Yemen War Fuels Iraqi Sectarianism

The sectarian controversy over the operation became a cross-border verbal altercation when the vice president of the Iraqi parliament, Humam Hamoudi, a Shiite, described the operation on April 1 as “a sectarian war,” and the Saudi writer Jasser al-Jasser, a Sunni, retorted April 4 in an article in the Saudi newspaper Al-Jazirah, stating, “[Hamoudi] is being dragged behind sectarian allegations voiced by politicians and public opinion leaders in Arab countries that are subject to Iranian influence.”

Journalist Hassanein Ali, a Shiite from Babil, responded to Jasser in an interview with Al-Monitor, saying, “Saudi Arabia has been acting since 2003 [the year in which Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime fell] as a defender of Sunnis in Iraq, while seeking to promote the idea that [Sunnis] are marginalized in the Shiite-led government. [Saudi Arabia] has also supported the Sunni politicians who now support the war waged by Saudi Arabia and its allies on Yemen.” Ali claimed, “This [Sunni] moral and material support given by Saudi Arabia to the Sunni leaders in Iraq pushes these leaders to follow the Saudi positions.”

The Iraqi government officially opposes Operation Decisive Storm, as indicated in a statement by Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari that the military intervention complicates and leads to the militarization of the situation. The Iraqi writer Daoud al-Basary attacked this position April 4 in an article published by the Qatari Al-Sharq newspaper, calling Jaafari's statement “irresponsible remarks that entrench sectarianism.”

The political analyst Abdul Karim Badr al-Hamdani, a Shiite who defends Iraqi Shiites in media appearances on “Al-Itijah al-Mouakes” [Wrong Direction], told Al-Monitor, “Saudi Arabia is waging a sectarian war against the Shiite Houthis,” adding that “internal differences cannot be solved through military means.” According to Hamdani, “The war will destroy Yemen’s social fabric under the pretext of protecting it.”

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