Writing for the Christian Science Monitor Charles Levinson reports that the United States is trying to support the Sunni Arabs to an extent that is creating strong Shia resentment.
Increasingly, the US is throwing its weight in Iraq behind Sunni Arabs, about 20 percent of the country, to ensure they are part of a new coalition government.
Analysts say the US is convinced reconciliation with Sunni Arabs will help stop the insurgency. There is also an American unease with the growing influence of Iran on Iraq's dominant Shiite bloc.
But Shiite leaders have responded defiantly, threatening unflinching stands that could push the country closer to full-scale civil war.
Read the full article. It has lots of fascinating quotes from Iraqi political players about their reaction to the shift of the US toward supporting the Sunnis in their power struggle with the Shias.
I do not see that a continued US military presence will help reduce the problems flowing from inter-group rivalries. The US occupation forces would have to morph into a protective force for the Sunnis against the Shias in order to change Sunni attitudes toward the US military. But even if that happened the Sunnis would resent their protectors and the Shias would see the US forces as enemies.
If the US goes too far with this it could find itself once more fighting the Mahdi Army. Tribal societies are very hard to manage unless one is willing to ruthlessly kill random members of extended tribal families when any member steps out of line. But the US isn't going to rule as Saddam did. So US attempts to balance the power aren't going to work too well.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 January 16 10:07 PM Mideast Iraq Ethnic Conflict|