With every day, the regional and global situations surrounding Iraq are getting more complicated. This has been going on since 2003, when American forces began their invasion to Baghdad which fell on April of that year. The Middle East has been in a state of transformation, while at the same time there has been a state of unclear engagement between the U.S., Russia, and Europe.
The Iraqi earthquake is still at its beginning. The American invasion during 2003 of a country that used to be an essential regional power since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, is not an insignificant event. This significance of the invasion even surpasses the rise of the State of Israel in 1948, and the dismembering of the Palestinians who naively thought that Arabs were capable of restoring the cities of Haifa, Jafa, Tel Aviv, and even Jerusalem which was still not occupied at that time.
Despite the 1967 defeat that Arabs suffered, there was still one very important thing: the ability of Arabs to stop Israel from expanding in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Syrian Golan Heights. The achievement which lies in being able to stop Israel from expanding into the Arab World cannot be belittled, despite the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty in 1979, and the one with Jordan in 1994.
What happened in Iraq was a total disintegration of an Arab country, which Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime had negatively impacted; tearing away at the social fabric of the Iraqi society, especially with the regime’s brutal practices and the wars it waged against its regional neighbors.
The American invasion in Iraq, and the either random or well-planned decisions made, which included the dissociation of the Iraqi army and the establishment of a new ethnically-allocated regime, has come to reflect a desire to destroy all hopes of a unified Iraq.
A modern sense of unity means a country which has establishments that are able to understand and deal with ethnic and national diversity. This diversity could have made the country flourish instead of instigating endless conflicts.
After what happened in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, and with the continuous tragic events in Syria, there seems to be a comeback in Iraq. In its modern history, the country underwent several events, such as the bloody coup which overthrew royalty in 1958. This is not merely a downfall of an Arab country; it is a regional imbalance, dating back hundreds of years, namely a balance between the Persian civilization and an Arab one, both separated by the Iraqi-Iranian borders.
We cannot ignore that the U.S., under the Bush administration, handed Iraq to Iran on a golden plate. What we are currently witnessing is an attempt inside the country to avoid new ethnic wars, where Iran would not be out of the equation. Iran is part of the internal Iraqi conflicts since its policy is based on mobilizing ethnic sentiments to brew trouble or to build a loyal micro-country, like the situation in Lebanon.
There is no doubt that a large chunk of Arab Shiites in Iraq are beginning to realize the danger of Iranian expansion in the country under Maliki’s government. Under the Iranian influence, this government has helped the Syrian regime with weapons instead of condemning it. The Maliki government’s only concern is to restore Saddam Hussein’s legacy with an ethnic party (Ada’awa Party) which resembles the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. We can only conclude that this party is the Shiite version of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Because of what happened in Iraq, the regional imbalance is affecting the situation in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Gulf, and even in Egypt. Iran took advantage of this imbalance and, represented by Hezbollah, tried to fill the void which resulted in the Syrian regime’s withdrawal from Lebanon.
What we’re living today is an aftershock of events in Iraq. The ethnic civil war in Syria has now spilled over into Iraq. This is simply because Iraqi Sunnis are being humiliated and marginalized, and even the Kurds are undergoing the same thing in areas like Kirkuk.
It is worth monitoring that some Shiite factions in Iraq are attempting to give an un-ethnic attribution to the Sunni movement in Anbar province, despite some extreme members being part of it.
Is this some sort of backlash from the country that will lead to the removal of the Iranian-backed Maliki government? It is hard to say. The only thing we are sure of is that the Iraqi earthquake that started in Baghdad has returned to Baghdad, and that the Iraqi national spirit still has an impact on the ground.
*This article first appeared in the Arabic language newspaper AlMustaqbal on Jan. 11, 2013.
Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer who has previously worked at Lebanon’s Annahar newspaper, he then moved to London and began writing political columns in Arabic language newspapers, including AlMustaqbal and Rosa ElYoussef.