2006 July 20 Thursday
Internal Migrations In Iraq Accelerate

Christians flee to Christian towns in the north such as Ainkawa which is near the Kurdish city of Irbil.

Firas also lived in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad. He left two months ago and says very few of his neighbors are still there. He says he left because he feared for his life. "If you are in a Shi'ite neighborhood and they see your identity is Christian, okay, you will at least suffer or they will kill you, easily. Same in Sunni places," said Firas.

The US should shift aid money toward helping them move.

Sometimes, those who have fled have experienced the worst horrors. A businessman we will call Fouad, to protect him and his family, was kidnapped in Baghdad. He is reluctant to recall his ordeal. "I do not want to remember it. Leave it," he said. "What is the use of this story? Every day hundreds are kidnapped in Baghdad."

Does it bother Bush the Christian that his policies have badly shafted Christians in Iraq?

But Father Tariq from Saint George Church in Ainkawa says it is not just Baghdad Christians who are fleeing the violence. He says families came from Basra, Mosul and Kirkuk, as well as Baghdad. Altogether, about 700 families have come to the area.

Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times reports that bakeries are being forced to close all over Baghdad because the owners are not the right political sect in some cases.

For the past year, Sunni Arab militants have swept through their old neighborhood, a heavily Sunni district in northwest Baghdad that borders a Shiite area, forcing Shiites out of their homes and shutting their shops by killing customers and workers inside. One after another, bakeries, whose workers are overwhelmingly poor and Shiite like Mr. Aaraji, began to close.

Now, out of 11 bakeries in the area, northern Ghazaliya, just one, the Sunni-owned Al Obeidi on Center Street, remains open. The neighborhood, like a mouth with missing teeth, is almost entirely without the simplest of Iraqi needs, freshly baked bread.

Some Iraqis think that the US forces do so little that if the US pulled out the violence wouldn't increase.

The widespread sectarian killings have gone virtually unchecked by authorities of any kind, American or Iraqi. That is one of the bitterest disappointments of the war for Iraqis, rivaled only by the letdown felt when the military did not stop mobs of looters in April 2003, when Saddam Hussein’s government was overthrown. Recently Iraqis have begun to say that an American withdrawal, which they previously feared would result in a bloodbath, might not make any difference.

“Their main task, their whole reason for being here, is to prevent exactly this, but they do nothing,” said an Iraqi mother who lives near Sadr City and strongly supported the Americans as recently as last year. “They just let it go, my God, so easily.”

With about 6 members per family displaced the current rate of those who report their refugee status is over 6600 per week.

In all, he said, nearly 27,000 families, about 162,000 people, had registered for relocation aid since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra on Feb. 22, which set off waves of killings, kidnappings and reprisals.


Sattar Nowruz, a spokesman for the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, said 1,117 families abandoned mixed areas for Shiite or Sunni strongholds in the last week alone, an increase since March that analysts described as a conservative snapshot of internal migration.

I'm guessing most do not report to the government that they've had to flee their homes. Think about it this way: At least 100 per week are dying. Given the death rate would you stay in a mixed sect neighborhood in your city?

With July 2006 only two thirds over the Iraqi migration ministry says over 30,000 have registered as refugees in this month.

A day after the United States issued a stern warning to both Shiite and minority Sunni leaders to match talk with action on reining in and reconciling "death squads" and "terrorists" from their respective communities, the migration ministry said more than 30,000 people had registered as refugees this month alone.

That works out to about 10,000 per week or even higher than my calculation of 6600 per week above. 10,000 per week is over a half million a year. Again keep in mind that these are the people who register with the government. The real numbers could be double or triple or higher. The internal migration rate looks high enough to partition the country along ethnic lines within a year or two.

Time to call the events in Iraq a civil war.

Even those hesitant to call Iraq's ongoing sectarian violence a civil war have begun saying that the only way to diffuse the sectarian killings is nothing short of the international mechanisms used to mediate past ethnic, religious and political conflicts in Central America, the former Yugoslavia and Sri Lanka.

"I start to feel the need to say that there is a civil war," said Salim Abdullah Jabouri, a Sunni politician, "in order to borrow the tools and solutions of past civil wars to apply them here, and to call upon the international community to deal with Iraq's problems on this basis."

Partition the place.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 July 20 10:24 PM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Cleansing

John S Bolton said at July 21, 2006 1:03 AM:

If they were so bold as to 'borrow the tools' of Mme. Albright; you could get a liberal nation-building recipe for a prolonged conflict.
If the idea were to kill the maximum number of moslems in Iraq, this approach should not be overlooked.
All that is needed is to intervene sporadically against the locally stronger party, the better to prevent 'ethnic cleansing'.
On the liberal view, what you need is freedom for aggression, except sometimes that of the majority; as when the local dominant group will not share with the underdog.
Then, as in Yugoslavia, you keep conflicts going by continually intervening against the local dominant, to keep them from sweeping the field.
Would this be a war crime?
Apparently the 'international community' does not feel that it is; or wouldn't they be demanding the heads of Clinton and Albright?

Dave L. said at July 21, 2006 7:13 AM:

Divide et Impera!

Robert Hume said at July 21, 2006 10:14 AM:

This has turned out perfectly for the Israelis. I think if I were an Israeli I would have been smart enough to conceive this and put it over on George Bush. I only wonder if the neocons were smart enough to see where this was going; or were they strung along by the Israelis also?

A strong nation has been reduced to quarreling factions. Factions from which all the intellectuals have fled and hence who will never be able to develop and deliver WMD. Now if democracy can be delivered similarly to Syria and Iran Israel will be safe. Then they need never leave the settlements.

Except ... if Muslims/Al Qaeda/Hezbollah are so mad that they manage to get hold of a nuke from Pakistan or N. Korea. The rest of the world is so pissed off at Israel that they are likely to passively assist. Let's hope that they don't hold the US responsible. I think that entangling the US has also been a major goal of Israel.

Randall Parker said at July 21, 2006 4:43 PM:

Robert Hume,

Saddam was no threat to Israel. Iran was and is farther along in nuclear weapons development. Saddam's overthrow was great news for Iran. The US getting bogged down in Iraq is also great news for Iran. Iran is the winner here, not Israel.

BTW, I haven't figured out the long term effects of the current battle between the US and Israel. Can Israel get some force to effectively police south Lebanon? The Lebanese Druze and Sunnis and Christians aren't rushing to sign up. Will the Europeans?

razib said at July 23, 2006 5:07 PM:

one thing about iraqi christians, they are eastern christians, and historically my understanding is that they have had an ambivalent relationship with american fundamentalists because the latter have often targeted them for conversion...to christianity of their sort. i remember a story in a book about palestinian christians, a palestinian christian waiter in an israeli restaurant was often asked by southern americans when he had converted to christianity, seeing that he wore an eastern orthodox cross. the guy obviously found this very offensive and it did not build christian-to-christian love, seeing as how many americans seem oblivious to the reality that millions of indigenous christians still live in the middle east.

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