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Sectarianism Plaguing Iraq, Says Expert

Sectarianism Plaguing Iraq, Says Expert

Spiegel, who is one of the world's foremost experts on American foreign policy in the Middle East, was in Doha to take part in the international conference on Enriching the Middle East's Economic Future.

Even when the government in Iraq is formed, it will still face deep threats from insurgency and from Al Qaeda which we are not able to stem at this point.

This article was first published on Feb. 1 in the Peninsula of Qatar.

By Nasser al harthy

Doha: The US has not made sufficient progress to redress the situation in Iraq, which is being plagued by increasing sectarianism, said Steven L Spiegel of the Burkle Center for International Relations and Professor of Political Science, UCLA.

"I am concerned about the situation in Iraq. The US has made a variety of mistakes, because our main focus has to be to provide sufficient incentives to the Iraqi people to move forward in re-establishing a productive society, which is democratic and socially equitable—oriented to overcoming poverty", he told The Peninsula yesterday.

Spiegel, who is one of the world's foremost experts on American foreign policy in the Middle East, is in Doha to take part in the international conference on Enriching the Middle East's Economic Future, which concluded yesterday.

The main problem facing Iraq, he said, is the increasing sectarianism and takeover of religious elements, which may alienate the secular elements of the society, in addition to the basic and fundamental problem with the country's constitution which emphasizes these factors.

He said that it would take a great deal of international cooperation to provide funding for reconstruction and that more support should be given for multilateral efforts.

There is also a need to move forward with international meetings on the instability in the country and its reconstruction and the likes of which occurred in Afghanistan after the war, he said.

"Even when the government in Iraq is formed, it will still face deep threats from insurgency and from Al Qaeda which we are not able to stem at this point. Perhaps international co-operation, reconstruction, reviving transportation and electricity will make the difference", he said.

The great tragedy of the war in Iraq, which was not of immediate necessity, he said, is the US going to war without sufficient preparation and without understanding its impact on the region.

However, Spiegel is of the view that pulling out US troops of Iraq at this point would result in chaos and possible civil war, while the diminution of the American role in Iraq in favour of the international community, Europe and the Arab states would be a better way to go.

"There is no question, however, that the American role has not been effective. We have to confront that and try to come up with a different solution", he added.

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