By Sedat LACINER
Friday , 20 July 2007
Probably the most important mistake was to support centrifugal force instead of central forces. The Sunnis were the faction ensuring the unity of Iraq for centuries. The Shias, even during the Ottoman period and British colonial rule, had not taken sufficient role in the administration and there had always been more Sunnis in the Iraqi governments at anytime. This trend increased in Saddam’s period. However, the first thing the Americans did when they arrived was to treat all Sunnis as if they were ‘pro-Saddam’ or terrorists and to estrange them. With these practices, the US weakened the Sunnis physically which led to ‘blood feuds’ between them and Sunni Arabs.
Another ethnic group playing important role for Iraq’s unity was the Turkmens (Turkish Iraqis), yet the US took steps that estrange Turkmen from the US. The Turkmens, since they were spread on the axis which lies from the north and to the south, and since they were not in a condition to establish a separate political structure in Iraq even in the hardest times, had not ever been involved in separatist movements.
Moreover, in Ottoman period, the Turkmens had played special role in defending Iraq against the external threats and achieving internal unity. Despite these clear realities, the US did not take the Turkmens seriously, or it assumed that the relationship with the Turkmens could harm to their relationship with Barzani and Talabani.
Consequently, the Sunni Arabs and Turkmens were left outside of the system, and weakened, which undermined the forces stabilizing the country and keeping it under unity.
The US could fill this gap most probably with the Shia Arabs. But it couldn’t handle well it as well. The US was involved in a conflict with Sadr faction which is the most important Shia group propping up Iraq’s unity. In this way, the US in Iraq strengthened the Shia groups, supporting a separate Shia state and those who are allied with Iran.
The support for the Kurds, whose separatist ambitions have not been secret for a long time, must be added to all these. In short, the US while suppressing the forces promoting unity of Iraq strengthened the separatist elements. It is a well-known fact that the US provided direct support to the coalition between the Kurds and ‘separatist’ Shias, the groups from the centrifugal forces.