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The "Chickens" are Coming Home to Roost in Iraq

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The chickens are coming home to roost or whatever metaphor one cares to use that helps to explain the bitter, ongoing sectarian bloodletting that's currently happening in Iraq.

One could say it's spillover from the civil war in Syria that pits the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his Alawite led government (a sect of Shiite Islam) and the increasingly radical Sunni opposition groups that have displaced the original indigenous Syrian Sunni opposition against Assad. These radical groups seem to have no intention of agreeing to a cease fire and negotiate a settlement that could end the civil war. Also Sunni's in Iraq have sided with the rebels opposing Assad while the Shiite al Maliki government supports the Assad regime which served to heighten the sectarian divisions within Iraq.

The "chickens" are the disastrous consequences now occurring in Iraq that must be laid at the feet of the Bush administration that callously pre-emptively invaded the country in 2003, disbanded the 400,000 strong mostly Sunni Iraqi army, dismissed all civil servants that were Baath Party members during Saddam Hussein's reign (a requirement to even get a government post), brought in elements of al Qaeda that weren't there under Saddam and instantly created the insurgency against the American presence and a short time later against the Shiite led government elected by the majority Shiite Iraqi population when the U.S. pushed for early elections.

For sure Shiites were oppressed under Saddam's regime but Sunni and Shiite peoples lived mostly peacefully amongst each other and even intermarried.

But the American occupation fostered the sectarian divide that initially forged an alliance between the indigenous Iraqi Sunni's with the radical Sunni al Qaeda jihadists that entered the country AFTER the American invasion.

And now with the al Maliki Shiite led government entrenched in power and the indigenous Iraqi Sunni minority marginalized and with little influence in running the government, the country is increasingly beset with extremist bombings and suicide attacks killing some 7800 civilians this past year. Most of the attacks are the work of Sunni al Qaeda type extremists causing indigenous Iraqi Sunni's to also fight against them again in a reprise of the 2007 "awakening" that at the time had al Qaeda on the run and mostly forced out of the country.

At present, according to the latest reports radical Sunni extremists were on the verge of capturing Ramadi and Fallujah located in the Sunni Muslim Anbar Province bordering Syria with Iraqi government forces along with some indigenous Sunni tribesmen fighting to regain control of the two cities.

Meanwhile the Obama administration has increased its military supplies to the al-Maliki government to take on the extremists but Maliki has increasingly used force to dismantle the indigenous Sunni protests against his government taking place in Sunni western Iraq which became the primary factor in 44 members of the Iraqi government resigning over al-Maliki's forceful tactics.         

So here we are some two years after the American military withdrew from Iraq with renewed sectarian bloodletting increasing, al Qaeda elements in the ascendency randomly killing Sunni and Shiite alike that could bring a new civil war.   But as one local Sunni tribesman said, "We don't want to be like Syria" while another stated, "We fought the Americans and we fought the Maliki army and now we are fighting Qaeda. We will not allow any outsider to come here and impose his will on us".

As to Bush and his neo-con henchmen, they wanted regime change and war in Iraq, rejecting stability as the primary policy goal for the region. Instead they created massive instability, emboldened al Qaeda to enter country, turned Sunni against Shiite that found its way into Syria and the civil war there.

Again, the current destabilization in Iraq and the civil war in Syria can be traced directly to the Bush misadventure in 2003 and then almost compounded by Obama with his "red line" threat to bomb Syrian government installations over its alleged chemical attacks in August. Luckily that Obama gaffe was set aside by Russia's Vladimir Putin who got Assad to agree to give up his chemical weapons arsenal thus rescuing Obama from blundering into escalating the war in Syria.

Currently there's the P5+1 negotiation with Iran and its nuclear program. If the diplomacy is handled correctly and a final settlement reached with Iran and the economic sanctions lifted, Iran could be brought in as an important diplomatic partner to help restore stability in Syria, Iraq and the entire region.

Maybe 2014 can be the year where diplomacy supplants demonization and war as the primary way to engage adversaries rather than threatening to attack.

That would be a welcome change.       

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