It is too bad Republicans lack any semblance of a memory dating back to before America invaded and conquered Iraq because the Bush administration saw an opportunity to enrich Dick Cheney’s company and kill Muslims. If they did, they would see a relatively stable region where Iran was not the dominant force in the area, radical Muslims were not attempting to overthrow Syria, Iraqi Sunni and Shia Muslims lived in peace in the same neighborhoods, and the idea of an Iraqi civil war was remote. However, Republicans can hardly remember what they lied about yesterday much less what Bush did thirteen years ago, so it is typical that they find no issue blaming the current situation in Iraq on President Obama.
What any of the Republicans blaming Obama for pulling American troops out of Iraq in 2011 should remember, is that in October 2008 George W. Bush was president when the Status of Forces Agreement was drafted and ratified by Iraqi lawmakers a month later in November 2008. The pertinent part of the agreement that President Obama honored was that, “All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.” Still, Republicans are assailing the President for abandoning Iraq they were fully prepared to continue occupying in perpetuity, and forget that besides Bush, an ill-advised strategy by former Republican man-god General David Patraeus mishandling of the so-called “surge” that created the militant insurgency threatening to completely tear Iraq apart and finish completely destabilizing the region Bush’s invasion started eleven years ago.
The sectarian war raging in Iraq today is the result of America’s allegedly successful effort to contain sectarian violence in Iraq through the so-called “surge” that is the reason for what is becoming a devastating and uncontrollable civil war in Iraq. It is important to remember that part and parcel of General David Patraeus’ strategy in the “surge” was arming and paying Iraqi Sunnis to assist Americans on the one hand, and the other allowing Iraqi Shias to cleanse entire neighborhoods of Sunnis who are now waging an insurgent war against government forces. Some of the arms the insurgency is using are holdover “gifts” Patraeus showered on them that were used in Syria and now Iraq. There is a reason Iran supports Iraq’s government forces and called on Shias to fight with Iraq’s national army and put down former Iraqi Sunnis who were attacked viciously by the majority Iraqi Shias during the American occupation. It is true that some of the blame clearly falls on Iraqi leader Maliki for religious sectarianism targeting Sunnis since before the insurgency began in earnest, and now the entire nation is paying a heavy price.
Iraqi leader Maliki, a Shia Muslim, has been heavily criticized for pursuing security policies that alienated ordinary Sunnis, such as sweeps that rounded up hundreds of men, innocent and guilty alike, and the arrest of the wives of suspected militants. According to a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and now a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, James Jeffrey said, “they (Maliki’s army) had lost the support of the people because they had a sectarian policy, and I saw it with my own eyes.” No doubt many of the militants are driven by revenge and retribution for being driven out of their homes and massacred by the government under majority Shia control with assistance from Americans who failed to protect minority Sunnis on orders from Patraeus.
What is happening in Iraq is a continuation of the sectarian religious war, or civil war if it pleases, that began after America invaded and upset the balance that Saddam Hussein presided over. It is true Saddam was a tyrant, but there was relative calm and cooperation between minority Sunnis and Bathists in control of the government and the majority Shia population. After America overthrew Saddam’s government and installed a Shia majority, not only did predominately Shia Iran rise to power, Iraqi Shias embarked on a crusade to eradicate Sunnis and exact retribution against ordinary Sunnis. Now the shoe is on the other foot and seeing the gravity of the situation, Iraq’s Shiite religious authorities issued statements in support of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi army. The top Shiite spiritual leader in the world, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani gave his support to “the sons within the Iraqi security forces,” and a representative for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, urged Shiites to join the security forces to combat Sunni militants.
For their part, the militants are not out to massacre Iraqis and took care to warn off citizens from the danger of impending battles. Residents said when militants entered populated areas, “They greeted us, and when they saw that we were scared they said, ‘We are not here to fight you. Just stay away and do not interfere. We are here to fight Maliki’s army, not you.'”
Whatever is happening, or will happen, in Iraq is a direct and irrefutable result of America’s invasion and poorly administered war of occupation. None of the blame rests with the troops sent to fight and die in a completely unnecessary war of American aggression, any more than it is Barack Obama’s fault for honoring the agreement George W. Bush brokered in 2008 to withdraw American forces by December 2011.
Saddam Hussein may have been a tyrant, but while he was in power Sunnis and Shias were not involved in a sectarian religious war, Iran was not a regional power, and Syria was not threatened by Islamic extremists and civil war. Republicans learned absolutely nothing from the Iraq War debacle except that it was not white guy George W. Bush’s fault and like everything else they screwed up during their eight year reign of terror, they blame the African American man in the White House.