It was announced that religious leaders from the Shiite and Sunni sects within Iraq have met with each other and have agreed that they need to band together as one nation in the name of peace. One religious leader, though, who has been very controversial since the beginning of the war has been neglected in the talks for peace--Muqtada al-Sadr. Now, I may seem by now to be an advocate of his but in fact I am an advocate of peace and I do not see why someone with such religious importance as well as political has been left out of the equation. And to prove that this situation in Iraq is not as black and white as most people think, here are some of the facts I learned from picking up a Time Magazine and reading it.
I wonder if our soldiers, some of whom have not even graduated high school and are yet given the responsibility of pulling a trigger, even know the differences between the Shiites and the Sunnis. Other than the historical differences they have certain names that appear in only one of the two sects, they pray in different mosques, they pray in different fashions, depending on a predominantly one-sect region they can have differing accents and also their cars can give away signs. One such sign would be a picture of a holy figure belonging to one of the sects or a license plate from a region with a large Shiite or Sunni population. This can be helpful at security checkpoints.
Also, there is validity to the Shiite grudge that they have been oppressed. The predominantly Sunni Middle East has treated the Shiites as a lower class with what Time said as being, "institutionalized prejudice". And Iraq is right in the middle of some of these grievances. Ali ibn Abi Talib, the person Shiites believed to be the next to follow in the prophet Muhammad's footsteps and later became the fourth Caliph of the Muslim faith was killed in 661 in none other than what is today, Iraq. It is time now for a change to the unequal distribution of power and rights and time for Muslims to come together in Iraq as nothing less than Iraqi citizens.
And even in 1991, after the Gulf War, Shiites attempted to rebel against Saddam but without any backing from outside forces the rebellion was quickly stopped and nearly 300,000 Shiites were killed. Another factor in this current scenario is that Iran is a Shiite nation and coincidentally an enemy of the United States. It is also worth mentioning that though many organizations such as Hezbollah and other terrorist groups may praise those such as the Madhi Army in Iraq, they are two separate people fighting for two separate causes and should not be confused. And in case anyone was wondering, al-Qaeda is a Sunni terrorist group.
When al-Sadr's Mahdi Army of Shiites fought the U.S. early in the war they were celebrated by even the Sunni insurgents. al-Sadr himself was praised as a hero for Iraqis and not just Shiites. But in the end, the current government in Iraq chose to side with the U.S. who helped them gain power and hold onto it. This created a common enemy in al-Sadr. And it is this choosing of U.S. support over the people of Iraq that has fueled the ongoing fighting in violence. This is why six ministers of the Cabinet resigned yesterday who were followers of al-Sadr.
Originally the fighting was between Sunnis and Shiites to fill in the newly formed power vacuum. But because of the U.S.'s poor planning for the war and stubborn leadership in the White House, the common enemy between Iraqis became the U.S. occupation itself. And now the sectarian violence is more between Iraqis and government supporters of U.S. occupation than it is Sunni vs Shiite. And while both sects continue their violent acts against each other throughout Iraq, it is clear that one thing they all agree on is that this is their fight and we are merely getting in the way.
And while those who may suggest that Time Magazine, the source of most of this information, may be a liberal magazine I will not suggest alternative sources for other people. This was a source I decided to use and none of the facts were incorrect though you might disagree with my ideology concerning their nature. For those who wish to learn more about this intricately complex issue, I suggest that you do your own research. Do not listen to people who say that this source is unbiased or that source is right. Only you can make up your own mind and educating yourself is a monumental step in being an individual voice and not just another follower.