Friday, Dec 19, 2014
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Sunnis vs Shias

"Neocon war hawks" upset at the resurgence of the Sunnis and al-Qaeda in Anbar in Iraq are waving the "bloody shirt" to invoke the memory of Fallujah, urging U.S. intervention.

To understand the Middle East it is necessary to have a map of the area, be aware of who borders who, and who is Sunni and who is Shia.

Iraq was a Sunni-dominated state with a large Shia minority until the U.S. invasion in 2003. Iraq had fought an inconclusive war against Shia-dominated Iran from 1980 to 1988, ending in a stalemate. Iraq remained a counter balance to Iran.

Iran's long term rival, Saudi Arabia, is Sunni dominated, and with its powerful economic position has rivaled Iran for control of the Persian Gulf, promoting jihadists like al-Qaeda and spreading its hard line Wahhabi brand of Islam.

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the subsequent rise of the Shias to power, in Iraq, the Anbar province -- a Sunni stronghold -- resisted U.S. and Iraqi forces with the help of newly arriving al-Qaeda forces helped along by the Saudis on its southern border.

Ultimately, the Anbar Sunnis, persuaded by bribes and a surge of substantial U.S. forces, turned to the side of the new government, persuaded they would share in Iraq's government and economy.

General Petreus cautioned the balance was delicate and could be easily upset. Despite this caution, Nouri-al-Maliki, the Shia prime minister chose to ignore these warnings.

Following the U.S. withdrawal, he abandoned commitments made to Anbar Sunnis, sought closer relations with Iran and began an offensive campaign on the Sunni in Anbar, which, in turn, attracted a resurgence of al-Qaeda, always ready to exploit Sunni-Shia conflicts for its own purposes.

We are well out of Iraq and hopefully soon out of Afghanistan. We really have no strategic reason to re-involve in Iraq and knee jerk reactions to the term "al Qaeda" will only lead our Middle East foreign policy to a "tail wagging the dog" scenario instead of a well thought foreign policy reflecting our real long term interests.

Randy Ludacer

Lake Placid

Buy American

I read in a recent edition of Tampa Tribune that paintball equipment manufacturer Kee Action Sports closed its doors to move operations to China and Taiwan, thereby laying off 109 employees.

I now have to wonder how some of these employees will be able to make payments on their Kias, Hyundais, Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, Suzukis, Volvos, Mitsubishis or Volkswagens, which will now be sitting rusting away in the driveway.

What about the payments on their Sanyo, Sony or Toshiba televisions that usually display a no-signal blue screen because of the poorly designed Japanese TV antenna system? And then there are the payments due on the Chinese-made media cabinets the TVs sit on, which are already disintegrating from the inside out.

I personally have had jobs sent overseas and have been so broke I had to go to the Salvation Army for food. In this country, if you are childless, the government will not help you out one bit. The tax man is always there with his hand out, though.

I am an old guy and I've seen a lot in my lifetime. In my opinion, the only way we can save our country and economy is to buy products from American- owned companies which are made by American workers, period.

I'm tired of these foreign-owned companies masquerading as American owned and made. What's worse is that some Americans actually fall for that. We also need a new taxation system such as the flat tax in which everybody would pay the same.

The current system is obviously not working. Over 2,000 fraudulent tax returns were sent to an address in Detroit and nobody got reprimanded or fired in the tax agency because of it.

Those of us who work in the private sector would have lost our jobs with a mistake like that. Of course, the taxpayers picked up the tab.

Jerry Nargelovic

Sebring

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