By Andrew L. Jaffee
I wrote yesterday about the savage destruction of Iraq’s golden dome of the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, probably wrought by Sunni terrorists, in a most cynical attempt at inflaming sectarian divisions. I was thinking out loud as to which direction the Samarra bombing would point Iraq towards: unity or civil war. I can only hope that Shiite, Kurds, and civilized Sunnis will see the Sunni terrorists in the clearest light, especially after this barbaric act towards Shiite Islam:
Over the centuries, the central Iraqi city of Samarra has attracted millions of Shia pilgrims from all over the Muslim world.
An immediate, knee-jerk analysis of the reaction to the al-Askari bombing would show that the Sunni terrorists have accomplished their goal — the start of a civil war. From the BBC:
Three Iraqi journalists working for al-Arabiya TV have been killed near Samarra, a day after a bomb attack damaged a Shia shrine in the city.
Police said the three were kidnapped and killed after they went to report on Wednesday’s attack, which destroyed the golden dome of the al-Askari shrine.
In Baghdad, police say they have recovered the bullet-ridden bodies of 50 people overnight.
Iraq’s leaders are warning publicly about the dangers of a civil war.
Dozens of Sunni mosques have been attacked following the blast in Samarra, and at least 11 people were killed after gunmen entered a prison in the southern city of Basra.
Police say the victims in Basra were suspected Sunni militants, including several foreigners.
A spokesman for Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said the anger may be hard to contain.
The Shiites make up 60% of the population, the Sunnis hold 30%, and the Kurds 10% (approximately). Shittes and Kurds could build an outright ruling coalition without the Sunnis. But 80% of Sunnis turned out in December to vote — demonstrating their willingness to participate in democracy.
The silver lining: Sunni terrorists tried to stifle the elections, but were unable to stop those they profess to “represent” from voting. So we see a split among the Sunnis. Mass Sunni participation is precisely why we saw the Samarra bombing by Sunni terrorists. They don’t want their own people participating in the democratic process. Nonetheless, the Sunnis have participated. Inflaming Shiite attacks against fellow Sunnis is the terrorist idea of a perfect back-door solution for stirring up disunity.
Remember also that the Sunni/Wahabi terrorist goal goes far beyond Iraq. The plan is to ethnically cleanse Iraqi non-believers (Shiites and Kurds) and eventually create a world-wide, Islamist Caliphate.
While the U.S. can support Iraqis, it cannot force each individual citizen to do the right thing, e.g., defeat the terrorists, embrace national reconciliation, and embrace democracy.
These are decisions that must come from the deepest of deepest hearts, minds, and spirits. Iraqis must choose the light or dark side of the force, to put things in George Lucas’ terms.
Making decisions is the ultimate challenge in life. Most often, those choices are only faced under deep duress. The bombing of Samarra was certainly one of those great challenges. And people rarely change deep-down unless their backs are up against the wall.
Iraqis are up against the wall. Let us hope that the worst situation will bring out the best decisions. Otherwise, Iraq’s future will be looking very uncertain.