01/10/2012, 00.00
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The conflict between Shiites and Sunnis for the sectarian division of Iraq

by Youssouf al-Bakhtiar
A well studied plan for the fragmentation of the nation is in place. The fall of Saddam, the invasion and withdrawal of U.S. troops, the real objective of bombings and political contrasts. The role of Islamic extremism in the birth of a State which subject to Shariah. The Christians, victims and authors of internal divisions.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – There is a long and well studied plan in place for the division of Iraq and the only thing that is lacking is a pretext for its final implementation. The fall of the regime, the opening of its borders to mujahideen fighters and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country have prepared the ground for achieving the ultimate goal: the final fragmentation of its 27 million inhabitants according along confessional lines. It will mark the partition of the country into Shiite areas (the majority with 61% of total) and Sunni (34%, of which 17% belongs to the Kurdish minority) and may ultimately lead to the disappearance of both the Christian and Yazidi minorities ( 4%), already halved over the last 10 years.

The sectarian partition of Iraq has begun: the parties are organized according to their confession, all balances and distributions of power follow this logic, the subdivisions of neighbourhoods and cities have set the stage for a future psychological and geographical fragmentation. The media are an active component in this political game: they are in the frontline when it comes to changing the facts, amplifying exaggerated news, manipulating events in order to achieve this goal. The latest chapter in this saga is the conflict that has opened between Sunnis and Shiites, led by the divisions within the government, that have become almost insurmountable after the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued an arrest warrant for Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni, accused of financing terrorist groups and who has since fled to the north, the Kurdish region.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of 2011 triggered a series of bloody attacks that last week alone caused 100 deaths and at least a thousand injured. Yesterday a car bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, five dead and 32 wounded. Meanwhile, SITE, the U.S. intelligence network, reports that a terrorist group affiliated with al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq, is behind the 37 recent attacks recorded in the capital of Iraq. Sterling Jensen, who has studied the extremist group for the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, says that the Islamic State of Iraq intends to attack the Shiites to give the impression of defending and supporting the cause of Sunni Islam, "it is a signal - he explains - which points to their intention of stepping up the level of sectarian violence".

In this environment of chaos the Islamist movement is gaining strength - as is the case in other countries affected by the Arab spring - which pursues the project of creating a new state based on Sharia, or Islamic law. It is present both in the majority Sunni and Shiite factions in, which should they come to power, would put an end to the principle of state secularism that has characterized the nation in the recent past. The concepts of democracy and human rights are used in only one direction, manipulated and distorted for political purposes only. Even the fundamentalists of al-Qaeda - Iraq and bandits opposed the regime of Saddam Hussein - were able to proliferate during the years of U.S. military occupation. It is also true that the terrorist movement founded by Osama bin Laden were automatically charged with all bombings, explosions and attacks recorded in the country, without any thorough police investigations.

The politicization and sectarian fragmentation and the ongoing fight between the parties for the conquest of power, is causing general insecurity and a widespread sense of fragility. The internal scenario, is further compounded by outside influences from neighbouring countries like Iran and Turkey: Tehran is ready to inflame the Shiite Square, especially if there is a military attack from the Western block. The regime of the ayatollahs has also supported the split inside the Islamist movement, with the birth of the group "Ansar al-Islam", and has extended its influence over the "Islamic movement". The Shiite Prime Minister al-Maliki, who is struggling to hold the reins of power, would not hesitate to attack the Kurds - friends of yester-year - while the future is becoming increasingly dark and disturbing.

And the Christians? Neither are they free from internal divisions and conflicts, which undermine their position already marked by persecution and sectarian-motivated attacks. Political parties of Christian inspiration are not free, they depend on their financial backers who determine choices and decisions. The churches are fragmented into small communities. Both the political parties and communities are devoid of visions or strategies for the future. Christians have lost confidence in themselves and in the government. They have suffered a long struggle between the dominant political groups and can not get rid of a condition of sacrificial victims. And because of a progressive insecurity and instability, almost half the population has fled the country seeking refuge and asylum abroad. In this context, neither the Iraqi government nor the international community have done enough to stem the exodus in the region.
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