Sunday, June 15, 2014

More on the fracturing of Iraq

The Sunnis in Iraq should be careful of what they ask for. Overthrow of the mainly Shiite government might be appealing to Sunnis, but consider the alternative.

When Islamic militants rampaged through the Iraqi city of Mosul last week, robbing banks of hundreds of millions of dollars, opening the gates of prisons and burning army vehicles, some residents greeted them as if they were liberators and threw rocks at retreating Iraqi soldiers.
It took only two days, though, for the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to issue edicts laying out the harsh terms of Islamic law under which they would govern, and singling out some police officers and government workers for summary execution.
Under [the ISIS] vision, religion is paramount over administering services. Referring to citizens under its control, the pamphlet states, “improving their conditions is less important than the condition of their religion.” 

All this is the result of years of planning for an Islamic state.

And there is more to come.  ISIS is reported to execute hundreds.

The latest attack, if proved, would also raise the specter of the war in Iraq turning genocidal, particularly because the insurgents boasted that their victims were all Shiites. 

Most of the press on this covers the Sunni and Shiite conflict, but the Kurds have a territorial stake as well.

Overnight Saturday, at least six Kurdish forces were killed in shelling in northern Iraq in a shadowy incident that appeared to further muddy the waters of a conflict that threatens to split this country into autonomous Sunni-, Shiite-, and Kurdish-ruled territories.
 ... the Kurds have also been in open dispute with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government for months, and though they share Maliki’s view of ISIS as a threat, the Kurds have also used the jihadists’ rapid defeat of Iraqi government forces in the north to consolidate Kurdish control of long-contested areas.

As Tom Friedman explains, the Kurds are a ray of hope for part of Iraq.  They have placed "improving their conditions" above religion.

In the recent chaos, the Kurds have now taken full military control of Kirkuk, but I can tell you this: Had Maliki governed Iraq like Karim governed Kirkuk, we would not have this mess today. With the right leadership, people there can live together.

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