Shiite-Sunni hatred in Iraq impedes peace and stability

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq 11 years ago was a monumental mistake, as the intervening years have shown and today’s deadly sectarian violence demonstrates. The 4,800-plus Americans killed and the $2 trillion-plus spent (the figure represents 75 percent of the total cost) prompt the question: “What did we accomplish?”

The answer, quite simply, is not much — given the ongoing battles between the Shiites and Sunnis, and the undemocratic leadership of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who has become a puppet of Iran’s Shiite clerics.

To fully understand why the Sunni militants and others have launched attacks in several parts of the country, thereby gaining footholds in important population centers, refer to the column published on this page Wednesday under the headline, “Is it US-Iraq all over again?” The author is Struan Stevenson, a Conservative Euro member of parliament for Scotland. Stevenson is president of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq.

The column should be required reading for members of Congress, especially Republican critics of President Barack Obama, who contend that the White House’s response to the sectarian violence has been too timid or nonexistent.

We would remind those lawmakers who are rattling their sabers to think back to 2003 and recall how then President George W. Bush sold the invasion of Iraq by the U.S.-led coalition to the American people. Bush and his national security team contended that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction he was going to use against his enemies, and that America’s fighting men and women would be welcomed with flowers by the Iraqi people.

There were no weapons of mass destruction and our troops did not get flowers.

Instead, the ouster of Saddam and the subsequent empowerment of al-Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government have fueled sectarian violence and given rise to the Sunni militant group known as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has become a deadly force that has the Iraqi army on the run in parts of the country.

There’s nothing to be gained by the United States again committing large numbers of troops and billions of dollars for another military excursion that’s doomed to fail. This isn’t about an ally of ours being invaded by another country, nor about al-Qaida, the global terrorist network responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, deadly attack on America’s homeland, causing widespread death and destruction.

Settling of scores

The situation in Iraq today boils down to the settling of ancient scores.

Until the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq find a way of sharing power, there will never be peace in that war-torn country.

It is foolhardy to believe the presence once again of American military personnel will end the violence.

President Obama, who inherited the Iraq War from Bush, has seen what an ill-advised invasion can to do domestically and globally.

Rather than being viewed as liberators, many in the Arab world see America as the defender of a corrupt government.

Obama is sending in troops to help defend the heavily fortified American embassy in Baghdad, while efforts are being made to engage Iran in some sort of dialogue with al-Malaki.

The unrest in Iraq threatens other countries in the Middle East and Europe, where there are large concentrations of Muslims.

Those countries should take the lead in developing a response to the unrest.

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