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September 17, 2007


Peter Principle

Shammari stressed the Iraqi national interest and put the jihad in service of national liberation - which has for almost a year been the argument at the core of the doctrinal arguments between the IAI allies and the al-Qaeda allies.

In other words, permanent revolution versus "building Islamism in one country."

History may not repeat but it sure does rhyme.

Andrew R.

Here's a question, Marc. I've noticed at least in English-language sources that Sunni Iraqis, and especially Ba'athists (like the Riverbend blogger) tend to say things like, "Under Saddam, Iraqis didn't care about sectarian differences." Now given what the Iraqi Army did to Najaf, Karbala, and Basra in 1991, it seems to me that Shi'ite Iraqis don't necessarily share this opinion.

What are the Shi'a saying in the Arabic sources about the whole issue of whether or not Iraqis were all one under Saddam?

mike m



Off topic but I was wondering if you had any information on the re-apperance of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi in the media again.

The SITE institute seems to have the tape but there has been no public comment from US or Iraqi officials which is interesting since the US military declared him a front figure played by an actor in july.


Andrew R - that's a very interesting question which I think have asked Marc before. Are there any shiite websites, or anybody in the west blogging from the Shiite perspective except Talisman Gate?


@ andrew,

I think it's pushing a little to say that riverbend blogger is baathist. Saddam was a dictator but people around him and in the baath party were both Shia and Sunna. Many Shia say that Saddam was fair in his brutality. It was obvious for a dictator like Saddam to deal brutally with the Shia uprising, and it would have been the same if it was Sunna.By the way, the Baath party in Syria was Hafiz al Asad who was Alawi (a sub-sect of Shia).


Following Andrew's question, I'd be interested to here someone explain the difference between "nationalist" in the phrase nationalist-jihadist, and "Baathist."

Is there a difference? Do Iraqi Shiites think there is one?


The "Baathist question" is a hot one in intra-Sunni politics, not just in Sunni-Shia politics - with some groups going out of their way to avoid the symbols of the old regime and others clearly identified with it (you saw this in the skirmishes over the attempted political meeting in Damascus, for instance). The "nationalist-jihadist" factions don't call themselves Baathists, for what that's worth. Whether Shia buy the distinction is an excellent question - I don't know for sure, but I'd suspect that (a) most don't; but (b) it varies by social class, political alignment, etc. It's true that the Sunnis were privileged and that many atrocities were committed against the Shia qua Shia (especially 1991 and aftermath), but it's also true that there were a significant number of Shia in the Baath party and in the Iraqi military under Saddam. But a lot has happened since 2003, and sectarian identities have hardened and historical narratives revised in line with current conflicts.

bb - I don't know of English language websites offering a stream of Shia-oriented news. Reidar Vissar's site gives commentary on Shia politics, and Nibras Kazimi reflects a kind of Shia political line if not a religious one. I follow Nahrain.net for news in Arabic from a Shia perspective, which I see as kind of comparable to the al-Haq site which gives Sunni-slanted news; I don't know if Nahrain gives English versions of some stories the way al-Haq does.


Ayad (not Ali) Allawi on sectarianism in Iraq pre-invasion: The public airing of community grievances had previously been taboo. Any mention of them, or any suggestion that the state was institutionally biased against certain communities, was drowned in a sea of vituperative condemnation, and was equated with treasonous talk that aimed at undermining national unity. [...] The denial of sectarianism was so potent and deep-rooted that it pushed discussion of this problem to the outer limits of acceptable dialogue. In time, this denial created its own reality, and became an article of faith...

Fair to say the nationalists continue that tradition.

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