How the US invasion affected sectarianism in Iraq

Iraq: Pre-Invasion

I sat down with an interview with Iraqi refugee Rami, who told me that before the fall of the Hussein regime the question wasn’t:

“are you Sunni or Shiite, but rather or you Baathi [in supporting Saddam’s Baath party] or non- Baathi”…. He told me “Anybody who challenged the Baath party was a big problem for Saddam.”

The following link shows an Iraq military ceremony under Saddam Hussein:

A women holds two pictures of her sons who were taken by the Saddam Hussein regime, along with 5,000 other men from her tribe.
From “The End of Iraq”

To understand Iraq 10 years before the US invasion, one must essentially understand the events following the Gulf War, and its effects on the people of Iraq.

Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party:
Reliance on family/clan: by 2003, members of Saddam’s family or clan were in power in all key military positions
Economic: Effect of sanctions on Iraq -Between 1990-1991, 85% drop in oil production -Ordinary teachers, middle level bureaucrats, and lower-level officers saw their status lowered and their assets depleted
Social: Saddam Hussein opposed the practicing of many Shia religious rituals in public, and although Iraq was over 60% Shiite, it was ruled by a government which soon became known to   repress any group not akin to their political beliefs
Main Message: need to protect the people and country against foreign enemies; a fifth-grader in Iraq typically read from text encouraging students to be loyal to the nation, the Baath party, and Saddam Hussein as the ‘struggling’ President
Three main things contributed to a declination of the Saddam regime even before the US Invasion:

The bombed remains of Saddam’s Baath party headquarters

1)Alopsided political structure
2)A stagnating economy after more than a decade of sanctions
3)The weakening of national cohesion in Iraq

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