Implications of a Shi'ite Victory in Iraq

[Ha'aretz] Ze'ev Schiff - There is a civil war between the Shi'ites and the Sunnis in Iraq, who have been in power for hundreds of years. Of late, a Shi'ite victory looks imminent. The turning point took place over a year ago after the Sunnis attacked the great mosque in Samara, killing hundreds of worshippers. In the wake of the attack, the Shi'ites mobilized all their forces. The outcome has been a gradual Shi'ite takeover of the capital and the Sunni neighborhoods lie mostly in ruins. The Sunnis have allowed al-Qaeda to operate in Iraq, which has only increased the level of violence. It is hard to escape the conclusion that if Arabs and Muslims can be so cruel to one another, imagine what they are capable of doing to others. The lesson is not to rely on their promises and to maintain a very wide safety zone for defense purposes. If the Shi'ites strengthen their grip on Iraq, it will be the first time in modern Arab history that a Shi'ite regime rules an Arab country. Victory in Iraq will bring the power that comes with oil resources. Shi'ite leaders in Iraq told respected Middle East expert Fouad Ajami, a Shi'ite of Lebanese origin, that they plan to devote most of their energies to rehabilitating Iraq, and will have no taste for adventures outside the country, like Saddam. A Shi'ite victory will also affect Israel's security. The growing Iranian influence in a Shi'ite-controlled Iraq could be detrimental to Israel, and the same holds true for a Shi'ite Iraqi pact with Hizbullah. Meanwhile, if an American pullout from Iraq is interpreted by the Arabs as a sign of American defeat, we can look forward to a radical Arab shift that will strengthen all the extremists around us.

2007-04-20 01:00:00

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