The violence is different this time
Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany)
Whenever violence breaks out in Iraq, international experts are quick to claim that the nation is on the verge of religious civil war, said Moritz Baumstieger. And civil war is indeed what erupted following the U.S. invasion of 2003, when the majority Shiite population took revenge on the minority Sunnis who’d dominated the country under dictator Saddam Hussein. Another conflagration soon followed, with oppressed Sunnis allying with ISIS and slaughtering Shiites. And after last week’s brutal crackdown on mass protests in Baghdad and southern cities by security forces—which killed more than 100 people and wounded some 6,000 others—outside voices are again calling Iraq “a religious powder keg.” But things are different this time. The slaughtered protesters were young Shiites demonstrating against a Shiite-led government. They are rightly furious that a country with daily oil revenues of $300 million “is unable to provide all citizens with running water and electricity” and has a youth unemployment rate of 20 percent. Not so long ago, the authorities could use ethnic conflicts and terrorism “as an excuse to mask” their utter corruption and incompetence. But the battle against ISIS is largely over, and car bombs no longer explode daily. It is time for the Iraqi government to address the problems of its citizens, not simply shoot them dead in the street.