View Full Version : Poll: Civil War in Iraq - Yes or No?

07-16-2006, 01:07 AM
Civil War in Iraq? Now.

07-16-2006, 01:49 AM
Do you mean is there one now or will there be in the near future? It might change some peoples answer.

My answer is not yet. A situation that is ripe for civil war is being held in check at the moment by the presence of international forces but there ability to control the situation is degrading. If something doesn’t change soon a more open civil war will be unavoidable.

07-16-2006, 03:22 AM
I think we aren't there yet.

Stu-6, what do you believe needs to change to prevent slipping into civil war?

07-17-2006, 04:34 PM
I wish I really thought I had the answer for that; it is obvious to me that we are headed in the wrong direction, it is much less obvious how to change direction. With that caveat out of the way here are some things that I think might be worth trying:

1. Currently US troops are preventing all out civil war and paradoxically inflaming nationalistic sentiments which of course further instability. We need to find a way to take the American face off of this. To do this we need to do some serious diplomatic wheeling and dealing to get other troops in there preferably Muslim troops, under a UN command, not including any states that border Iraq; but of course we will have to work with what we can get. Also while other nations would be asked to provide peacekeepers the US will still need to contribute significantly to logistic, intelligence, and general support. Second it is time to think about setting some time lines for withdraw, they don’t have to be too soon but we need to make it obvious that we aren’t staying.

2. We need to start working with the power brokers in Iraq, both inside the government and more importantly outside, representing all factions to start working out some deal that everyone can deal with. This will likely include something between federalism and balkanization and may include forging aid promises that boarder on flat out bribes.

3. We need to change the economic situation. I don’t care if we end up paying people to make little rocks out of big rocks we need to get the unemployment rate down. People without jobs are to easy for guerillas to recruiter.

4. Where we have troops we need to get them out from behind walls and armor. The will need to be intermingled with Iraqi security forces and talking to the people. Not driving by in armored vehicles.

07-17-2006, 11:09 PM
Was Northern Ireland a civil war during "the Troubles?" If so, then Iraq is definitely one now.

07-18-2006, 12:30 AM
Maybe the starting point here is finding a common definition of civil war?

I said not yet mostly because I am thinking of civil war as having a self-sustaining quality that is not there . . . yet. This is complicated by the fact that I think international troops are the only thing preventing this, so in a since it is a civil war just temporarily restrained. Admittedly it is something of a fine line.

The follow on question to all this is: If we (coalition countries) decided it is a civil war then what do we do?

CPT Holzbach
07-18-2006, 03:54 PM
Maybe the starting point here is finding a common definition of civil war?

This is the catch. What exactly makes it a civil war? The number of people who die each day? The seccesion of provinces?

07-18-2006, 04:45 PM
I don't know if this helps, but generally a civil war would be defined as groups that fight each other inside the "physical boundaries" of the country that both parties live.

Tom Odom
07-18-2006, 07:12 PM
I would suggest as I did in the case of defining insurgency that the relevant definition is the one selected by the Iraqis. In that regard, I would say that the various groups involved in the revenge and reprisal killings certainly see it as a war.


07-19-2006, 02:39 AM
I answered yes to the poll but I don't believe it is a civil war like the western mind thinks of a civil war. I have said this before many of the violent groups act more like crime families to me. And based upon that many of the violent attacks are more like family feuds, in this case many different families and many feuds as power shifts or doesn't shift from old families to new based upon the new democracy.
The foreign insurgents can exploit this on a daily basis or simply wait till the families are exhausted then make the big play for all the marbles.
Jedburgh found an interesting article on another thread awhile back about how hard it was to penetrate these terrorists/insurgent groups because they were all related!!!
You could not just join you had to be related to them. I think this has more to do with what is going on in Iraq then religion or politics in general. Our policies are threatening very old family empires and blood is thicker than water or democratic elections. Crime families do not give up power easily and it can be very bloody.

07-19-2006, 02:46 AM
And just like the law-abiding folk in Little Italy or Chinatown, they fear the bad guys so much, that they' would rather watch everything collapse aound them, rather than wind up face down in a canal. It's an exaggeration to some degree, but I'm convinced that's why the average man on the strret doesn't help us much more.

07-19-2006, 10:05 AM
That is an interesting thought about how the Iraqi’s define it, however is enough to use the definitions of those who are attempting to spread civil war; depending of course on how large a percentage of the population they represent?

Steve Blair
07-19-2006, 02:07 PM
And just like the law-abiding folk in Little Italy or Chinatown, they fear the bad guys so much, that they' would rather watch everything collapse aound them, rather than wind up face down in a canal. It's an exaggeration to some degree, but I'm convinced that's why the average man on the strret doesn't help us much more.

With a tribal war scenario, there's also the chance that they are related to some of the people they'd be turning in. Then it comes down to a question of betraying the clan/family. They may not be willing to take that step, especially if they feel that the family or clan will provide more in the way of security or safety than the central government will. It doesn't even have to be a crime family in the way that we understand or think we understand them.

07-19-2006, 06:12 PM
I think the shattering experience of the US Civil War has put things out of perspective for American observers. By the standards of Grant and Lee, pretty much none of the civil wars of the past century would qualify. I'd say that Iraq definitely qualifies for civil war status, plus an ongoing insurgency (itself a form of civil war), terrorism, organized crime and disorganized crime. Really, Iraq has everything but the kitchen sink going on just now.

CPT Holzbach
07-20-2006, 03:24 PM
This one is entirely bad news.


CPT Holzbach
07-20-2006, 03:39 PM
And a good point from a writer on the blog at Real Clear Politics, also from today's links:

So long as the institutions comprising the new government hold together and the Sunni, Shi'a and Kurds continue to stay involved in the political process, the pot won't boil over into all out civil war.

The full article. (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/blog/2006/07/iraq_continues_to_boil.html)

07-20-2006, 09:49 PM
I don’t know, if they hold together but hold no power I think it could be a civil war. Just because some are involved in the political systems doesn’t mean all are, and they could easily be involved in both politics and civil fighting.

08-03-2006, 10:14 PM
3 August Washington Post - Iraq Moving Toward Civil War, Top U.S. Commanders Say (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/03/AR2006080300277.html) by William Branigin and Mary Jordan.

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East told a Senate panel today that the recent wave of sectarian violence in Iraq threatens to push the country toward an all-out civil war.

Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command, also said U.S. forces could take more casualties as they carry out a new plan to reinforce Baghdad, and he cast doubt on earlier predictions that the U.S. troop level in Iraq could be drawn down this year.

Abizaid, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, made the comments after the British ambassador to Iraq reported in a diplomatic dispatch that Iraq was more likely headed to "low intensity civil war" and sectarian partition than to a stable democracy.

The BBC reported that the assessment was contained in the final diplomatic cable from William Patey to Prime Minister Tony Blair and top members of Blair's cabinet before Patey left the Iraqi capital last week.

In his comments today, Abizaid did not dispute Patey's assessment...

08-04-2006, 06:47 AM
3 August Voice of America - US Generals: Civil War in Iraq Possible (http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-08-03-voa48.cfm) by Al Pessin.

The commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East told Congress Thursday that militants are trying to push Iraq into civil war, but he also said he believes the Iraqi government and military can prevent that if they have strong international support.

During a lengthy and sometimes heated discussion between senior defense department officials and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid painted a stark picture of the situation in Baghdad.

"I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war," he said. "Al-Qaida terrorists, insurgents and Shia' militia militants compete to plunge the country into civil war. It is a decisive time in Baghdad and it requires decisive Iraqi action with our clear support."

General Abizaid says there are sectarian divisions that cannot be ignored. But he said the new Iraqi government and its security forces are committed to getting the situation under control.

"The most important point that we've got to keep in mind is that the army is holding together and that the government is committed to bringing the sectarian violence under control," he added. "So the question is, 'Am I optimistic whether or not Iraqi forces, with our support, with the backing of the Iraqi government can prevent the slide to civil war?' My answer is yes I'm optimistic that that slide can be prevented."

In a memo made public by the BBC, the outgoing British Ambassador to Iraq drew the opposite conclusion, telling Prime Minister Tony Blair that a "low intensity civil war" is likely, and predicting that Iraq will break up along ethnic lines.

General Abizaid told the senate committee the new Iraqi government knows what must be done, and is working on the problems. He said the priorities are to bring Baghdad under control, disband illegal militias, bring death squad leaders to justice and proceed with the national reconciliation process.

At the same hearing, several senators and senior officials said the ultimate solutions to the violence in Iraq will be social and political, rather than military, and that Iraqis themselves must find the solutions. The top U.S. military officer, General Peter Pace, said now is a decisive time for the Iraqi people to make clear to the militants that they want the violence to end so they can build a democratic future.

"We need the Iraqi people to seize this moment," he said. "We provided security for them. Their armed forces are providing security for them, and their armed forces are dying for them. They need to decide that this is their moment."

The Senate hearing featured some partisan criticism of administration policy in Iraq, and some partisan support as well. But some senators from President Bush's Republican Party indicated they have increasing concerns about the future of the U.S. commitment in Iraq, because of the increase in violence. The powerful committee chairman, Senator John Warner, said the administration might have to ask the congress for additional authorizations if Iraq does descend into civil war.

General Abizaid, the Middle East regional commander, said he has rarely seen the region as "unsettled and volatile" as it is now in his more than 30-year career. But he argued for defeating the extremists now, in Iraq, saying halfway measures in the past made them stronger and that the international community cannot afford to let that happen again.

"This is a very serious problem that requires the application of our national might and will, along with that of the international community, to face down the extremist threat, whether it's sponsored by Iran or whether it comes from al-Qaida, or we will fight one of the biggest wars we've ever fought," he said.

General Abizaid is among the officials who approved the slight increase in U.S. troop strength in Iraq last week. He said some reduction by the end of the year is possible, but it is more important to help the Iraqi government and military get the situation in Baghdad under control.

09-07-2006, 02:23 AM
I answered yes to this question. I assumed it meant is there one or going to be one soon. I believe that what is needed is some tell tale signs that a civil war is happening. For me it would be with full scale sectarian violence and this can only be a bad thing. The Shiites if they were loosing would turn to Iran and the Sunnis if they were on the ropes would turn to their brothers in Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Is this a viable assessment?

peace Rob

09-25-2006, 06:24 PM
Let's have a look on definition!

A civil war is a war in which parties within the same culture, society or nationality fight for political power or control of an area.

When does sectarian violence (shia vs sunni or sunni vs kurds) become civil war?


09-25-2006, 08:30 PM
The World Bank uses a definition of civil war that is widely accepted by political scientists - when an identifiable rebel organization challenges the government militarily, and then the resulting violence results in 1,000 or more combat related deaths, with at least 5% on each side. With this definition, Iraq qualifies.

10-11-2006, 10:13 PM
CSIS, 11 Oct 06: Options for Iraq: The Almost Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/061018_iraqoptions.pdf)

...Iraq is already in a serious civil war, driven by rising sectarian and ethnic violence between Arab Sunni and Arab Shi’ite, and Arab and Kurd. Iraq’s government is not moving towards political conciliation and compromise at the rate necessary to keep this civil war from getting worse, discrediting the central government, and potentially dividing the country. Existing security efforts cannot succeed without far more political conciliation and compromise than has taken place to date. They are at best buying time, and so far without arresting the escalation of civil conflict. The US cannot simply wait to see if its existing strategy and actions will work. They will not. The situation is spiraling out of control, and the US must either strongly reinforce its existing strategy or change it. It also needs detailed plans and options for “Plan B,” the possibility that it may have to withdraw its troops and possibly most or all of its civilian presence from Iraq.

This paper surveys a range of US options for dealing with these issues. They range from options designed to make the current Coalition and Iraqi government strategy work to options for US withdrawal. Some set goals are not only are probably unworkable, but would impose demands on US policy and Iraqi action in ways that could make things worse and further erode the chances of success. Others might well increase the odds of success.

No mix of options for US action can provide a convincing plan for "victory" in Iraq. The initiative has passed into Iraqi hands. US and outside action can encourage progress towards political conciliation and compromise, and improved security, but cannot force it upon Iraq’s leaders or the Iraqi people...

10-17-2006, 02:32 PM
Here's a follow-up report from CSIS, 16 Oct 06:

Is There a "Civil War" in Iraq? (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/061016_iraq_civil.pdf)

The AOL short version of the Merriam Webster dictionary defines civil war as "a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country" The Webster's New World Dictionary, 3rd College edition, defines it as "war between geographical or political factions of the same nation."

The level and sources of violence in Iraq has clearly reached the level where they clearly meet this definition. The trend data issued by the Department of Defense in its August Quarterly Status Report are provided in the attached analysis (Note the numbers in the graphs are derived by CSIS, but the graphs are direct copies from the graphs in DoD report). They show a roughly 10 to 12-fold increase in sectarian violence over the last year, as well as a steady trend towards more violent civil war...

SSG Rock
10-19-2006, 02:13 PM
I had to vote yes.

10-20-2006, 01:01 PM
I find myself becoming increasingly pessimistic about this question. The degrading of the ability of international forces to hold down civil strife seems to be happing at a faster rate than when this thread started. International troops now seem to be only slowing the pace at which the civil war moves not preventing it.

On a sort of related note; I was thinking the other day about how when this war started some politicians and the like went to strained lengths to say that there was not a guerrilla war in Iraq, are we approaching the same point about a civil war there? Obviously it is not an exact comparison but there are some similarities.

10-20-2006, 01:52 PM
An insurgency is a civil war. But I voted "no" due lack of consensus on what is a civil war.

10-27-2006, 10:20 PM
From the Brookings Institution:

Sectarian Violence: Radical Groups Drive Internal Displacement in Iraq (http://www.brook.edu/fp/projects/idp/20061018_DisplacementinIraq_Khalidi-Tanner.pdf)

...The sectarian violence between Shi‘a and Sunni has grown dramatically in Iraq in recent months – the politically motivated work of radical armed groups on both sides. The dehumanization of the ‘other’ community is evident from the targeted killings, organized terror, and systematic eviction campaigns. The violence in Iraq is in fact reminiscent, on both sides, of the dynamics of sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, the Great Lakes of Central Africa, the Caucasus, Sudan and other great human rights disasters of the past 15 years. But the violence is neither spontaneous nor popular in nature. It is a war waged by armed groups against the other side’s civilians. What has changed, however, is that Shi‘a restraint, so conspicuous throughout 2004 and much of 2005, diminished dramatically following the Samarra attack...

10-28-2006, 12:05 AM
Jed, great post about what is really going on over there, but it is just so sad to read it.

10-28-2006, 03:46 AM
Jed, great post about what is really going on over there, but it is just so sad to read it.

Look on the brighter side. A successful counterinsurgency has a strong indigenous government and military that works side-by-side with the counterinsurgency. In Iraq, this is not really taking place. A successful insurgency needs a safe base of operation and a identifiable leadership that the populace will rally towards. This also is not really taking place. I don't see the latter doing anything towards the goals of a successful insurgency. I do see a mess. What we need is a new doctrine for counter-mess warfare, where CATCH-22 is the bible. The bottom line is that Iraq has been under civil war since they shook hands with Nazi Germany. Hitler maintained control of Germany as did Saddam in Iraq. However, that don't make it right. I guess we are stuck with letting Iraq burn itself into the ground and then build it up from scratch.

10-28-2006, 02:16 PM
Counter mess warfare, you are on to something with that.
I agree we may end up waiting until people have either left the country or get tired of fighting and are willing to try something else, like living instead of killing. I also agree that for CI to work there has to be and INDIG group for US to fight along side with to restore the legitimate government.

PS maybe we should offer Saddam a Pardon if he comes back and fixes the everything and promises to be a good boy towards the US from now on.

10-28-2006, 10:40 PM
The latest figures can be found at the Brookings Institute publication, Iraq Index: Tracking Variables of Reconstruction & Security in Post-Saddam Iraq 2 October 2006 (http://www.brookings.edu/fp/saban/iraq/index.pdf). Very interesting statistics and trends.

10-31-2006, 11:15 PM
31 October Reuters - Language on Iraq - When is it Civil War? (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/31/AR2006103100772.html) by Bernd Debusmann.

What do you call a situation where 3,000 citizens of a country kill each other every month through bombing, shooting and beheading? If the country is Iraq, it depends on who answers the question.

U.S. and Iraqi government leaders are avoiding the term "civil war," although President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and several generals have said Iraq was "close to," "nearing" or "in danger of" civil war.

Experts outside the administration have been less circumspect.

"Iraq's conflict is now worse than civil war," said an October report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank close to the Democratic Party.

"The country suffers from at least four internal conflicts -- a Shiite-Sunni civil war in the center, intra-Shiite conflicts in the south, a Sunni insurgency in the west and ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds in the north."

Gen. John P. Abizaid, the commander of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, told a Senate committee in August that "the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war."...

10-31-2006, 11:21 PM
Here's the report from the Center for American Progress referenced in that article:

Progress in Iraq: A 2006 Report Card on the Bush Administration's Iraq Policy (http://www.americanprogressaction.org/atf/cf/%7B65464111-BB20-4C7D-B1C9-0B033DD31B63%7D/IRAQ_REPORT_CARD.PDF)

...Iraq today stands between civil war and utter chaos, hardly the hope of a bipartisan majority of 79 U.S. Senators who nearly a year ago called on President Bush to put forward a strategy for “the successful completion of the mission in Iraq.” That vote prompted the Center for American Progress to issue quarterly report cards assessing the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.

With fewer than three months remaining in 2006, our third quarter assessment of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy finds Iraq on the brink of collapse, with growing violence, increased sectarian tensions and divisions in the Iraqi national government, and few significant advances in Iraq’s economic reconstruction. All indicators point to the utter failure of President Bush’s strategy for Iraq.

Iraq is a weak and failing state, with tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed and at least two million civil war refugees and internally displaced Iraqs, including thousands of Christians who faced increased persecution during the last three years. In three key areas outlined in the Bush administration’s “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq,” the United States has not achieved sufficient progress towards its goals...

11-01-2006, 09:29 AM
1 November New York Times - U.S. Central Command Charts Sharp Movement of the Civil Conflict in Iraq Toward Chaos (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/01/world/middleeast/01military.html) by Michael Gordon.

A classified briefing prepared two weeks ago by the United States Central Command portrays Iraq as edging toward chaos, in a chart that the military is using as a barometer of civil conflict.

A one-page slide shown at the Oct. 18 briefing provides a rare glimpse into how the military command that oversees the war is trying to track its trajectory, particularly in terms of sectarian fighting.

The slide includes a color-coded bar chart that is used to illustrate an “Index of Civil Conflict.” It shows a sharp escalation in sectarian violence since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February, and tracks a further worsening this month despite a concerted American push to tamp down the violence in Baghdad.

In fashioning the index, the military is weighing factors like the ineffectual Iraqi police and the dwindling influence of moderate religious and political figures, rather than more traditional military measures such as the enemy’s fighting strength and the control of territory...

11-01-2006, 02:14 PM
The chart on the NYT web page:


11-02-2006, 01:27 PM
2 November USA Today commentary - Last Gasps In Iraq (http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20061102/oplede02.art.htm) by Ralph Peters.

On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki obeyed Muqtada al-Sadr's command to withdraw U.S. troops from Baghdad's Sadr City. He halted a vital U.S. military operation. It was the third time in less than a month that al-Maliki had sided with the anti-American cleric against our forces.

President Bush insists that we have no conflicts with the al-Maliki government. The president isn't telling the truth — or he himself doesn't support our military's efforts. He can't have it both ways. Bush appears increasingly desperate just to get through the upcoming elections...

Iraq is failing. No honest observer can conclude otherwise. Even six months ago, there was hope. Now the chances for a democratic, unified Iraq are dwindling fast. The country's prime minister has thrown in his lot with al-Sadr, our mortal enemy. He has his eye on the future, and he's betting that we won't last. The police are less accountable than they were under Saddam. Our extensive investment in Iraqi law enforcement only produced death squads. Government ministers loot the country to strengthen their own factions. Even Iraq's elections — a worthy experiment — further divided Iraq along confessional and ethnic lines. Iraq still exists on the maps, but in reality it's gone. Only a military coup — which might come in the next few years — could hold the artificial country together...

For us, Iraq's impending failure is an embarrassment. For the Iraqis — and other Arabs — it's a disaster the dimensions of which they do not yet comprehend. They're gleeful at the prospect of America's humiliation. But it's their tragedy, not ours.

Iraq was the Arab world's last chance to board the train to modernity, to give the region a future, not just a bitter past. The violence staining Baghdad's streets with gore isn't only a symptom of the Iraqi government's incompetence, but of the comprehensive inability of the Arab world to progress in any sphere of organized human endeavor. We are witnessing the collapse of a civilization. All those who rooted for Iraq to fail are going to be chastened by what follows.

Iraq still deserves one last chance — as long as we don't confuse deadly stubbornness and perseverance. If, at this late hour, Iraqis in decisive numbers prove willing to fight for their own freedom and a constitutional government, we should be willing to remain for a generation. If they continue to revel in fratricidal slaughter, we must leave...

12-18-2006, 02:23 PM
CSIS, 14 Dec 06:

Iraq's Ethnic and Sectarian Violence and the Evolving Insurgency: Developments Through Mid-December 2006 (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/120614_iraq_update.pdf)

...In the fall of 2006, Iraqis faced continued high levels of violence, carried out by a tangled set of warring factions. As the nature of the violence became more complex, the prospects for national reconciliation grew more distant.

Changes in the dynamics of the fighting, and the character of the insurgency and civil conflict, largely centered on the following set of emerging trends:

• Sectarian fighting, led by the growth of some 23 militias around Baghdad, formed the foundation of the civil war. Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army developed rogue components that acted outside of his command. Sunnis formed loosely organized neighborhood death squads in the urban areas, some with ties to al-Qai’da or ex-Ba’athist groups. Two large scale attacks formed the foundation of reprisal killings in the fall: On 14 November Shi’ite militias were accused of abduction 150 people from the Ministry of Higher Education and on 23 November Sunni militants were accused of killing over 200 in bombings in Sadr City.

• Baghdad and other major cities – such as Basra and Baquba - were almost completely divided into sectarian strongholds as both Sunnis and Shi’a fled neighborhoods in which they were a minority. Soft ethnic cleansing forced upwards of 400,000 Iraqis to relocate within Iraq since the February Samarra mosque bombing.

• The Sunni Arab insurgency remained focused in the western Anbar Province and benefited from the relocation of US troops to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad.

• Attack patterns continued to focus on civilians with the average deaths per day rising to almost 100 in October. According to Iraq Coalition Casualty count, 3,539 Iraqi civilians died in September, 1,315 died in October, and 1,740 died in November. The US also saw an increase in attacks in the capital and IED attacks reached an all time high. 104 US troops died in October, the highest since January 2005. One-third of the deaths were in the capital, but the majority of US troops were killed in Anbar Province. An additional 68 US troops died in November.

• The Shi’ite community was internally divided, increasingly along militia-support lines. The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) was the most powerful political bloc, but al-Sadr’s militia and its rogue components found widespread support from the Shi’ite population. An incident in Amara in October underscored the tensions between SCIRI and al-Sadr.

• US military attention focused on curbing the heightened concentration of violence in Baghdad, while violence outside of the capital continued to intensify, particularly in key areas such as Baquba, Basra, Mosul, and Falluja.

• Turkey pledged their support for the minority Turkoman population in Iraq and urged Iraq to take action against PKK rebel activity in the Kurdish north. Kurds continued to conflict with Arabs in key cities such as Kirkuk and Mosul.

• Regional players, particularly Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, and Turkey were increasingly concerned about the spread of civil war across the region....

08-07-2007, 08:28 AM
In the Middle of a Civil War (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/06/AR2007080601163_pf.html)- LTCOL Gian P. Gentile, Washington Post, 7 Aug.

In late February 2006, al-Qaeda (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Al+Qaeda?tid=informline) destroyed the Askariya Shiite shrine in Samarra (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Samarra?tid=informline). During the previous two months that my cavalry squadron had been operating in Iraq (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Iraq?tid=informline), my main focus was the technical training of the Iraqi national police and combined operations with them against Sunni insurgents in west Baghdad. Before Samarra, it did not seem important which areas of Baghdad (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Baghdad?tid=informline) were Shiite or Sunni or that the police battalions I operated alongside were almost completely Shiite. Before Samarra, I assumed that Iraqi citizens saw the national police as the security arm of the elected, and thus legitimate, government and that the officers had the people's support against insurgents.

It took about three weeks after the attack, in which time my combat patrols sprang from one Sunni mosque to another to protect them from Shiite militias that were at times supported by members of the national police, for me to realize what was really going on. For me, Samarra came to define the nature of the violence in Iraq: civil war.


In the summer of 2006, my squadron was assigned to Amiriyah (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Amiriyah?tid=informline), a Sunni district of Baghdad. I was the American commander in charge, and over five months I came to know well Sunni perspectives of Iraq. Many if not most Iraqi Sunnis think that the Iraqi government is not legitimate but sectarian and out to crush them. The Sunnis in Amiriyah believed that the government was using its institutional powers to deprive them of essential services such as electricity, trash pickup, banking facilities, health care and, most important, security. People I spoke with said that Iraqi security forces, especially the local and national police, were determined to kill them because they were Sunni. Their response to these ideas was not passive: Residents of Amiriyah, working with Sunni insurgents, would regularly target the Shiites in the area as payback for what they saw the government doing to them. The bodies that my squadron helped retrieve from the streets each day were almost always Shiite.

I decided that the best way to secure the neighborhood would be to hire local men, vetted by me and trusted imams in the district, and turn them into a police force. Not only did this prove to be exceedingly difficult, but government officials often told me that doing this was arming their enemy.

I ordered a concrete barrier to be built around Amiriyah and limited entry to one checkpoint controlled by the Iraqi army. The goal was to keep Sunni insurgents from bringing in weapons and to prevent attacks by Shiite militias. But while the barrier helped isolate the neighborhood from outside insurgents and militias, it could not stop, and actually facilitated, killings within Amiriyah. The security we helped provide for Sunnis gave them increased freedom to go out and kill Shiites or, more recently, to conduct fights against local al-Qaeda members. Amiriyah became one of the safest areas in Baghdad for Sunnis but lethal for the few remaining Shiites ...

08-22-2007, 05:46 PM
CSIS, 22 Aug 07: Iraq’s Insurgency and Civil Violence: Developments through Late August 2007 (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/070822_cordesman_iraq_report.pdf)

....Much of the progress in the fighting came from a rising Sunni tribal resentment and anger against al-Qa’ida and the most extreme elements of the Sunni Islamic extremist movements that had nothing to do with US plans and strategy or the actions of the Iraqi central government. US military officials were able to pursue local alliances with tribal and sectarian groups to fight against al-Qa’ida in Iraq. There were also signs that such alliances could be expanded from Anbar to cover other parts of Northern and Central Iraq and Shi’ite, as well as Sunni tribes. In Taji, the first Shi’ite-Sunni tribal alliance was formed between the 25 local tribes in the area of Anbar.

At the same time, however, some aspects of the Shi’ite extremist threat continued to increase. Many Shi’ite militia elements did “stand down” as a result of the “surge,” and did not clash with US troops. Less violent forms of Shi’ite sectarian cleansing continued, however, and Sunnis continued to be pushed out of mixed areas, including Baghdad. According to one calculation by U.S. military officials, 52% of violence in Iraq was caused by al-Qa’ida and other Sunni insurgent groups, while 48% was due to Shi’ite militias.

Coalition encounters with the Mahdi Army in northeast Baghdad increased, raising tensions between Coalition forces, Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Maliki government. Prime Minister Maliki has publicly condemned American-led actions such as the blockade of Husseniyah and raids into Sadr City, which did not receive the official sanction of the Iraqi government. Maliki feared thatsuch US-led offensives without Iraqi sanctioning worked to undermine the credibility of the government.....

08-22-2007, 06:45 PM
I think Maliki's days are numbered. I'm betting that when parliament comes back into session they are going to try to hit him with a vote of no confidance. I think that will help things, at least for while, while people wait to see what the new guy does.

Referendum 140 will be another big point. I am anxious to see how that turns out.