Dear Mr. Friedman

in imperial watch

In your 9/28 column, The Endgame in Iraq [access for the academic audience, thanks to moacir], you conclude:

Maybe the cynical Europeans were right. Maybe this neighborhood is just beyond transformation. That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won’t, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind. We must not throw more good American lives after good American lives for people who hate others more than they love their own children.

You want to arm the Shiites and the Kurds to do exactly what? Oh! to let the Sunnis “reap the wind”. I am sure that the TimeSelect barrier is not nearly enough for a NYT columnist to advocate ethnic cleansing. But wait, you are way too smart for that, aren’t you, Mr. Friedman. Because, you have already accused the “minority” Sunnis of ethnic cleansing: Do the Iraqi Sunnis understand their own interests, and does the Sunni world have any moral center? Up to now the Sunni Arab world has stood mute while the Sunni Baathists and jihadists in Iraq have engaged in what can only be called “ethnic cleansing”: murdering Shiite civilians in large numbers purely because they are Shiites in hopes of restoring a Sunni-dominated order in Iraq that is un-restorable. Yes, the “jihadists” now represent the entirety of Sunnis – inside and outside of Iraq [the actual count of Shi’a insurgents remains zero, according to a leading expert in Middle East asshatry, Tom Friedman]. The 80% Shi’a majority is being ethnically cleansed by the Sunnis – they pass out sect-id cards before the car blows up, I am sure. Perhaps, only perhaps because I am not as astute as a NYT columnist, the jihadists are killing civilians to create unrest and panic regardless of sectarian affiliation? Hmm?

In any case, how should the Sunnis of Iraq feel about the bombs that kill their own – even if some of their own set them up? What should they do about the armies that enforce “evacuations”? So far, your army has decimated Fallujah, Tal Afar and Qaim among other Sunni “strongholds” – also known as cities. What is the proper response that you seek from this minority? To endorse the US designed “constitution” that remains unavailable to be read by any Iraqi citizen to this day? That gives over control of Sunni areas to the majority [who, I am sure are not at all pissed about the “brutaliz[ation] by an oil-backed Sunni minority regime”, not to mention the more recent, “ethnic cleansing”]? Yes, they should issue fatwas against the jihadists because that inscrutable Arab mind understands nothing more than a two-bit religious edict issuable by any GED-equivalency madrasa-diploma holder. And then suck it up. Right? The Sunnis that you want killed off already know that they are a target. Maybe some more Sunnis will raise arms and join the jihadists or MAYBE, just MAYBE, they will use other means. Maybe, before you have US arms merchants sell US weapons to the Kurds and the Shi’a to kill their fellow Iraqis and Muslims, you should listen to them:

Expressing a commonly held view in Baghdad, Professor Nadhmi says, “This civil war is only in the brain of the American decision-maker, and perhaps he himself is aware that there is no civil strife between Shia and Sunnis, but [attempts] to use it as a pretext.” After watching the black silhouettes of the helicopters grow smaller against the setting sun, he adds, “The Americans are actually saying, ‘Let us stay in your country, let us kill you, Iraqis, because we don’t like you to kill each other.'”

Imam Mu’ayad al-Adhami of the Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad also blames foreign influence for the recent talk of rising sectarian tensions. “The Americans are using divide and conquer to try to split the Muslims of Iraq,” he says softly, while gesturing with his large hands. “But Iraqi society is Muslim first and tribal second. That means Sunni and Shia are relatives, often in the same family with so many links and intermarriages. This is our society and anyone trying to divide us is blind to these facts.”

The sheik offered several examples of solidarity between the two sects. Last year, when his Shiite neighbors in the Khadamiya district just across the Tigris from Adhamiya were struck by a devastating suicide bomb attack during the Ashura holiday, his was the first mosque to ask people to donate blood.

“We didn’t feel any different from them,” emphasizes Sheik Mu’ayad. “They are Muslims and we must help them. When they analyzed the donated blood for our brothers and sisters in Khadamiya, they couldn’t tell if it was Sunni or Shia blood.”

A visit to Baghdad University reinforces the sense that Iraqi nationalism and Islamic identity are more deeply felt than sectarian allegiances. Despite the fact that the university suffered looting in the aftermath of the invasion and much of it remains in disrepair, the campus, now home to more than 100 refugee families from Falluja, remains an island of normalcy for college students of both sects of Islam. Most do not foresee sectarian differences necessitating civil war or the partition of their country.

“There is not a split between Sunni and Shia here, we are all Iraqi,” says Intisar Hammad. The 21-year-old physics student, who is a Shiite, adds, “There are enemies of Iraq who want us to be separate, but we are all Muslims and our constitution is the Koran.”

Another Baghdad University student named Saif feels the same. “There is no split. We are together. We are one.”

You, Mr. Friedman, are morally and ethically despicable.


related: Dear Mr. Brooks

related 2: Quizman, in the comments, pointed me to SP’s post [somehow i missed it]. Read the whole thing but I want to highlight this:

You, I and the whole world talks these days of Sunnis and Shia and Kurds as if they are homogeneous groups. We have lost all nuance and differentiation. As if no Sunni had a Shia neighbour ever. As if Kurds never lived in central Iraq. As if my Shia mother never got married to my Sunni father. AS IF EVERY SINGLE IRAQI TAKES HIS/HER ORDERS DIRECTLY FROM THEIR IMAMS.

My point, exactly.

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