The US Presence in Iraq

This is the fourth installment of our weekly column entitled Ask a Shiite. Our resident Shiite and United Arab Emirates citizen will be fielding questions of a philosophical, physical, and political nature in regards to Shiite Islamic belief and Middle East perception. Interested in asking a question? Send an email to alec.

Question: What are the feelings in the UAE and the Middle East in general towards the current situation in Iraq? Do people regard it as a civil war, and what do they think will happen to Iraq after the United States leaves? What are the thoughts on the US presence in the Middle East? And finally, what are the thoughts on foreign militants also fighting in Iraq (ie. Iranian involvement in Iraq, Al-Qaeda, other Mujahdeen forces)?

Answer: The situation in Iraq is as we all know very bad indeed. The media doesn’t show most of the events but it is commonly known to be atrocious, and I won’t say that the US is in control or has ‘won’ the war. Only that it is physically present and getting beaten up all the time. The general opinion in the Middle East (UAE included) is that the suffering of the Iraqis is not acceptable. USA pursued this war for its long run regional interests, with the only good part being that Saddam Hussein is gone and there is democracy now.

There are mixed opinions everywhere regarding the internal Iraqi conflict. Some call the Iraqi situation a civil war; some call it sectarian violence etc. We don’t know why the people fight amongst themselves and we want it to stop. We just can’t see an end to the violence in the near future. My guess is as good as yours in the case of what will happen if the US leaves Iraq. It could be that everything goes back to normal. It could be that the sects slide into a full scale civil war. My guess is that everything would either go back to normal or there would be a bit of fighting here and there, small incidents, not much.

Almost everyone thinks that the US is there for its regional interests and to be the self elected policeman of the world. Many of us say that it will have to learn its lesson the hard way like Israel, i.e war with Iran. This opinion is held by almost everyone (non-Muslims included) except for extremists, who are against Shias and Iran. We think that the US presence has no positive effect and is making matters worse. The US military’s behavior is quite as bad as the terrorists with cases like Abu Ghraib.

Firstly we don’t know the details about the foreign militants for sure. Those who kill each other (innocent civilians and fellow Iraqis) are considered as weird idiots — outliers as such. We can’t understand their reasoning behind the killings. Iran denies any involvement so like how the media accepts the USA’s ‘mistakes’ and ‘apologies’, we accept Iran’s as well, i.e. if it is involved at all. The US tries it best to lower down Iran and has gotten the support of many countries by intimidation.

Currently we Shias are not in a state of war against anyone. What Muqtada al Sadr does is wrong and is considered as an American agent paid by the CIA. None of our Grand Ayatollahs (a handful of them at any given time) have declared war so it is a tie for us to be patient. All of Grand Ayatollahs are united so if one gives a fatwa, the others know about it and they don’t go snapping, disgracefully at each other like some politicians. Ayatollah Sistani (whom I take as a source of emulation of Islamic laws) has called for peace and patience continuously so if a Shia goes and kills someone with the intention of defending his country or Jihad or whatsoever, he has committed a major sin.

I have spoken about terrorists earlier and the same applies over here. They think they are doing Jihad but the fact is that they are not. They have misinterpreted Islam. That is one reason why we Shias have the system of Taqlid. We basically follow an expert for Islamic laws and all these experts are united amongst themselves with negligible differences of opinion. This prevents intolerable acts like the ones from these Mujahedeen’s.

Many people suggest that the US is behind all the killings in Iraq. They slip in bombs into cars at checkpoints. They pay hard cold cash to Mosque clerics to make their followers fight people from other sects. They make many ‘mistakes’ which fuel the peoples’ anger.

We do not know enough about the situation in Iraq because of the media censoring reports. But we sure do want the USA to leave as soon as possible and peace to return.


[tags]islam, middle east, iraq, american invasion, united states military, occupation, iran, insurgency, muslims, shiites, sunnis, kurds, effects of us presence[/tags]


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  1. AlvinBlah says:

    Just a few quick questions since no one seems to be touching this;
    1. Does the modern Arab world consider it a good or bad thing that Saddam is now gone?
    2. How watched was his trial? Was it considered a fair and just trial?
    3. Do other countries consider the current Iraqi government to be a stable and real government?
    4. If the surrounding areas do not approve of the conflict what is being done to help end the war?
    5. How popular is Al Jazeera? And How Trusted is it?

    I’m trying to think of a few other things that are on topic to get some conversation going, but I think this is a good start.
    Glad to hear your thoughts.

  2. Shia says:

    1. The modern Arab world in my opinion considers it a good thing that Saddam is gone.
    2. To tell the truth it looks like no one really cares about Saddam. People who rejoiced upon his death did feel curious to watch it but otherwise it seemed to be that no one was extremely interested in it.
    3. Do you mean the governments of the other countries? I dont know about them but if its the people no I dont think anyone does think so.
    4. Just watching the conflict and encouraging militias to stop the violence I guess. Maybe there is some ‘real’ work being done behind the scenes but I am not aware of it.
    5. lol. Jazeera is considered as a normal TV channel. Arabs watch it mostly. We feel it is the only channel that truly respects ‘freedom of speech’. The stuff it shows needs to be shown according to some people so that the people understand what is going on. Especially since a news report like “9 US troops killed” does not sound shocking or sad nowadays.
    Most of the news reports are pretty similar nowadays so yes Al Jazeera is normally trusted I guess. But compared to other TV channels its reports are trusted more because of its openness. I get Fox News over here and my guess is that it is a typical national TV channel that Americans watch. I was absolutely shocked with the amount of bias in it. I mean if I watched it for a little longer I would have been brain washed. If typical Americans will watch news liek that, I wouldnt be surprised if they thought that Bush was sent by God as a mercy to the Americans (lol) or that Islam only wants us to kill every white skin or non muslim and that Sharia law is for oppressing women, etc etc.

    I know this is off topic but I would like to show you a video about Hezbollah (no I am not obsessed with Hezbollah). Most people think that Hezbollah is another liberation/struggle type of group which are a hobby of the Muslims nowadays but Hezbollah sets itself apart by supporting the people of Lebanon when it is not at war. I can say quite easily that Hezbollah is more of a national support organization than a militant group. It is for the support of the Lebanese and in that support, self defense against Israel is included. This video is about the women of Hezbollah and shows the reality which is contrary to the belief that Hezbollah oppresses women with the excuse of Islamic law.

  3. AlvinBlah says:

    Thanks for answering my questions. All of them stem from lack of information. I know a little about Al Jazeera and I see it no better or no worse than any other major TV network. I was curious how it was seen over there. Also curious about regional opinions.

    Fox news is pretty rough. It is a very popular news channel in the USA, but a network like CNN or MSNBC is closer to the standard news that Americans watch. It still carries bias, but not as strong as the Fox News one.

  4. Shia says:

    Well its a relief to know that typical Americans watch CNN or MSNBC more than Fox News. Basically there is not much difference between Jazeera and CNN/BBC etc over here but Jazeera is known for providing news that are hidden from the public.

  5. AlvinBlah says:

    There are other channels, but Fox News is still one of the most popular. A lot of shitty TV here in the states

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  8. curiousone says:

    Does the general population in Iraq still feel like they wouldve been better off without U.S. troops there? Is the Iraq government ready to take over? How is the general feeling there now?

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