Iraqi crisis shows factional strife trumps nationalism

Continuation of disruption to Iraq underscores how readily observers in the West underestimate factionalism, in its various dimensions, as a force in the Middle East. The mistake can have dire consequences. After coalition forces deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003, for example, the US government assumed blossoming democracy would mollify Shia bitterness over longstanding oppression by a Sunni dictator and unite the nation. Disastrously, events disproved the assumption. More recently, the US government seems not to have anticipated a crackdown against Sunnis by the government of Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki following the departure of American military forces. Potent as i...

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