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News :: Globalization & Capitalism : Government & Elections : Peace & War

The Who's Who of Iraqi Voters

Who wants you to thlink this is democracy?
What the hell is going on over there anyway? And who are these Iraqis we keep hearing about? Well, like everything else, its pretty complicated. But here’s a rough sketch:

After defeating the Ottoman Empire in World War One, Britain took out a magic marker and drew a random shape on the map and called it Iraq. Unfortunately, they paid no attention to the various ethnic groups and religious sects that inhabited the region. So basically, you’ve got your Sunnis and your Shiites. These Muslim sects have pretty much hated each other ever since the succession crisis that followed the death of the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. For most of the time since Iraqi independence in 1932, the Sunnis have been in power. Saddam Hussein, for example, was a Sunni. However, the Sunnis are not the majority in Iraq. The Shiite sect has far greater numbers, but has been unable to take power due to political repression. Oh yeah, there are some Kurds in there also. The Kurds are a non-Arab ethnic group in northeastern Iraq that makes up about 23% of the population. Although most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, they have a different language, culture, and history than the rest of Iraq. These folks have been trying for years to gain their independence, but they have been oppressed pretty much everywhere—by pretty much everyone.

So, why was everyone freaking out about violence surrounding the election? You see, Sunni Islamic leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, declared a “fierce war? on the elections. Why are the Sunnis so pissed? Well, their power is endangered—power that they have had for decades. Many Sunnis were unable to vote because they live in the most intense parts of the war zone—this means that they will have little representation within the newly established government. Because of this, lots of Sunnis are expecting some kind of repression if the Shiites take control. Meanwhile, the Kurds are poised to grab as much power as they can while they have the chance. But frankly, the United States Military is controlling the whole damn thing anyway, so who knows. Pentagon officials said that they will have to keep 120,000 US troops in place for more than two years. A member of the Commons Defense Committee said that it will take over a decade before troops can be withdrawn. What exactly are we getting in to? Thanks, U$, for all the democracy!

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