Is that what George Bush wanted all along?
By Rabbi Moshe Reiss
has occurred in the last weeks is not the
failure of democracy in
As a result of this newly created nation ruled by a minority only a brutal regime could survive. Brutal regimes were not, then or now unusual in the Arab world and particularly in the Sunni world. Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime was simply the most brutal of all Sunni Arab regimes.
end of the Saddam Hussein regime toppled this
Sunni Arab minority rule; the current mayhem in
The Kurds have desired their own state for more than a century. "Our past is sad. Our present is a catastrophe. Fortunately, we don't have a future” (quoted by Hineer Saleem from his grandfather). Things have changed from Saleem’s grandfather’s day.
believed they succeeded after WWI when the Peace
the fifteen years following the Treaty of
Kurds who call their ‘country’ Kurdistan are not
Saddam Hussein wiped out every Kurdish opposition and resistance in Iraqi Kurdistan killing perhaps as many as 150,000 men, women and children. He created a security zone of 30 Kilometers between the Turkish and Iranian border. He destroyed 2000 villages and 2500 Mosques. The Kurds are Sunni Moslems but of a different Sunni interpretation – the
to the rest of the Sunni Iraqi’s and most
other traditional Sunni’s. During the Iraqi-Iranian war the Kurds
different sides at different times. Saddam deported perhaps a million
over two decades. In 1998 in the
It is obvious that the Kurds, who have enjoyed de facto autonomy since the early 1990s, protected by the American and British "No Fly Zone," are not going to accept being subjected to Sunni or Shi’te Arab rule. The Kurdish regional government runs a more or less successful system of political authority. For a decade now schools in the area have taught in Kurdish and not in Arabic; a de-facto arrangement allows the Kurdish authorities to use oil revenues in the area to pay for impressive development projects.
Their two political parties joined hands the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headed by Massud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kuridstan (PUK) headed by Jalal Talabani. These two groups conflicted during 1994-1998; but in 1998 they reconciled and consolidated their forces. When Talabani was elected the first non-Arab head of state of an Arab country they knew they would achieve their objective.
Given their terrible experience in the past the Kurds will accept only the kind of federal structure that guarantees them effective control over their own affairs, including maintaining their own armed forces.
Islamic country was run by a Shi’ite government
until 1979. Shi’ites were oppressed for over 1,300 years.
When Saddam invaded Najaf he had written
on his tanks “NO MORE SHIITES AFTER TODAY” in Arabic. The Sunni regime
attempting to destroy Najaf's 1,000-year tradition as a center of
learning. Mosques, libraries and seminaries were destroyed, ancient
were looted and monumental tombs were flattened. Anyone in a turban,
of a Shiite cleric, risked being executed (‘
Marsh Arabs, a Shi’ite group numbering 250,000
were reduced to as few as 40,000. Large-scale government drainage
virtually wiped out the Marsh Arab economy and, along with severe
forced the displacement of at least 100,000 of the Marsh Arabs inside
While Saddam gassed the Kurds he slaughtered the Shia in open fields. Many leading Shi’ite scholars were killed by Saddam including the Grand Ayatollah Sadiq al-Sadr and his two sons.
In the recent weeks the Shi’ites raised the question of a Shi’ite autonomous region. The Shi'ites who are a majority in Iraq and a majority in the current assembly are not going to accept Sunni hegemony anymore, and the brutal terrorist attempts of the Sunni insurgents against Shi'ite shrines only strengthen their resolve to insist on a Shi'ite autonomous region in the south, similar to the Kurdish area in the north. There is little doubt that the Ayatollah Sistani made this determination; and it is highly likely he will in fact implement it.
Sunnis rightly realize that unless they succeed
in reimposing their power by brutal force, they are doomed to minority
something which is alien to the Sunni Arab tradition. Hence the Sunni
of the elections and the attempt of Sunni insurgents to frighten any
Sunni ready to cooperate in setting up a democratic
In addition to the reasons noted above the issue of Sharia law will also separate the Kurds from the Shi’ites. The new constitution states that laws will use Sharai as ‘one’ of its basis, not as ‘the’ basis. That means the legislators will interpret what is consistent and what is not. However since it likely that Shi’ites will have a majority of the legislators will the Clerics have ultimate control? Women were guaranteed rights in the interim constitution (TAL) and in fact were guaranteed one third of the seats in the new assembly. Women have 31% of the membership. Of the 36 members of the new government (chosen or reserved) six are women. Three are Kurds of their eight members, one Christian, one Sunni and only note only one Shi’a, who have more that 50% of the membership. This may not bode well for women. President Talabani’s own wife is a major women rights activist.
Sunnis have threatened civil war if the current
constitution is passed. But who will lose in a civil war if not the
oil which may have been why they came is not in
the Sunni triangle.
Arabs have majorities in three provinces, but
it seems unlikely that they would be able to generate a two-thirds
article will be published in my commentary on