Jul 31, 2013

Iraq: politics through conflict

Iraqi army personnel and people gather at the site of a car bomb attack in the city of Kut, 150 km (93 miles) southeast of Baghdad on July 29, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)
The latest bombings in Baghdad and other cities show how politics in Iraq has become increasingly nasty. Although Iraq has never been a fully stable country since its foundation in 1923, it had never reached a level to be called a conflict.
After the American invasion in 2003, some political players had driven the country toward a devastating sectarian conflict; undoubtedly, the Americans have an important role in strengthening the sectarian identity since the formation of the Iraqi Governing Council in 2003. Sunnis that were ruling Iraq for decades felt neglected because Iraq's majority Shiites started to consolidate their power.
So Sunnis started the armed struggle to get back their glory, or at least poison political life; this struggle was based on revenge. Later, when the first elections took place in 2005, Sunnis boycotted it; they felt yet more isolated. Then, when their anger peaked, they bombed the Shiite icon, the AlImamayn Al-Askariyyan mosque, in Diyala province. By then, the Shiites decided to seek revenge as the ordinary Shiites' anger peaked as well.
From 2006, a bloody sectarian conflict has torn the whole country. The prospect of a solution seemed murky, and when the politicians became disenchanted, Iraq returned to medieval times. A fragile deal was signed between power-thirsty politicians as the security got better. But the tutelage of regional and international powers, and the sectarian-oriented beliefs of the Iraqi politicians may drive the country to another, worse sectarian conflict whose outcome this time might be far more disastrous. The already crisis-prone Iraqi political system is run by politicians who are implementing external agendas; when it is needed, they are shaking the political life with bombings and turning it into a religious and ethnic conflict. The recent bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq are entirely linked to the political standoff between Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and his Sunni and Shiite rivals. The bombings in Iraq have become a trump card that all politicians are using as the easiest way to get what they want or at least not to allow other parties to set their political agenda. 

This article first appeared on Today's Zaman - here:

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