On May 11, Iraqis woke up to another series of blasts around Baghdad in Shia populated areas including the city of Sadr, named after Ayatollah Mohammed al-Sadr, leaving almost 100 people dead and more injured. Such explosions have somehow become ordinary and don’t even get any headline anymore in local or even international news reports. This kind of violence among Muslims, that is Sunnis attacking Shias or vice versa is something beyond comprehension and I receive it with disturbance and regret.
Despite that Syria has been in an intense civil war for five years and is considered to be in a severe crisis, Iraq is in at least the same condition if not worse. Iraq has not seen a break in violence since the moment it was invaded by the U.S. in 2003. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives and 1.5 million left homeless. The casus belli of this invasion was the false presumption that Iraq had supplies of WMD and was an imminent global threat, which later proved to be false and fabricated. Surprisingly some of the leaders apologized for the wrong intelligence. Tony Blair expressed it in an interview he gave to CNN with these statements: “I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong... I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.” Yet, the damage was done and it was once more another Muslim country with a Muslim population who suffered extensively. In the following years car bombs, suicide bombers, and market blasts have turned into a routine set of incidents. The gap between Shias and Sunnis has widened and both initiated to perpetrate incessant violence against each other, which has not ceased up even until today.
On the other hand, Muslims had to endure severe psychological pressure during those years of invasion. The people in charge, members of the occupying forces humiliated the Muslims by ill-treatment, massacred them and treated them with disrespect for years; they dealt with them through a manner of atrocity and mercilessness. Thus, many Muslims lost any sanity in their minds and have turned into killing machines, exacerbated further with a conceptual misunderstanding of Islam which is divorced from the authentic teachings of the Qur’an. The country has turned into a complete disaster which it cannot recover from even now. What we witnessed afterwards was the reaction to the disgrace the Muslims were exposed to. The occupational forces were cutting their fingers or ears, drying them and taking them to America and making them necklaces. The disclosure of the Abu Ghraib prison and the inconceivable oppression Muslims were exposed to are still fresh in our minds. They were maltreated beyond belief and were subjected to all sorts of severe torture. I’m sure most of you remember the horrible footage of Lynnie England’s pulling the leash of an Iraqi prisoner around his neck. Regretfully, this video was only one small clue of the actual tortures experienced there.
Colonel Janis Karpinski, the former head of Abu Ghraib, stated that the prison was run by military intelligence and all those abuses implied on Iraqi prisoners were in compliance with the U.S. official policy and that CIA agents participated in interrogations. Such cruelty certainly not only affected the victims but also those in charge of implementing these brutalities. With regards to this, it is strikingly important to see the remarks of Eric Fair, one of the interrogators in 2004: “I am not [someone to be proud of]. I was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I tortured.” Haunted by his memories, Fair also reminded the following in terms of the torture techniques applied in that notorious prison: “[T]he Senate released its torture report. Many people were surprised by what it contained: accounts of waterboarding far more frequent than what had previously been reported, weeklong sleep deprivation, a horrific and humiliating procedure.” I’m not surprised. I assure you there is more; much remains redacted. Most Americans haven’t read the report. Most never will. But it stands as a permanent reminder of the country we once were.”
I encountered thousands of photos related to the tortures in Abu Ghraib all over Facebook accounts of Muslim youth. Either their brothers or their fathers were tortured, or their wives and sisters were raped. Misery lies all over the place in the Islamic world and this pain made some young Muslims aggressive, so much that they became radicalized and also resorted to recruiting others to radical groups to take their revenge. Moreover, many analysts believe the rise of ISIS was the repercussion of the U.S. invasion.
Consequently, the Middle East has become a boiling cauldron. However, it is the responsibility of Muslims not to fall into this trap and be forgiving as a command of God and continue to form a peaceful unity to protect the entire Islamic world. Such unity would be a deterrent and the rest of the world would then think twice about whether to harm even one single Muslim. This would also put an end to radicalism and pave the way for a global peace.
These days Iraqis in deep political, economic, and military crisis. The sole reason for this predicament is not the weak administration or even corruption. There are many other factors such as the dramatic plunge in oil prices, internal migration, etc. Iraq has an economy largely dependent on oil. The decline in oil revenues is not only a result of the decrease in prices but also from the serious damage to important oil pipelines and their infrastructures. As a result, crude oil production does not exceed 4.5 million barrels per day. In terms of politics, the government is in urgent need of radical reforms to make the government functional. This cannot be done overnight due to some sectarian conflicts and Sadr’s peaceful protests which some consider as a “white coup-d’etat.” All are indications that some actions need to be taken at once. The primary action would be to abolish the sectarian quota system and form a transition government that gives voice to Sunnis, Shias and Kurds in an equal respect. It would be a good step for Abadi to take the call of Sadr and collaborate with him as they both denounced the sectarian quota system. Additionally, two of its neighbors, Turkey and Iran are always ready to support to fix Iraq’s defective government systems, while at the same time raised concerns over sectarian divisions and its effects in the Islamic world. In conjunction with this, Iran’s spokesperson for Foreign Ministry, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, has already expressed Iran’s readiness to use its entire network in line with paving the way for Iraqi talks. After this transition government starts to function in healthy way by embracing all the sects within, they can then call for free and fair elections in Iraq. Only when a functional, corrupt-free government is formed with members represented equally from all ethnic and religious groups, then international investors will feel at ease and begin investing to make the country flourish economically.
Adnan Oktar's piece in Tehran Times: