Thursday, October 28, 2010

Iraq's Nakba

Matthew Duss compares the conflict which engulfed Iraq after the U.S. invasion to the creation of the Palestinian refugee crisis:
"But the point is this: between 2003 and 2009, in addition to the more than 100,000 Iraqis killed and many more wounded and maimed, more than 4.5 million Iraqis were expelled and displaced amid Iraq’s sectarian civil war — new, grim details of which are contained in the WikiLeaks trove. Around 2.6 million remain internally displaced in Iraq, unable to return to their homes. Another 1.9 million remain refugees, mostly in neighboring Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. It has utterly changed the face not only of Iraq, but of the region. If Americans are going to learn the right lessons from Iraq, and satisfy the huge moral debt we’ve incurred, we’ve simply got to regain our sense of shock about the enormity of what we have done there: Through a combination of hubris, idealism, incompetence, and plain ignorance, the United States facilitated, sponsored, and oversaw Iraq’s Nakba."

Over the summer, I read Deborah Amos's Eclipse of the Sunnis, which focused on the Iraqi refugee crisis. Before reading it, I had not realized the extent to which it was specifically a Sunni phenomenon. Although I do not believe Amos made her case that the Iraq War is the root of a rising wave of tension between Sunnis and Shi'ites in the Middle East, she did portray very clearly a situation in which large numbers of Iraqi Sunnis are living as refugees, often as an underclass in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, and that despite rhetoric, the Shi'ite-dominated Iraqi government has shown little interest in creating the conditions necessary for their return. The situation has the makings of significant tension within Iraq's Arab neighbors and between those neighbors and the Iraqi government for years to come.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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