Are we only now beginning to see the consequences of America’s invasion and ultimate withdrawal from Iraq? For France’s Le Monde, columnist Christophe Ayad writes that the Shiite-Sunni civil war set in motion by the U.S. invasion is not only worsening in Iraq, it now threatens to engulf neighboring countries like Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen – with the Iranians and Saudis pouring fuel on the fire.
For Le Monde, Christophe Ayad starts out this way:
Their arrival was a catastrophe, and their departure is already a calamity. Even if the full impact of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 remains far from clear, it is evident that it destabilized the entire Middle East. But we have yet to fully understand the extent to which last December’s departure of American forces from this fragile and still unstable country has had, and will continue to have, devastating effects. Not that the withdrawal wasn’t desirable – the occupation had become unbearable for the majority of Iraqis – but because it took place without a stable political and institutional framework having been established.
Moreover, the withdrawal took place at a time of tremendous regional instability as a result of the Syrian crisis and the tug-of war-over Iran’s nuclear program. These two sources of tension highlight the regional split between Shiites and Sunnis, which has been building for nearly a decade. But Iraq is the weakest link in the Middle East. The most significant consequence of the American withdrawal has been to leave Shiites and Sunnis face to face, just as the hostility between the two communities has reached a climax.
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