Yemen War Fuels Iraqi Sectarianism

Fouad Nasser Ibrahim, another political analyst, told Al-Monitor, “Most of the Shiites feel there is a frightening cosmic sectarian war against them, while most of the Sunnis believe that they are also being targeted by the war.” This to him is the source of the sectarian divide over Yemen. “This mutual feeling of danger on both sides leads to bitter sectarian conflict,” he said.

In contrast, Salama al-Salhy, cultural adviser to the prime minister, told Al-Monitor, “There is confusion when it comes to the positions on the war, and these positions are based on political agendas, not necessarily on sectarian ones.” Salhy described the Yemeni events as “an international game aiming to [empty weapons stores], absorb Gulf funds, flirting with Iran, trap the Arabs and drag the Egyptian army into a hideous regional conflict.”

Iraqi Shiites have begun to publicly express their opposition to Operation Decisive Storm in demonstrations like the ones held April 1 in Baghdad under the auspices of the Shiite Al-Ahrar Bloc and April 4 in Babil​. Shiite protesters in Maysan on March 31 had also denounced the “Saudi war on Yemen.”

Iraqi Sunnis appear for now to be abstaining from displaying support for the war, although some Sunni political organizations — such as the Union of Nationalist Forces, the Association of Muslim Scholars, which have called for a war in Syria and Iraq — and the Anbar tribes have come out in favor of it. The writer Sabah Atwan expressed his hope to Al-Monitor that “the Iraqi people be united and that they not allow such positions to divide them.”

(Yemen image via Shutterstock)

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