Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Shi'aphobia I: The Iran-Iraq Connection

"Shi'aphobia I: The Iran-Iraq Connection
by William O. BeemanReleased: 3 Jan 2005

As the Iraqi election begins to loom on the horizon, the world is witnessing a growing epidemic of Shi'aphobia -- fear of the Iraqi majority Shi'a community, and the role it might play in a future Iraqi state. These fears are overwrought.

The Sunni community is fearful because it realizes that it can not have a significant role in a future Iraq if the Shi'a population dominates by voting in a bloc, as seems almost inevitable.

The Kurds are afraid that a Shi'a dominated government will be unsympathetic to the continuation of their semi-autonomous state in northern Iraq.

The Bush administration and its neoconservative surrogates are the most frightened of all. They have convinced themselves that Shi'a victory in the election will result in the unambiguous failure of their Iraqi adventure. This will supposedly come about as the victorious Shi'a ally themselves with Iran and start taking orders from Tehran. They will supposedly then establish a religious dictatorship, persecute the Sunnis, overrun the Kurds, and kick the American military out of their land.

All of these scenarios are unwarranted-unless the attacks against the Shi'a become so acute that they touch off a cycle of revenge, and an eventual civil war.

The Sunnis are making the most dramatic physical attacks on the Shi'a. They started a year and a half ago on August 28, 2003 by assassinating Ayatollah Baqer al-Hakim -- significantly, in front of the shrine of Imam Ali, who was cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, and the only Caliph of Islam to rule unambiguously over Shi'a and Sunni believers.

Recently, the attacks have continued to target Shi'a believers in Shi'a shrines in Karbala and Najaf, t"

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