Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Divide and conquer: The strength of a regional Sunni-Shi'i alliance executed along with Saddam

A Good Article
By Kristen Ess

"Why execute Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Eid Al-Adha, the Muslim holiday of sacrifice and feast; the time to slaughter the sheep and give the meat to the poor, money to relatives and the impoverished, and toys to the children?

Why did the United States choose a Shi'i client government after it captured Saddam Hussein?

The "divide and conquer" technique seems so easily employed in the Middle East. Under US occupation, Iraq has fallen apart in Sunni – Shi'i fighting, not that it did not exist before, but not to the same extent in intention. Under Israeli occupation, Palestine has fallen apart with the Hamas – Fateh fighting. But the issue of timing and political party in Iraq may have more to do with the United States' publicly stated plan this summer for its “New Middle East” than originally thought.

Shi'i Iran would not back down to the US and Shi'i Syria was gaining power and influence. Shi'i Hizbullah in Lebanon defeated the Israeli army in the minds of the local population. And the Shi'is are the underdogs in Lebanese government and society; the trouble makers to the middle class, and powerful Sunnis, and the even more powerful Christians. But with the Hizbullah perceived defeat of Israel that is all it took: perception. No matter how many Lebanese the Israelis killed this summer, in the end Hizbullah was deemed to defeat the undefeatable Israeli military even with all of its US backing. The myth that Israeli forces were invincible in the Middle East was shattered.

And Saddam Hussain was also one who was considered to have fought the Israelis and won in the past. Why have a Shi'i government execute him on the first day of Eid Al-Adha while the American press reported that “in the end it was his Shi'i enemies who carried out the execution?” Now Iran is getting nearly as condemnations in Palestine for the execution as the Americans are.

To divide and conquer, it is necessary that there previously exist points of contention, and sometimes major ones at that. But all it then takes is to vigorously promote that divide. And what has the US to be afraid of? A unified Middle East; a strong Iran that was working closely with Syria, with both countries funding the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah and its Secretary General Hassan Nassrullah, and some say Hamas. And we all know what happened to Hamas after they were democratically elected. The party was destroyed, and so was much of Palestine. Certainly the unity was destroyed with the US-led political and economic blockade. Hamas became the “root of the problem” even though the people voted for them, with the population somehow forgetting who was behind it all. And Sunni Hamas was strongly supported by Shi'i Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah.

Nassrullah was in strong support of Palestine, in particular the armed resistance in the Gaza Strip, which the Israelis likened in the press this Fall to a nascent Hizbullah. And with the Palestinian Muslim population being Sunni, what better way than to sever the quickly growing alliance in the forms of moral, military and economic support that Hamas, and other facets of the armed resistance, were receiving. The support was coming from Hizbullah, Syria (where the exiled Hamas political bureau leader, Khaled Mesha'al, lives) and Iran, which the US has been trying to take down through its accusations of nuclear weapons and threats of sanctions and war. And in many Palestinian denunciations of the US in the execution of Saddam Hussain, Iran is being included.

Why on Eid Al-Adha?

Why are the American newspapers so heavily promoting the Sunni – Shi'i divide?

It is not only to remove US culpability, after all that was the original intention behind the US war on Iraq: to take down Saddam. But after years of the American press vilifying the Shi'is as the “fanatics,” as the “fundamentalists,” the Shi'is suddenly now have the moral authority in the United States.

Simply because Saddam was a Sunni?


Or perhaps the US corporate media outlets know no better and are basing their limited analysis on the Sunni-Shi'i divide that has existed in Iraq, but that was hardly insurmountable, even now given the current conditions.

If that divide were cleverly exploited, it could certainly guarantee a non-unified Middle East.

But if it were not, that would mean a strong Middle East, undivided, and not in keeping with the US vision of the “New Middle East.” "



I think that it is critical at this time that Sayyed Nasrallah, with his good name and credibility, among most Arabs and Muslims, both Sunni and Shi'a, rise to the occasion and defuse this sinister and potentially explosive issue and defeat the Usraeli plan.

I can't think of any other leader who can pull such a feat. Time is of the essence since the sectarian flames can spread very quickly.

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