The rivalry between the majority of Shia and the minority of Sunni in Iraq has remained at the core of political conflict within the region. Tensions of sectarian nature have caused hindrance to the processes of building state and country’s destabilization. But the government in Iraq has not made an apparent effort for overcoming the divisions and building a general identity in the nation. As a matter of fact, most of the actions taken till now have served only as a means for furthering the struggling state fragmentation.
The divide of Sunni-Shia, historically was caused due to debates and disagreements over politics, theologies and doctrine issues. The modern expression of this divide however is driven due to power, resource and status based competition. Increasingly, political relations have been dominated through communal representation idea in opposition to representation of citizens. This has been exacerbated instead of easing out the present divide. The sectarian identities institutionalization has further led towards conflicts on size, borders, status and power of Sunni or Shia community. Such conflicts have led towards a destabilizing impact particularly when the conflicts have led to legitimizing the violent group’s actions claiming to depict individual communities. The essential dependence of Iraq on oil as its key revenue source has exacerbated further conflicts due to no clear equation present for resource management.
Conflicts of sectarian nature are followed by a kind of polarization with systemic nature due to rising authority of Nouri al-Maliki as Iraq’ Prime Minister. He has managed consolidation of his authority and he has engaged in parliament marginalization as well as individual institutes, military control, apparatuses of security, judiciary subjugation and political patronage expansion at the cost of his competitors. This has caused the Shia detractors to be alarmed but has not caused them to break their ranks of sectarianism.
Without a doubt, it can be said that Iraq is divided. Sectarian relations have now become a tool used through entrepreneurs in the political domain. These entrepreneurs use sectarianism to formulate mobilization of communities that influence the attitude of political elites that are looking at creation of constituents and famous support. This is specifically right during the season of elections when confrontational discourse is adopted by leaders for winning the supporters.
On theoretical basis, sectarianism does not have inevitability in societies that are plural and there does not exist any end to suggestions given by researchers on voting systems that lead towards blunting sectarianism. On practical level, such systems hardly work successfully. Once, identities with sectarian nature start mobilizing when transformation is taking place. It often happens that they become non-reversible either in the mid-term or short-term. Attempts made for blunting conflict through mandatory representatives for all groups, can help in maintaining peace to a certain limit but this helps in creating vicious trap through reinforcement of identities.In combination, this may cause conflict as in the case of Lebanon’s.
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