Friday, April 25, 2008

Iraqi Factions at the Dinner Table - Wash your Hands!

When was the last time that you turned on the news and an aspect of the "war on terror" was not on it, with its graphic footage of army fatigues, blasts, and missing limbs. On the outside , it may seem that this is just the US and Iraq going at it, but one closer look exposes the inner conflict of Iraq - that is, between the Shi'ites and the Sunnis. The Shi'ites, the long-persecuted majority under Hussein, and the Sunnis are fighting a double battle...between themselves as well as the red, white, and blue.
According to Reuters from Helsinki, Finland will be hosting a conference this week for all of the Iraqi factions. This seminar is headed by the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), organized by the Former President Marti Ahtisaari, as well as two other American institutions. It will be modeled after last year's similar seminar in September during which, with 30 participants from mostly the warring Shi'ite and Sunni groups, a set of suggestions and political goals were created for future talks that could halt the violence in the Iraq.
While we have yet to see evident progress from last September's conference, this is exactly what is needed to solve this problem. While I have heard the argument that these groups are far beyond discussion, it is the most effective and plausible direction to go for peace. Not only will discussions such as these create the sense of trust and respect that needs to be fostered before any other goal, but it will present the opportunity for both factions to speak in a safe space and formulate a collective strategy on fixing the poverty and hate in their country. This may, consequently, lead to the end of this mad "war."
Can hate, vengeance, and feuding be so intense that diplomatic talks among citizens are out of the question? The situation in Iraq is similar to Sudan, where, according to scholars, the first thing needed is for the local groups to speak to and TRUST one another. The Shi'ites and Sunnis are, in essence, still sisters and brothers, both living in the same country, believing in the same God, and eating the same Iraqi deliciousness.
Let me present an image - all of the Iraqi people, singing together revolution-style, at the officials who have fashioned this feud. Maybe that's what is needed. Music and singing. A sense of brother/sisterhood. It has, no doubt, been forgotten. As in the 12 Principles, one must formulate organizational strength. The best organization for this situation is that of all the Iraqi people together.

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