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How the firing shots of the Shiite-Sunni Civil war in Iraq presage a much greater and bloodier regional Shiite-Sunni and Arab-Persian war in the Middle East

Not many of us today will realize and dare to predict that the Shiite-Sunni Civil war in Iraq today bloody as it is, presages a much greater and bloodier regional Shiite-Sunni and Arab-Persian war in the Middle East. This war that will unfold over the next twelve months will be by far the most bloodiest landmark in the history of War. This will be a war that will tear the Islamic world into two irreconcilable halves. A war that will not be a formal or declared one like a conventional war, but will be marked by increasingly bold and destructive terrorists attacks on Shiite targets, first in Iraq and later across the Islamic world.

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The Sunnis have no stake in working towards a Shiite dominated Iraq. They have everything to gain from destabilizing an Iraq that is moving in this direction. So the Sunnis are becoming the proverbial fly in the ointment for the Shiites and the Coalition forces and they have started a destabilizing insurgency in Iraq. We may note that while the Iraqi insurgency is fully dominated by Sunnis it is not limited to Iraqi Sunnis. Sunnis from all across the Islamic world have converged in to Iraq to destabilize Iraq. While to begin with they targeted the American forces, they are now almost exclusively aiming to murder Iraqi Shiites, especially those manning the security forces, Iraqi Police and the new Iraqi Army like the Wolf Brigades.

While the Insurgents are all Sunnis, the New Iraqi Army and Police are mainly Shiite

Here lies the seeds of the opposing forces - the Shiite dominated Iraqi Army and the Sunni insurgency. They see each other as hated rivals. While both dislike the Americans, the Shiites know the strategic importance of allying themselves with the American infidels, who are guests in Iraq and will depart- someday! The Sunnis are not going anywhere, neither are the Shiites. They have to settle scores and emerge victorious, if they are to have a meaningful life in the new Iraq

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The starting phase of this war see Shiites being targeted, more so their Mosques, slums, bazars and clerics. Why the clerics? Because it is they who have through their sermons across the mosques in Iraq have mustered the public opinion among Iraqi Shiites to vote in favor of the new Iraqi constitution that sounds the death knell of Sunni supremacy. A supremacy that has lasted not just during the Baathist regime, but for over the last millennium and half since 661 A.D when Ali the fourth of the rightly guided(sic) Khalifahs (Caliphs) was murdered by the henchmen of Abu Muawiya ibn Sufyan who became the fifth caliph and marked the first schism in Islam between Shiites and Sunnis. Shiites look upon Ali as the rightful heir to the Caliphate, being the cousin and son-in-law of the holy (sic) prophet Mohammed. Sunnis are loyal to Abu Muawiya ibn Sufyan who was the descendant of Abu Sufyan, the pre-Islamic ruler of Mecca and a rival of prophet Mohammed.

This bit of history is to show how deep the enmity goes between the Shiites and Sunnis. And, except in Iran, the Sunnis have been ruling the Middle East and have dominated over the Shiites ever since. The only break in their domination was when the Mongol raider Hulagu Khan overran Baghdad and deposed the Sunnis, giving a brief interlude of power to the Shiites. Then the Shiites had collaborated with the invading Mongols to depose the Sunni Caliphate, as they have today cooperated with the coalition forces to depose Saddam's Sunni dominated regime.

The Iran-Iraq war was a Sunni Shiites war in disguise

The most recent explosion of the Shiites-Sunni enmity was in the eight year long Iran-Iraq war. This was not a national war, it was a sectarian war, in which the Iraqi Shiites larger and silently sided with the Sunnis. While it is true that Saddam marketed this war as a Arab-Persian war and this did sway some Iraqi Shiites against Shiite Iran, but the Iraqi Shiites were largely against Saddam anti Shiite tyranny. The last outburst of Iraqi Shiite anger against the Sunni led Saddamist regime was after the first gulf war in 1991. Saddam ruthlessly crushed their revolt by storming the Holy Shrines at Najaf and Karbala and murdering hundreds of thousands of Shiites whose remains are still being discovered in mass graves.

Historic significance of the American liberation of Iraq for the Shiites

When the coalition forces toppled Saddam's regime they did not bring an end only to the Baathist dictatorship of three decades, but to Sunni domination of 1400 years. For the Shiites this is an historic opportunity to take control of Iraq. Their interest in building a stable Shiite dominated Islamic nation is also strengthened by the presence of oil in mainly the Shiites dominated southern Basra district. The Sunnis have no stake in working towards a Shiite dominated Iraq. They have everything to gain from destabilizing an Iraq that is moving in this direction. So the Sunnis are becoming the proverbial fly in the ointment for the Shiites and the Coalition forces and they have started a destabilizing insurgency in Iraq. We may note that while the Iraqi insurgency is fully dominated by Sunnis it is not limited to Iraqi Sunnis. Sunnis from all across the Islamic world have converged in to Iraq to destabilize Iraq. While to begin with they targeted the American forces, they are now almost exclusively aiming to murder Iraqi Shiites, especially those manning the security forces, Iraqi Police and the new Iraqi Army like the Wolf Brigades.

While the Insurgents are all Sunnis, the New Iraqi Army and Police are mainly Shiite

Here lies the seeds of the opposing forces - the Shiite dominated Iraqi Army and the Sunni insurgency. They see each other as hated rivals. While both dislike the Americans, the Shiites know the strategic importance of allying themselves with the American infidels, who are guests in Iraq and will depart- someday! The Sunnis are not going anywhere, neither are the Shiites. They have to settle scores and emerge victorious, if they are to have a meaningful life in the new Iraq.

The extent of the Shiites-Sunni hatred for each other is borne out by the duration and nature of the Iran-Iraq war. While it went on for eight long years costing millions of lives, the Iraqis had no qualms in using chemical weapons against the hordes of teenagers that the Iranians sent to overwhelm the Iraqi army. Now with the tables turned, the Shiites can settle their long-standing scores with the Sunnis. But for that their first step is to emerge as the controlling power within Iraq. A task in which the compulsions of the Coalition is serving Shiites interests. The Sunnis have nothing to gain from the American presence, and they will hit hard at the Americans and hardest against the collaborationist Shiites. Apart from the Shiite clerics like Sistani and Hakim being targeted, the Sunnis would in the coming days wreck mayhem on the Iraqi security infrastructure, by targeting moving targets like Iraqi Army and police convoys, apart from daring attacks on police stations, ministry buildings, universities, major Shiite mosques. Targeted assassinations of Shiite politicians, legislators, public figures would also dominate the headline in the coming weeks and months.

How the Shiite-Sunni war will shape up in the next few months

An interesting outcome of this could be that the coalition forces would gradually withdraw to heavily fortified zones inside Iraq and leave the day-to-day fighting to the Shiite Army and Police. While the Americans dream is a stable and democratic Iraq, the Sunnis have no interest in such a Shiite dominated Iraq, while most Shiites would also not want democracy per se, they would prefer a Shiite theocracy - a prospect which is the worst anathema for the Sunnis. We may see interesting permutations in the next few days, where the Sunni insurgents gradually leave the coalition forces alone, unless they enter the war on the side of the Shiite dominated Iraqi army against the Sunni insurgents. But if the Americans keep to themselves inside their fortified zones, they would be a target of secondary preference to the Sunni insurgents. The first object of their rage is going to be the Iraqi army and the lay Shiites. So we would see schools, hospitals, mosque gatherings on Fridays being targeted in Shiite areas. How the Shiite army and police respond to this and what would be the policy of the [resent and future Shiite dominated government remains an interesting question. The Shiites have displayed remarkable restraint so far, but the only reason for this is that they know that Iraq is their inheritance by sheer force of numbers through which they will ride over the Sunnis. They want to strengthen their grasp over Iraq, till the time that they can act independently of the Coalition forces. Once they cross that critical mass, the Shiites will shed their restraint and go on a merciless offensive against the Sunnis. They have shown evidence of this when the former Prime Minister Ilyad Allawi personally shot some tens of Sunni insurgents lodged in Iraqi prisons. And Sunni clerics have had their bodies drilled into with electric drilling machines by Shiite policemen. These are tips of the iceberg of Shiite hatred for the Sunnis.

Implications of the Shiite-Sunni war outside Iraq

And this drama would not remain confined to Iraq, Iran has already extended its military tentacles into Iraq, with its irregular forces making up a part of the Badr Brigades. These irregular forces will avenge their own hatred against Iraqi Sunnis for the eight year long war. Along with the Iraqi Shiites they will forces the Shiite dominated Iraqi government to go full steam ahead against the Sunnis. By then if Iran has develop a sort of nuclear capability, then in any extreme eventuality if the Sunnis get an upper hand with their sheer ferocity, then Iran could unleash its nuclear capability against the Sunnis in Iraq. It is precisely this eventuality that scares the Saudis to death. The Saudis would be the catalyst asking the Americans to intervene against Iran as they had invited the Americans against Saddam when he attacked Kuwait in 1990. History will repeat itself here. And this will inflame passions in the Muslim world against the West, while within the Muslim world Shiite and Sunni passions would be enraged against each other. In this quagmire, when the Kurds eventually detach themselves and form a de facto Kurdistan by preventing any Arab Iraqi (Shiite or Sunni) from entering the land where the flag of the golden sun flies (the Kurdish national flag), would bring Turkey into this conflagration. The future beynd this point would be difficult to foresee at this stage, save the fact that it would be a bloodied one with the Shiites having the upper hand over the Sunnis in Iraq and the Americans taking location specific decision on whom to back. While they would back the Shiites in Iraq against the Sunni insurgency, overall in the Middle East outside Iraq, they would back the Sunni regimes of Saudi Arabia to pacify the Shiite dominated oil rich North Eastern areas of Dahran and Al Khobar. The future in the Middle East is looking more and more crimson with more Sunni and Shiite blood flowing. The opening firing shots of the Shiite-Sunni Civil war in Iraq are going to prove to be the proverbial match on the haystack. the coming months will bear this out.

Story Credits : War on Jihad Team

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