by Xinhua Writer Liu Chang
CAIRO, June 21 (Xinhua) -- While the Iraqi government is struggling to defeat the Sunni militants' blitz, it is wise to remember that real and lasting peace and stability in Iraq can never be achieved on the battlefield, but through reconciliation among all Iraqis despite their races or religions.
In less than two weeks, the armed rebels, who are led by an al-Qaida splinter group - the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), have taken over a large part of the country's northern territory, and seized Iraq's second largest city of Mosul as well as Tikrit, hometown to the toppled former President Saddam Hussein.
The crumbling security situation, as well as the swift return of the sectarian violence in Iraq, if not effectively turned around, would force the country ever closer to the edge of a split-up, and put the security and stability of the entire Middle East on the line.
In fact, what has happened to Iraq, which seems to be unexpected to the Shiite-led Iraqi government and the international community, is a natural and combined product of years of poor handling of relations between the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds, the immature withdrawal of U.S. forces, as well as the ongoing three-year-old Syrian civil war that serves as the breeding bed for militants as ferocious as the ISIL operatives.
It has to be admitted that the current Iraqi government has tried to bring all religious sects and various factions of the society together, yet that is far from being enough when it comes to the thorny task of eradicating a kind of hatred that has multiplied throughout the most of the history of Islam.
Moreover, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 has broken the once delicate balance of the country's political structure, and further amplified the hostility between the sectarian groups, making it even harder for the ensuing Iraqi governments to achieve national reconciliation.
Meanwhile, the hasty troop withdrawal of U.S. forces, a promise U.S. President Barack Obama made when running for president, came at a time when it was still debatable whether the Iraqi security forces were ready for its responsibilities of maintaining peace and stability against all threats, both internal and external.
Therefore, it is strongly advised the Obama administration and his national security team should be as prudent and realistic as they can when they are weighing options, especially military ones, to help Baghdad quench the crisis, which they are partially responsible for.
As for the Iraqi government, while it is crucial to defeat the terrorists and restore peace and tranquility to the country militarily, it is even more important to restart healing the wounds of the past through political dialogues among all sections, and to ensure an equal access to opportunities for all Iraqis.
No matter how difficult the work is, it has to be done if the Iraqi government intends to end a vicious cycle of sectarian conflicts and move toward a country that can enjoy religious harmony, political unity and economic well-being.
Also, the international community has to offer what it can to clamp down on the growing terrorism and religious extremism inside Iraq and around the world, and to help the Iraqis rebuild their country.