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Is Iraq on the brink of Civil War?
Posted by: McQ on Friday, February 24, 2006

Many, including the LA Times, think so:
As British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw remarked, the bombing bore the hallmark of an Al Qaeda attack: nihilism. It's hard to imagine what purpose the bombing of one of the holiest Shiite shrines could serve other than to incite a civil war. Alas, the bombers appear to be succeeding. The violence is worsening; Shiites have retaliated by burning Sunni mosques by the score; and the strife is spreading across Iraq.

The political portents are also ominous. The Iraqi Accordance Front, the main Sunni bloc in parliament, has pulled out of negotiations on the formation of a new Iraqi government. Sunni and Shiite leaders are busy blaming each other and the United States.
Of course we all know that fomenting civil war has been one of the goals of al Qaeda. And, if the attacks were by that group, it may have finally hit upon the method which will succeed. The key point in the LAT editorial is the attacks have succeeded in stopping the formation of a new Iraqi government. And with it go the few remaining hopes of avoiding civil war. It leaves the army of Iraq in a very difficult position in the absense of any leadership. It also gives more power to those who would fill this leadership void such as Muqtada Sadr.

Is it too late to stop what some see as inevitable? Or must this run it's course before Iraq can truly settle down and actually form a government?

Would a civil war result in a united Iraq, or will it, as some fear, break into three distinct parts? If Iraq descends into civil war, what should be the role of US troops? Will those outside Iraq with vested interests inside the country attempt to calm the waters or support their faction within Iraq?

A lot of questions, very few answers. Your thoughts are solicited.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

If one person, Sadr, is the focal point of so much misery for the Iraqis’ why don’t we just take him out? We have the ability.
Written By: Tutor_Turtle
URL: http://
Many in the media have a latent vested interest in seeing civil war in Iraq. Three years ago many were pontificating that civil war would happen if Bush were allowed to proceed along his imperalistic path. For some it’s all about proving Bush wrong, regardless of consequences, and the LATimes is no exception.
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Belmont Club has a good round up with an attempt to put all these events on a timeline. It seems all these events happened Wed, and yesterday was somewhat more calm if not very tense.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
If the country does split into three pieces, I think we would be prudent to withdraw our troops to Kurdistan. They’d probably be welcome there and would serve as insurance that the Kurds wouldn’t be attacked by the Turks.

I don’t think this is going to happen, though. One of the Iraqi bloggers nailed it pretty solidly: who would be fighting in a civil war that isn’t already fighting? For a Lebanon-style debacle there’d have to be a substantial intervention by one of Iraq’s neighbors (Iran, Syria, Turkey) and that doesn’t look too likely yet.

It is a major challenge to the new government of Iraq. They need to 1) bring the Sunni parties back into the fold; they’ve already made moves in that direction but AFAIK the Sunnis haven’t responded yet; and 2) they need to re-establish order. The curfews are a step in the right direction but just a small one.

Early reports suggested that the team that bombed the shrine had been apprehended. That needs to be confirmed or denied and, if confirmed, they need to be identified publicly.
Written By: Dave Schuler
Bill Roggio has some indicators he thinks would demonstrate that Iraq is indeed headed for civil war.

Some of the criteria may be a little subjective, but most of it sounds spot on.

With every major religious leader in the country - both Sunni and Shia calling for calm, it seems unlikely that at this point, civil war will break out.

Of course, that could change within hours. But even Mookie Sadr is talking against violence. And al-Sistani is calling for 7 days of mourning which will probably tamp down many of the Shia protests.

I liken it more to "Bleeding Kansas" rather than a Fort Sumter moment. It could lead to civil war but we’re not there yet.

Rick Moran
Written By: superhawk
Good points, Rick. We’ll see if the calls by the clergy have the desired effect. But if the folks putting the government together can’t hash out their problems and get the governmental show on the road, all the calling for calm in the world may not be able to slow the potential for a steady slide into civil war.

We’ll see.
Written By: McQ
Even if this is not the start of a civil war, as long as Al Qaeda operates in Iraq it will attempt to start one. Al Qaeda will mount other attacks like this mosque assault. To prevent a civil war Al Qaeda must be stopped from agitating for one.
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://

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