Culture Wars/Current Controversies

How Iraq’s sectarian system came to be

There are three different parts of the world that provide some indication of what the future of the USA will look like. Increasingly, our educated, managerial classes and elites are moving toward the social norms of Western Europe (e.g. support for gay marriage is regarded as the hallmark of human decency). Our class system increasingly resembles Latin America’s. And our tribal/sectarian cultural politics increasingly resembles the Middle East.  In Iraq, the well-known primary dividing lines are between the Arab Sunni, Shia, and Kurds. The Arab Sunni are roughly analogous to our Red Tribe (once politically dominant but now a cultural minority). The Shia are roughly similar to our Blue Tribe (a cultural majority comprised of the formerly oppressed under the old order). And our increasingly expanding lumpenproletariat underclass is the equivalent of the Kurd (historically subjugated groups constantly under attack by both of the other two).  And every one of these is divided into tribal/sectarian groups of their own.

By Taif Alkhudary, Al Jazeera

In December 2002, a group of 350 Iraqi opposition politicians gathered for a conference titled “To Save Iraq and Achieve Democracy” in the Hilton Metropole Hotel on Edgware Road in London. Many of the attendees were Iraqi politicians who had lived in exile for most of their adult lives and who had spent much of that time supporting the plans of the United States for imperialist intervention in the country. 

It was during this conference, and under pressure from the US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, that Iraq’s political future was decided and the muhasasa ta’ifia, the ethno-sectarian apportionment system that was imposed on Iraqis following the invasion, was decided on.


Leave a Reply