09 June 2006

A note to those saying that Iraq is having a Civil War

Now getting a handle on the actual number of guns owned in Iraq is a difficult proposition... In theory Saddam set up laws against gun ownership, but, just as clearly, his own military at the personal level pilfered many weapons and sold them. Further, the Kurds not under Saddam's control, are pretty well armed and may have infiltrated arms into other parts of Iraq. And even more was that Saddam, by having so many secret police and secret military also distributed weapons caches, many of which were most likely found by locals wondering 'what the hell is in them and can we sell it?' The NYT claims that at least every Iraqi family owned a gun of some sort, even if it was a 1903 Lee-Enfield. But even beyond that, Saddam distributed thousands of AK-47s to his 'Citizen Militia'... probably closer to millions of them, given his penchant for mass purchasing.

So the final is a dim memory I have of one US officer during a briefing saying something along the lines of 'just about every family has or has a relative that has an AK-47'. In theory everyone was supposed to turn those in to the new Government, but that is unlikely to have happened as in that part of the world burial in the desert for later retrieval is the way of life for weapons. And as was found in the north african desert, if you wander by an old WWII era battlefield, you will still find canteens with water that is potable and weapons that you can still fire, so desert storage is not wonderful but half-way decent out in the open. A bit of cleaning and they become reliable again.

The answer is no one really knows how many automatic weapons are owned by the Citizens of Iraq. At the high end it could be as high as 35-40%, including distribution by Ba'athist redentists, terrorists, sectarian militias and supplies from Syria and Iran. The low end I would put in the neighborhood of 15% with many hidden in out of the way places, disassembled or just generally kept out of sight and out of mind.

Time for fun with numbers!!

So, total population of Iraq: 28.807 Million people
Minus Kurds: Use the high end of ~6 Million

So, Southern population of Iraq, and lets use 5.807 as a Kurdish estimate to make the numbers nice: 23 Million

Number of children 0-14, 40% of General Population: 9.2 Million

Adult Population of Southern Iraq: Call it 14 Million for round numbers.

At the low end of 15% for automatic weapons: 2.1 Million
At the high end with, say ~35%: 4.9 Million... Round up to 5 Million

So, here is the question: If a Civil war breaks out in the South and it is a true Civil war involving, say 50% of the population, how many automatic weapons will be used?

Answer: 1 Million to 2.5 Million.

What does a Civil War in Iraq look like?

Answer: bloodbath.

Now add in RPG dissemination at only one-tenth that of AK-47s and you get 100,000 to 250,000 of those *also* roaming around in a Civil War.

Just loverly!

Throw in a small percentage of other oddments, like fragmentation grenades, WP grenades, the old family heirloom rifle, handguns, a left over recoilless rifle from WWII here and there, and the odd UXB and what does a Civil War in Iraq *really* look like?

Yes, hell on earth.

The odd bombing and such at a rate a bit higher than that of Egypt and Turkey and Jordan combined?

Par for the course. It is the Middle East, not Des Moines, Iowa we are talking about.

For those folks saying Iraq is having a Civil War, please demonstrate the dead on the streets in so many places in so many cities and the constant rapid fire of automatic weapons making them all impassable and *then* you can claim Iraq is having a Civil War.

What they have now is standard for the Middle East, believe it or not. You may not like it. But do remember that this is *not* the United States we are talking about but Iraq.

If the US had an africa sized land mass abutting on the east full of folks not liking us and wanting to take us down, and another good sized island hitting on Oregon and Northern California full of people being armed to get into the US to cause trouble, and a Southern Neighbor funding religious insurgents and a Northern Neighbor that was politely well armed, yet somewhat hostile and with ethnic instabilities, then WE would not look like the United States as it is today EITHER.

So, show me the numbers.

Show me the Civil War in Beirut spread across all of Iraq and corpses rotting on the streets for days and weeks.

Show me the numbers.

For they are NOT THERE NOW.


ABFreedom said...

Doesn't even come close to civil war, but more like a small gang war. The civil war probably won't start until a bit after the US military leaves, cause you know they just can't get along with each other.

A Jacksonian said...

ABF - I agree completely! Strategypage pointed out that the highest attributable cause of death was: Revenge Killings. Payback on the former regime elements that had not hot-footed it out of the country. Ordinary and everyday death by accident outnumbers death by bombings... and I expect that their deaths from auto accidents will be non-negligable as more brand-new drivers take to the roads.

What we see is some old style Criminal gang killings, some sectarian strife via militias, Ba'athist holdouts, and, the odd Terrorist willing to blow anyone up for some headlines and being hated by everyone else.

What Iraq has now is pretty much par for the course for Nations of that size and ethnic diversity in the Middle East.

Iran, on the other hand, is falling apart rapidly and heading towards some sort of internal conflict.