Liberal Grace

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Shiites? Sunnis? -- It's all so confusing!

Here's a short primer on the ME written for Silvestre Reyes but you might find it helpful, too.


I called for Silvestre Reyes to withdraw his name because he was totally confused about the very basics of the Middle East. As I said in my original post, I don't expect all Americans to understand the differences between Sunnis and Shiites, since it is a little confusing.

However, if you don't know the difference, you probably shouldn't have an opinion on the Iraq war since you really don't understand it. It would be like having a strong opinion about England's involvement in North Ireland without knowing the difference between Catholics and Protestants and who-is-which.

But I expect our leaders to know this stuff. Unless Reyes or Bush have totally mastered this and whole lot more, they can't make informed decisions about anything over here. Bush, famously, didn't know there were different types of Muslims on the eve of the invasion and look where that got us! But Bush wasn't alone in his confusion.

Trent Lott, was obviously confused by it all:

“It’s hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what’s wrong with these people,” he said. “Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israeli’s and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me.“
Lott On Iraq: ‘Why Do Sunnis Kill Shiites? … They All Look The Same To Me’

At least Lott "knew what he didn't know." The neo-cons were far worse because they swaggered around like experts but had it completely backwards.

William Kristol, the famous neocon, pronounced with 100% certainty and full authority:
“there’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America… that the Shi’a can't get along with the Sunni and the Shi’a in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all.”The End of Iraq


Even though Kristol had been writing extensively on the Iraq war, he obviously hadn't been reading much! When Kristol said this, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq had been around for 21 years, giving him plenty of time for a heads-up on this subject.

Well, I won't beat this conservative horse any longer but will steer you to this helpful primer on the major players in Iraq and the ME:

An open letter to Silvestre Reyes

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