The Bush/Cheney US invasion caused the Sectarian violence.
Sect wasn’t really a part of the national consciousness. I was born in
Iraq and I’d never in my life been asked if I was a Sunni or a Shiite.
And I didn’t know who among my relatives or neighbors or co-workers or
colleagues at school were Sunnis or Shiites, because it wasn’t an issue.
It’s not that people were tolerant toward each other — they weren’t
aware of sectarian backgrounds. It’s similar to some areas in the US
where you don’t necessarily know what Christian sect your friends belong
to. You might know, or you might not know.
That was before the
US intervention. The US destroyed that Iraqi national identity and
replaced it with sectarian and ethnic identities after 2003. I don’t
think this is something that many Iraqis argue about, because you can
trace the beginning of this sectarian strife that is destroying the
country, and it clearly began with the US invasion and occupation.