Claire Wiles is a North Eugene High School teacher and Navy reservist who served for a year in Iraq and will speak about her experiences and her knowledge of Iraq. The following are notes from her presentation:
Shia v Sunni 101…
- Both are Muslim.
- The death of Muhammad created a divide politically. Some sought elective (Sunni) leadership and others were in favor of hereditary (Shia) leadership.
- Quran interpretation is also a divisive point.
- Iran’s reach in to Iraq is a result of trying to protect its Shia people.
In the Beginning…
- Saddam ruled Iraq.
- Opposition forces including terror groups were closely monitored and controlled, which of course, the US changed.
- Iraq government was dominated by Sunni leaders. Saddam wanted to make sure the Shia were not able to get power.
Enter the US…
- Short sighted anti-Baathist (anti-Sunni) policies were not focused on nation building.
- We were at war with terrorists, not Iraq.
- Unemployment became rampant. People were starving and blamed Americans.
- The US disbanded the Iraqi army and as a result sent highly trained men with weapons home unemployed.
- We didn’t clean up weapons depots, which then outfitted the Sunni armies.
- Incarceration = Radicalizing. There was no selection of guilty vs innocent and it took months to return innocent men to families. Many became terrorists while incarcerated.
- The largest prison became, essentially, a terrorist University. Americans turned their back on that prison due to lack of personnel.
- The US turned a blind eye to sectarian violence (100 bodies a day).
- There was no political surge to match military surge.
- Means al-Queda in Iraq.
- They are Violent and Extreme.
- The Iraqi prime minister targeted his Sunni Vice President. Shia took over when Americans left.
- ISIS came along and played in to the hands of the enraged Sunnis.
- ISIS is a terrorist group with a sprinkle of leadership and statesmanship. They know how to run a territory they take over.
The Way Ahead…US Troops Should Not Be Introduced…
- Everyone wants to kill Americans so there will be an increased appeal to foreign fighters if America elects to engage.
- American involvement sharpens and evolves terrorist tactics.
- It is difficult for US troops to work in that environment. We would be asking troops to serve with people they were trying to kill in 2006-08.
- Force protection becomes the focus for US troops.
- American involvement increases propaganda and provides a common enemy and increases unity of disparate factions. If we do not get involved, there is a real possibility that ISIS will destroy itself.
- Our involvement will not resolve underlying issues that led to the formation of ISIS. Terrorism is a Hydra. Chop off the head and it will grow another. Infrastructure, employment, etc. is what Iraq needs. US troops enforce helplessness.
The Best Future Overcomes Dis-empowerment…
- Unless we plan to stay in Iraq for 50 years, the Iraqi people need to be empowered to develop infrastructure, the economy, and “national guard” security.
*the image is of a map indicating territory ISIS would like to control