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by user Towncommons

The common refrain of Democrats is that Iraq is in a civil war that has been ongoing for centuries between Shia and Sunni Muslims. That is patently and objectively false.

The Sunni Shia divide started near the dawn of Islam as a political disagreement over who has the right to be annointed as the leader of the Muslim faithful. This political divide has been made into a religious one in the sect of Wahhabi Islam, exported now the world over with billions of Saudi petrodollars. And of course, it is this Wahhabi sect that is at the heart of al Qaeda and the vast majority of radical Islam threatening the world today. To see it at work, one need look no further then this New York Times piece the other day, describing Jordanians under the influence of Wahhabi clerics going to Iraq to become pawns for al Qaeda to use as their suicide bombers. This foreign al Qaeda influence fueled by the radical Islam preached by the Wahhabists has been incredibly destructive in Iraq.

Outside of the Wahhabi influence of recent vintage, there have been historical battles between governments of Shia and Sunni persuasion. But to claim that what we see in Iraq is the inevitable continuation of that violence is ridiculous. It would be like asserting that Germany and France cannot get along because of the much more recent history of extreme violence between them during the last century.

The facts are that Iraq's Sunnis and Shias coexisted peacefully for centuries prior to the post-war violence that spiked in 2006. Further, there is a significant incidence of intermarriage between Sunni and Shia in Iraq. Neither of these facts auger that Iraq must be destined for civil war.

The post war violence has had three causes, the two most important of which has been al Qaeda and the Baathist's who nominally supported al Qaeda as a means to retake power. It was al Qaeda that managed to bomb the Golden Domed mosque in Sammara early in 2006, an incident that saw Iraq truly begin to devolve towards civil war. But whatever may have been in 2006, the landscape is now vastly different in 2007, as Faoud Ajami explains:

For 35 years the sun did not shine here," said a man on the grounds of the great Shia shrine of al-Kadhimiyyah, on the outskirts of Baghdad. I had come to the shrine at night, in the company of the Shia politician Ahmed Chalabi.

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