Iraq's victory over Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cup games has created a rare sense of national identity in Iraq, with widespread celebrations where the streets are filled with cheering fans and motor scooters, cars and trucks. A few men even really let loose by wearing silly costumes, or even in a few cases dressing up like women, or other very untypical behavior for the normally violent land of Iraq.
What has been far different about Iraq compared to most countries is that there has always been a serious lack of a national identity among those living in Iraq. For centuries this land was a part of the old Ottoman Empire, but then after WWI in 1922, the land was invaded by the British which lumped three ethnic and sectarian groups of persons with nothing at all in common into an artificial British occupation state ordered by Winston Churchill.
During WWI, the British incursions into the Mideast could be justified in their continued fight against Turkey. However, it was merely oil that served to spur the British involvement after that time, otherwise the area would have had real little importance to the British. The British occupation continued until the bloody 1958 rebellion as Arab Socialism which was inspired by Egypt's Gamel Nasser and the Arab Socialist Baath movements in Egypt and Syria.
The American experience in Iraq has been a failure so far because Iraq is hardly one state or one land, but three former British occupation states of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish citizens, all lacking any national to each other. Any attempt to build a single state of Iraq has so far been a failure because centuries of Shiite and Sunni tensions have again resurfaced, and both Saudi Arabia and Iran have been using Iraq to promote their own sectarian religious and political interests that started soon after the death of Muhammad himself.
The soccer victory of Iraq has given those living in this state a very rare example of feeling a national identity as being citizens of a single land, a single nation. But without such a nationalistic sense among those living in Iraq, the nation will only continue to be torn by sectarian conflict and continue as a pawn for the competing selfish interests of the U.S., Britain, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
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