Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen has stirred the Iraqi sectarian divide.
While the Shiite majority opposes the campaign, the Sunnis are voicing support for it. These differing positions, expressed for the Shiites by the National Alliance and for the Sunnis by the Union of Nationalist Forces, led to a disagreement at a meeting of Iraqi political forces held at the home of parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri on March 29, when the Sunnis rejected a Shiite alliance proposal to issue a statement condemning the Saudi-led military operation.
Vice president Osama Najafi, a Sunni, had on March 28 announced his support for the “Arab alliance, which aims to undermine the Houthi influence in Yemen.” In an April 1 TV interview, Ammar al-Hakim, a Shiite and head of the Islamic Supreme Council, described the military intervention in Yemen as “a costly adventure with uncalculated consequences.”
Laith Shubbar, an academic researcher and presidential adviser, told Al-Monitor, “This war has effectively contributed to fueling sectarianism not only in the Iraqi conflict, but in the entire region. The wars, disputes and media fuss plaguing the area clearly reflect ongoing sectarian mobilization, which distracts the people of the region with internal fighting and conflicts in a bid to weaken them.”
Operation Decisive Storm has also divided Iraq’s religious institutions. The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars announced its backing of the campaign in a statement issued March 29, referring to it as the “Arab effort aimed at supporting the Yemeni people and confronting the Iranian tide.” On the other hand, the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement, categorized the operation in a March 27 interview as “interference in the affairs of the Yemeni people.”