blaming Saddam for everything are diversion strategies and a waste of time.

  34. Santana said

    Anonymous-

    There are heinous crimes as you described happening every day since Daawa took power – I fully agree that the man clutching the baby in Halabja is etched in every decent Iraqi’s memory but can you also mention the Shiite militias that went on endless killing sprees in 2006-2007 against Iraqis who’s only crime is having the “wrong ” last or first name!??…….this is equally heinous- so please don”t start with the “holier than though” pitch with me…Iraq has had a very bloody history since 1958 and it is at it’s worst today.

    Iran and it’s puppets (which I am willing to bet that you fit in somewhere) in Iraq have beat Saddam in merciless killing since 2003 -and it’s not over either- your Daawa friends backed by Iran are just getting warmed up. Saddam’s crimes will make him look like Mother Teresa in comparison to what Daawa, JAM, AAH and Hezbollah Iraq will be doing while backed by the Iranian terrorist Qassem Sulaimani.

  35. observer said

    MBS
    The same laws also were applicable to members of the communist party. Moreover, lets not forget the about the Kurdish activists for both PUK and KDP and Halabcha, and Anfal, and the INC members who were gathered up and killed in 1996 in Kurdistan. I have no recollection now of how many army officers who were tortured and killed under the pretense that they were conspiring to stage coups in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Oh I almost forgot about the Kurdish failies and Taba3ia who had the males executed and the rest of the families left on the border with Iran.

    In short – you are being disingenuous proclaiming a special status for Da3wa as a specially prosecuted class of people. In fact, if anybody deserve to have that claim, it is the Kurds given that more than 180 thousand kurds fell victim to the Baath regime and their racial policies.

    Anonymous,
    Even if the Baathis acknowledged their filthy crimes, I am not one to let bygones be bygones. I think those who have blood on their hands must be prosecuted – but by an independent judiciary (however, please note that those with blood on their hands have run away or have been dealt with locally!). I will state that 80 to 90 % of those who joined the party were innocent of the crimes of the regime and were just ambitious people who wanted to climb up the ladder of government positions.

    That siad, i also do not believe that you can prohibit thought. Making Baath thought illegal makes about as much sense as what the Baathies did when they made belief in the principles of Daawa and Communism illegal. The way forward is to educate the next generations about the atrocities of single party rule in Iraq (and around the world – i.e. Russia, East Germany, eastern europe, etc.). Even in the US, the White Arian Nation can preach, but they are along the margins of society and are ridiculed by the vast majority of the people.

    Justice must be the basis for the society and without (or without an independent judiciary) there will never be civil peace.
    Peace

  36. observer said

    http://www.almadapaper.net/news.php?action=view&id=58231

    Out of thread (sorry RV) but the article reflects the attitude of several of my she3a friends and dare I say some of the commentators in this blog

  37. anonymous said

    Santana – the fact that you think anyone can make Saddam look like Mother Teresa speaks volumes. But for the benefit of other people reading this thread:

    – I am supporter of dawa, but not a member myself. I am guessing this is what Santana is suggesting makes me an “Iranian puppet”? Anyone who knows anything about the history of Dawa would know that when they were at their weakest (Sadr had just been executed, the Baath was cracking down hard, they were stateless) they refused to come under Iranian control and refused to join SCIRI. Since then, they have suffered more sabotage and infiltrations from the Iranians than any other Shiite party. They have always been fiercely independent and their history speaks for itself.

    – The Iranian puppet label may of course apply to some people operating in Iraq – sadly there are puppets in every group carrying out the bidding of regional forces. But the accusation against Dawa is just an attempt by its rivals to play on western insecurities. A simple lie that works miracles in the west because of anti-iranian hysteria. The funny thing is the lie is so wildly available, I even heard it being used against Allawi before the elections. Iyad Jamal al-Deen claimed that Allawi was sending secret delegations to Iran and that is why he broke off with him.

    – Trying to lump Dawa with JAM or Iraqi Hizb Allah is again outrageous simplification that only works when your audience is ignorant. The sadrists have been quite heavily infiltrated by Iran because they did not have a political party with a proper leadership and some control over their membership – anyone could declare themselves a Saadrist or a member of JAM. So in the early years it was purportedly heavily infiltrated by both Baathists and Iranian agents. Heinous crimes have been committed in Iraq since 2003, with the help of all of Iraq’s neighbours. They have shown nothing but contempt for the people of Iraq and have been carrying out their own proxy war on Iraqi soil. So while I reject your argument that Dawa are Iranian puppets, I also support their refusal to let Iraq become a battlefield for Saudi and the US to fight Iran. Saddam’s war with Iran wasn’t just his war, it was the region’s and the world’s and ordinary Iraqis paid the price. If Saudi/Israel/US (whoever!) has a problem with Iran, they should just declare war against it and fight it on its own soil and stop using Iraq for their dirty work.

    – As I said above, by spreading their “Iranian puppet” lies, alienating Dawa in the Arab region and hindering Maliki’s attempts to build alliances with Sunni figures, Saudi Arabia and its fellow sectarian states scored a massive own goal and weakened Maliki vis-a-vis other Shiites (including ones under heavy Iranian influence).

    Observer – isn’t Iraq’s current electricity minister from Iraqiya? If/when he fails to improve electricity or build a single power station as the link you added mentions, Iraqiya will of course blame Maliki. He is accused of running Iraq like a one-man show, but it is really his detractors who seem to view Iraq as a one-man show, to absolve themselves from any responsibility for its many faillings of course. The welfare minister in the previous government if he wants to highlight the tragedy of starving orphans and widows was from Tawafuq. Rubbish on the streets for example is a responsibility of local government – nothing to do with Maliki. And even the most extreme version of how he has centralised all power do not suggest he has taken over local government’s garbage collection duties.

  38. observer said

    Anonymous,
    Your diatribe aside – I can see that you are not ready to defend your claim that Da3wa is the main victim of Baath and Saddam. That is a good sign as far as I am concerned.

    Do you really expect me to believe that Da3wa is not friendly to Iran? Wow. Moreover, are you also denying that Iran has influence in Iraq or is that “oversimplification”. Now that is a buch of bull crap.

    I had to really stop myself from laughing reading about your hypothesis that Sadrists are infiltrated but not Da3wa. I have news for you, even Iraqia is infiltrated by Iranian influenced people.

    Let us not talk about ideology and history but practical issues on the ground. How do you explain the explain the position of Maliki towards the Syrian government (I mean the Baath government of Syria that is killing its people and only a year ago your good guy Maliki wanted to take to the United Nations). I look forward to your answer on this one assuming that you choose to answer and not just ignore the question. By the way there are other signs as well like not saying a words when Sulaimani stated that Iraq and Lebanon are under his control but going berserk when Ordoghan warned of the danger of sectarianism.

    An I rally love your insinuation that the electricity problem is really an Iraqia conspiracy not withstanding the last 7 years of incompetency of none other than your good old Da3wa and co. Ah yalla, mashi. I suppose that Iraqia is also responsible for no increase in oil production and also the corruption, and all the security breaches for we are all wahabis and terrorsits. What a farce. Sorry I even wasted the time to respond to your post. Support Maliki all the way to division of Iraq… It is a free world after all.

    Peace
    PS
    I note how you put all the blame on OTHER THAN MLIKI and DA3WA. Wonderful strategy for the next elections ;)

  39. anonymous said

    I said that Maliki/Dawa are not to blame for every failure, but how is that saying they are not to blame for any failure? Although Dawa members have not actually held many ministries, some of those nominated by Dawa have been dismal failures and I would have to be blind or deluded to deny that. But the article you linked was ignoring the flawed structures and ignoring the contribution of others to Iraq’s failures. I don’t think the Iraqiya minister is necessarily guilty of a conspiracy, he will be following Allawi’s instructions to boycott for narrow interests, leaving one of Iraq’s most important ministry hanging in the balance. He can choose to do his job instead.

    And I am absolutely under no illusions about iranian influence in Iraq. I was simply responding to santana’s accusation that Maliki/Dawa are iranian puppets and it is this accusation that I find ridiculous. What frustrates me is what I described as the Saudi own goal – by making Maliki reliant on IA for support, they have weakened him vis-a-vis Iran. I think the silence on Syria is indeed telling and I am not happy about it. The oversimplification I was refering to was Santana’s seeming reduction of all these groups into one large Iranian backed super-structure. They of course have differing philosophies, histories, outlooks etc. but it is convenient for Maliki’s detractors to lump him together with them and cry iranian puppets! I have no illusions that Iran will use whatever methods at its disposal in its regional power struggle, but so will Saudi and I object to Iraq being used by any of its neighbours to fight their proxy battles. I was staying in karaada during the 2008 reckoning with JAM and the Iranian mortars were falling all around us so I don’t need convincing of iranian intentions.

    the wahabi terrorists are saudis fault. Maybe santana can go back to the Saudis and beg them to stop sending terrorists instead of asking for whatever he was asking for.

    And observer, don’t respond to my post and then declare yourself sorry. If you don’t think it is worth your time, just turn the other cheek.

  40. observer said

    Anonymous,
    SO what is it that you are trying to say? I am at a loss now. Your positions are wishy washy and have no clear message.

    Are you implying that Maliki is not to be blamed more than the others for the dismal state of Iraq and the influence of Iran? If so, well I will tell you that he is more to blame since he has persistently took decisions from his ministries and gave them to the council of consultants offices. I will also tell you that DG’s are being appointed solely because they are da3wa members. Ministers do not run ministries, civil servants do.

    Moreover, if Maliki is such a statesman, can you explain why is he subjugating justice to the executive? Or are you going to try to feed me the line that justice is independent in Iraq?
    Peace

  41. anonymous said

    PS

    It is a sorry symptom of the breakdown of communication between Iraqis with differing views when I defend Maliki and Santana makes a bet that I am an Iranian puppet and observer puts words in my mouth that we “we are all wahabis and terrorsits”

    For all your moaning about how others label you unfairly, you do jump to a few judgements yourselves.

  42. observer said

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/iraq-under-worse-management-01182012.html

    Anonymous — I await your response to this one too claiming it it not all Maliki’s fault.
    Peace

  43. Salah M. Yahya said

    “I said that Maliki/Dawa are not to blame for every failure, but how is that saying they are not to blame for any failure?”

    The greatest enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.
    –JFK, June 11, 1962

  44. Santana said

    Thanks Observer for the Businessweek link- good report ! Also thanks to you, Reidar and Faisal for consistently offering extremely valuable input and acumen !

  45. observer said

    Hey Annonymous.
    I did not understand your PS. Are you declaring that I am not fair in discussions. Dude, on the internet (and elsewhere) you are treated the way you treat others.

    Anyway, please make yourself clear. What is the point you are trying to make. I read and read re-read a couple of your posts and I see nothing but defense of Maliki by accusing others for the problems but then agreeing that he maybe partially at fault.

    Well, if that last sentence is your position, forgive me, but I do not agree with you.

    At any rate, and since you do not want me to “put words into your mouth”… Give me a paragraph summary of what is it that you want to say.
    Peace

  46. Muhannad said

    Has anybody seen “Inside Saddam’s Reign of Terror” on National Geographic? It’s a pretty good summary of Saddam’s crimes against humanity: http://youtu.be/JojVRTbauIU

    Our family (all Shia) was happy to see the end of Saddam. But many of my relatives are sick of Maliki and want to see new leadership.

  47. observer said

    santana,
    Thanks for your words, but let me be candid.

    For you (and others) to claim that Iraqia is “pure” as driven snow and the problems of Iraq are all the fault of others is just as disingenuous as those who would want to pin the problems of Iraq on SA and the wahabis and of course their agents -namely Iraqia ;).

    Iraqia should have withdrawn from government a long time ago. I know that Allawi has advised of the same since it became clear that Maliki was not going to be true to his promises and share decision making with others. But Allawi’s advise has been ignored time and again. You know that – don’t you?

    Peace

    PS
    I love it when people claim that Allawi is a dictator and does not share decision making within Iraqia !. If only they know the truth.. Ahhhh

  48. Salah said

    MBS,

    Bremer and those who handed over the power also do same with Ba’athist, so the event mirroring here.
    It was before with commonest parties then Ba’athist in Abdulsalam Araif… so it’s not new and will never stop.

    As for Da’awa, did they learn to serve Iraq and Iraqi; I leave this to you to answer…

    As for whom to balm for the sec dividedness and conflicts inside Iraq, you should all not forget the source and the framer planting the seeds for sec problems today Iraq harvesting it:

    Let you all read refreshing your memories and remember it all the time:

    When the U.S. appointed up an Interim Governing Council, it used the Lebanese model, assigning each community representatives in proportion to their percentage of the population. But the pressure continued for elections. When they came, the U.S. had designed them in a fashion that cemented the religious and ethnic divisions in Iraqi society. As author Nir Rosen wrote:

    Iraq’s election law itself seemed designed to promote civil war. Although the diverse country is divide into 18 province, it had only one electoral district…Ethnic and religious blocs preferred one district because they were nationally known, and they would be able to avoid challengers who had genuine grassroots local support.

    The flashpoints are clear. Maliki’s attempt to consolidate a Shia state is a provocation to both Sunnis and Kurds. As Nir Rosen writes, “Government buildings are decorated with Shiite flags, banners and posters, and these can be seen even on Iraqi Army and Police vehicles and checkpoints. Not only is there no separation of church and state, there is no separation of state and sect

    Did the U.S. Create a Civil War in Iraq?January 18th, 2012

  49. observer said

    http://www.alaalem.com/index.php?aa=news&id22=42094

    will somebody tell this clueless “constitutional expert” that in the US, the House and the Senate are frequently run by the “opposition”. It seems that “Iraqi” can not fathem the concept of opposition and check and balances. No wonder since the politicians themselves are clueless on the same issue.
    Peace

  50. Observer,
    “It seems that “Iraqi” can not fathem the concept of opposition”
    That’s because they don’t trust the process that brought them to power, perhaps for good reason. My blog entry here is my angle on the subject of Iraqi politicians.

  51. anonymous said

    Observer,

    I might have got a bit satirical, but Santana’s iranian puppet bet touched a raw nerve. I don’t see why I always have to defend myself against that accusation. I voted for Maliki in the past and I don’t regret it. That doesn’t make me an Iranian puppet any more than a person who voted for Iraqiyaa is a Baathist (I happen to think that is a very unfair accusation).

    I don’t happen to think that Maliki is to blame for all of Iraq’s woes (and I know you disagree). I read the Business Week article – it listed Iraq’s woes, and then said these are taking place against a background of sectarian tension caused by maliki. The writer himself didn’t say that the problems he goes on about for the first few pages are all maliki’s fault. The people he interviewed seemed to think so, but I don’t find that surprising. As I said above, Iraqis still have the mentality that one person has control of everything and therefore that one person is to blame. The business week article too mentions garbage collections (seems to be a favourite with journalists!) and a basic awareness of the breakdown of duties would tell you that it is the duty of local government to sort out garbage collection. Now where local government is dominated by Dawa, that criticism is entirely fair and I would be the first to acknowledge the short-comings.

    As I said above, I do defend Maliki but I don’t believe that he is infallible. He and Dawa have made mistakes, and I think there have been issues they should have handled better.

    And on the sectarian tension point – we might just have to agree to disagree. I just don’t buy the argument that people are being forced into a sectarian position regardless of their best efforts because of Maliki. The people blowing up shiite pilgrims are not blowing them up because maliki twisted their arm and held a gun to their head. They are blowing them up because they are sectarian criminals and people need to stop justifying their actions with all this Sunnis must be feeling alienated rubbish and that is why civil war is almost inevitable. I think that is about the BIGGEST INSULT to Iraq’s decent Sunni population ever, and it was used in 2003/2004 all the time by people like Tariq Al-Hashemi who kept saying that the sectarian violence was taking place because Sunnis felt marginalised. That hideous lie that people like him used to extract concessions from the bewildered american administration presented Sunnis as if they approved or supported Al-Qaeda’s actions and I don’t believe for a minute that that was ever true – “awakenings” or no awakenings.

    I happen to believe that a State of Law and Iraqiyya coalition is in the best position to save Iraq and that is why both sides need to put the extremism aside and work together (I know you’re going to say it is impossible because of maliki etc etc – but I disagree!). Iraqiya need to take a more pragmatic and flexible approach and they definitely need to stop sitting on the fence. The business week article for example describes them as a parliamentary opposition! How is it that foreign journalists can make such an obvious error about a component of the coalition government with 12 cabinet positions? Their incoherent and contradictory stand of course!

    Sorry that I am not able to summarise my views – this post is getting longer and longer. I think the issues in Iraq are so complex with so many shades of grey that they defy simplistic reductions. But my plea to Iraqiya would be drop the sensationalist rhetoric about civil war and division which only serves to escalate and highten tensions and do something a bit more constructive – whether in government or indeed in the opposition.

  52. Santana said

    Anonymous-

    I don’t care what anyone says on here but as far as I am concerned- Hassan Danaii the Iranian Ambassador to Iraq is the Supreme Commander of Iraq….Maliki, Sadr (and all the garbage following them) fear him and know their survivability is in his hands……I am not saying they all like him but they all fear him…he is the great Uniter of the Shiites and half the Kurds.
    All Militias report to him and these militias are instructed to “terminate with extreme prejudice” anyone that might jeapordize their 163 plus.
    Anyone that thinks I am exaggerating does not know the full story.

    hahahaha…yeah right anonymous….”let SOL work a deal with Iraqiya”….dream on bud.

  53. observer said

    M,
    It was not Iraqia that started the latest episode of tensions. Look back at the last 7 years and you will see pattern of Maliki jumping from one crisis to another.

    Maliki and Da3wa are about to show us how history repeats itself. You and many Iraqis wiil realize the cause after it is too late. As I advised you before, make sure you and your family have residency in the US (or wherever you are). Save your children at least.
    Peace

  54. anonymous said

    Observer, need I remind you that Maliki didn’t start the last civil war, in fact he helped to end it? Seeds were sowed by Saddam, perpetuated by the US, fuelled by santana’s gulfi friends, and finally shiite criminals responded in kind.

    Santana, probably an iraqiya and state of law alliance is too unrealistic. A more realistic option would be the break-away factions from the currently disintegrating iraqiya with a state of law coalition. Hope you like that bud.

    There is nothing inevitable about civil war. When the kurds and dawa were persecuted by saddam there was violence against the state but never violence against innocent people going about thier normal lives. So even if your sensationalist accusations that maliki has gone rogue are true, people should be taking arms against the state not blowing up pilgrims.

  55. Muhannad said

    “fuelled by santana’s gulfi friends, and finally shiite criminals responded in kind.”

    It is rather strange to see so many westerners embracing the Wahhabi-minded Gulfies who’ve exported takfir and Islamic fundamentalism to Iraq and beyond.

    I would argue that Shiite criminals did not bomb Sunni markets even at the height of the sectarian violence. Sunni Arab extremists bombed Shia neighborhoods from the beginning, and of course Sunni Arabs and their western friends did not complain until Shiite criminals started drilling holes in Sunni heads. It’s funny how people like Santana portray events in Iraq, as if Shiite extremists are still drilling holes in Sunni heads, as if Sunni extremists do not maim and mass murder Shia civilians.

  56. Santana said

    Anonymous-

    A U.S official asked me recently “what is it that the Sunnis want”? I told him they wanna be treated as equal citizens, live in peace and have the same opportunities for business that the Shiites and Kurds have, the same right to be in the Armed forces and to be able to walk freely without getting killed or harrassed by Militia thugs or Lewa Baghdad just for having a Sunni last name or named Omar or whatever..now is that too much to ask ????…
    I am telling you Anonymous that you can worship Khamenei or Khomaini and carry that Turba stone all you want and whip yourself merciless during Ashoura but if you are a shiite Arab (vs tabaaiyah Irania) then Iran still hates you the same as it hates Sunni Arabs ….with them it is a Persian-Arab conflict NOT a Shiite Sunni one…so once Iran completes the Lebanonization of Iraq then you will see…..and maybe then just maybe…the Shiite Arabs of Iraq will join hands with other Iraqis and resist Iran’s evil expansion plans.

  57. anonymous said

    Santana – once again, your prejudices are baffling. I don’t happen to worship khamenei or khomaini (not a believer in wilayat al faqeeh, neither is Dawa for the matter) nor do I carry a turba stone or whip myself mercilessly – your tone and accusations seem to suggest that you harbour sectarian sentiments yourself! I know that there is tension between persians and arabs. I have friends who were refugees in Iran and they have told me all about Iranian discrimination, where some of them were even denied primary school education because they were iraqi. So while I am aware of racism in Iran, I am also aware of sectarianism among Iraq’s Arab neighbours.

    A friend of mine recently had a lucrative job offer in Dubai withdrawn after he filled out the company’s “security clearance form”, which not only asks you to state your religion but also your sect! So if they are willing to discriminate against a shee3i who is British born and bread, with British qualifications and working in a top hedge fund, I would hate to think how they treat their own minorities.

    Iraq’s sunnis are of course entitled to be treated as equals. I have heard of sectarianism working in both directions in Iraq, depending sometimes on who controls the fiefdom in question. I don’t think the problem can be truly tackled until there is more transparency and real progress in how Iraq’s institutions work and recruit. And maybe once we have moved away from the mentality of quotas, Iraq can introduce equal opportunities monitoring to ensure that no-one is being discriminated against.

  58. Salah said

    Santana,
    A U.S official asked me recently “what is it that the Sunnis want”?

    Ohh yah what a stupide question

    Santana I wished you should answer them back with this:

    What Iraqis wants?
    After 13 years of sanction 8 years of US democracy with electricity, no swage no drinking water, very poor public service despite Iraq today exporting 2.5-2.7 Mbpd……. no Mars Bars no Chocolates and no lollies…. If they are like them what they think they want?

  59. observer said

    anonymous-
    I still do not understand what it is you are trying to say. One paragraph is all I ask so that I can understand your basis. All you are doing is justifying obvious wrongs of Maliki and pointing the fingers at others for “starting it”, drawing first blood, etc. I do not have the luxury of going back and re-reading your posts, but I do not recall you admitting to SOL and Maliki’s to his sectarianism, nor subjection of the law to his whim.
    If that is your position, then ok. I understand, I will not bother with talking logically to you as there is no logic that will move you from your position.
    Peace

  60. anonymous said

    Observer,

    I don’t think SOL or Maliki are sectarian. Every effort was made before the election to make the list more inclusive, but these efforts were blocked by regional actors (at the same time that those actors were putting their efforts of uniting sunni leaders under the iraqiya banner, but no accusation of sectarianism there of course). I think Maliki has taken action to prove his nationalism, and three examples come to mind:

    – Taking on the Shiite malitias in 2008
    – Going against Iranian pressure and signing the SOFA and strategic agreement with the US
    – Going against Iranian pressure and running state of law as a separate list.

    When SOL didn’t get a majority it was open to them, as it was open to Iraqiya, to strive to form a coalition. The Sadrists were clearly the king makers during this period, and if they took orders from Iran to join SOL that is their problem not SOL’s. Funny thing is I have never heard anyone from Iraqiya criticise the sadrists for bowing to Iranian pressure, instead they criticise Maliki! If Iran happens to see Maliki as posing a lesser threat to it than Allawi with his Saudi/Turkish created and funded alliance, then that is for them. Again, it is not his problem nor does it make him sectarian or an Iranian puppet or anything of the like. I don’t believe Iraqi nationalism is measured by degree of outward animosity towards iran at the expense of everything else, and I say outward because I don’t know the degree of truth in Iyad Jamal Al-Deen’s accusations against Allawi for sending secret delegations to Iran! I think Iraqi nationalism also requires a degree of independence from other regional influence and that is something that I believe iraqiya lacks.

    And dude – in true Iraqiya style you can’t make up your mind about whether you want to be part of something or not, so you continue to discuss while threatening to withdraw :-)

    Peace :-)

    P.s. I wonder if you would ever be brave enough to go on the record and criticise Chris Hill in public? Wasn’t he the man to turn a blind eye to Iraqiya’s fraud during the elections? :-p

  61. Anonymous,
    You are talking history. Nobody was arguing that Maliki Had independent leanings in the past, and your analysis of his motivation is open to interpretation, like running independently because he expected to win on his own. These are subjects already covered in this forum.
    I also think that you should not criticize the commentator’s personalities.

  62. Santana said

    Anonymous-

    I am sure you would love for Observer to “withdraw” from here- also Faisal, myself and anybody that cares for Iraq and does not worship Maliki nor Iran….FYI-the Iranian Quds force members that were caught by the Free Syrian Army were escorted from Maysan province to Syria by Kataeb Hezbollah Iraq and under the protection of Lewa Baghdad that reports to Maliki…but noooo according to you- Maliki is not a sectarian…he is a true Nationalist and God’s gift to Iraq.
    I guarantee you that scumbag Maliki will not last once Syria gets rid of his scumbag buddy Bashar…and Iran is already making conciliatory gestures to the west because they know their economy is on the verge of collapse and the sanctions are taking it’s toll….and when the Iranian people can’t feed their kids they will take to the streets and overthrow this evil regime… Maliki and all his worshippers- like you- will be standing alone- scared to death. God willing the end is coming soon.

  63. anonymous said

    Faisalkadri,
    I am taking a leaf from Observer’s book, coz apparently “Dude, on the internet (and elsewhere) you are treated the way you treat others.”
    Plus, Santana has called me everything from an iranian puppet to a khomeini worshiping/self-whipping maliki worshipper – I didn’t spot you chastising him for bad debating etiquette.

    Santana,
    Wow… your responses never fail to amaze me. Please enlighten me as to why I should be scared to death so I can make sure I am sufficiently prepared in case Tehran does topple as you predict? Nothing in the manner of mass graves for us turba carrying types I hope?

  64. Reidar Visser said

    Everyone, please be a little bit more decent to each other. I guess I should have intervened earlier and I am not sure who fired the first shot. In principle please stick to arguments rather than calling each others names (that applies even to our beloved Iraqi politicians). I’ll close this thread now and maybe you can continue the debate with reference to the more recent post, which is focused on US policy. Today, Ambassador Jeffrey described Iraq as the greatest democracy in the Middle East so there should be plenty of things to discuss!

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