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The Iraqi Situation: Is it Civil War/Part Two PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 01 June 2013 13:13

On May 9, I updated this blog with a piece about the Iraqi situation which was entitled, "is it civil war", at that time things in Iraq have quieted down a little bit after the terrible events of the previous two weeks that started by the massacre the government has perpetrated in Hawija, the small Sunni town near Kirkuk on Tuesday April 21, at the of which at least 42 people were killed, 39 of them civilians, and more than 100 wounded.  This calamity was followed by two weeks of very serious escalation of the quarrels between the two main religious factions in the country, the Sunnis and Shiites.  By that time the position of the Prime Minister was becoming increasingly tenuous and shaky, but suddenly the Kurds came to his rescue, the Kurdish autonomous authority in the north of the country sent their Prime Minister to Baghdad who after a very short meeting with al-Maliki said that his authority's longstanding problems with Baghdad has been resolved, they have solved a number of very sticky issues between them and the central authority, they sent their ministers who were part of the federal cabinet back to its meetings which they have been boycotting for some time. After that meeting, al- Maliki started to breath a bit easier, Politics!!!, but it was short lived, few days later all hell broke and the situation was again threatening the resumption of the terrible carnage of 2006-2007, between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

On May 20th, More than 70 people were killed and many others injured in a series of bomb attacks across the country, Baghdad was worst hit, with several explosions at bus stations and markets in the mainly Shia Muslim districts.  Other attacks occurred in Samarra, Basra and Hilla further south.  It was one of the worst days of violence in recent months as Iraq has seen a rise in attacks linked to growing political and sectarian tension.  In a separate incident, 10 policemen who were kidnapped on Saturday in Anbar province were found dead, Monday's violence left more than 200 people dead and injured.  The Prime Minister vowed to make immediate changes to Iraq's security strategy and said that militants "will not be able to return us to the sectarian conflict”, he made these remarks during a press conference he held later on in the day, in the presence of some of his most senior ministers and advisers, during which he called the people who were opposing him agents of foreign powers, who were executing a very dirty and divisive agenda, he was also opposed to the parliament’s speaker’s invitation to himself and those officials who were in charge of security to attend a parliamentary hearing session to discuss the deteriorating security situation, and asked the parliamentarians to boycott the session calling it a platform for sectarian and political propaganda.

On the second day the speaker of the parliament held a press conference himself in which he accused the Prime Minister of defying parliament which was elected by the people by refusing to attend the parliamentary session which he has called for to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the country  which has followed several very bloody days in many Iraqi cities which left hundreds of dead and injured, which I have described few seconds ago, the speaker called the Prime Minister’s defiance and refusal to attend the session, a contempt and an insult to the elected body, a rebellion and against the constitution, and threatened to take him to court.  During the following days that followed this confrontation, the situation calmed down a little, very clearly both sides were trying to avoid a situation which would have escalated and threatened some very serious complications, so they stopped at the edge of the precipice, but this calm is very deceptive and illusory, the situation in Iraq is totally polarized, the fact is, both sides are totally entrenched in their positions and are refusing to compromise and the danger of a further deterioration of the security situation is very real, even something like a civil war.  But to understand what is going on in Iraq now one has to go back to the early days of the American invasion-occupation of the country, to the recent Bush war.

To understand what is happening in Iraq now, I think it is necessary to go back to the early days of the American occupation of it, and specifically the time the bush administration’s envoy, to the occupied country, Paul Bremer, because the blunders and terrible mistakes of this man has perpetrated during his one year of leading the civil administration of occupied Iraq are responsible to the messy and highly explosive situation in that unfortunate country now.  I have talked about Paul Bremer’s one year in Iraq in my BOOK, "The Hanoudi Tragedy’" in which I said, Paul Bremer was arrogant and terribly, woefully ignorant of the language, the culture and the socio-political complexity of place, his fortified isolation in the so called "green zone"’ did not help.  I am not going talk about all his follies now, but would concentrate on one of his earliest deadly mistakes.  Paul Bremer, appointed the 52 members Iraqi Governing Council [IGC], an advisory group to help him govern the occupied land, on the frank basis of ethnic and sectarian identities, this precedent continued under subsequent Iraqi administrations and was replicated in in the lower ranks of government institutions, this was a very important factor in shaping the highly polarized and frighteningly explosive situation in Iraq at the moment which threatens a return to the sectarian violence of the years 2006 and 2007, and the possibility of an outright civil war.

The Iraqi situation is continuing to deteriorate in spite of the intense behind the scenes efforts by the American administration to curb the violence and to calm it down.  In December 2011, President Obama withdrew the US troops from Iraq, which was supposed to be the end of America's very costly involvement there, but it was not the end, they still have an extremely significant presence, the US embassy in Baghdad is the largest in the whole world with at least 3000 employees, a very large contingent of US marines purportedly to guard the embassy, and an untold number of workers from the various intelligence organizations.  The United States has very important strategic interests in Iraq, which in spite of the fact that it is currently saddled with very serious Middle East problems ranging from Syria to Iran, but it very simply cannot forget Iraq.  Vice president Joe Biden who has been the administration’s point man on Iraq called on the Prime Minister, the Kurdish leader, and the head of Iraq’s parliament on May 25, to express the administration's concern about the degenerating security situation and their failure to agree on a permanent power sharing agreement.  But those efforts by the Vice President very apparently failed, because two days later the carnage resumed. On Monday, May 27, a coordinated wave of car bombs tore through mostly Shiite areas of Baghdad, killing at least 66 people and maiming nearly 200 as insurgents step up the bloodshed roiling the country.

The attacks in markets and other areas frequented by civilians are the latest sign of a rapid deterioration in security as sectarian tensions are exacerbated by anti-government protests and the war in neighboring Syria grinds on.  More than 450 people have been killed across Iraq on Monday, May 27.  That day's bloodshed was the deadliest since last Monday, when a wave of attacks killed 113 people in mostly Shiite areas of the torn apart country, that was the deadliest single day in Iraq since July 23, when attacks aimed largely at security forces killed 115.  Most of the recent killings came over the past two weeks in the most sustained wave of violence since US troops left in December 2011.  The surge in attacks is reminiscent of the sectarian carnage that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007.  The unrest is fueling long-simmering sectarian rifts in the country that grew more divisive after the crackdown by security forces on the orders of the Shiite prime minister on the Sunni protest camp in the small town of Hawijah near Kirkuk which left more than 50 dead and dozens injured.

The current situation in Iraq is very tense, is extremely dangerous and threatens a very serious conflagration. The possibility of the country sinking into a civil war is exceedingly high.

Najeeb Hanoudi

Friday, May 31, 2013

Southfield, MI