Monday, October 7, 2013

The Rising Sectarian Violence in Iraq

Cooler Heads Must Prevail to Prevent an All-Out Sunni-Shia War

Three bombings, including an attack on an elementary school, killed at least 19 people and wounded at least 167 in Iraq Sunday. Two suicide truck bombers exploded almost simultaneously Sunday morning at a police station and a school in al-Qubba, a predominantly Shiite area in the outskirts of Mosul. A third attack, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest, targeted Shiite pilgrims in northeast Baghdad's al-Qahira neighborhood. (CNN, 7 October)

On Saturday, 51 people were killed and 107 others were wounded in a suicide attack that targeted Shiite pilgrims in northeastern Baghdad.

Note: The frightful escalation of violence in Iraq could well lead to a cycle of sectarian violence, pitting AQI and the Sunni militants against Shia militias and Shia-controlled security forces in the country. It’s always been easy to provoke a religious war, but it is so difficult to put a stop to it once it is started.

In the past two months, bombings by AQI and its affiliated groups have killed so many that it seems they are starting a war on the Shias. The government in Baghdad has responded by mass arrests that seem so indiscriminatory, resulting in heightened frustration and resentment among the Sunnis. And the government is seen weak by both sides, and is increasingly under pressure by the Shia militias and their Iranian backers and organizers to retaliate forcefully against the AQI and the Sunnis.

The introduction of Iranian-back Shia militias into the country’s volatile situation, however, will erode whatever credibility the Maliki government and the Iraqi security forces still have among the Sunnis. The government and its security forces will be seen as controlled by the Shia militias and Iran, and in turn the AQI attacks will increase and intensify even further, bringing violent retaliation by the Shia militias and security forces. The cycle of violence will go on and intensify.

Cooler heads must prevail. This blogger has argued that Moqtada Sadr needs to be more involved in preventing the violence to get out of hand, stopping Malaki to use Shia militias in fighting AQI. If the cycle of violence intensifies, Sadr will be under pressure to intervene militarily on behalf of the Shias, and that’s when the Shia-Sunni violence will become an all-out religious war.  The Iranians too must stop organizing Iraqi Shia militias to enter into an armed conflict with their opponents. A Sunni-Shia war in Iraq is not in the national interests of the Iranians either.  The creation of a unified and truly non-sectarian government in Baghdad is the answer to the rapidly deteriorating situation in the country.

Photo credit: Map locating the latest series of attacks across Iraq. (AFP) 


Anonymous said...

What stupid article!!! Shias are being murdered every day and they've remained restrained in many ways - yet this author makes it seem like they deserve it. What makes yo think the government in Baghdad is "Shia"??? Are there not Sunnis and other religious groups in the government? This cannot continue forever.

The tipping point is almost near and Sunnis will pay the price big time...It'll make the 2008 sectarian war look like picnic. If the Saudis, Turkey, Qatar and their Western backers want sectarian war, so be it..They'll get it.

What idiot bombs churches, mosques and other innocent people and somehow thing they can achieve victory.They're doing it in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan on almost daily basis. The Sunnis ideology is dead and now replaced with retarded takfirism and wahhabism. Iran has an answer to that and it will be solve soon.

Nader Uskowi said...

In three short paragraphs, you showed what sectarianism and the urge to eliminate others with different sets of religious beliefs mean. The hatred displayed is indeed the root of problems on both sides; all civilized people inside the country and outside should struggle against this type of hatred to bring a degree of normalcy to the worsening situation in the country. Shias and Sunnis and Kurds are all sons and daughters of Iraq, and only a unified and truly non-sectarian government can bring them all together.

Mark Pyruz said...

It has not reached 2006/2007 levels, not by a longshot. Back then there were tens of thousands of killed and 4 million displaced. So let's put things in perspective before making claims of "escalation."

Back in 2011, mistaken observers of the Syrian conflict claimed it was a "peaceful uprising." Not former MI6 officer Crooke. Crooke observed elements from the losing remnants of the Iraq civil war, the Takfiris, had initiated armed conflict inside Syria and that there was sure to be spillover in Iraq. At the time, the Iranians stated the same.

Remember when Mehdi Mohammadi observed that a majority of Syrians inside Syria supported Assad for fear of Takfiris, and that there would be Takfiri spillover in the region? Remember when this was considered by some delusional? Not so delusional anymore, is it.

Anonymous said...

Mark PyruzOctober 8, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Well said

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the sunnis will wake up and realise before its too late that supporting the wahabists will be a disaster for them and iraq

Nader Uskowi said...

The Sunni-Shia conflict not yet reaching levels of 2006/2007 is hardly a solace. The rising conflict need to end now before turning into an all-our religious war.

You have valid points on Syria. However, it does not change one basic fact: the uprising in Syria started as peaceful street demonstrations by tens of thousand unarmed marchers.

Anonymous said...

Uskowi, it might have started as that but, it certainly is not now.