Monday, November 21, 2005

Iraq Imploding

At the recent Iraqi reconciliation conference in Cairo, the Iraqi Shia and Kurdish groups staged a walkout when the Iraqi Christian spokesman accused them of being US stooges, saying the entire Iraqi political process was illegitimate and orchestrated by Washington.

But they returned when the accuser apologised.

I am not entirely surprised that there would be the walkout. In fact the miracle has been the attendance of the Shiites and Kurds. The Conference was called for by the Arab League, almost all of whom are Sunni Arabs, obviously not partial towards a Shia or non-Arab group.

Sunni Saudi Arabia has been apprehensive with the way things are developing, or in fact has already been established. The Saudis don’t fancy a powerful Shiite neighbour, with increasing Iranian influence spreading towards their Kingdom. If there is anyone the Wahhabis hate more than the Israelis or Americans, as if that is possible, yes, it’s a Shiite. And that’s the terrible truth.

Saudi Arabia has already grumbled to the USA about the inter-religious and inter-ethnic turmoil in Iraq. It worries that their Sunni compatriots will be completely marginalised form power in Iraq, leaving the Saudi Kingdom totally exposed to encroahing Shiite and Iranian influence and activities. In years past the USA has used that Mother of Them All, Saddam Hussein and his secular but Sunni dominated party to provide the buffer for oil-resource rich Saudi Arabia. Thanks to Bush junior, that Sunni buffer has been dismantled.

Politics make strange bedfellows where we see the Iraqi Christians and Sunnis sharing common concerns and thus are allies. Both had enjoyed influence and positions under Saddam Hussein, but now fears marginalisation under the Shiites and Kurds. And their cause of fear is well founded, as the Iraqi Shiite majority and Kurds, especially the latter, are already eyeing Chritian land in the north.

I doubt that much can or will be achieved at the conference. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, has already voiced his firm opposition to the inclusion of the former Saddam loyalists. Therein lies the divisive seed of acrimony, hatred and violence.

If there isn’t any reconciliation, I suspect the Sunni Arab community will probably foster and support the Sunni insurgency. I wouldn’t be surprised if Saudi Arabia will fund the whole lot. While there may be several religious/ethnic elements warring in Iraq, the principal conflict will be one of Sunni Arabs versus Shiite Arabs. And I wouldn't be surprised too when Iran chips in to support and train the Shiites.

As for the Kurds, the Turks will move in to confront them. If it's the Turks, will the US and Israel interfere?

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