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Tribal and religious impacts among Iraqi and foreign Muslim elements, continued


Part 3a

The violence has become so great that a number of Iraqis are fondly remembering Allawi as a "strong figure" in comparison to Jaafari. Yet so equally great is the desire of Shias to retain power without provoking a civil war that Sistani replied to a fellow cleric's question as to how long Shiites can refrain from counterattacking against Sunni deprecations by saying 'until the day of judgment.'

I am not yet certain that the appointment of Sadoon al-Dulaimi as defense minister will stem Sunni fears while allowing him to fend off Shia demands for a new cleansing of military figures associated with the Baath regime (which would surely push many more Sunnis over the edge, but so great is the fear and desire of Shias not to fall back under Sunni domination). Still, Dulaimi may be that mystical candidate.

Dulaimi is a secular Sunni from one of Iraq's most influential tribes and hails from Ramadi, one of the centers of Sunni resistance. Rising to lieutenant colonel in the General Security Directorate, Dulaimi left Iraq in the 1980s under a death sentence for the UK where he studied sociology, returning to Iraq only after Hussein was removed. Dulaimi became director of the well respected Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS) where he oversaw a series of well-researched polls of Iraqi opinions on a variety of issues, including the Coalition Provisional Authority who underwrote ICRSS activities.

Dulaimi's poll results shined as harsh a light on Coalition activities as it did the general security situation. In mid-April 2004:

According to Dulame… prisoner abuse and other coalition missteps now are fueling a dangerous blend of Islamism and tribalism. For example, while American officials insist that only fringe elements support the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr, a majority of Iraqis crossed ethnic and sectarian lines to name him the second most-respected man in Iraq, according to the coalition-funded poll.

"I don't know why the (Coalition Provisional Authority) continues in these misguided decisions," Dulame said last week. "But if they pack and leave, it's a disgrace for us as Iraqis and for them as Americans. Their reputation will be destroyed in the world, and we will be delivered to the fanatics."

For comparison, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) produced surveys of similar, if less pointed, results in evaluating five sectors: security, governance and participation, economic opportunity, services (power, water and sanitation), and social well-being (health care and education). In order to gage progress, CSIS defined a tipping point as a view "from the perspective of the Iraqi citizen [a level of] achievable goals [has been reached which indicate that] Iraq is likely headed in a clear direction toward self-sustainability and further progress." As of the update, "Iraq has still not passed the tipping point [in] any of the five sectors of reconstruction [and] Iraq’s reconstruction continues to stagnate [with no sector] moving on a sustained positive trajectory toward the tipping point." While all sectors saw "little overall positive or negative movement," some such as health care have suffered serious regression.

Sectarian Sunni fault lines in Part 3c

Previous weblog notes that weigh on this issue:

Parts of Iraq vote, the Red Eminence does not, and the Gray Eminence does not show his hand
Identifying Kamal the tailor, musing on the 'other guy'
Putting aside militant ire, can Muslim moderates merely survive their conservatives?
Parsing political from traditional Islam
The most likely of US Allies: Iraqi Shiites

Progress Or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction
Frederick Barton, Bathsheba Crocker
September 2004

No longer on CSIS site but mirrored
here, here, and here

Note: Mafhoum archives both of these CSIS items as part of its coverage of the Arab world. Mafhoum Press & Studies Review has a Special IRAQ Search page serving English, Arabic, French and German.

Progress Or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction
Frederick Barton, Bathsheba Crocker
Iraq Update, August-October 2004

No longer on CSIS site but mirrored here

Gordon Housworth

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