Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Attacks continue in Iraq

The President's analysis, via A.P.:
WASHINGTON - President Bush on Tuesday decried the latest surge in sectarian violence in Iraq and declared that for Iraqis "the choice is chaos or unity."
Andrew Sullivan:
"And they say there is no sectarian war? What do you call this?" - an Iraqi, reacting to the massive casualties of the past few days. 1300 dead in a few days is not a portent of civil war. It is civil war. The question is whether it can now be stopped. Imagine if 16,000 Americans had been slaughtered in a few days in sectarian conflict. Would you call it peace?
Zeyad has another must-read update:
A few months ago, when Baghdad was ripe with news of Interior ministry's death squads raiding Sunni neighbourhoods at night, the local National Guard commander in our area started touring mosques to warn them from uniformed security forces operating at night. The commander's own words were "Never, never open your doors to security forces after dark. If they attempt to force their way in, be prepared to defend yourselves." That was the time when people started forming neighbourhood watch teams again.

But I digress.

The Defense Ministry spokesman also stated that orders have been issued to arrest 'anyone who carries weapons, regardless of their religious or political backgrounds.' A committee was formed to place a mechanism to disarm militias and to ban armed demonstrations on the street. The Interior Ministry also formed a committee to incorporate the militias in the armed forces, except the Peshmerga. Now, that is deeply troubling.

General Rasheed Flayih, commander of Interior Ministry forces, stated to Al-Mada newspaper that his forces have the authority to conduct raids and detentions in any area of Iraq, without returning to the Multinational Forces or the Defense Ministry. He also mentioned that several units from his ministry have been assigned to police stations, and at 18 'hot' districts of Baghdad as undercover agents, named 'Field Intelligence units.' He announced that a new department called the 'Department of Night Patrols' has been formed, and that it would start operating night patrols in several areas of Baghdad on March 15. I sense major trouble coming.


Blogger Charlie said...

How does one define civil war? In political science this is an on going debate. The most popular definition is 1000 battle deaths between warring groups. From that definition it seems like a civil war is already under way.

9:36 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Old CSM article you may have already read:

"It's not a threat. It's not a potential. Civil war is a fact of life there now,'' says Pavel Baev, head of the Center for the Study of Civil War at the Peace Research

Institute in Oslo, Norway. He argues that until the nature of the conflict is accurately seen, good solutions cannot be found. "What's happening in Iraq is a multidimensional conflict. There's international terrorism, banditry, the major foreign military presence. But the civil war is the central part of it - the violent contestation for power inside the country."

What this means in practical terms, is that an immediate US withdrawal isn't likely to bring peace to Iraq, say analysts. Nor is simply "staying the course," if it isn't matched by a political peace treaty among the warring parties - a role that a new constitution, facing a midnight tonight deadline, could fill.

The academic thumbnail definition of a civil war is a conflict with at least 1,000 battlefield casualties, involving a national government and one or more nonstate actors fighting for power.

5:31 PM  

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