Free Iraqi

I was not living before the 9th of April and now I am, so let me speak!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Civil war, is it close, and is it really a disaster?

Today's attack on the holy shrine of two She'at Imams in Samarra has created so far a huge wave of protest and anger accompanied with sporadic reprisals here and there by zealous She'at led and urged mainly by the Sadirists and the SCIRI while Sistani is calling for peaceful protests and is forbidding any revenge against Sunnis and their warship places.
I tend to see this as not as bad as it looks. The attack is definitely a terrorist act aims to inflaming sectarian divisions and creating a civil war, the She'at are over reacting and some of them are pointing the accusation directly or indirectly towards all Sunnis. This is all bad, but the good thing is the different reaction among She'at religious authorities, the 'formal' one represented by Sistani and the more radical represented by the Sadirists and the SCIRI. There's no question that most She'at follow Sistani and that's why those two strong radical organizations still need his blessings and support. Sistani being a religious man who believes in the She'at dogma sees that he needs the help of those two even if he disagrees with them and fear them to some extent in order to strengthen the role of She'at in Iraq and glorify what he stands for. Both parties put with so much from each other to achieve their own agenda, but recently the split started to widen not only between the formal and more radical side but also between the two radical ones. Power hunger has always served to blind people at one point or another and the struggle among the allies can be more bitter and worse than that between them and their common enemy.
If the radical She'at listen to Sistani and calm things down then we have no reason to worry that much about a civil war (Although we will have to worry about a dominant united religious front which I think can be worse), while if they don't then they may take Iraq into a civil war which is not that unlikely now to happen given the strong Iranian interference and support for those radical components among She'at. But is that really that disastrous? Maybe, but I tend to think it won't be for many reasons. 1st such civil war will never be a full scale one with the American troops still in Iraq, so all that can happen is merely increasing the assassinations carried out by both radical Sunnis and She'at towards each other which may serve to expose those parties further more to everyone. 2nd if the Sadirists and the SCIRI go against Sistani's will they will risk losing his support. Average She'at will gain nothing from such limited civil war and while now they're carried out by their emotional reaction, when they see that revenge will only bring more death to others but also to them, after a while short or long they will stop and listen to the voice of reason and that will deprive the radicals from most of their power. Another thing is that sectarian tension has always been there under the ashes in Iraq. Saddam's policy of not allowing anyone to even talk about it or admit its existence made it only stronger and now as the oppressive power is removed you can see it clearer and stronger than ever. I read both Sunni and She'at papers and what I read is horrifying. Most of those papers don't even care to hide that hatred and scorn they have towards the other and they go with their insults and hatred back to the 7th century. Also, Sistanis constant attempts to calm the She'at and ask them to be the forgiving ones actually made She'at just more resentful towards Sunnis. One might say that Sistani is trying to protect Sunnis or his country as a whole but that's not true as I see it. By asking She'at to be forgiving and tolerant he's actually blaming the Sunnis, as if he thought the criminals in any terrorist attack were just a bunch of terrorists who do not represent Sunnis then why would She'at need to be tolerant or forgiving! You don't tolerate or forgive terrorists but you only do so when you think a whole community is responsible, and that's what Sistani thinks.
One has to admit that terrorists are mostly Sunnis, Arabs but also backed up by some radical Iraqi Sunnis and ex-Ba'thists, but to generalize it to include all Sunnis is a grave mistake that many make including Americans. On the other hand the She'at militias have been committing probably worse crimes towards Sunnis in an almost indiscriminative manner using the cover of the police or the army and using fighting terrorism as a justification to settle old accounts or even to inflame the situation more to serve their Iranian masters and also to provoke more reaction so that they can have a better case when they talk about forming an independent She'at state in the south and the center (Which the SCIRI is now advertising for strongly through its TV and Radio stations after today's attack and present it as the only solution).So this mounting rage and distrust among both Sunnis and She'at may not be resolved by Sistanis misplaced calls for tolerance or the Sunni scholars faked offers for peace and it may be needed that things are taken to the extreme to show Sunnis that they're not the strongest anymore and to show She'at that being a majority does not mean you can whip out 5 or 6 million Sunnis from Iraq. Both parties would most likely learn after that to live in real tolerance and acceptance of their differences.
I'm not being pessimistic here nor have I gave up, on the contrary I'm still optimistic and I don't see a limited civil war as that bad, as what would it mean? Destruction and killing on the identity? Sorry to say that that's already happening but none of the real killers is showing his face. So let them do it and say it frankly and that, I believe, will relieve a lot of the tension. I always thought that a civil war was needed to clear this tension and I had this thought more than 15 years ago when I stopped being a Sunni and that gave me access to what both sides really think of each other and it was scary...
I still don't believe that Iraqis will fight each other but it would be more radical Sunnis and She'at fighting each other and of course killing many innocents from both sides during the process, but again that's already happening but without Sunnis being aware that any of those who claim to represent them being part of it or many She'at believing that the SCIRI or the Sadirists are part of it either (Or maybe just not wanting to admit it which should also change if any of those parties made a declaration of war).
So nothing would actually change on the ground if any side declares civil war. They are not likely to be able to take it to an open war and we would just have faces replacing masks and citizens on both sides realizing that they're not the only victims and that what they thought would be a victory for them would only mean naming things by their names without achieving anything but continuous death and destruction.
I think all this could have been avoided if it was not for the interference of Sunni Arabs and Iran. Now things seem to be too tense to resolve on their own. There's still a remote chance of resolving this without even needing to declare a civil war (Although I still think a clear stand from the radicals on both sides would lead to a better outcome) and it lies in the secular She'at and Sunnis, the Kurds if they decide to play a more positive role and also the way the Americans will react to what may happen.