Couple articles about the USA's support of sectarian division
http://mondoweiss.net/2013/03/promoting-sectarian-division.html In Iraq, and now Syria, US seeks secular outcome by… promoting sectarian
There's an illusion that exists widely in the mainstream that the US is trying to build strong or moderate secular states we can all relate to. This neverending fantasy of a benevolent US role in nation building is perpetuated by the constant drumbeat of sectarian divisions in the Middle East, divisions the US does not shy away from fostering, as they seem to justify positioning our influence as a "moderating force."
Snip- Some secular Sunni Muslims, eh? How many? Friedman tells us the Syrian Sunni Majority is 74%, the Syrian Alawite community is 12%, and Syrian Christians are 10%. But that hardly explains the basis of Assad's support. Friedman describes the secular Sunni Muslims who support Assad as "merchants." Friedman ignores the fact that Syrians, like Iraqis before our invasion, lived, primarily, in a secular society.
Assad's regime is secular. Saddam was also a secular dictator. The US supports and empowers sectarian actors, while claiming to seek democratic secular results. Why do we do that? Friedman won't tell you.
Those days are over. Raed Jarrar explains how sectarian identity is now the "core component" of Iraq identity now-- as the result of our war on their country, their culture:
Raed Jarrar: I'm actually half Sunni and half **bleep**e, we call it Sushis,(laughter). From my personal experience I have never been asked in my entire life until 2003 if was a Sunni or a Shia, I had never seen someone been ask that question.
Raed Jarrar: It was never a (inaudible) identity before 2003, after 2003 it is
now. It's the core component unfortuneately. The system of sectarian and ethnic
quarters in the government created a complete different government system and
that was introduced in 2003 during the government council, so Iraqis were chosen
based on their sectarian and ethnic background for the first time in
snip- Secretary John Kerry made an unannounced stop in Baghdad Sunday to press the Iraqis to deny permission for Iranian overflights that might be carrying arms to Syria. There was no immediate word whether the Shia-led government would agree or not. To do so would mean offending Tehran, its semi-ally, and hurting the threatened Syrian regime, which it quietly supports against Sunni rebels.
Kerry’s demand, almost certainly to be quietly rejected by Baghdad, was greeted with approval by the American, strongly anti-Assad press. The Obama Administration was finally able to declare that it was “doing something meaningful” to aid the Syrian rebels and push Bashar al Assad out of Damascus. A gesture, perhaps, useful for buying time and cooling demands for the full commitment of US forces in the conflict. Even more useful in this regard were reports of CIA assistance to the rebels in transporting weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Assad’s foes. Helping rebels and blocking supplies to Assad reinforce the rhetoric of active American engagement against Damascus.
But are these prudent moves? Does the US posture on the Syrian civil war make long-term sense?
Not if Washington means what it says when it constantly urges peace and harmony for the Middle East. The US — despite denials — is aligning itself with one of its two openly castigated enemies in the region — Sunni fanaticism of the al Qaeda variety — in order to weaken the other: the Iranian clerical regime and its cousin, Hezbollah. Rather than seeking some sort of accord between regime and rebels and restraining the latter’s backers, Obama’s stated policy is to keep the pressure on Assad to yield unconditionally, whatever the cost to his nation.
This policy masks three acute dangers for America in the Middle East.
First, it prolongs the increasingly deadly conflict which has taken tens of thousands of lives, turned over a million Syrians into refugees and is rapidly destroying a diverse community that, albeit ruled by an oppressive dictatorship, was largely at peace. Sunnis, Alawites, Christians — even a handful of Jews — Kurds, wealthy businessmen and rural villagers lived their lives in greater security than their similarly diverse neighbors in Lebanon and Iraq. Syria’s social fabric is now in shreds. The regime that once collaborated with Washington against al Qaeda and brought a measure of stability to Lebanon now finds Obama has turned against it.