Friday, March 10, 2006

Is Iraq in a state of civil war?

Glowing optimism (which will indicate a great deal of insanity) from the Weekend Australian:
Martin Chulov
March 11, 2006
THE rampant sectarian violence in Iraq does not amount to a civil war and Iraqis are waiting for a safer time to rise against the Sunni insurgents inciting the chaos, a leading Middle East expert claims.

Instead of becoming the second entrenched civil conflict to blight the region in the past 20 years, the ramped-up fighting across the centre and south of the country is being driven by groups who do not have the capacity to spark a broader war, says author and editor David Pryce-Jones.

"There is a clear distinction between a civil war and sectarian violence," he said.

"We are dealing with a society which does not have a system for mediation and conflict. They are trying to create the institutions and systems which would allow this to happen.

"The political void is such that it allows the militias free hand to do what they want. The strong win and the weak go to the wall."

Pryce-Jones said civil war would only begin if violence became indiscriminate.

"All the targets that have been struck have so far been carefully chosen," he said.
No, indiscriminate violence is a riot. Targeted violence is a civil war.


Blogger Ezzie said...

No, targeted violence is terrorism. Rampant targeted violence between 2 clear and strong sides is civil war. Everything else is chaotic rioting.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's about time you start predicting winners in various senate and gov'n'r races around the country.

Have a good weekend!!!11 I'll check you out on da flipsiiiide!

2:57 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Ezzie, you make a good point.

But we're right at the doorstep of a civil war, or maybe in the living room.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Not even close. 10, or even 20, or even 50 thousand people fighting against the rest in a country of millions is still a tiny percentage. Our instantaneous access to news reports makes it seem so much worse; but it's not even close.

Perhaps you have to experience this to understand, but I'll give you examples: I spent 2 years studying in Israel, at the height of the latest intifada. Aside from the news, there was no noticeable effect on the lifestyle of everyone in Israel. Sure, people were more careful, a bit more hesitant boarding buses... but if you'd watch the news, you'd think people were constantly avoiding public areas and that murderers were roaming the streets. I heard a few suicide bombings - and just went on with my day/night. It's not as all-encompassing as the news makes it out to be.

7:27 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Where do you get that number of 10 - 50 thousand? That was the estimated force strength for the Fedayeen before the invasion. There are about 14,000 detainees in U.S. custoday in Iraq. Yet, the insurgency remains bold and effective. Today's al Jazeera reports:

Police said that eight people were killed and 10 wounded when a car bomb exploded in the Shia-dominated Sadr City district of Baghdad on Sunday.

A policeman at the scene said the car bomb had exploded near a market, while a mortar bomb had landed on another market in Sadr City a few minutes later.

It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties in that incident.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, US forces were fighting a fierce battle with Iraqi fighters in a western neighbourhood.

Police said the fighting erupted about 3pm in the Khadra neighbourhood.

An AP Television News cameraman reported that a US helicopter landed nearby to evacuate casualties.

It was not known what prompted the fighting or if there were any dead. There was no immediate comment from the US military.

Also on Sunday, six Iraqis were killed and 13 wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a US army patrol near the airport, on the western outskirts of town.

There was no immediate word from US forces on possible American casualties, but Raafar al-Bayati, an Iraqi journalist, told Aljazeera that one US soldier was also killed in the attack.

Earlier, two civilians were killed and six wounded when a mortar shell landed on a house in central Baghdad, and two more civilians were hurt when another shell fell in an east Baghdad street.

You have an interesting point about the effect on lifestyle as an indicator of the nature of the conflict, but I don't think you take into account an accurate assessment of the lethality and frequency of these attacks.

The insurgency is a great deal larger than you represent it, or wish to represent it. It is still a marginal number by the percentages, but a small percent of millions is still a dangerous number. Insurgencies and revolutions are often conducted by a small percentage of radicals amid a larger population of disaffected individuals.

There is also the case of the al Rawafid security abductions. The kidnapping in broad day light has the hoof prints of the Interior Ministry/Badr Brigade, though it can't be said with any certainty. Then there are the death squads. Reports that the Shiite lead government underreported fatalities.

The formation of the Iraqi government is on hold as a spat works itself out between the Kurds and the SCIRI Shiite. Khlaizad has rung the alarm about the seriousness of this insurgency and the increasingly violent sectarian clashes.

And, back to today, 35 dead in Sadr City? According to some Iraqi bloggers, the men in black that ran wild after the Samarra blasts were Sadrists. The movement is more volatile than the man.

11:49 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Lifestyle as an indicator of the breadth/nature of the conflict.

One more link from today's Washington Post:

After two weeks of attacks, many of them centered on Sunni mosques, a few hundred men knelt for prayer in the giant, carpeted Um al-Qurra, far fewer than the 1,000-plus worshipers who normally spill into its marbled arcades. "This is the worst kind of crisis that we have been made to endure," Sumaidaee said.

11:59 AM  

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