After the withdrawal of the last troops from Iraq (12/22/2011), President Obama made public remarks that the departure of U.S. forces left behind “a sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq, with a representative government elected by its people”.
It is regrettable to say that the president’s remarks were based on an illusion that after nine years of occupation, the Iraqi people have changed and are supportive of democracy.
The election that took place was based on sectarian division. For hundreds of years, Iraq experienced sectarian conflict, especially between the Shiaa majority and the Sunni minority, who were in control of the country until the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime after the American invasion in 2003.
A few days after the departure of U.S. troops, a series of explosions took place in Baghdad that led to the deaths of more than 70 people and the injuries of more than 200 others. A day prior to that, Prime Minister al-Maliki issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terror charges. The vice president fled to Irbil in Iraq’s Kurdistan governate. He denied the charges from there and refused to go back to Baghdad. At the same time, the Iraqi prime minster requested that the Kurdish government in Irbil arrest al-Hashemi and turn him over to the Baghdad government. No action has taken place as of December 22, 2011. The prime minister also stated that nobody should interfere in the Iraqi judicial system.
Furthermore, Mr. al-Maliki issued another order to prevent the vice prime minster, Mr. Saleh al-Mutlag (who is also a Sunni) from participating in the cabinet meeting. Al-Maliki is asking parliament to remove his immunity so he can be arrested.
The two political steps that the prime minister has taken against the two top Sunni government officials reflects al-Maliki’s strategy to marginalize the Iraqi Sunnis from the political arena in Iraq.
If such steps are implemented, it is going to cause a blood bath in Iraq between the Shiaa majority and the Sunni minority.
The Iraqi sectarian political conflict is a deep-rooted religious problem that has been part of the social structure of Iraq for hundreds of years.
Prior to the American invasion of 2003, Saddam Hussein’s government was the most secular in the Middle East region. He suppressed the militant Islamic groups among the Shiaa and the Sunni groups. They were not permitted to even express their views or to admit that they existed. Even Osama bin Laden (who was a Sunni and the leader of al-Qaeda) has stated publicly before the Iraqi invasion in 2003 that “Saddam Hussein was more dangerous to their cause than the Americans”.
The previous leader of Iraq was the head of a secular government and many of the top government positions were occupied by secular Shiaa individuals. As a matter of fact, after the American invasion of Iraq, the U.S. issued an order for the arrests of the 52 highest ranking Iraqi politicians. The order was issued in a deck of cards form of 52 pictures. 37 of the pictures were Shiaa high government officials and the other 15 were Sunni. The situation at the present in Iraq reflects that Prime Minister al-Maliki is trying to marginalize the Sunnis from political power, which is going to lead to more bloodshed as well as to the destabilization of Iraqi society and will extend Iranian influence in Iraq. The U.S. invasion of the Iraq has contributed to this mess and the country is in a serious political crisis. American politicians keep committing one blunder after another and the American people will end up paying a heavy price for their ignorance. To be precise, it was a big mistake to get involved in a war in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The consequences were negative and of no benefit to the US.