“The US bemoans the lack of trust between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shias, which only serves to heighten the contradictions of their own policy in the region.”
Dilip Hiro in The Guardian
The Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front’s (IAF) withdrawal of its six ministers from the cabinet on August 2, following the failure of Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, to meet their demands, has shaken the governments in Baghdad and Washington. The IAF’s list included such patently unrealistic demands as disbanding all (Shia) militias.
“Clearly the withdrawal of the Sunnis from the government is discouraging at the national level,” said US defence secretary Robert Gates. “We probably underestimated the depth of mistrust [between Sunnis and Shias].”
This is disingenuous. While bemoaning the “depth of mistrust” between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq, the Bush administration has been playing it up in the rest of the Arab Middle East. Two days earlier, Gates and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice announced a massive $63bn arms sale to the Sunni monarchical regimes in the Persian Gulf and Egypt – ostensibly to counter the influence of Iran, a predominantly Shia state.