Centripetal Force


Iraq is flying to pieces. The people of Iraq just can’t get along with each other, they were only held together by authoritarian force, the country is fracturing along sectarian and ethnic lines, and it’s inevitable that with its Shi’ite majority Iraq will become a Khomeinist theocracy, dominated by Iran. Right?

Maybe not. Consider this study from sociologist Mansoor Moaddel of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research:

So far, the surveys show a decline in popular support for religious government in Iraq and an increase in support for secular political rule, said sociologist Mansoor Moaddel, who is affiliated with Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR).

“Iraqis have a strong sense of national identity that transcends religious and political lines,” Moaddel said. “The recent out-pouring of national pride at the Asian Cup victory of the Iraqi soccer team showed that this sense of national pride remains strong, despite all the sectarian strife and violence.”

In the March 2007 survey, 54 percent of Iraqis surveyed described themselves as “Iraqis, above all,” (as opposed to “Muslims, above all” or “Arabs, above all”) compared with just 28 percent who described themselves that way in April 2006. Three-quarters of Iraqis living in Baghdad said they thought of themselves in terms of their national identity, as Iraqis above all.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Triumph says:

    This isn’t news. Iraq has always been among the most secular countries in the middle east. Through most of its history, its rulers have been secular Arab nationalists.

    Public opinion is not necessarily reflected in structures of power and political reality.