Large portions of Baghdad have become Shiite in recent months, as militias press their fight against Sunni militants deeper into the heart of the capital, displacing thousands of Sunni residents. At least 10 neighborhoods that a year ago were mixed Sunni and Shiite are now almost entirely Shiite, according to residents, American and Iraqi military commanders and local officials.
For the first years of the war, Sunni militants were dominant, forcing Shiites out of neighborhoods and systematically killing bakers, barbers and trash collectors, who were often Shiites. But starting in February, after the bombing of a shrine in the city of Samarra, Shiite militias began to strike back, pushing west from their strongholds and redrawing the sectarian map of the capital, home to a quarter of Iraq’s population.
I've been saying for years now that we are basically marking time in Iraq while the Shias and Sunnis ethnically cleanse their own areas of influence. The Sunnis had the upper hand at first because were more angry about their fall from power. But the Sunnis have so enraged the Shias (the Samarra Golden Mosque bombing was the final straw) that the Shias are striking back relentlessly. The Shias are more numerous and control the government. So they are winning battles for control in areas along the boundary of the Sunni and Shia spheres.
Bush wants to "surge" some US troops into Iraq for 6 to 8 months. In the short term that might slow up the rate of ethnic cleansing. But since the new US focus is on training the Iraqi military and security forces I predict this latest change in US strategy will increase the rate of ethnic cleansing. Why? Because the Shia-dominated Iraqi military and security forces help the Shia militias do ethnic cleansing. The more Iraqi Shias we train in the art of war the more will be available to join the Shia militias and help the Shia militias purge Baghdad of Sunnis.
What I want to know: Once the Shias dominate just about all of Baghdad and once the areas with mixed Shia and Sunni populations all over Iraq become pure Sunni and pure Shia what will the two sides do next? Will they negotitate a confederation? Or will they split by mutual agreement? Or will the Shias take the war to the Sunni areas to try to force the Sunnis to submit?
I figure neither the Shias or Sunnis want to accept rule by the other. But neither side wants to admit they don't get to control all of Iraq. Yet the Shias and Sunnis do not want to fight far from their tribes. So I do not see one side winning a conventional battle for control of whole country. But I also do not see them admitting any time soon that they are better off divorcing. So I do not see how it will turn out. Anyone have any guesses?
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 December 24 01:26 PM Mideast Iraq Ethnic Cleansing|