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The Coming Iraq Upheaval

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Look for a potential "earthquake" to erupt on Friday in Iraq that could shake the appearance of relative calm in that country. It won't register on the Richter scale, for this tremor will not come from underground.

No, this will be a political "earthquake" that could shake the tenuous, eerie and unstable calm of presumed "political reconciliation" between the Iraqi Shiites, Sunni's and Kurds, (that we in the West and particularly in the U.S. have been "propagandized" to believe is the inevitable political reality just waiting to happen in this now tranquil country).

Some recent background on Iraqi politics is in order.

Iraq held a national parliament election some weeks ago (the ballot counting takes weeks as all votes are hand written and tabulation must be counted by hand) and charges of fraud have become more pronounced, particularly from the election slate of current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (himself a Shiite) against the slate of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi (he too a Shiite but of the more secular variety) that has included remarkably some Sunni candidates (though many Sunni candidates were purged and excluded from running at all, accused as former Baathists or having ties with the former Saddam regime and thus ineligible to run under current Iraqi law).

The Allawi bloc is leading prompting al-Maliki to invoke "his military powers as Iraq's commander in chief to insist that the nations Independent High Electoral Commission respond to a recount demand of his political bloc and others" warning "that a failure to do so risked a return to bloodshed that ripped the country asunder."[1] The "Commission has defended the vote counting and did not intend a ballot-by-ballot recount"and expects final results Friday,"[2] (thus the potential "earthquake" once the announcement is made confirming the winning bloc and the presumed new prime minister).

Should any of this come as some surprise?

Not to those of us who have followed the Iraq misadventure since the American led preemptive invasion and occupation from the initial "shock and awe", the subsequent looting, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army (that instantaneously created the Sunni led insurgency against the American military), the first elections that brought a Shiite dominated quisling government that inspired reprisals against Sunnis which led to sectarian bloodletting between the sects and outright civil war in 2005 and 2006 (before the Sunni "awakening" began in late 2006 that had Sunni tribal leaders turn against their former al Qaida allies who were indiscriminately killing countless Muslims [Sunni and Shiite alike] in their suicide attacks) thus prompting Iraqi Sunnis to essentially rid the country of mostly foreign jihadi fanatics. The "awakening" was an Iraqi inspired, indigenous development that was "co-opted" by the American military commander, General David Petraeus who dubbed it an American led "surge"(as if to imply it was an American "inspired" strategy rather than indigenous Sunni Iraqi) that substantially reduced the overall violence that had been tearing the country apart.

But the relative success of the Sunni "awakening" and American "surge" (which was announced by Bush in January 2007 as a chance to give time and promote "political reconciliation" among the varied ethnic and sectarian groups that were roiling the country) masked the deep political rift and mistrust that existed between the multiplicities of groups that comprised Iraq. Add in the political divide over Kirkuk, the oil rich region in the north of Iraq, (technically outside of the Kurdish autonomous area but claimed by the Kurds as belonging to them) real "political reconciliation" of the factions is nowhere near fruition (and the latest parliamentary elections, regardless of their outcome, can not come close to resolving).

These deep schisms among the tribal and sectarian Sunni and Shiite religious groups, rivalries between the religious Shiite factions and the various ethnic (primarily Arab and Kurd) were there long before the American presence and have only been exacerbated by that presence. Now with 50,000 American troops remaining in Iraq indefinitely (even with our announced withdrawal of "all" troops by July 2011 [a seeming contradiction] that belies our true intent to not leave the country) will only prolong the inevitable, yet unpredictable, treacherous political outcome this country will have to face.

Renewed civil, ethnic, tribal and sectarian strife is all but certain. A country that has known only dictatorship in one form or the other and has no experience with democratic institutions since its inception (Winston Churchill as the British colonial overlord of the area formerly ruled by the Turks and the Ottoman Empire [but defeated and dissolved after W.W.I] was charged with forming a country out of the area [once known as Mesopotamia] essentially "drew lines on a map", ignoring the existing ethnic and sectarian enclaves and created the formerly non existent Iraq) a "rump" country (not unlike the former Yugoslavia) that could only exist under strong armed dictatorial and repressive rule.

Now some 90 odd years later, with the divisions that were there long before Iraq's inception, now made raw and festering by our unnecessary invasion and occupation, we expect an election (any election) can miraculously transform the country into a stable, functioning democratically elected state is a fantasy.

This contrived "humpty dumpty" is irretrievably broken, primarily by us. Putting together its fractured parts will only bring about a cripple, deformed and grotesque.

Lets all wave the flag and shout, "U.S.A., U.S.A."!

[1] "Iraq electoral panel rebuffs call for recount", Ned Parker, "The Baltimore Sun", Monday March22, 2010.

[2] See footnote #1.

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