January 8, 2008

Top Ten Myths About Iraq

by Juan R. I. Cole

Myth #10: The US public no longer sees Iraq as a central issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.

In a recent ABC News/ Washington Post poll, Iraq and the economy were virtually tied among voters nationally, with nearly a quarter of voters in each case saying it was their number one issue. The economy had become more important to them than in previous months (in November only 14% said it was their most pressing concern), but Iraq still rivals it as an issue!

Myth #9: There have been steps toward religious and political reconciliation in Iraq in 2007. Fact: The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has for the moment lost the support of the Sunni Arabs in parliament. The Sunnis in his cabinet have resigned. Even some Shiite parties have abandoned the government. Sunni Arabs, who are aware that under his government Sunnis have largely been ethnically cleansed from Baghdad, see al-Maliki as a sectarian politician uninterested in the welfare of Sunnis.

Myth #8: The US troop surge stopped the civil war that had been raging between Sunni Arabs and Shiites in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Fact: The civil war in Baghdad escalated during the US troop escalation. . . .


[Juan R. I. Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively about Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and South Asia.]

Enver Masud, "Iraq: Divide and Rule, 'Ethnic Cleansing Works'," The Wisdom Fund, October 10, 2006

Editorial: "Iraq: The Road Home," New York Times, July 8, 2007

"US surge has failed - Iraqi poll," BBC News, September 10, 2007

[According to The Associated Press, 2007 was the deadliest for our troops since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. . . . So far, 3,902 U.S. troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died in the war.--"Iraq War: No lull in deaths," Seattle Post Intelligencer, December 31, 2007

Kim Sengupta, "Iraq death rate belies US claims of success," Independent, January 7, 2008

"Main Sunni Group Vows No Deal With U.S.," Agence France-Presse, January 7, 2008

[ . . . prior to the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq there had never been open warfare between the two groups and certainly not a civil war. In terms of organization and convention, Iraqis are a tribal society and some of the largest tribes in the country comprise Sunni and Shia. Intermarriages between the two sects are not uncommon either.--Dahr Jamail, "The Myth of Sectarian Violence in Iraq: The policy is divide to rule," Alternet, January 8, 2008]

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