By Brenda Robinson
The Iraq civil war, between the two main sects in the country, the Sunnis and Shiites, has resurfaced, just as predicted by the Obama administration critics. Some politicians and American citizens said President Barack Obama should have left American security forces in Iraq. Troops were withdrawn in increments, with final brigades leaving in 2011. On the other hand, some politicians and American citizens urged the Obama administration to get out of Iraq. Perhaps, politically, the administration took the best option, perhaps not. We must leave the political reasoning to the professional politicians. What we do know, however, is partisan bickering must stop, from both political parties, for a chance for a reasonable solution. And, politicians must recognize Islamic nations and third world countries are forces with whom America must reckon.
American troops were in Iraq for eight years. The Sunnis and Shiites have fought for 15 centuries. President George W. Bush committed troops to Iraq in 2003, under the premise that Iraqis possessed weapons of mass destruction, which proved to be untrue. Some people contended the invasion of Iraq was all about oil. Undoubtly, oil and economics were a part of the equation. However, war is never all about economics. War is also about religion and religious wars are much more complex than economic wars. Also, most, if not all, within the last 50 years, American presidents have some degree of disdain for countries that mistreat, abuse and murder their own citizens.
According to theologians, the Sunnis and Shiites disagree on who the true successors of the Prophet Muhammad are, based on each sects interpretation of the Quran. For example, the Shiites believe, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, God must select the political leader of the Muslims and people do not have the right to select that leader. The Sunnis believe the opposite, contending the true leader is elected by the people. Both Sunnis and Shiites believe Muhammad was a man from Mecca who unified Arabia into a single polity under Islam and he is the last prophet sent by God for mankind. Each sect believes their interpretation is biblically correct.
Another barrier facing the Obama administration and the legislative branch of our government is lack of knowledge of the religious conflict. While economic language is universal, religious language is not. Americans neither understand Islamic religious principles, nor respect them. Of course, the same is true of Islamic understanding and respect of Christianity.
Further complicating the civil war is the leadership. Prime Minister Nouri-al-Maliki who was elected by the Iraqi people and supported by the U.S. government in the election. Maliki is perceived as favoring the Sunnis. The administration acknowledges Maliki’s partiality. Maliki is not inclusive, the Shiites have been left out of his government. And, there are rumblings that Maiki needs to be replaced.
If the Congress and the administration can stop the bickering, there are some positives in dealing with the Iraq sect crisis. President Obama seemingly gets it. Regardless of pressure applied by the American people and politicians, mighty drones and military might no longer insures a win. Countries lacking military power have shown they can be major threats through terrorists activity. In addition, America is globally connected, economically and in some cases socially, with the world, regardless of that country’s religious and political beliefs.
President Obama has committed 300 troops to Iraq to serve as advisors and intelligence. Of course, the president has his critics, outspokenly from Republicans and “safely” from Democrats. The president does not have all the answers. His withdrawal of troops from Iraq may have been a mistake. However, he has at least one thing right and hopefully Congress will take heed. Diplomacy is the new artillery.