Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A civil war dawns

The population is migrating in significant numbers. Patrick Cockburn in the Seatle Post Intelligencer:
In March alone, the U.S. military said 1,313 people were killed in sectarian attacks. Many bodies, buried in pits or thrown in the rivers, are never found.

The real figure is probably twice as high. All over the country people are on the move as Sunnis and Shiites flee each other's areas.

I was in Lebanon at the start of the civil war in 1975. Baghdad today resembles Beirut then. People are being murdered solely because of their religious identity. A friend called to say he had a problem because his two half brothers had been born in Fallujah, the Sunni Muslim stronghold, and this was on their identity cards. If they were picked up by Shiite militiamen, a glance at their place of birth alone could get them killed.
IRIN: "IRAQ: Facing attacks, Shi'ite Muslims flee to south"

Militias have begun to position weapons to fight in prolonged engagements and seize key areas. Dave Enders of the Nation:
"We are buying more weapons," says Tamimi, the Mahdi Army commander. "The situation in Iraq is very bad, and we are ready to fight. Saddam had weapons factories in Abu Ghraib and Ramadi and Falluja. If the Americans leave, [Sunni insurgents] will have these weapons, and we don't."

"We are all the army of the Iman [Mahdi Army]," says Naim Hussein, who lost three cousins in sectarian fighting. "We are waiting for the green light from our leaders. If there were really a civil war, there would be no Sunnis left."
Militias have had some practice with mosque seizures in late February and early March.


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