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  • Posted June 21, 2014 by
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    Understanding Iraq

    Understanding Iraq is pretty complicated. From the time Saddam Hussein took power in 1979 the country had been divided three ways. The majority of Iraqis are Shite Muslims who dominate the south and their defacto capital is the southern city of Basra. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Muslim which dominate the center of Iraq from Baghdad to Tikrit. Then in the north there is the Kurds with their capital being Mosul.

    Iran to the east of Iraq is a Shite Muslim nation which fought an eight year war with Iraq in the 1980s. However, not all of Iraq was on the side of Saddam Hussein's government. The Shites to the south often fought on the side of the Iranian army as they either hoped for their own country or to become a part of Iran itself.

    In the north, Saddam Hussein had put down a rebellion by the Kurds using chemical weapons gassing both armed and civillian Kurds. To the north of Iraq lies Turkey which is not friendly toward their own Kurdish population and tries to keep out Iraqi Kurds trying to flee that nation.

    Presently Iraq is still split politically in this way. Their constitution attempts to bind all three factions by guaranteeing high level government positions to each. But the conflict between the three of them runs deep with no end in sight.

    The Islamic State in Iraq (ISIS) which has recently overrun Kurdish lands and are threatening the government in Baghdad is made up of Sunni Muslims. Right now there is hardly a scarce report about how the Kurds are fighting back, if they are fighting back. They may or may not be just standing by since it looks like the goals of the ISIS is primarily against the Iraqi sectarian government, and secondly against the Shites along the way.

    In Najaf and Karbala, south of Baghdad, a powerful Shite cleric also has his own private army. The Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr fought against the United States in Najaf in 2004 and was involved in fighting against Sunni Muslims during the sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007. They also have a well armed and fortified enclave in northeast Baghdad called Sadr City. In the wake of the Sunni ISIS march toward Baghdad the Mahdi Army is mobilizing getting ready to face this threat against them. One of their leaders, Nassir al-Saedi, has also warned the United States military "advisors" that they are "ready for you if you are back."

    While the Shites clearly see the ISIS as a threat and are willing to fight to defend their lands and holy sites, they do not want American "help".

    We here in the United States are taken aback by the suddeness and speed that the ISIS has been able to drive from Syria, into Iraq, take the second largest city of Mosul and drive south to the outskirts of Baghdad in less than two weeks, but Baghdad is not going to simply fold to the ISIS. Even if the Iraqi government cannot get their troops to fight for it, the heavily armed Shites will fight for themselves.

    Also the Iranian army will probably also get involved in some way since they are Shites and also see the ISIS as a threat. They do not want a secure Sunni nation next to them.

    There have been reports of Iraqi army personel leaving their posts. It should be strongly considered that many Sunni soldiers have left to join the ISIS and many Shite soldiers have left to seek their friends in the south.

    Understand this: Most Iraqis are loyal to their religion before the Iraqi government.

    Yes, most Iraqis just want to live in peace like most people do, but when one sect attacks another, they are not going to seek refuge and protection from the government, they are going to seek it out from their own sect, arm, and fight against the aggression.

    This has been going on for centuries. It will not stop just because a sectarian government is formed under American supervision. It will not stop just because American military "advisors" try to help what is left of the Iraqi sectarian army. The Sunnis and Shites will continue to make war with each other, it does not matter under what name it is (ISIS vs Mehdi Army) or (ISIS vs Iranian Army).

    My position on this: Let them. Observe and let them. As the fighting plays out we can figure out who becomes the bigger threat to us. Neither side likes us. It does no good to take a side in the conflict until one threatens us. Even then, if we are attacked, then we should cause severe damage to those that attacked us and then leave the two sides to continue fighting each other. Special forces can be used to take out the heads of factions that attack us if need be, but not to help the other side, only to avenge us... and then leave so that the two sides can continue fighting.

    Right now I am okay with the 300 "advisors" there to help the Iraqi sectarian army and air strikes on standby to make sure the ISIS does not just overrun the entire country. But if the Mehdi Army begins fighting the ISIS do not think for a moment it is to also help the sectarian government. They are doing it for themselves, and they would no stop with the ISIS either, they would try to dominate the sectarian government, or attempt to replace it just like the ISIS would.

    This fighting will not stop. It will never stop. So let us not pick a side. Just attack the ones that threaten and attack us.
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