Archive for Monday, August 4, 2008

Iraqis find importance of Sunni-Shiite distinction plummets

August 4, 2008


— For years, when she approached Iraqi Army checkpoints and produced an identification card for soldiers to study for clues about her sect, Nadia Hashim used a simple formula to signal the mostly Shiite Muslim force that she, too, is a Shiite.

"I am one of you," she'd say.

The soldiers would harass Sunnis, but they'd simply wave Hashim through.

Now her pat line gets her an official reproach. When a relative used it recently, a soldier admonished the driver and the passengers. "'We are Iraqis, and you shouldn't say such a thing,'" recalled Hashim.

The 35-year-old mother of three said that for her and countless other Iraqis, the fact that soldiers are now using nationalist rather than sectarian language is a significant change. Being a Shiite is no longer key to her survival.

With violence subsiding throughout Baghdad, residents said that sectarianism is becoming less pervasive. They're starting to think of themselves as Iraqis, not as hostages to hyphenated, sectarian identities.

Residents said they visit relatives in neighborhoods of opposite sects. Taxi drivers said they can travel around blast walls to neighborhoods outside their own sect. Sunnis can get medical care at Shiite-run hospitals.

Shiites can share a minibus with Sunnis without fearing that they'll be signaled out at an illegal checkpoint. Teachers no longer feel pressure to give students of one sect higher grades than they give their classmates in another sect.

Most Iraqis, however, aren't convinced that the drop in sectarian violence, now at its lowest levels since March 2004, according to the U.S. military, will last.

Instead, they think that the violence will continue to swing like a pendulum along with the security situation. Indeed, periodic spurts of violence remind residents that Sunni and Shiite extremist groups are still warring. On Sunday, a truck bomb killed at least 12 people in northern Baghdad, and a roadside bomb killed six more south of the capital. Last month, a string of bombings in Baghdad and Kirkuk killed more than 50 people in one day.

"The situation is better, but how much better? And is it real?" asked Muhenned Nebeel, a 29-year-old Sunni from western Baghdad. "My maternal uncle is Shiite, and before, they were unable to visit us at all. Now they do visit us, regularly. But at the same time they have to be careful not to make themselves conspicuous - just in case."

But for now, Iraqis told McClatchy, they're trying to embrace the improved security and do things such as visit relatives of other sects whom they haven't seen for years.

According the statistics compiled by the U.S. military, about 1,600 civilians were killed in "ethno-sectarian" incidents in Baghdad in December 2006, at the height of violence, compared with handful who've been killed in sectarian violence since May.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

The stupidity of BushCo in invading Iraq will be paying stupid dividends for decades to come-- those will always be on BushCo's ledger sheet-- a ledger sheet that makes them the most arrogantly incompetent administration in US history.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

"That will get solved too, Bozo, as long as the right people are in charge."Given the five-year record of complete incompetence by BushCo, who do you have in mind?

cato_the_elder 9 years, 7 months ago

Sat and Screed, it's just the Dems' lame effort to stop the serious bleeding resulting from their refusal to allow any more drilling. They're getting killed on it in the media, and they are simply trying to position it for the Executive Branch to refuse to break into the strategic reserve. Again, it's never what's best for the country, but what's most expedient for them.

cato_the_elder 9 years, 7 months ago

That will get solved too, Bozo, as long as the right people are in charge.

Satirical 9 years, 7 months ago

snap_pop....Bush's most important accomplish was Roberts and Alito. Thank you for saving the 2nd Amendment!

cato_the_elder 9 years, 7 months ago

Holy smoke - we were told often by Senator Obama and his camp followers that this could never, never happen. How things change when people have the courage and fortitude not to cut and run from a difficult task.

jaywalker 9 years, 7 months ago

Sounds good, I'm encouraged that security details are using nationalistic approach rather than sectarian. If only liberals and conservatives could get to such a point....

cato_the_elder 9 years, 7 months ago

Satirical, you are dead on. The difference between retaining our Second Amendment rights and having the Second Amendment effectively written out of the Bill of Rights by judicial fiat was one vote - yes, folks, one vote. Just another reason to keep Senator Obama, whose professed views have been aggressively anti-Second Amendment, from having the opportunity to appoint Supreme Court Justices who would agree with him.

Satirical 9 years, 7 months ago

Just in case anyone missed it:"Democrat Barack Obama called today for tapping the nation's strategic oil reserves to help drive down gasoline prices, a shift from his previous position on the issue."

BigAl 9 years, 7 months ago

madmike (Anonymous) says: With Obamanomics, the inflation rate will make Carter's term look like a picnic!**********Too late madmike. Bushco has already accomplished that.

cato_the_elder 9 years, 7 months ago

Bozo, did you support Gore or Nader in 2000? Just curious.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps the most important accomplishment of the Bush administration was keeping John Kerry out of the White House.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

And what happens when the nearly 5 million refugees of ethnic cleansing try to return to their homes?

Satirical 9 years, 7 months ago

BigAl..."Too late madmike. Bushco has already accomplished that."Are you too young or just ignorant to not know the difference from the inflation rates today and during the Carter administration?

jaywalker 9 years, 7 months ago

Anyone else miss those last few days when we were'nt subjected to posts from bozo? Wherever you were, please, go back."BushCo blah and Bushco blick and BushCo ethnic cleansing for ignorant blah...blah.........blah.............blah................."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

Well, screed, the fact is Iraq is still a complete disaster, about any way it can be measured. Is it slightly less disastrous than a few months ago? Yes, but just because it's crawled a couple of feet up from the bottom of the abyss it inhabits doesn't mean it's about to crawl out any time soon.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 7 months ago

a few months of reduced violence and people believe that it's the most significant thing that's happened in Iraq over the past 6 years...a dollop of whipped-cream on a massive pile of manure...

Satirical 9 years, 7 months ago

Obama was right, the surge was a mistake. It made things worse just like he said. Obama clearly has the judgment to be the next President. Now Obama just has to work on getting Germans to vote in our election and his Presidency will be a done deal.

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