Sectarian violence has reared its ugly head once again in Iraq. Political stability is waning a mere nine months after US troops exited the country. Over 50 were killed in the latest round of attacks as car bombs ripped through several districts around Baghdad. Bombings across the country left even more dead, with the nationwide total topping 100 killed. It was the bloodiest day of the year for Iraq.
The cause of the latest attacks was the death sentence given to Iraq’s exiled Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. The VP was facing charges of murdering a female lawyer and a security official. Sunni’s believe the accusations are political in nature. The attacks were in mostly Shi’ite districts.
The country has a fragile power sharing government consisting of Sunni, Shi’ites, and Kurds in the north. The Kurds enjoy relative autonomy in their homeland, while the Sunni and Shi’ites co-exist in southern and central Iraq. It is a living arrangement that exists on the brink of civil war on an everyday basis. The violence that gripped the country in the years after the American invasion were as much about fighting each other as it was about fighting the Americans.
Insurgents have been on the attack all year. Though the three groups share power in Iraq, it is the majority Shi’ites who have the most power. During the reign of Saddam Hussein, the Sunni’s were in charge. The Sunni now feel they have been marginalized by the Shia dominated government. The charges brought against Sunni VP al-Hashemi only deepened those feelings.
Years ago, Joe Biden proposed breaking Iraq into three parts, one for each of its major groups. The idea was never implemented, but perhaps it should have been. The deep divide between the Sunni and the Shia is not going to be bridged any time soon. The odds of them being able to peacefully co-exist are slim. The situation has calmed considerably since the peak of violence in 2006-2007, but the country is still simmering.
Iraq is not nation with a long history. It was cobbled together by the British after World War I, who foolishly drew borders that encapsulated various ethnic groups together. As the Iraq War showed, these groups hate each other, and will go to great lengths to express that hatred. Keeping them under one banner was a mistake.