Iraq: Divisions Deepen Between Religious Communities
Patrick Cockburn writes in The Independent:
raq’s three main communities each responded differently to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the occupation of 2003. Their responses deepened the divisions between them.
The Sunni, about 20 per cent of Iraq’s 27 million population and the dominant community for hundreds of years, supported armed resistance to the US from the beginning. The Shia, 60 per cent of Iraqis, did not resist the occupation so long as they could take power through elections as they believe they deserved to do as a majority. This attitude to the US may now be changing. Only the Kurds, also 20 per cent of Iraqis, fully back the US presence.
Ethnic and sectarian animosities in Iraq were always deeper than most Iraqis admitted but divisions have turned into chasms. There are fewer and fewer mixed neighbourhoods in Baghdad. The Shia, probably three-quarters of the capital’s population, are pushing back the Sunni into the south-west corner. Some 4.2 million Iraqis have fled their homes, becoming refugees either inside or outside the country according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.