“When the regime was toppled and our Shiite people came to power, we expected things to be much better,” he said. “But nothing happened. Every one is fighting for power and money.”


Another Shiite, Baghdad security guard Ali Hussein, said Shiite empowerment has done little to improve his life, and those of his wife and two children.


“We Shiites now want a government that realizes our dreams even if it’s not Shiite. People are so frustrated that some are even saying that Shiites cannot rule,” he said.


Allawi, the Iraqi historian, believes the way out of Iraq’s current predicament lies in Shiite-Sunni harmony. Toward this goal, he has made a contribution.


He just published a book, “Omar and Shiism,” that attempts to exonerate the name of Omar, a 7th century successor of the Prophet Muhammad who has for centuries been maligned by Shiites.


Shiites believe the 7th century caliph usurped the leadership of Islam’s young state. It may seem an obscure historical dispute. But Allawi’s point is that such issues have repercussions in today’s Iraq, where many Shiite clerics have left their seminaries to enter politics.


“When you are in the Hawza (Shiite seminary), you can say whatever you want and no one outside will ever know,” he explained. “You can insult Omar in the Hawza and your listeners will be happy, but when you are outside, you are dealing with an Arab world that’s 90 percent Sunni.”