Due to urgency of the situation I find myself obliged to increase this blogging effort as a kind of contribution to "thinking" about the appropriate courses of action, and to stimulate constructive debate. I would like to state briefly some personal thoughts and ideas of mine that I feel are relevant to the present situation.
The article quoted in the previous posts specifies certain areas and “logistic trails” for the current insurgency in Iraq. Most of these locations belong to regions mainly inhabited by Sunnis. Now I would like to explain my own position regarding this sectarian issue. I don’t mind mentioning some personal details that might be of interest in this connection. My own family background, like so many other city folks in Iraq is a mixed one from the point of view of sectarian affiliation. For instance, my mother comes from a Sunni family while my father is a Shiite by birth. Similarly my wife also is a Sunni. I have always told my children not to pay much attention to this question, and even left them the freedom to practice religious rites when they do, in whatever style they like, and since they spend most of their time with their maternal grandparents, they do that mostly in the Sunni fashion, influenced by them. I would say that this attitude is fairly typical amongst the liberal Baghdadis of real Baghdadi vintage. Bigotry and bias mainly reside in rural areas. So it is with dismay and sadness that I watch this sectarian divide being deepened and inflamed at these awful times. The degenerate practices of the Saddam regime contributed a great deal to the spread of this sectarian antagonism.
It would be wrong and disastrous to portray the current struggle as a fight against the Sunnis of Iraq, but rather for rescuing them from the evil influence and grip of extremists and dangerous elements whose danger is more damaging to the Sunnis themselves before anybody else. And I must say that some of the excess enthusiasm of Shiaa groups, especially the religious ones, might contribute in arousing fear and suspicion amongst the Sunnis in general. It is necessary to allay these concerns while pursuing a firm policy against the terrorists and saboteurs. No effort should be spared to contact and negotiate with the sensible leaders and dignitaries of that community, if necessary through secret and discrete channels, to reassure them and prepare the ground for reconciliation and a political solution in the near future as soon as the “insurgency” is effectively suppressed. What is worth mentioning is that the moderates are always the majority essentially, but it is usually an unarmed and peaceful majority, so they are naturally weaker and easy prey for the armed and violent minority. This must be taken into consideration and measures to strengthen the moderate’s hand should be considered. All this should go hand in hand with an iron fisted approach to quelling the armed and terrorist revolt.