Wednesday, October 08, 2008

U.S. Leaders Reinforced Sectarian Division, says Iraq scholar Nabil Al-Tikriti

Among the most provocative speakers at the 2008 Iraq Action Days Forum was Nabil al-Tikriti, a Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace (USIP) and a passionate critic of U.S. Iraq policy. His presentation details how a chain of uninformed decisions made by senior U.S. officials like former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Ambassador Paul Bremer reinforced sectarian divisions.

Panel 1 Part 2 (19:59) from Sarah Shannon on Vimeo.

Al-Tikriti’s talk clarifies numerous assumptions about the sectarian rift in Iraq: “Iraqis historically got along well unless there was external interference.”

Al-Tikriti contrasts the dominant U.S. narrative of ancient sectarian blood fueds (e.g. “why they hate each other”) with the Iraqi narrative of intermarriage, pluralism, and shared histories and cultures. He raises serious questions about how U.S. policy makers’ without sufficient knowledge of Iraq's history and culture were allowed to make decisions that affected the entire population. He adamantly rejects the idea of partitioning Iraq as a solution to the conflict, a position supported by Vice-presidential Candidate Joe Biden.

Instead he boldly suggests that D.C. pundits advocating the partitioning of Iraq should be forced at gunpoint to load up their BMWs and relocate to Mississippi where they are given shelter in a crowded public building.

Among the important questions that Mr. al-Tikriti raises about U.S. involvement in Iraq: Is the surge successful and sustainable? What are the legacies of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq? How can any negative ramifications be reversed?

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