Shi’a-Sunni relations during and after the reign of Saddam Hussein SOC 300-Sociology of Developing Countries April 24, 2011 Discuss the effects of Saddam Hussein’s government on Shi’a-Sunni relations in Iraq. The Sunni, Shi’a conflict in Iraq (and other parts of the Muslim world) started long before the reign of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, but when Saddam became Prime Minister of the country the conflict between the two religious sects was taken to a new level. As soon as Hussein gained full power, under his control, began years and years of persecution of the Shi’a Muslims in the country.
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With Saddam’s newly gained power, he had the full support of the Sunni’s, supporting his long standing hatred of the Shi’a. He then set out to show the nation who was ultimately in control and to rid the nation of any opposition. Shi’ites were persecuted under the Ba’ath party rule. Many Shi’a religious traditions were banned throughout the country, such as the Shi’a Ashoura religious festival, stating “the last thing he wanted was that many Shi’as together” (www. associatedcontent. com). It is said that every Shi’a clerical family of note in Iraq had tales of torture and murder to recount. (www. wikipedia. rg) from the years 1979- 1983. Under Saddam’s regime, 48 Shi’a clerics were executed, in Iraq. During his reign, Saddam mercilessly persecuted, tortured and executed several Shi’a leaders and followers alike (www. associatedcontent. com). After the United States beat Iraq in the Gulf War (1990-1991) the persecution intensified (Handleman, 2011). Saddam believed that the United States under George W. Bush called the Iraqi people to overthrow Hussein and that the United States would support any uprising of the people to overthrow him. This primarily meant the Shi’a in the southern part of the country and the Kurds in the northern part.
When U. S. assistance failed to materialize, Shi’a towns all throughout the south were leveled and thousands of Shi’a people massacred. What effect did Saddam’s fall from power have on relations between these two religious communities? After the relentless persecution and torture of the Shi’ites under Saddam’s rule, the Shi’a reveled in his fall from power in 2003. America took down Saddam’s ever ruling Ba’ath party and at the time had the support of the Shi’ites. They favored a peaceful negotiation with the occupying authorities, meanwhile anticipating the new country they would eventually rule.
Within a year after Saddam’s fall from power, the Sunni’s were almost waging a full scale war against the Shi’ites. They were using primarily roadside bombs and suicide bombings, directed at major sites throughout crowded Shi’a neighborhoods. This was the start of the Sunni insurgency, 2003. As it stands, this is some of the worst Shi’a-Sunni strife that has ever occurred, since the U. S. invasion of Iraq, it has built up steadily since then and to present, this Sunni-Shi’a revenge cycle, where suicide bombings are often used by the Sunni, the Shi’a favors death squads.
On the Shi’a side the militia dominated government death squads were reportedly torturing to death, or executing “hundreds of Sunni’s” every month in Baghdad alone (www. wikipedia. org). According the BBC, from 2005 to present, the commandos of the Ministry of Interior are controlled by the Badr Organization, the military wing of The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) and are almost exclusively Shi’a Muslims and have been implicated in killing thousands of Sunni citizens (www. wikipedia. org). What do you feel is likely to happen to Shi’a-Sunni relations after the U.
S. and allied troops withdrew from Iraq? When the U. S. completely withdraws from Iraq the Shi’a-Sunni relations, as they stand currently, will continue to deteriorate. The U. S. supported Shi’ites are in place, politically now, but once the U. S. withdraws more civil unrest will rage between the two sects and although the Shi’ite Muslims (around 65% of the population) outnumber the Sunni Muslims (around 32% of the population), I believe it will be a war of who has the strongest backers (for arms, supplies,etc), being other Muslim nations, Al Qaeda, etc.
The country will continue to grow more and more unstable and the unrest will continue to escalate. Ultimately who ends up in control, is anyone’s guess. The nation of Iraq could ultimately end up with another leader like Saddam Hussein, or worse. The current Prime Minister al-Maliki is trying to create a stable government based on sectarian aspirations but his level of success as a ruler will ultimately determine whether Iraq is even capable of having a peaceful future (Handleman 2011).
References Handleman, Howard (2011). The Challenge of Third World Development (pp. 109-113). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Saddam_hussein http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Shi%27a%E2%80%93Sunni_relations http://www. reference. com/browse/sunni http://www. newstatesman. com/world-affairs/2007/02/sunni-shia-iraq-iran-arab http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/2543561/the_shiasunni_conflict_in_iraq_pg1html? cat=37