Saturday, September 09, 2006

Myth: There is a serious rivalry between Sunnis and Shiites

What nonsense. How amazing that it even has to be addressed.

Just to start, the mostly Sunni people of Egypt were polled and they claim to respect three different leaders more than they respect their own president Mubarak. Nasrallah of Hezbollah, Meshal of Hamas and Ahmadinejad of Iran. Two radical Shiites are on that list. It is as if US "racists" respected Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere more than they respected Ronald Reagan. I wish that was enough to put this myth to rest.

But there are two opposing data points. One is the civil war in Iraq and the other is statements by the Sunni pro-US dictatorships. Those data points have to be accounted for.

About the civil war. I want to explain how it would be possible to create the same civil war in the United States.

Let's say China invaded and conquered Michigan. Let's say the Chinese proclaim that their intention is just to give the people of Michigan an enlightened Socialist government that provides more justice than they currently have. But let's say the Chinese also while they are there insist on having a say in how cars from Michigan are sold.

Here is the whole key. The Chinese will destroy the legitimate opposition forces - the army and the police - because those forces will never be loyal to the Chinese and they are easy to trace. But the resistance will continue because the people of Michigan will not accept the Chinese. New legitimate opposition forces will form.

Here is the real key. These new legitimate opposition forces will from from the nucleii of what before the invasion were marginal, illegitimate and even illegal groups. When the Crips were a street gang, they had nearly no popular support. When they become one of very few groups actually fighting the Chinese they get access to resources and legitimacy that they never had. When the Michigan Militia was a fringe band of wackos out on farms, they had almost no support. When they are one of few groups actually fighting the Chinese they get access to resources and legitimacy that they never had.

So now you have Crips and Michigan Militia armed, legitimate, flooded with money and in their minds and the hearts of many in the population proven right. A lot of times there will not be Chinese invaders to kill. What will a new Militia member do when after being indoctrinated he sees an interracial couple but there are no Chinese to kill? What will a Crip do when there are no Chinese in sight, but he sees a white man who looks just like that cop who set him up before the invasion?

It is very easy to get these groups fighting each other - even without active Chinese infiltration. (Of course the Chinese would have to be morons to not pay some stooges a little money to discredit the resistance.) Once they start fighting, the fighting may even spiral to the point where the fighting continues after the Chinese leave.

The punchline is that the fighting is not caused by ancient hatreds. It is not the inevitable result of the old Michigan government being overthrown. Marginal groups who were not actively fighting each other before start fighting each other because suddenly extreme groups that did not have resources become legitimate in mainstream thought and get resources.

Sunnis and Shiites before the invasion in Iraq were intermarrying, they were being friends for years and never asking to which group they belonged. Marginal and radical former fringe groups have been demarginalized. That is where the civil war comes from. If the US wanted the war to end as its primary goal, it would announce a timetable, leave and thereby delegitimize these groups.

But would China really invade a state that was not having a civil war with a primary goal of preventing a civil war? There are a lot of myths around the US motivation to invade and remain in Iraq that I hope to address in later articles.

The second data point is the statements by the dictators of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Unpopular dictators are easy to threaten. Nobody can argue that these dictatorships do not feel threatened by Iran. Unlike Iran, whose regime does have popular support (I know, I'll get to the myth that they do not later), a determined outside force that advocates regime change in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia would be a problem.

Do you want to read something funny? This is from the Robert Kaplan of the Wall Street Journal via Syriacomment.

The president may need to pull closer to the Saudi royals, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah. Weakened by America's response to 9/11, terrified by Israeli incompetence in defending their interests in Lebanon, these regimes still demonstrate more enlightenment than their populations. They fear Iran more than do the Europeans.

If you didn't laugh out loud at that then never read anything else I write. Sorry for wasting your time but we don't have enough in common to communicate.

But if you did laugh out loud it is because for some reason Kaplan cannot admit to himself that Iran is not actually a threat to the populations. It is a threat to the unpopular authoritarian dictatorships that have formed an alliance of convenience with the United States and indirectly with Israel.

The thing is that if Iran was not Shiite it would be the exact same threat to these dictatorships that it is now. Anyone who would say the Egyptian people should have a say in Egypt's foreign policy are a threat to Mubarak. It doesn't matter if it is the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood or the Shiite Hezbollah. There is a real rivalry between states in the Middle East led by legitimate governments and states that are not. But this only happens to align with any Sunni Shiite split.

Talk of this supposed rivalry are nonsense. It would be nice for the US if it was true but it just is not.

I will consider myself proven wrong if any poll produces the result that any non-Israeli population in the Middle East considers Iran more of a threat than either the US or Israel. This includes the Sunnis of Iraq which is probably the most anti-Iranian population on Earth outside of the US and Israel. If the Sunnis of Iraq, or anyone else, in a poll consider Iran more of a threat than the US and Israel then I have to retract this entire post.

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