Friday, June 10, 2005

Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis in Iraq:
Just compromise or compromising justice?

Sunnis in Iraq want voting parity with the Kurds, since their population is roughly the same size as the Kurds' (about 20 percent of Iraq's total). Sounds reasonable, until you consider these facts:

-The Sunni minority enjoyed political dominance and social privilege over the other 80 percent of Iraq for three decades by collaborating with a kleptomaniacal crime family (a marvelously accurate phrase from Christopher Hitchens). Voting parity did not seem high on their priority list back then.

-Sunnis form the backbone of the terrorist network that has made Iraq's transition from tyranny to democracy such a nightmare. More than 10,000 of the 12,000 Iraqi civilians killed by "insurgent" or "resistance" terrorism were Shiites, according to a report issued last week by Iraq's Interior Minister (and widely ignored by the media). Conversely, the report indicated, the terrorists' ranks and leadership are dominated by Sunnis.

-Sunnis chose to boycott the election. Shiites and Kurds bravely faced the violence of the Sunni-dominated "insurgency" to cast their votes and guarantee their representation. Sunnis now ask for the same representation as a reward for their cowardly rejectionism.

That said, to invite civil war out of spite would be to adopt a strategy no less pointless and stupid as the insurgency's. The Shiite and Kurd leadership deserve admiration for their tolerance and patience. The spirit of democracy is more evident in the protracted negotiations over Iraq's constitutional committee than in the shameful two-party sumo-wrestle-fest going on in our own Congress today.

The Sunnis should be careful not to ask too much; a little humility would be appropriate, considering the collective guilt that stains their community. They should not expect that Sunni leaders involved in terrorism will be welcomed into the political process. Some reasonable benchmark must be established, however, for disqualification. Perhaps the Shiites and the Kurds (and the U.S.) must accept that violent resistance in the past to the military occupation of Iraq does not equal terrorism and does not mean exclusion from government. This is already the case, de facto, as at least a dozen members of al-Sadr's Shiite resistance movement now hold seats in the new government, even as their logic-challenged leader questions the elections' legitimacy. But Iraq must now close the door on those tainted with unquestionably terrorist acts. The kidnapping and killing of soldiers and civilians, the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Iraq, bombings and shootings in mosques and marketplaces, and threats against polling stations are just a few acts that cannot now be justified as reasonable resistance to a foreign occupation. Likewise Shiites implicated in the murders of Sunni clerics and Kurds implicated in terrorist acts in their long-running conflict with Turkey should find no place in the new Iraqi government

It appears that the Shiites and the Kurds will wisely accomodate the Sunnis' desire for accurate representation in the creation of the new Iraqi constitution. Should one fifth of the nation's people regard the constitution as illegitimate, the nightmare will be far from over. The new government should not, however, adopt a policy of amnesia. Those who acted wisely in the past--even while resisting the direction of the new Iraq--should not be asked to sit beside those who let spite, hatred, and the bloodlust of rage guide their actions.


Anonymous Solomon said...

I think every person should glance at this.
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12:37 PM  

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