The Sources of the Ethnic Rivalries in the Post-Saddam Era

3 years agoPolicy Reports

By Shirwan Hamid

The collapse of the Iraqi Baathist regime in 2003 is one of the most sensitive periods in the Iraqi history, the result of which was a transition from the dictatorial system to a democratic system. In this period political power change terms from the Iraqi Sunni Arabs to the Shia Arabs. The individuals, peoples and groups that found themselves in power before 2003 saw that under this new Iraqi regime their status in the country was at risk. Under the unique circumstances, high-ranking members of the former Iraqi Baath party made contact with the Sunni Arab tribes, most of which were located in Iraq’s Sunni provinces and had previously supported the ideology of the Iraqi Ba’ath party. Furthermore, the terrorist groups that infiltrated Iraq after 2003 had boasted that they had an alliance with the Iraqi Sunnis against the new Iraqi government and the Shia Arabs. According to those terrorist groups. The killing of Iraq’s Shia and Kurdish populations was a religious obligation as the Shia were considered apostates and the Kurds desire separation (1). However, the Kurds and the Shia Arabs, who during the previous regime were marginalised, were advantaged by the new Iraqi government. The newfound power of these two groups became a cause for concern for the Sunni Arabs who before 2003 controlled the entirety of power in Iraq. With the Iraqi Shia Arabs being awarded hegemony over Iraqi power the Iraqi Sunni Arab’s had little choice but to confront this new governing power as an ethnic group to fight for the return of the power they once enjoyed (2). The marginalisation of the Iraqi Sunni Arabs in the new Iraq came at the same time as the process of ‘de-Baathification’. The federalising Iraq and the conflict over the Iraqi disputed territories, which all worked to further destabilise Iraq via the deepening of ethnic and sectarian strife.

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