On sectarian war and its consequences in Iraq

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“ Furthermore, since the Mosul offensive started, terrorist attacks on Baghdad and other cities have increased. They could intensify even more if ISIS is defeated. Both Iraqi officials and the United States describe the battle to liberate Mosul as part of a war on terror. But as long as sectarian conflict persists, even the defeat of ISIS will not guarantee peace and security. At stake is not just religious ideology, but a war over who controls the Iraqi state, which determines who controls the nation’s essential oil revenues (…)  Sectarianism gave the Shia a powerful justification for taking control of Iraq’s political and economic structures, making a fair distribution of power impossible. The struggle over state resources has been waged under sectarian slogans, so we can’t assume that this discourse will vanish with ISIS. Sectarianism provides groups with legitimacy to represent their communities and grants them an effective tool for mobilizing their constituents. While both Islamic Shia political groups and Sunnis have adopted cross-sectarian discourse over the last few months, we should not take this change seriously. Why would Shia parties depart from their sectarian platform after liberating Mosul from ISIS? Corruption also makes finding a solution among these sectarian groups difficult. In a state with no rule of law, those who have access to the state’s resources have no motivation to give up their share. The post-ISIS era remains uncertain, but the institutionalization of sectarianism and corruption will make fertile ground for more violent conflicts. The Iraqi people must not only push for a civilian state, but also demand a secular state as a precondition for ending the war based on religious and sectarian identities ”

Janan Aljabiri, ‘Winner Take All’, Jacobin Magazine

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