US - Iraq War
Pros and Cons
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CONTENTS
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The following are statements of general reference which are not clearly pro or con. The statements are provided solely as a background resource to the question, "Should the U.S. have attacked Iraq?"

I. IRAQ'S POPULATION NEXT BACK TO CONTENTS


"Ethnically and linguistically the Iraqi population includes Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Armenians. The religious mix likewise is varied and consists of Shi'a and Sunni Muslims (both Arab and Kurdish), Christians (including Chaldeans and Assyrians), Kurdish Yazidis, and a small number of Jews and Sabean Mandaeans. Civil uprisings occurred in previous years, especially in Kurdish areas in the north and Shi'a areas in the south. The minority Arab Sunni regime reacted with extreme repression against those who oppose or even question it. The regime also systematically forced the removal of ethnic minorities under its policy if 'Arabizing' arable land."

US Department of State, "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2002," Mar. 31, 2003


"Its population of around 23 million is ethnically and religiously diverse. Appro ximately 77% are Arabs. Sunni Muslims form around 17% of the Arab population and dominate the government. About 60% of Iraqis are Shias and 2% are Kurds. The remaining 3% of the population consists of Assyrians, Turkmans, Armenians, Christians and Yazidis."
United Kingdom Joint Intelligence Committee (UKJIC), "Iraq's WMD, The Assessment of the British Government," 09/24/02

"Ethnic Groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%
Religions: Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian other 3%"

CIA, "World FactBook:Iraq," Aug. 2003


"Although many of the formative events of Shi'ite Islam took place in Iraq, Shi'ites became a majority there only during the nineteenth century, as the bulk of the country's nomadic Arab tribes settled down and took up agriculture. These tribesmen, both those who converted to the Shi'ite sect in the south and those who remained Sunni because they kept to their desert way of life in central Iraq, still share Arab cultural attributes. Behind the power struggle between Sunnis and Shi'ites in modern Iraq, therefore, lie two sectarian groups that are quite similar. The divisions between them are primarily political rather than ethnic or cultural, and reflect the competition of the two groups over the right to rule and to define the meaning of nationalism in the country. Whereas the Sunni ruling elite adopted a wider Arab nationalism as its main ideology, the Shi'ites have preferred Iraqi nationalism, which stresses the distinct values and heritage of Iraqi society."

Y.NAKASH for FOREIGN AFFAIRS, "The Shi'ites and the Future of Iraq," July/August 2003



"Iraq is home to a diverse mix of ethnic and religious groups. Its population is approximately 55 percent Shia Arab, 20 percent Sunni Arab, and 25 percent Kurdish (Sunni and Shia), with a smattering of Turkmen, Chaldeans, and Assyrian Christians. Iraq does not readily divide into 'parts.'"

C.E.I.P , "Political Reconstructions in Iraq: A Reality Check," Mar. 2003



"Shias differ form Sunnis in doctrine, ritual, law theology, and religious organization. While sharing monotheism, prophet-hood, and resurrection with Sunnis, they also believe in aadl justice, just nature of God, and Imamat supreme leadership of Muslims- that is, being divinely inspired, Imams are infallible. Shias make up about 15 percent of the global Muslim population of 1.25 billion, with only four of the fifty-seven Muslim countries being a Shia-majority Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq."

D.HIRO, "Iraq, In The Eye Of The Storm," Nation Books, 2002



"The Kurdish people, who live in the northern areas of Iran and Iraq and in eastern Turkey, are Sunni Muslims. Pockets of Jews and Christians, some of whom trace their lineages back to pre-Islamic Persia, are scattered throughout present-day Iran."

H.SIMS, "Beyond the Veil," 1998



"Of Iraq’s 18 million people, nearly 10 million are Shi’I Arabs, more than 3.5 million are Sunni Kurds, another half million are Christians, and the remaining 4 million are Sunni Arabs. The Christians include Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Armenians.

Although 55 percent of the Iraqis are Shi'i Arabs, the Shi'i rebelling against Saddam Hussein are split into at least three political parties, they have no allies among the Sunni Arabs or the Kurds. Instead, probably a majority of the soldiers fighting on behalf of Saddam Hussein against Shi'i separatists also are Shi'i."

K.HOLDEN  for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, "Bush Ignores Separatists in Favor of an
Intact Iraq Without Saddam,"
Apr. 1991





II. IRAQ'S ETHNIC GROUPS PREV | NEXT | BACK TO CONTENTS


Armenians: (npy)

Assyrians:

  • "Most Assyrians live in the northern governorates, and the Government often has suspected them of 'collaborating with Iraqi Kurds. In the north, Kurdish groups often refer to Assyrians as Kurdish Christians. Military forces destroyed numerous Assyrian churches during the 1988 Anfal Campaign and reportedly executed and tortured many Assyrians. Both major Kurdish political parties have indicated that the Government occasionally targets Assyrians as well as ethnic Kurds and Turkomen as part of its Arabization campaign of ethnic cleansing designed to harass and expel non-Arabs from government controlled areas in the north."

    D.O.S., "International Religious Freedom Report," Oct. 2002



  • "The Assyrians are considered to be the third largest ethnic minority in Iraq. Although official Iraqi statistics do not refer to them as an ethnic group, they are believed to represent about 133,000 persons or less than 1 percent of the population. Decendents of ancient Mesopotamian peoples, they speak Aramaic. The Assyrians live mainly in the major cities and in the rural areas of northeastern Iraq where they tend to be professionals and businessmen or independent farmers. They are Christians, belonging to one of four churches: the Chaldean (Unite), Nestorian, Jacobite or Syrian Orthodox, and the Syrian Catholic."

    U.S.L.C., Country Studies, "Iraq: Other Minorities," May 1988

Chaldeans: (npy)

Kurds:

  • "The two leading Iraqi Kurdish parties, the KDP led by Mas'ud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Jalal Talabani, agreed in May 1992 to share power after parliamentary and executive elections. In May 1994, tensions between them flared into clashes, and the KDP turned to Baghdad for backing."

    "In August 1996, Iraqi forces helped the KDP capture Irbil, seat of the Kurdish regional government. With U.S. mediation, the Kurdish parties agreed on October 23, 1996 to a cease-fire and the establishment of a 400-man peace monitoring force composed mainly of Turkomens (75% of the force)."

    C.R.S., "Iraq: Compliance, Sanctions, and U.S. Policy," update Feb. 27, 2002



  • "The Kurds make up the majority population (about 3.8 million) in the three northern provinces, but their territorial aspirations extend further. The Kurdish parliament that met in late 2002 agreed that Kirkuk, not now under Kurdish control, must be the capital of a common autonomous Kurdish region with virtual independence from Baghdad except in national defense."

    C.E.I.P., "Political Reconstructions in Iraq: A Reality Check," Mar. 2003



  • "The Kurds are an ethnic group of an estimated 25 million people. They live in the mountainous region covering eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, northern Syria and northwestern Iran. Approximately 12 million live in Turkey; another 3.5 million in Iraq, and the rest in Iran and Syria.

    The tribal lands of the Kurds, known to inhabitants as Kurdistan, were divided up by colonial powers, Great Britain and France, after World War I. The Kurds became a minority in Turkey, Iraq and Iran. In all three countries, their ambitions for national independence were regarded as threatening. In all three countries, the Kurds advocating independence have faced prosecution for decades."

    "Kurdish rebels fought the Iraqi government in the early 1970s when Hussein was the second most powerful man in Baghdad. But when neighboring Iran, Israel and the United States withdrew support in 1975, the Kurdish guerilla movement collapsed. When the Kurds joined Iran's war against Iraq in the 1980s, Hussein responded by using poison gas on the residents of the Kurdish town of Halabja in March 1988, killing an estimated 5,000 people. He forced Kurdish residents out of Kirkuk, a traditionally Kurdish city in Northern Iraq, and brought in Arabs to take over their property."

    J.MORLEY, "Who Are The Kurds?," May 27, 2003



  • "While President Bush has been eager to take note of Iraqi atrocities against the Kurds, the West has never been so outraged by similar Turkish atrocities. More than 30,000 people died during the years of fighting between the Turkish government and the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or P.K.K.; both sides were brutal, murdering civilians and engaging in torture and terrorism.

    Turkey also forced at least 500,000 Kurds to leave their villages at gunpoint. Excellent reports on Turkey by Human Rights Watch say that some refuges who have tried to return to their homes recently have been shot by government armed thugs."

    N.KRISTOFF, "Torture, Beyond Saddam," Mar. 14, 2003


     

  • "Descendants of Indo-European tribes, Kurds appear in the history of the early empires of Mesopotamia, where they are described as Kardouchoi. They trace their distinct history as mountain people to the seventh century B.C. when they were part of the Scythian empire (c. ninth to third century B.C.). In the seventh century A.D. they embraced Islam but retained their language. During the Ottoman and Persian empires they mounted periodic uprisings against the central power. Kurdish nationalism manifested itself in the late nineteenth century inter alia in the publication of the first periodical in Kurdish in 1897. With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, Kurds found themselves living in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria."

    D.HIRO, "Iraq, In The Eye Of The Storm," Nation Books, 2002


     

  • "The Iraqi Kurds, long accustomed to suffering in wars between guerillas and governments, found themselves beleaguered, this time not by Baghdad but by the Kurds. Their new lament came to be, 'Even Saddam Hussein didn't do this.' But no one wants to hear, much less publicize, their plight. Only Amnesty International would produce a belated report on the 1995 on human rights abuses of Kurds under Kurdish administration. Human Right Watch has yet to bring out a word on the topic. In their zeal to provide documentation in support of the State Department's case against Saddam Hussein for his abuses against the Kurds in the 1980's -- for which they have received considerable funding -- they deliberately ignored abuses of Kurds by Kurds in the 1990s. Moreover, the group was eager to maintain good relations with the Kurdish leaders to facilitate their research. To expose their activities would have incited their wrath. By failing to expose the dismal status quo, they have left Kurds at their mercy with no ombudsman. This accounts for the thousands of Iraqi Kurds who have fled the US-protected 'safe haven' over the past seven years."

    V.SAEEDPOUR
    , "Reckless Disregard," Nov. 1999


     

  • "From the 16th to the early 20th centuries, their [the Kurds] territories formed a part of the Ottoman and Persian empires. With the collapse of the Ottoman empire after World War One, the Kurds were to be granted their independence under the 1920 Treaty of Sevres. But that promise evaporated as the nationalist movement of Kamal Ataturk seized control of the Kurdish lands in eastern Turkey and the Kurds saw their mountain homeland divided once more among four newly created states -- Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Soviet Union, and one ancient land--Iran, or Persia as it was then known."

    "Each of these states has balked at assimilating its Kurdish minority, and each of the Kurdish groups has rebelled against the authority of its new central government. Of these traditions of rebellion, none has been more persistent than that of Iraqi Kurds. There are larger Kurdish populations -- some ten to fifteen million Kurds live in Turkey and seven million in Iran, compared to just four million in Iraq."

    H.R.W., "Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds," July, 1993


     

  • "The Kurds make up the majority population (about 3.8 million) in the three northern provinces, but their territorial aspirations extend further. The Kurdish parliament that met in late 2002 agreed that Kirkuk, not now under Kurdish control, must be the capital of a common autonomous Kurdish region with virtual independence from Baghdad except in national defense."

    "Large Kurdish communities exist not only in Iran and Iraq but also in Syria, Turkey, and the Soviet Union, and none of these countries has been willing to tolerate an active secessionist movement. Indeed, they were relieved that Kurdish leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani concentrated his resources on Iraq, and that, in draining each other, neither the Kurds nor the Iraqis appeared to have much of an appetite for neighboring territory."

    C.WRIGHT for The Atlantic Monthly, "Iraq," Arp. 1979

     

Mandaens:

  • "The mandaens in Iraq totaled 16 thousand according to figures of the 1977 census [Iraq]. They are usually treated as a Gnostic sect and some scholars date the beginning of mandaeanism some where in the first three centuries A.D."

    "They have a special language of their own and until recently lived mainly in south eastern Iraq and around al-Amara city. Some of them moved to the capital Baghdad, where they until today dominate the goldsmith industry."

    ALJAZEERA English language website, Special Report Iraq Under Occupation:Mandaens, Sep. 19, 2003


     

  • "Prior to his assassination in August 2003, the Ayatollah al-Hakim, a prominent Shi'ite cleric in Iraq, judged that Mandaeans are not 'people of the Book,' meaning that they are not protected from forced conversion to Islam or even from being killed. Their 'unclean' status also makes it difficult for Mandaeans to find employment."

    "The number of Mandaeans worldwide is estimated from about 60,000 to 150,000."

    J.BOLENDER "Worse Off Now Than Under Saddam," Counterpunch, Jan. 8, 2005

Turkomen:

  • "The Turks have an awful reputation in Iraq, both among the Kurds, who have long-standing ethnic troubles with their northern neighbors, and among the Arab Shia, especially their clergy, who see the Turks as propagators of a secularism hostile to Islam. The Bush administration went to great lengths to keep the Turks out of northern Iraq during the war. Having Turkish soldiers at Iraqi street corners would be one of the swiftest ways of torpedoing the country."

    R.M.GERECHT for The Weekly Standard, "Help Not Wanted," Aug. 11, 2003


     

  • "Turkomans, found mostly in the northern and central regions of Iraq, are the third largest ethnic group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds. Originally from Central Asia, they began settling in Iraq thousands of years ago in a migration that took place over several hundred years. They have ruled the country six times since establishing their first state in no rthern Iraq around 600 BC."

    "The exact number of Turkomans today is a matter of dispute with Iraqi Kurds, who claim that Kirkuk and its environs is a Kurdish region. Based on a 1957 figure of 590,000 Turkomans in an overall population of six million, this would suggest that Iraq today has some two million Turkoman citizens. Roughly half of them live along an arc of land on the fringe of the Kurdish mountains, in the provinces of Mosul, Erbil and Kirkuk."

    N.al-MUFTI for the INSTITUTE FOR WAR & PEACE REPORTING, "Turkomans Under Threat," June 25, 2003


     

  • "As a large non-Arab ethnic group, it [Turkomen] has been targeted by the Ba'th regime as a potential pro-Turkey 'fifth' column. Residing mainly, but not exclusively, in the strategic, oil-rich city of Kirkuk, they lead stressed relations with other ethnic groups: Arabs, Kurds and Assyrians."

    F.JABAR, "Report On IDEA Archive: Research Potential Examined," 1999


     

  • "The Turkmans, who are believed to constitute somewhat less than 2 percent of the population, are village dwellers in the northeast living along the border between the Kurdish and Arab regions. A number of Turkmans live in the city of Irbil. The Turkmans, who speak a Turkish dialect, have preserved their language but are no longer tribally organized. Most are Sunnis who were brought in by the Ottomans to repel tribal raids. These early Turkomans were settled at the entrances of the valleys that gave access to the Kurdish areas."

    U.S.L.C., Country Studies, "Iraq: Other Minorities," May 1988

Yazidis:

  • "There is evidence that the Government in the past compelled Yazidis to join in domestic military action against Muslim Kurds. Captured government documents included in a 1998 Human Rights Watch Report describe special all-Yazidi military detachments formed during the 1988-89 Anfal campaign to 'pursue and attack' Mulim Kurds. The [Iraqi] Government also has targeted the Yazidis in the past. For example, 33 members of the Yazidi community of Mosul, arrested in July 1996, still are unaccounted for."

    D.O.S., "International Religious Freedom Report," Oct. 2002


     

  • "The Yazidis are linked to the extreme Shi'a (Ghulat) sects and number some 300,000 people. The main group of 150,000 Yazidis live in the Jebel Sinjar mountain and the Shaikhan district of northwest Iraq.

    Ethnically most Yazidis are Kurmanji speaking Kurds. Their religious practice os centered on the tomb of their founder figure, Sheikh 'Adi ibn Musafir at Lalesh, som 60 km north-east of Mosul, who was probably a Sufi (some think an Isma'ili) preacher of the 12th century.

    Yasidi society is divided into two classes, the laity and the clergy.

    As heretics the Yazidis were considered fair prey to any rightly believing Sunni. Turkish rulers and Sunni Kurdish tribes repeatedly persecuted them and tried to forcibly convert them. More recently the Iraqi authorities forcibly deported 20,000 Yazidis from Jebel Sinjar in 1975. Since the Gulf War the Iraqi Government is claiming that the Yazidis are Arabs and their areas should be under its jurisdiction, whilst the Yazidis and Kurdish forces assert that they are Kurds and should be part of their safe haven."

    David Zeidan, "People Groups in the Middle East: The Yazidis ," from David Zeidan's website May 14, 2003


     

  • "The Yazidis are of Kurdish stock but are distinguished by their unique religious fusion of elements of paganism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam. They live in small and isolated groups, mostly in the Sinjar Mountains west of Mosul. They are impoverished cultivators and herdsman who have a strictly graded religiopolitical hierarchy and tend to maintain a more closed community than other ethnic or religious groups. Historically, they have been subject to sharp persecution owing to their heretical beliefs and practices."

    U.S.L.C., Country Studies, "Iraq: Other Minorities," May 1988


III. IRAQ'S RELIGIOUS GROUPS PREV| FIRST| BACK TO CONTENTS


Christians:

  • "Christians are the largest religious minority in Iraq. They are mostly descended from those who did not convert to Islam after the 7th century, and are subdivided between Chaldeans (linked to Catholicism), Nestorians (also called Assyrians, Jacobites and Eastern Orthodox.) They are allowed to practice their religion freely: Tariq Aziz, still deputy prime minister, is himself a Chaldean Christian."

    Glen Rangwala, Understanding Global Issues, "Iraq and the West : The Politics of Confrontation," 2002


Judaism:

  • "Although few Jews remain in the country, government officials frequently make anti-Semitic statements. For example, in 2001 a Ba'ath Party Official stated that 'lowly Jews' were 'descendants of monkeys and pigs and worshipers of the infidel tyrant.'"

    D.O.S., "International Religious Freedom Report," Oct. 2002


     

  • "But many Jews across the world find deep meaning in the traditions of ancient Babylonia. Judaism's patriarch, Abraham, is said to have been born in the region, in a city called Ur along the banks of the Euphrates River in southern Iraq. One of Judaism's most important legal texts is the Babylonian Talmud, which was written by religious scholars in Babylonia, beginning in the 3rd century AD."

    "According to Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive director of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Babylonia inspired a gilded age of rabbinic Judaism. From the 7th to 11th centuries, he said, the community flourished under Muslim rule in a climate of religious tolerance, producing great scholars, rabbis and texts. Babylonia served as the seat of the geonim, the Diaspora's central rabbinic authority, and the world's leading rabbinical schools, he said."

    "According to community elders here [Board of Rabbis of Southern California], Jews continued to flourish in Iraq until the 1930s, holding seats in government and constituting 10% of the country's 2.5 million people. But programs and persecution began in the late 1930s, after a wave of pro-Nazi sentiment in Iraq. Antagonism toward Jews was heightened with the establishment of Israel, a series of Mideast wars and the rise of Hussein and his Baath Party."

    L.A.TIMES, "For Iraqi Jews in L.A., This Passover Is Special," Apr. 5, 2004


     

  • "A catastrophic anti-Jewish riot in 1941 punctuated two and a half millennia of Jewish life in Iraq leaving 200 Jews dead and property damage in the millions. The riots sparked panic, triggering a mass exodus rivaled only by Nebuchadnezzaer's expulsion of Jews to Babylon in 586 BCE."

    "The community's influence and population peaked in the early 1940s at about 150,000. But then the establishment of Israel, and the resounding victory of 1967 shocked and humiliated Iraqi leadership into slapping further restrictions on the Jews. By then 125,000 had fled. Saddam Hussein's terror-driven regime followed. In its maniacal paranoia the regime hanged 11 Jews, some of Iraq's most prominent, as Israeli spies.

    Thousands more abandoned their homes and livelihood for a sliver of security in Israel and abroad."

    JERUSELUM POST, "Baghdad Jews fear Wahabi Terrorism," Dec. 12, 2003


     

  • "Iraq's Jews trace their history back to the Babylonian exile of 586 BC. In 1940, they numbered 150,000, about 2% of Iraq's population. But the British invasion force of 1941 included a prominent non-Iraqi Jewish regiment, and many Iraqis suspected Jews of being disloyal to the nationalist cause. The Jewish population of Baghdad was subjected to a program in which at least 129 were killed and hundreds more injured. After further persecution, in 1951-52, when travel restrictions were eased, 120,000 Jews emigrated to Israel and 30,000 more to the US and Europe. Barely 100 remain in Baghdad today."

    Glen Rangwala, Understanding Global Issues, "Iraq and the West : The Politics of Confrontation," 2002

Mandaens:

  • "The mandaens in Iraq totaled 16 thousand according to figures of the 1977 census [Iraq]. They are usually treated as a Gnostic sect and some scholars date the beginning of mandaeanism some where in the first three centuries A.D."

    ALJAZEERA English language website, Special Report Iraq Under Occupation:Mandaens, Sep. 19, 2003


     

  • "In the newsmedia, the Mandaeans are sometimes referred to as being devoted 'to the teachings of John the Baptist'. This is accurate but misleading, not only because Mandaeans insist that theirs is the religion of Adam, but also because they have their own scriptures containing their own account of John the Baptist which disagrees with much of the Christian Bible's depiction of the man. There are, furthermore, many elements of the Mandaean religion which Christians, as well as Muslims and Jews for that matter, would find alien."

    "The Mandaean religion resembles ancient Gnosticism in some respects: God did not create the world directly, but delegated its creation to deputies who made both a superior world of light and an inferior darker world in which humans live, it being impossible to create a world of light without also creating a world of darkness. Salvation is the successful transition to the world of light after death."

    "The Koran guarantees protection to Jews, Christians, and a somewhat mysterious group know as 'sabaeans' or 'sabians.' The Mandaeans have survived through the centuries by identifying themselves as Sabaeans, but that identification is sometimes questioned."

    "As of January 2004, thirty five Mandaean families were forces to convert to Islam, this including forced circumcisions. Mandaean women and girls in these families were forced to marry Muslim men. It is crucial to note here that one cannot be a Mandaean unless both of one's parents are Mandaean. Hence, the forced marriages are a means of forcing the religion out of existence."

    J.BOLENDER "Worse Off Now Than Under Saddam," Counterpunch, Jan. 8, 2005

Shiism:

  • "[Iraqi] Security forces also have forced Shi'a inhabitants of the southern marshes to relocate to major southern cities and to areas along the Iranian border. Former Special Rapporteur van Der Stoel described this practice in his February 1999 report, adding that many other persons have been transfered to detention centers and prisons in central Iraq, primarily in Baghdad. The Government reportedly also continued to move forcibly Shi'a populations from the south to the north to replace Kurds, Turkomen, and Assyrians who had been expelled forcibly from major cities."

    D.O.S., "International Religious Freedom Report," Oct. 2002


     

  • "The Shiites of Iraq make up about 60 percent of the population, compared with less than 20 percent for the Sunnis that have long dominated Iraqi political life. Shiite Muslims, who make up less than 15 percent of the world's 1 billion Muslims, formed their own sect shortly after the death of Muhammad, founder of Islam, in 632."

    "While Shiites are the majority in Iran and Iraq, the Shiites in Iraq are Arab, not Persian, giving U.S. officials hope that a strong sense of Iraqi nationalism and a tradition of resisting the concept of a single supreme Shiite ruler will keep Persian fundamentalism in check. 'There is a big difference, a tremendous difference, between Persian and Arab Shiites,' a U.S. official said."

    G.KESSLER & D.PRIEST for The Washington Post, "U.S. Planers Surprised by Strength of Iraqi Shiites," Apr. 23, 2003


     

  • "Shiite Muslims make up less than 15 percent of the world's 1 billion Muslims, but they are the majority in Iran and Iraq. Islam has been divided between Sunnis and Shiites since soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, founder of the religion, in 632. Sunnis followed Abu Bakr, a respected contemporary of the prophet, while a small group, the 'shi'at Ali,' or party of Ali, followed the much younger Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law. After the prophet's death, rivalry between the two groups periodically exploded into violence and had a profound effect on the development of Islam. Shiites venerate both Ali and his son Hussein, the prophet's grandson, whose death at the hands of Sunnis in a 7th century battle on the plains of Karbala in what now Iraq is still remembered in emotional annual rituals."

    "With the collapse of Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime, the Shiites aspire to claim political dominance for the first time in modern Iraqi history. In the past week, Shiite clerics have appointed governors, imposed curfews and offered jobs, health care and financial assistance to the poor. Shiites have protested against both U.S. forces and exiled leaders now returning to Iraq. They erupted in jubilation at Saddam's ouster, practicing their rituals in public for the first time in years. In a Baghdad district known as Saddam City, Shiite clerics are running their own police force, hospitals, clinics and food distribution centers. In the city of Kut, southeast of Baghdad, Shiite cleric Said Abbas h as occupied city hall and insisted that he is leader. Shiite clerics are leading self-declared governments in the Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najif. 'It's a historic occasion for the Shiites to demand a major voice in the future government of Iraq,' said R.K. Ramazani, a renowned expert on Shiites at the University of Virginia."

    FOX NEWS, "Fact Sheet: The Shiites of Iraq," Apr. 17, 2003


     

  • "Iraq's Shia Arabs form the majority of Baghdad's population of nearly 5 million and dominate a large portion of southern Iraq in the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In many areas, they live interspersed with Sunni Arab tribes and villages. Many clans, including Saddam's own, have both Sunni and Shia branches. Intermarriage is common. Some Shia are urban, secular, Ba'athist and even Communist Party members, and Western educated and oriented. Some are more rural, tribal, and traditional in faith and social outlook. A smaller number reside in the shrine cities of Najaf, Karbala, and Baghdad, are of Persian origin, and restrict their activities to faith, education, and good works."

    C.E.I.P., "Political Reconstructions in Iraq: A Reality Check," Mar. 2003


     

  • "Shiites constitute a majority in Iraq but historically have been repressed. The U.S.-led coalition declared a no-fly zone over southern Iraq (south of the 32nd parallel) to protect the Shiites on August 26, 1992 (Operation Southern Watch), although the overflights are primarily part of the U.S. containment strategy."

    C.R.S., "Iraq: Compliance, Sanctions, and U.S. Policy," updated Feb. 27, 2002


     

  • "Shiism is a minority branch of Islam which makes up one tenth of the total population of the muslim world. It dates back to the first decades of the Islamic era when the shiites formed the party (shi'a) of Ali, the fourth Caliph who directly descended from the Prophet, against Mu'awiya, governor of Damascus who claimed the caliphate but had no kinship with Muhammad."

    "The first Shiites (or Shias) were Arabs who split from the Sunni mainstream in the seventh century AD."

    MEDEA,"Medea's information files: Shiism," Apr. 2000


     

  • "Although 55 percent of the Iraqis are Shi'i Arabs, the Shi'i rebelling against Saddam Hussein are split into at least three political parties, they have no allies among the Sunni Arabs or the Kurds. Instead, probably a majority of the soldiers fighting on behalf of Saddam Hussein against Shi'i separatists also are Shi'i."

    "Some of the Shi'i rebelling against Saddam Hussein would set up a sectarian Islamic Revolutionary Republic closely allied with Iran. Others would set up a Shi'i Arab Republic, but keep Iran at a distance. But Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Christians would be excluded from whatever government either Shi'i separatist faction set up, which means the south would split away from the center and the north. That is why there are Shi'i soldiers fighting both kinds of separatists to preserve the secular state that Iraq has become and would remain under Ba'athist, Nationalist or Communist tutelage."

    K.HOLDEN for WRMEA, "Bush Ignores Separatists in Favor of an Intact Iraq Without Saddam," Apr. 1991

Sunnism:

  • "With Saddam Hussein's downfall, Sunnis, who make up only 15 percent of the population, were deprived of their long-standing political hegemony. The Sunnis from the triangle lost their prestigious and well-paying jobs in the armed forces and internal security apparatus. They were humiliated in the conflict and have had their homes and communities searched apparatus. They were humiliated in the conflict and have had their homes and communities searched in its aftermath. Last but not least: they have been largely frozen out of the Governing Council and the senior bureaucracy."

    The Sunni network was held together by a web of patronage, perks and favors that filtered down from the presidential palace to the tribal sheik to the 'tribesman in the field.' Of course, retribution played a role, too. Tribes were severely punished for transgressions 9like refusing to abide by the whims of Baathist officials or allowing illicit traffic across borders without the dictator's permission, with the sheiks occasionally deposed and sometimes executed. In the south, whole villages were razed. But much more often the tribes were handsomely rewarded for cooperation — with money, weapons, state lands or even the property of rival clans."

    A.BARAM for N.Y.TIMES, "Victory in Iraq, One Tribe at a time," Oct. 28, 2003


     

  • "Iraq's Sunni rulers, both the Sharfians [Those Sunni led by King Faysal, who were based in Syria] and the ex-Ottoman officers who ruled until 1958 and then the Baathists who captured power a decade later, exercised a monopoly over law-making and built an army capable of checking Shi'ite opposition. The Sinni ruling elite split the Shi'ite leadership, co-opting the tribal sheiks and reducing the power of the clergy. The state dealt a blow to the intellectual position and sources of income of the religious seminaries in Najaf, which in 1946 lost its standing as the leading Shi'ite center of learning to Qum in Iran. The Baath government also executed senior Shi'ite Arab clerics, notably members of the Sadr and the Hakim families, to make sure that a strong and unified Shi'ite religious establishment capable of playing a role in national politics did not emerge."

    Y.NAKASH for FOREIGN AFFAIRS, "The Shi'ites and the Future of Iraq," July/Aug. 2003


     

  • "Iraq's Sunni Arabs have formed its political and military elite since the time of Ottoman rule. They trained in the best Ottoman government and military academies, and they were the last to break with the Ottoman Empire.

    Sunni Arab clans and tribes -- many linked to Saddam Hussein's clan -- constitute a large part of the Republican Guard, special military and security unites, and the intelligence services."

    CEIP, "Political Reconstructions in Iraq: A Reality Check," Mar. 2003


     

  • "The word Sunnism comes from the Arabic as-Sunna (a collection of six books of sayings 'hadith' attributed to the Prophet). It is the main branch of Islam and recognizes the legitimacy of the first four caliphs. It represents the majority of the population in all Arab countries and numbers about 185 million adherents."

    "A Sunni Muslim should live according to the rules laid down by the four legal schools; the Maliki, Shafi, Hanafi, and Hanbali, which differ among each other on the relative importance given to the consensus about the views expressed in the 'hadith' and the freedom of interpretation given to the judges.

    A Muslim is not judged according to his preference for a legal school but according to the legal school prevailing in the country where the judgment is given."

    MEDEA, "Medea's information files: Sunnism," Jan. 1999


     

  • "Sunni Arabs have run things politically since the country became an Arab monarchy in 1921 and turned into an Arab republic in 1958, just as they did earlier when present day Iraq consisted of three provinces of the Ottoman Empire of the Sunni Muslim Turks. Although the ruling Ba'ath party is identified in Western minds with the Sunnis, in fact there are also Shi'i and Christian Ba'athists."
    K.HOLDEN for the WRMEA, "Bush Ignores Separatists in Favor of an Intact Iraq Without Saddam," Apr. 1991



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