25 July 2006

Now about that Civil War in Iraq

Predicting Civil War in Iraq has a long lineage dating quite some time back... lets take a look at the year 2002...

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Iraq attack 'may trigger civil war' by James Dao, 22 OCT 2002:

The Iraqi government has displaced about one million people over the last 30 years, creating deep regional and ethnic fractures that could erupt into civil war if President Saddam Hussein is deposed, a new report says.

It says the majority of these internally displaced people are Kurds from northern Iraq whose villages have been razed or mined by the Iraqi military and who have been relocated in temporary, ramshackle communities.

If Saddam is ousted, the report by the Brookings Institution and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies says, any effort by the Kurds or other ethnic groups to regain control of the fertile, oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk could trigger conflict.


It is estimated that at least 1.5 million people will try to flee Iraq if war breaks out and that another 7 million to 8 million Iraqis will go hungry without foreign assistance. Iran and Turkey have both said they are bracing for a flood of refugees.
Say, notice that Kurdish Civil War anyplace? And how about that mass starvation! See THAT anywhere around? And that "flood of refugees", a veritable torrent that emptied the country, didn't it? Are you sure? The usually reliable for SCIENCE fun-ness, New Scientist, seems to have stepped into it with dire warnings and predictions, too...

New Scientist, Iraq war 'could kill 500,000', by Rob Edwards, 12 NOV 2002:
A war against Iraq could kill half a million people, warns a new report by medical experts - and most would be civilians.

The report claims as many as 260,000 could die in the conflict and its three-month aftermath, with a further 200,000 at risk in the longer term from famine and disease. A civil war in Iraq could add another 20,000 deaths.

Collateral Damage is being published on Tuesday in 14 countries and has been compiled by Medact, an organisation of British health professionals. It comes as the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, is deciding how to respond to a series of deadlines on weapons inspections imposed by the United Nations.


The report has been commended by both medical and military specialists. "It is really important that people understand the consequences of war," says Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association.

"All doctors look at war with a very large degree of horror because they know the meaning of casualties," she told New Scientist. "Even in the cleanest, most limited conflicts, people die and people suffer."

General Pete Gration, former Chief of the Australian Defence Forces and an opponent of a war on Iraq, adds: "This is no exaggerated tract by a bunch of zealots. It is a coldly factual report by health professionals who draw on the best evidence available."


It concludes that the resulting death toll will be much higher than either the 1991 Gulf War, which killed around 200,000 Iraqis, or the war on Afghanistan, which has so far left fewer than 5000 dead.
Well, they have good *science* articles, but their foreign affairs wisdom is about what you would expect from folks that haven't any experience in it. Now, could someone *please* point to where all these dead folks actually ARE that were supposed to die in this conflict? I mean, 500,000 corpses is a bit hard to cover up, even for Saddam!

And then there is the ever lovely Worldwatch Institute, that had this lovely article by Michael Renner... Blood and Oil--Alternatives to War in Iraq [26 NOV 2002]. Now, as you probably don't want to go through the hassle of actually signing up and downloading the PDF file, I have done so and gave it a quick... very quick skim and will hand you the juiciest bits. But the tenor of the thing is one of, and I sweeten condense a few pages here, 'America responsible for the problem of Saddam, oil dependency, and worsening global warming by not signing onto Kyoto.' I will say that the good Mr. Renner does a bit of background on the paper, but lack of citations for references so as to cross-check him and his assertions makes this more of a political diatribe:
Installing a U.S. client regime in Baghdad would give American and British companies (ExxonMobil, Chevron-Texaco, Shell, and BP) a good shot at direct access to Iraqi oil for the first time in 30 years—a windfall worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And if a new regime rolls out the red carpet for the oil multinationals to return,it is possible that a broader wave of de-nationalization could sweep through the world’s oil industry, reversing the historic changes of the early 1970s.


But the stakes in all this maneuvering involve much more than just the future of Iraq. The Bush energy policy is predicated on growing consumption of oil, preferably cheap oil. Given rising depletion of U.S. oil fields, most of that oil will have to come from abroad, and indeed primarily from the Gulf region. Controlling Iraqi oil would allow the United States to reduce Saudi influence over oil policy and give Washington enormous leverage over the world oil market.
Mr. Renner is definitely smoking something that clouds the mind, if not the vision. Remember that Nationalizing oil companies is *good* and private oil companies are *bad*. All of this is being done to undermine Kyoto....

So, a bit off track from the original Civil War concept, which I will get back to in just a moment, but here is something that I have never, really, been able to understand: If the US really *did* install/support/'make' Saddam into the nasty tyrant he was, then isn't it a GOOD THING for the US to clean him OUT? Hey! If you make it the fault of the US, then at least admit that we cleaned up on *that* mistake and give some credit with out any *ifs*, *ands* or *buts*. If you are castigating the US, then at least own up to that and recognize that deposing Saddam is something worth high amounts of applause and that supporting the effort to SET THINGS RIGHT is a good thing, also. And put the damn 'proviso' language away and shut up and HELP! That is if you actually know *how* to help and not just protest and vituperate and make speeches and 'symbolic acts of resistance'. You have heard of actually HELPING?

Now, onto 2003... What, you thought I would stop at the mere *beginning* with the doom and gloom forecasts? Not so! And I can even put to task individuals that I LIKE and ADMIRE! In this case it is Strategypage's James Dunnigan with The Coming Iraqi Civil War, 4 APR 2003. I could extract lengthy quotes, but the piece is chock-a-block with information and I will do my best to give a quick summary of the salient features:

  • Iraq is highly factionated along religio-ethnic divides in the population... Shia (60%), Sunni (20%) and Kurds (20%), with the Sunni minority being the backers of the previous regime.
  • Mr. Dunnigan cites OIL as the main problem in Iraq, pointing out that if profits from oil (after maintenance, delivery and production costs are subtracted) each and every individual Iraqi would get $2,000/year. That is the bag of goodies at stake.
  • The Kurds have control over the northern oil fields and questions of their wanting 'reparations' after a war and seeing a 'fair' division of oil profits are sticking points.
  • There are a number of minorities with ethnic Turks and Assyrians and religious christians thrown into the mix.
  • The Sunni's being in control for over a century see themselves as privileged to that position. Also noted is that the Ba'ath Party is an outgrowth of the German National Socialist Party, as Germany spread their doctrine to the region, followed by leaders fleeing there after WWII. They *also* have religious and doctrinal divides, and not all Sunnis are Ba'athists.
  • Then there are Shia Fundamentalists which are a minority of the Shia population and many other divisions within the Shia population.
  • A cultural divide between the latest generation (30 and under) and the older generation that he identifies as the Yuppie/Villagers divide.
And then winds up with this quote: "Democracy can work in Iraq, but not without a lot of work. If democracy doesn't work, expect to see Saddam 2.0 show up. "

The one thing he, apparently, forgot to consider was that Iraq is SO divided that getting a Civil War going is a damned difficult proposition. In point of fact, that is what ALL the folks opining on this forget. But, for all of that, he lays out the key points of concern, just not the things anyone is actually worried about. A real method of equitable distribution of oil revenue has *still* not be laid out by the Iraqi Government and they could do far worse than the *National Trust Fund* idea if they could lock that away from grubby fingered politicians.

Now onwards to a lovely little article, Iraq Close to Civil War, Warn Iraqis by Firas Al-Araqchi at http://www.dissidentvoice.org/ 11 DEC 2003. Here the contention is that the Shia majority will be shortchanged and disenfranchised by elections, that turnover to a real government just *might* be slowed down a bit, that the US was giving too much to the various militias and shortchanging the making of a real military, and that the US, UK and Israel are going to 'siphon off oil' from Iraq. All of which will lead to the aforementioned Civil War. Lovely, isn't it?

Just before that we have Bush's Speech: Internationalizing the Whirlwind, by Kurt Nimmo, 8 SEP 2003, from that same dissidentvoice.org site. Really a lovely haven for moonbattery and wingnuts on the left, full of all sorts of transnational conceptions. But this is the key quote:
The assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Al-Hakim "was the opening volley in the coming Iraqi civil war," explains William O. Beeman, director of Middle East studies at Brown University. "The United States will reap the whirlwind."
Has anyone seen a missing whirlwind around?

Of course How America Lost the War, by William Rivers Pitt, 14 APR 2003, also from DV also gives gloom and doom even *before* that:
At this moment, the city of Baghdad is in utter chaos. The Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad, repository of over 5,000 years worth of cultural and regional history, has been utterly destroyed. Mesopotamia and its people have lost an immeasurable portion of their history with this terrible act, one that could have been stopped by a few Marines outside the museum. That simple precaution never happened. Beyond that, the looting has had a darker social edge. The strata of society in Iraq has seen for years the minority Sunnis – who claim Saddam Hussein as their own – ruling over the majority Shia. The orgy of looting that has broken out in Iraq is, basically, the Shia robbing the Sunni. An ever-rising boil of gunplay between these two groups is putting a match to the fuse of religiously-based civil war, and the American troops have done nothing to stop it except recruit members of Hussein's feared police force to try and restore order. So much for regime change.
Damned long fuse, isn't it? Over 3 years in actually trying to burn to *something* that will detonate. And that 'ever-rising boil of gunplay'? Well, add in some terrorist bombings and you have a low, roiling simmer of a hot pot. Now, the only thing I do agree with is the concept of using anyone from Saddam's regime to try and hold peace or much of anything together. But, this joker is criticizing the Bush Administration for doing *something* which everyone else would soon criticize him for *not doing*.

Back to 'other voices' as the dissident sort has had its little bit. We come upon this lovely little gem from Pravda on 1 OCT 2003, Military analyst predicts civil war in Iraq, and their analyst of Dutch origin, professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Martin Van Krefeld:
"I am sure that soon the coalition troops will have to leave Iraq, but then the whole Middle East will find itself in a complicated situation, while Iraq will become another Afghanistan. There, everyone will fight against everyone: Kurds against Arabs, Shiites against Sunnites. If dozens of thousand of foreign servicemen are now not able to stop the unrest in the country, later it will be even more difficult to do so." When speaking of those who confront the US-British forces in Iraq, Van Krefeld pointed out that they were not only supporters of the deposed Saddam Hussein. "Even ordinary people who do not like their country occupied, fight against the coalition troops, and such people are becoming more and more numerous. Every day guerrilla groups with new names, previously unheard-of, appear. It is this resistance that will force the coalition troops to leave Iraq," the analyst believes.
Yes, Comrade! All those servicemen who are seen has honest brokers and wanted by the Sunni and Kurds and most of the Shia, to boot. They are telling us 'not to leave' as we can guarantee that they can build a better Iraq with our help and protection. And these guerrilla groups and militia are pushing so hard... to kill Iraqi Civilians, having run out of targets that will not shoot back effectively.

And now back to James Dunnigan at Strategypage.com for The Civil War in Iraq, 29 OCT 2003. Now in this article he fingers the fact that Ba'athist holdouts had started to target Iraqi Civilians in an attempt to intimidate the Shia population with their hardy reputation and perserverence. And that all of this will resemble Lebanon's Civil War, but then puts in this little escape hatch paragraph:
But the Americans will be withdrawing as soon as there has been a democratic election. This will establish a government run by Shia Arabs and Kurds. Many Sunni Arabs are willing to fight to the death to prevent this from happening. And their foe in this war is not foreigners, but the Shia and Kurd policemen who are restoring order in the country.
So a nasty, internecine religious war will happen... IF the US leaves after democratic elections. Well, how about those Sunni's realizing that they can't Lord it over the Shia and Kurds and, with being outnumbered and all, *politics* is the path to getting a fair shake. So, exercise the escape hatch... and you find away around the Civil War.

This takes us back to the fine folks down under, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), US exit may lead to Iraqi Civil War, 19 NOV 2003, with this little bit to think upon:
Council members believe the proposed provisional government, to be appointed by June next year, should control counter-insurgency. Some of its members argue that Iraqi Kurdish forces in the north and the Shiite militias in the south could be used to undermine the Sunni fighters from the centre.

Others insist the Americans be confined to guard duty on Iraq's border and at oil facilities.

All that sounds like the civil war Washington said would never happen during the fierce international debate that preceded its invasion of Iraq in March this year.

The Sunnis are already stirring the pot, claiming the Shiites want to impose an Iranian-style theocracy, and the Kurds are wary they might be caught by these two in a pincer grip
Yes that dreaded 'pincer grip' of the crustacean Shia Fundamentalists. Makes one drool for clarified butter and nutcrackers and little forks to pick it apart... but then they go on later in the article to announce this bit of wisdom:
Nothing happening in Iraq at present could inspire any sensible discussion about pulling US troops out - the CIA reports that the insurgency is bolder and more effective, but the Pentagon says that US troops could be reduced by about 30,000 to 100,000 by May next year.
Actually the insurgency gained the butcher by the name of Zarqawi from Jordan and he helped to start the mass targeting of Iraqi Civilians. I do wish that the insurgency would have left their targeting only to LEGITIMATE military targets for they would be dead and buried by now.

So there you have it by the END of 2003: a Civil War that would be dominate by the Sunnis or Shias or Shias and Kurds or Shias and Sunnis, depending upon whom you listened to, that would really start up once US troops left because the 'resistance' forced them out, or because they left with a democratically elected government in place, or maybe with a US puppet dictator in place, and with such a huge evacuation and actual death from the war that fully 1/3 of the population would have fled to neighboring countries with the dead littering the streets, or maybe with just a bit of looting at an art gallery. But that Civil War was on! Or starting! Or lit to go! Or might happen tomorrow!

And I avoided names like Fisk and Monbiot and Chomsky *deliberately*.

And all because of a population so heavily divided so many ways that they have problems on figuring out what to order for dinner at their political gatherings.

Strangely, if one of these idiotic factions actually had done us the great and good service of declaring a competing government and 'revolution' or some such, they could have been utterly destroyed and taken out of the way by the US and Coalition forces. And you need THAT to have a Civil War, and some attempt to actually make a Governing Body, distinguish your soldiers from the population and raise a damn flag to proclaim your new Government.

THEN you get properly *killed*.

What is going on now is sheer and utter cowardice by all involved. At least in Lebanon they had the decency to attempt to raise government, flags and put on uniforms... even it it was comical Republics of this neighborhood or that neighborhood. That is at least honorable, even while being comical and deserves a salute, even if with a snicker or chortle.

What is going on in Baghdad is purely dishonorable, for they will not put forth any noble goals, proclaim no government, nor set forth their way of protecting the people under them. Those there now that fight only want death:

Death to the enemy, though he changes from day to day.

Death now, unless you might get shot, then best to skulk in the shadows and hope a sniper does not see you putting distance between yourself and weapon.

Death to any you do not like, but since you can't get those women and children will do.

Death always... just please not to me from out of the blue or by bomb or drive-by shooting.
Death so I can get MINE and to hell with everyone else, except a few people I like... who are on the chopping block because of me.
If you give your support to the idea of a Civil War as what is happening in Iraq, these are the ones you are supporting. Iraq has a problem. They have barbarians within their culture and neighborhoods. They must either give up on barbarism and assert Just Law for EVERYONE, or sink into chaos and destruction.

And when that happens, Death will walk their land and take them all.

I support a Free Iraq. Free of injustice. Free of tyranny. Free of mob rule. Free of religious destruction.

This minority that wants to get *theirs* do NOT support those things. The majority that has voted, that signs up for the military and police and actually forces these ones further and further from legitimacy they want those things to keep the long night at bay.

Call it a Civil War and you give barbarians honor they are not nor ever due for their actions. Let them put on a gloss, a mere patina of legitimacy.... so their day may be ended, and they can greet Death personally.

Call it a Civil War and you give NO respect or honor to those killed by these barbarians nor the hard work they have done to try and put a Nation together.

And I shall not give those dishonorable, cowardly barbarians one bit of honor and no remorse at their end. They DESERVE all that is coming to them.

I put my hopes on those who *build* for they are the FUTURE. And they deserve honor for the hard work and perserverence necessary to keep on while barbarians rage. Knowing that those things they do and build will finally rid their Nation of the barbarians.

I already disagree with their Government on some few things, but that does not mean I want them to *fail*. That is the nature of freedom, and honorable disagreement is the path to Civilization.


NoFearNoHateNoGreed said...

Hi, I'm Syrian. Arabs are not idiots to start civil war on their own. No Arab really wants to kill another Arab.

What you see in Iraq, is one of the dirtiest methods in power and money struggle I have come across.

There is no fundamental reason why an Arab wants to kill another Arab.

What is really interesting is your lack of knowledge of a major major major contributor to this whole mess. One word, "Israel".

Israel DOES NOT want a U.S. Arab ally that does not give in and submit to its filth. Israel will do whatever to make sure that the Iraqi government is not Democratic. Why? because no Arab likes to have foreigners running around our land with tanks, helicopters, and war planes. Think about how you would feel having, let's say, Soviet tanks and army running around your U.S. town. The feeling of the Arab is much worse than yours because of the long lasting colony of “Israel”.

Israel has literarily bought out the Kurds in the north.

I'll leave it here for your imagination to conclude what is really going on in Iraq. I am from Damascus, Syria.

PS: Take an example Lebanon. A former pro-western democratic country that Israel enjoyed destroying with passion. Take care and try to think of Arabs as free people that will never accept some government submitting to some foreign power, especially the Nazi like colony referred to as “Israel”.

A Jacksonian said...

Hello and thank you for that.

Syria, of course, is sitting directly atop multiple faultlines of its own and actually having "Israel" for a neighbor presents it with the problem of needing to support individuals and groups that perform terror and corrode the Nation State in an attempt to de-legitimize Israel. Unfortunately, their allies in this want to delegitimize the entire Nation State system and will take any willing cooperation to do so.

Purporting Israel to be the 'problem' is an interesting proposition for a people that were able to take the UN mandate of the decolonialization of British held territory gained from the fallen Ottoman Empire. It was able to do so through the wholly legitimate means of establishing Nation, governance, international accountability, internal law, and abiding by the necessities of *being* a Nation State.

In Iraq we have seen Arab Sunni and Shia sectarian militias killing each other with *no* influence from Israel and LOTS of influence from Iran on the Shia part and Saudi Arabia on the part of the Sunnis, with some additional help from Syria. It is a strange thing to assert the non-killing of Arabs by other Arabs when it has taken place frequently in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Be it via terrorism or from enforcement of religious edicts, in the case of KSA, Arabs killing other Arabs is a common occurance in the Middle East. These Nations and terrorist groups are *not* beholden unto Israel and, in point of fact, represent pre-existing schismatic problems which were glossed over during the Colonial to Cold War era. As demographics and infrastructure has shifted during that era, so to does the power basis of each of those groups which now find themselves in direct conflict to gain visibility, resources and legitimacy through wanton killing. Iran, being Persian, does not mind Arab killing Arab as that is what they see as the natural order of things dating back to Persian Imperial times.

The Kurds to the north have garnered very little financial or physical support from Israel, but have gained MUCH from the protection of their population by the US based no-fly/no-drive zones that protected them during the 1990's. A look at how they have rebuilt their part of Iraq points to local initiative and industry seeking *any* helpful external support. They have found much of that in the West and Far East and continue to do so to this day, showing themselves to be a proud people who are able to do these things on their own. And they will heartily remind you that the best military leaders for the Arab world came from their folks. They continue on with those traditions to create an indigenous internal security capability that offers security and liberty to their own people and hunts down terrorists effectively.

Israel has neither the time, money nor material to 'buy out' anyone. Their wall construction costs, alone, must range into the $3-5 Billion dollar range, which is a large amount for a governmental project of such a small Nation. Their support for procurement of US military hardware is done via things known as LOANS which get PAID BACK in FULL. Israel has proven itself capable of keeping itself out of problems with its creditors, protect its people and run a successful economy. The Kurds may have lifted that *template* from Israel, but their application of it is wholly indigenous in its support and fit to society. You do *not* see Kibbutz or other socialistic agglomerations in the Kurdish region of Iraq, but do see standard capitalist industrial plans and workforce. The Kurds have friendly relations *with* Israel, but, in theory, so do Jordan and Egypt. If that is enough to assert *control*, then you may not like the fact that those Nations have done so. But then they see themselves as Sovereign States that happen to be Arab, not Arabs that happen to be part of a Sovereign State.

I would suggest that if you do not like Israel running around with tanks and such on Arab territory, that the Arabs *stop* attacking them. Israel has proven itself to be a legitimate Nation State. It has all the rights of such a Sovereign State. When attacked it may exercise those rights under the Westphalian concept of Sovereign State defense as built upon over centuries of diplomatic work via Jus ad bellum.

Of course trying to invoke emotions is a standard ploy and I refuse to have them invoked. You may have great emotions thinking of an 'interloper' conquering 'territory' that was once 'yours'. Well, yours recently, at any rate. Shall we do the old 'turning back the clock' by hundreds or thousands of years and dredge up those problems, too? Assyria, itself, has been dominated in times past by the Hittites, Rome, Babylon, Persia, and, if memory serves, Egypt. Most of those used native Assyrian mercenaries to do their dirty work and be 'shock troops'. Strange thing for Arabs to be killing Arabs now, isn't it? Because the WERE Arabs then... a people composed of various tribes from common root stock in the Near East. The people broadly known as the Semites. Of which the Jews are a representative of them, although having moved variously about via the diaspora and now returning *home*.

Why *are* Arabs killing their long lost brothers?

Oh, and the last sentence? Godwin's Law.

Be seeing you!