‘US opened Pandora’s box in Iraq, regional sectarian violence almost impossible to stop now’


Sectarian violence unleashed after the US disintegration of Iraq is linked to the Syrian conflict and the death toll will only climb since extremist elements hijacked the sectarian instability in the region, political analyst Chris Bambery told RT.

“Everyone in Iraq must be terrified that the situation in
Syria is spilling over into Iraq”
Bambery said as Tuesday’s
attacks in the country kill over 40, a day after over 70 people
were murdered, escalating fears of all-out sectarian war between
minority Sunnis and majority Shiites.

In the biggest incident on Tuesday, a car bomb exploded near a
Sunni mosque in Baghdad killing 11 people and injuring 21.

In a separate incident, a bomb outside a cafe in southern Baghdad
killed six more and wounded 18.

A decade after the hanging of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is bitterly
divided between the Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites and with no
power-sharing deal insight, violence is again on the rise.

“It is based on the decision by the Americans when they occupied
Iraq to separate Iraq off into these three areas,”
Bambery told
the viewers.

It is also being fueled by the Syrian conflict where predominantly
Sunni insurgents are fighting President Assad. Another Syrian
neighbor, Lebanon is seeing Shiite Hezbollah forces fighting
alongside Assad’s troops, a minority Shiite-linked Alawite

Overall it is estimated by the UN that over 700 people died in Iraq
in April, a number Bambery warns will only rise as “we have now
seen an alliance of al-Qaeda elements in Syria and al-Qaeda
elements in Iraq, who are involved in sectarian violence in both

RT: The Sunni demand for more independence, is it a
realistic goal?

Chris Bambery: I think it is realistic given the Kurds in
the North have effectively separated from the rest of Iraq. But I
think this is unfortunate decision. It is based on the decision by
the Americans when they occupied Iraq to separate Iraq off into
these three areas. Iraq has been a unified country for a long time.
And yet doing so based on the sectarian headcount by dividing the
country up, particularly be excluding the Sunni from having any
control of the oil fields was a recipe of the sectarian conflict.
And that’s what we’ve seen. But what is adding spice to that is the
question of what is happening across the border in Syria, because
we are seeing an alliance between al-Qaeda elements in Syria and
Sunni Salafists in Iraq — they’ve united — and have been involved
in these attacks. And I think everyone in Iraq must be terrified
that the situation in Syria is spilling over into Iraq. Indeed
across the region we are seeing a possibility of further tension, a
possibility of it spilling over in Lebanon. This sectarian violence
which is terrible in Iraq is becoming very intertwined with what is
going on in Syria with almost an open border between the two
countries there.

RT:  Would handing more self-rule do anything to
stop the violence?

CB: I don’t think it would stop the violence. I don’t think
the people carrying sectarian attacks particularly the targeting of
Shia are motivated by the issue of creating an autonomous region
for the essentially majority of Sunni population. They are
motivated by sectarianism, let’s be honest about this. Even if they
were granted the autonomy inside Iraq, they are going to use that
as continuation for that kind of sectarian killings. As I said they
are spurred on by what is happening in Syria, which is increasingly
a sectarian conflict, my answer is no- that would not stop
sectarian killings. I think, unfortunately they are only likely to
get worse.

RT:  Where would the line be in allowing more
freedom to self-govern and the country’s disintegration?

CB: Yes, the country is disintegrating. As I say, Americans
have to take the blame for that because of the system they imposed
in Iraq, giving independence to Kurds in the North, who of course
were allies with them against Saddam Hussein, and then they are
suggesting they would split the Shia alliance in the rest of Iraq
and that opened up a Pandora’s box, which really is almost
impossible to stop now. But this is not going to stop sectarian
violence. I think people across the world should be absolutely
clear the responsibility for that does lie on Americans and what
they did in 2003 and the subsequent occupation of that county.

Iraqi armed tribesmen pose for a picture on the back of a truck in a road north of Ramadi, on May 18, 2013 (AFP PHOTO/AZHAR SHALLAL)

RT: What about Syria – is it heading in the same

CB: That must be the fear. Because I say there is almost
an open border between Syria and Iraq. There are many refugees from
Syria inside Iraq and we have now seen an alliance of al-Qaeda
elements in Syria and al-Qaeda elements in Iraq, who are involved
in sectarian violence in both countries. We have Iraqis fighting
along with Free Syrian Army and Islamists inside Syria. So the
possibly because of this, in fact I would say it is spreading –
and increasing the sectarian campaign in Iraq is becoming
deeply connected to that inside Syria. Geography of
instability is spreading and that threatens to destabilize
elsewhere in the Middle East, particularly Lebanon.

RT: With Lebanon’s Hezbollah now involved in Syria –
how much will this influx of military manpower going to shift
momentum in the fighting?

CB: I think the fighting has been in impasse for some
time. Neither side is capable of producing decisive victory.
Whether Hezbollah is battle-training fighters, battle training
against Israelis can shift the balance, let’s see. But let’s be
clear as well there is intervention from the other side. It is
clear, everyone and their dogs knows, the Saudis, the Qataris
pouring arms, the Americans are providing training and if Hezbollah
increases its intervention on the side of the Assad regime, I
think that it is likely that they are pushing for Western
intervention. Some of the governments in America and Britain seem
quite keen on increasing, arming the rebels inside Syria and
proving other means. So, I think we are seeing very dangerous time
and I think when the moment comes to the question about Syria, one
is very important, I think, the decision to exclude Iran from next
week’s conference in Geneva on the possibility of political
solution is profoundly mistaken, because there can be no agreement
between the various powers in the world over the question of Syria
with no Iran at the table.

This article originally appeared on : RT