How the US invasion affected sectarianism in Iraq

Security in Iraq

In the words of Iraqi exile Hamid currently living in the United States:

“When the Iraqis discovered there was no US plan of what to do in Iraq after Saddam’s regime fell, we realized we had  traded Saddam for chaos”.

From: “Baghdad: “Truth Lies Within”
Discarded Statues of war heroes during the regime of Saddam Hussein

When asked what the biggest problem facing Iraq was in 2007, the majority of Iraqis surveyed by the Brookings Institute answered  ‘security’. However, over the last year, a majority of Iraqis have said security has gotten better.

US forces proved inept at controlling areas they formally occupied as well. Although under the Geneva convention they were obliged to maintain security, the US 3rd Armoured Division which took Baghdad stood by as looters entered the Iraq Museum, the National Library, and the Library of the Religious Endowments taking art, archives, and ancient manuscripts.

Health centres, schools, and government warehouses were Shia-controlled within days of the removal of the Saddam regime that inferred pre-war planning. Posters of clerics of the past and present replaced Saddam and his Wataniya, or nationalism lesson was replaced in classrooms with religious tuition. By the end of April 2003: Shia clerics controlled ⅔ of Baghdad’s clinics and ⅓ of its hospitals. International aid agencies praised the clerics for their efforts at reducing patient medical feed, reopening hospitals and finding the means to pay doctors.The hospitals became centers for fundraising and control. Thirty-year-old theology student Sheikh Abbas al-Zubeidi proclaimed his authority of a hospital and ordered all of the female staff to remove their makeup and begin wearing the hijab. Senior regime officials, Republican guards, and non-Iraqi Sunnis  were also targeted by ‘God squads’ .

Looting in Iraq

An independent poll shows that only 2% of Iraqis view the United States as liberators, and this lack of belief in the US government has promoted a nationalist campaign so that in the summer of 2004 insurgents were attacking US forces at least 60 times a day. An officer from the First Cavalry Division said, “If we stay anywhere for more than five minutes, they start shooting at us. Enemy-Inititiated Attacks Against the Coalition and its Partners was highest between 2006-2007 as  Iraqis stood wondering if there was qualitative difference between America’s idea of democracy and the dictatorship under Saddam, so much that the concept of democracy was wounded as well.

When asked if Iraq was in a Civil War, Iraqis responded as follows:

More than 60% of Sunnis responded ‘Yes’, while only 25% of Shi’ias responded ‘Yes’ among a survey taken by the Brookings Institute of 2,212 Iraqis in March 2007.

Links to Iraq security indicators from the Brookings Institute:

US Troop Fatalities since March 2003

US troops Wounded in Action Since March 2003

Journalists Killed in Iraq

Foreign Nationalists Kidnapped in Iraq since May 2003

Number of Daily Insurgent Attacks in Iraq by Province


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