Is There a Sunni Majority in Iraq?

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Introduction

The United
States based its policy on Iraq on two primary so-called facts:

  1. The Sunnis
    are a 20% minority.
  2. The Sunni
    minority and Saddam Hussein ruled the Shi’ite majority in Iraq.

Thus, the U.S.
Iraq policy — as set by the Bush Administration, and the Neoconservatives
— both before and after the 2003 war and occupation, was based on
this false premise. Because of this, the Sunnis were marginalized
and power was handed over to the Shi’ite religious parties and Kurdish
parties by the occupation force CPA, Ambassador Bremer, and later
Ambassador Negroponte.

Based on this
false premise, the US policy failed miserably. Still, the Bush Administration
continued and still is continuing this policy. Bush called it “Stay
the course…”

For this reason,
and to bring to light information that should help inform a new
policy, it is of the utmost importance to correct this fallacy.
We need to put the facts in front of all who will try to correct
the course, find the correct necessary policies to end the bloodshed,
and end the catastrophe that has befallen Iraq.

The Correct
Percentages of Sunnis, Shi’ites, Arabs, and Kurds

The actual,
real percentages of various groups in Iraq is outlined below. Statistics
come from the al-Quds Press Research
Center, London Study
and, with reference to the map on the distribution
of religious groups, from the Baker-Hamilton Committee report, page,
102.

Percentage
of Sunnis, Shi’ites, Arabs, and Kurds

As
Nationalities:

Arabs

82–84%

Kurds,
Turks, etc.

16–18%

Religions:

Moslems

95–98%

Christians
and others

2–5%

Moslem
Sects:

Sunnis

60–62%

Sunni
Arabs

42–44%

Sunni
Kurds and Turks

16–18%

Shi’ites

38–40%

Shi’ite
Kurds and Turks

2–4%

The
Election of January 31, 2005

The results
of the elections on January 31, 2005 provide a very clear indication
of Sunni majority and Shi’ite minority. For instance:

  • The majority
    of Sunnis boycotted the elections. Those who voted gave their
    votes to the slates of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, or Adnan al-Pachachi,
    or to the Royalist.
  • All the
    Shi’ite parties or groups united on one slate, the Unified Iraqi
    Coalition.
  • Ayatollah
    al-Sistani and all other Shi’ite religious leaders issued an edict
    (fatwah) that Shi’ites must vote and must vote for
    the Shi’ite slate. The edict also stated that if a married man
    or woman did not vote, they would no longer be legally considered
    husband and wife.
  • The media
    showed long lines of women in southern Iraq, waiting to vote,
    just as they depicted ill people in wheel chairs being pushed
    to the election boxes.
  • The Coalition
    Provisional Authority (the US) and the Elections Committee claimed
    that 95% of Shi’ites participated in the vote.
  • The CPA
    gave its full backing to the elections. President Bush hailed
    the elections as one of the greatest events in Middle East history,
    a great democratic achievement.

However, the
election results were a fiasco and a big scandal for all those who
participated in the elections. The results were delayed for more
than five weeks, during which time the United States and the Shi’ite
filled the media with daily statements about how fantastic they
were and how the Shi’ites had won more than two-thirds of the seats.

Using convoluted
logic, some attempted to use this to prove the Shi’ites accounted
for more than 60% of the population.

The Results
of the January 31 Election

According to
the official Election Committee,
the numbers involved in the 2005 voting are as follows:

Iraqis
eligible to vote

15,450,000

Iraqis
inside Iraq

14,200,000

Iraqis
outside Iraq

1,250,000

In addition,
the following numbers were provided:

  • Iraqis (Shi’ites,
    Kurds, and a few Sunnis) who participated in the vote = 8,456,266,
    or 54%
  • Iraqis who
    boycotted, primarily Sunnis = 6,693,734, or 46%

It should be
noted that Iraq was considered as one electoral unit. Therefore,
a Shi’ite voting for the Shi’ite slate in the Arab areas, governates,
the Kurdish area, or abroad will be counted for the Shi’ite slate.
The same for the Kurds etc. The Kurdish votes in Baghdad (more than
a million) went for the Kurdish slate etc.

The
Vote for the Slates

Total
Votes

%
of Eligible Voters

Unified
Iraqi Slate (Shi’ite/ Sistani)

4,075,295

26.3%

The Kurdish
Slate

2,175,551

14.0%

Iraqiyah
Slate (PM Ayad Allawi)

1,168,943

7.5%

Iraqiyon
(President Ghazi al-Yawer)

150,650

0.9%

The Communist
Party

69,920

`

Adnan
Al-Pachachi Slate

23,302

`

The Royalists
(Shareef Ali)

13,740

`

It is worth
noting here that the Kurdish provisional government announced that
98% of Kurds participated in the voting and that the Shi’ite leadership
announced that 95% of Shi’ites voted in the election.

The Elections
of the Council of Representatives, December 15, 2005

The election
of the Council of Representatives (present Parliament) was on December
15, 2005. Shi’ites and Kurds participated in the elections overwhelmingly.

However, Sunnis
who supported the Muslim Scholars Association boycotted the elections.
Sunnis who participated were the supporters of:

  • The Islamic
    Party (present Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi)
  • The Hiwar
    National Iraqi Front (Dr. Saleh al-Mutlaq)
  • Those who
    voted for National Iraqi List (ex- Prime Minister Ayad Allawi).

The Results
of the Elections of the Council of Representatives

We shall concentrate
only on the Shi’ites to show once again that they are the MINORITY
in Iraq, based on the official final report of the Independent Electoral
Commission of Iraq
issued on February 10, 2006.

The number
of eligible voters

15,568,702

The number
participating in the vote

11,895,756

The number
voting for the Unified Iraqi Coalition

5,021,137

The Shi’ite
Bloc

Percentage
of eligible voters

32.2%

Percentage
of those who voted

42.2%

The announcement
of the results of the elections were delayed for nearly two months
(the elections were held on December 15, 2005, and the results were
announced on February 10, 2006), because of accusations of mass
forgery in the Shi’ite governates; the militias took over the ballot
boxes and filled them with ballots. All other parties threatened
that they would boycott the new Council of Representatives if the
situation was not rectified.

Under this
pressure, an International Investigation Committee was set up jointly
by the United Nations and the Arab League to check the accusations.
The Committee came under open threats from the Shi’ite parties (SCIRI
of Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem, and al-Dawah of al-Maliki). The Committee
was also under pressure from the Bush administration, which was
desperate to have the election results announced, to demonstrate
that the democratic process was on track.

Under these
threats the Committee had to announce its findings from Amman, Jordan.

The Committee
announced that there were grave violations committed in the Shi’ite
governates, but also said it could not determine who committed them.
The US then pressured the parties contesting the election results
to accept them, promising that it would exert pressure on the Shi’ite
coalition to accept changes in the Constitution, etc. The protesting
parties then acquiesced to the US pressures and the results were
finally announced nearly two months after the elections.

Conclusion

With the full
backing of Shi’ite religious leaders and all efforts by the Shi’ite
political parties, groups and factions, regardless of whether they
were religious or liberal (Ahmed al-Chalabi), and uniting under
one banner (Shi’ite), the numbers that the Shi’ites could muster
were meager. It can be clearly seen that they are a minority in
Iraq, and not a majority:

  • They received
    26.3 % of the votes of eligible voters in the January 31 2005
    elections.
  • They received
    32.2% of the votes of eligible voters (regardless of all election
    violations, forgeries and filled ballots boxes) in the December
    15, 2005 elections

Therefore,
one of the main reasons for the drastic failure of US policy in
Iraq must be attributed to the reliance on the false premise that
the Sunnis are a minority and the Shi’ites are a majority in Iraq.
It is very clear from the official numbers taken from the results
of the elections of January 31, 2005, and December 15, 2005, that:
the Sunnis are 60–62% of the population of Iraq (42–44% Arab, and
16–18% Kurd and Turk Iraqis), and only 38–40% are Shi’ites.

December
28, 2006

Faruq
Ziada served as an ambassador in Iraq's Foreign Ministry from 1992
to 2000. Written in collaboration with Jennifer Hicks. This article
was published by Progressive
Government
; email
Progressive Government
or phone: 206-408-8058.

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