February 14, 2005

Can Shias fight?

The Derb asks in an email:

Here's a thing I have been wondering about, in the context of a possible Iraqi civil war: Are Shias any good as fighters?

I ask because I am not clear how the Sunni minority managed to maintain its grip over the Shia majority in Iraq for all those decades. **And** I have been wondering for some time why the Iran-Iraq War was such a stalemate, when Iran's population is nearly 3 times Iraq's (70m vs. 26m).

Modern Arabs are supposed to be hopeless at war. (Moshe Dayan famously replied, when asked the key to success in modern warfare: "Fight Arabs.") Could it be that the Shias, both Arab and Persian, are even less warlike than Sunni Arabs?

Any thoughts?

The Spectator notes:

Strictly speaking, the last war of aggression launched by an Iranian monarch was in 1739, and since that time, the Iranian state has largely been on the defensive.

Iraq's election results

How convenient:

"Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims won nearly half the votes in the nation's landmark Jan. 30 election, giving the long-oppressed group significant power but not enough to form a government on its own, according to results released Sunday."

When you spend two weeks supposedly counting the votes, well, you ought to come up with something this convenient. So, did Sistani agree to being assigned 48% of the vote, or not? A big question.