Iraqis Brace for Long Struggle to Shape Future; Identity Politics Fuels Anxiety in Postwar Society

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 17, 2004 | Go to article overview

Iraqis Brace for Long Struggle to Shape Future; Identity Politics Fuels Anxiety in Postwar Society


Byline: Borzou Daragahi, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

BAGHDAD - A year ago, Mola Bakhtiyar wrapped the sash of a Kurdish Peshmerga warrior around his waist and prepared to fight dictator Saddam Hussein's army.

With considerable help from the United States, he and his men captured Khaneqin, his hometown - a victim of Saddam's policy of evicting Kurds from oil-rich areas.

Today, as Iraq's ethnic and religious groups prepare to forge a new state out of the wreckage of postwar Iraq, the Kurdish warrior is girding for political combat to keep the spoils of war and retain control of as much "Kurdish" land as possible.

"The Western mentality can't understand our mentality - that my suffering is much greater than [that of] the person who came to live in my house," he said. "I was humiliated and my land usurped. The problem of what to do with the Arab who has taken my land is a very small problem." He added, "I just want him to go back where he came from."

A year after the war that toppled Saddam, U.S. occupation forces are preparing to hand over control of Iraq to a local government, a sign that the conflict that began with a U.S. bombing campaign, followed by a ground invasion, is entering another stage.

Iraqis, too, are preparing for a long struggle, but of a different kind.

In Mr. Bakhtiyar's Kurdistan, in the pious Shi'ite south, in the simmering Sunni Arab center and in the secular quarters of Baghdad, Iraqis have begun political, social and territorial horse trading to define the future of Iraq - a nation hastily put together by Britain after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled the region for centuries, after World War I.

At the heart of the conflict are basic questions about what it means to be an Iraqi, what common denominators tie the 25 million people in Iraq's hectic cities, sleepy oasis towns, mountain villages and river-valley farms together.

"Until now, an Iraqi has not been a citizen in the technical sense of the word - someone who wants to take part in the civic culture and administration of the country, while respecting the rights of others," said professor Albert Issa, an Iraqi Christian who leads the political science department at the University of Sulaymaniyah.

Sometimes the battle to shape that identity plays out peacefully in Iraq's Governing Council, where 25 politicians handpicked by the American occupation bully, cajole and compromise with one another over questions of the country's future.

At other times, the battleground is the Iraqi street, where the specter of sectarian and ethnic violence looms between Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Sunnis and Shi'ites, the largest group.

Since the March 2 bombings of Shi'ite religious ceremonies in Karbala and the Khadhemia section of Baghdad, at least six Sunni mosques have been attacked in Iraq, according to Hareth Alwar, spokesman for the Committee of Islamic Clerics, a Sunni group.

In an incident in northeastern Baghdad last week, unknown assailants in pickup trucks opened fire and tossed a grenade into the courtyard of the Badria Dulaymi mosque just as Sunni worshippers finished evening prayers.

One worshipper was killed and two were injured. The next morning, on his way to work after the funeral for the 32-year-old who was killed, another member of that mosque was fatally shot.

At the mosques, elders urge young worshipers to remain calm. They blame the attacks on Americans, Iranians, foreign operatives of terror network al Qaeda, and even the Israelis - anyone but fellow Iraqis. Still, Sunnis seethe with anger at Shi'ites, oppressed under Saddam but now holding the political upper hand.

"If they want to fight, we will fight," said Mohammed Najid, a young Sunni outside the Badria Dulaymi mosque. "The reason we didn't get these guys in the first place is that we don't have enough rifles. Some of our guys have [AK-47s]. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Iraqis Brace for Long Struggle to Shape Future; Identity Politics Fuels Anxiety in Postwar Society
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.