What a Car Bomb in Iraq Means for the Civil War in Syria
by Walter Russel Meade
Iraq's and Syria's troubles are closely related--a fact the mainstream media often forgets, choosing instead to stubbornly define the Syrian war as a fight for democracy against a dictatorship and the violence in Iraq as a contained sectarian conflict. This shortsightedness fails to recognize that across the Middle East Sunnis and Shia are engaged in a struggle for political power and religious legitimacy. Sunni rebel groups backed by Sunnis in the Gulf are fighting a Shia regime in Damascus backed by a Shia theocracy in Iran. The same is happening in Iraq, where a Shia authoritarian regime backed by Iran is fighting Sunni groups backed by the Gulf Arabs. Other actors, like the U.S., Turkey, and the Kurds, make this a truly volatile international conflict. And it is Iraq where all of this is going to erupt next, writes Henri Barkey here at the AI:
Today Iraq is held together by a shoestring. . . . The Saudis have not given him [Maliki] much quarter and would like to see him go. He has made an enemy of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as each accuses the other of putting sectarian interests ahead of regional interests and stability. Turks provided refuge to the Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who escaped following his indictment on charges of helping Sunni death squads to operate in Baghdad. This increasing regional rift may be music to the ears of many Iraqi Sunnis, who have been heard saying, in effect, "the Ottomans are back in Istanbul, the Umayyad are about to re-conquer Damascus, and next Sunni Abbasid power will return to Baghdad."
Posted by: trailing wife 2013-01-07