The news of mass demonstrations in al-Anbar, Nineveh and other regions of Iraq has been a headline since more than a week. It all started after PM al-Maliki ordered to arrest bodyguards of the Sunni finance minister; a step considered to be another offence against Sunnis by the Shiite dominated government of Baghdad. Since then thousands of people are rallying under slogans of Iraqi Spring calling to bring down the regime of Nouri al-Maliki.
In sharp contrast to Arab Spring events which did not carry any religious color, the political movement in Anbar is pure Sunni. It seems more a reproduction of the late 2012 Syrian prototype than of nationwide movements that made the change in Egypt, Tunis and Yemen. While In Arab Spring countries Islamist reaped the fruit of what liberals, leftists and independent activists sow, Islamist unmasked come to direct action in Syria and Iraq. Though, the truth to say, the events in Syria were not sectarian in their beginnings had it not been for the active efforts of Assad’s regime to make them so.
The so called Iraqi spring started its First week with clear sectarian hue. Sheikhs not secular activists were the inflamers of the protests. The echoes of demonstrations in social media show deep anti-Shiite tendencies. In some tweets the events of Anbar carry the hashtag of Sunni Spring (#الربيع_السني). Regardless of the fair demands of demonstrators (equality, circulation of power, releasing detained women and children), the sectarian slogans will prevent any possibility of widening the range of protest to embrace other non-Sunni oppositional groups.
The “Iraqi spring” is not a call for justice as it would be superficially seen. It should be regarded as a part of the radical changes taking place in the Middle East and the vertical ethno-religious polarization within its communities influenced by the clash between Iranian backed tyrannies (or armed militias) and local Sunni fundamentalists. It is not equality in a modern secular state that lies in the Iraqi horizon, but a sectarian war (in the worst scenario) and division. Iraq seems ready for the birth of a new Sunni autonomy in parallel to the Kurdish autonomy in the north and the Shiite majority of the central state.