My name is Layla Quran, and I am a Global studies student at the Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I became interested in the physical and physchological barriers in the modern world as a Palestinian denied entry from Jerusalem because of my Palestinian passport, but I became interested in Iraq and the sectarian divide as a human being interested as to what was causing the sectarianism thousands of miles away from the United States. As part of Duke University’s BorderWork(s) Lab, a project of the Franklin Humanities Lab which attempts to analyze the physical and psychological consequences of barriers in the modern world, my independent research for Spring 2012 focuses on the question:
How has U.S. military invasion influenced sectarian walls, both physically and psychologically, between the people of Iraq, particularly Baghdad?
Furthermore, I also consider: What have been the political, social, and economic impacts of such sectarian divides?
I began to realize after further research into my topic that before answering my first question, I would have to begin with the second. In other words, I would have to research how the US invasion altered the political, social, and economic status of Baghdad in order to understand if or how this led to a change in the sectarian divide.
In order to answer this generally broad question, I have divided the website into political, social, and economic tabs which further include smaller projects on the impact of US invasion on Iraqi women, the economy of Iraq, and the political situation in Iraq after the US invasion. I share this information and include input on how this changed the sectarian structure of Iraq.
I can conclude that although there was a certain degree of sectarianism in Iraq before the US invasion, it took a combination of several factors to create what many would consider a civil war in Iraq. It was not the resolute intention of the US government to divide Iraq into religious sects, yet the disregard of important elements by the US administration did fuel an environment where individuals clung to sectarianism. The lack of accurate representation in the US-appointed Iraqi governing council, the disbanding of the Iraqi army and outside influence giving more power to violent militias, the handling of reconstruction efforts, and the lack of security both by Iraqi security forces and US troops were serious factors to increasing sectarianism within Iraq.
My audience is the general public of the United States, whether an expert or student interested in US foreign policy and unaware of the impact of U.S. invasion of Iraq. Because of the broad audience, I have included a description of Sunnis and Shiites. The goal of the website is to present the impacts of a U.S.-controlled Iraq, in particular the political, social, and economic effects of the U.S. invasion on the sectarian divide, and not to fully blame the US for the sectarian violence in Iraq. I began this project with a goal to present the facts on a war commonly misunderstood, and allow the general public to decide for themselves what happened in Iraq.
The most rewarding aspect of my research was the opportunity I had to interview Iraqis who had lived through the Saddam Hussein regime and the US invasion. You can read some of the interviews on my home page, or listen to audio from 3 interviews on the ‘Voices of Iraq’ page, under the ‘My Project’ tab.
Please feel welcome to leave questions or concerns in the comments section below or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, as I will update this site periodically.