WASHINGTON - Two senior U.S. generals told Congress on Thursday that growing sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims threatens to plunge Iraq into civil war.
"I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war," said Gen. John Abizaid, the chief of U.S. Central Command. The top American military officer in the Middle East was testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff and thus the top general at the Pentagon, agreed with the assessment.
"I believe that we do have the possibility of that devolving to a civil war, but that does not have to be a fact," Pace said.
You have to figure their private assessments could be even more bleak.
"We can provide support, we can help provide security, but they must now decide about their sectarian violence," Pace said. "Shia and Sunni are going to have to love their children more than they hate each other."
I'm counting on them to hate each other more.
I get the sense that the Bush Administration is trying to lower expectations far enough that if civil war breaks out people won't be shocked.
Asked about the generals invoking the specter of "civil war," White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said aboard Air Force One: "I don't think the president is going to quibble with his generals on their characterizations."
A leak of the final diplomatic cable of the outgoing UK Ambassador to Iraq, William Patey, shows that Patey thinks civil war in Iraq more likely than not.
Mr Patey wrote: "The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy.
"Even the lowered expectation of President Bush for Iraq - a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror - must remain in doubt."
Talking about the Shia militias blamed for many killings, Mr Patey added: "If we are to avoid a descent into civil war and anarchy then preventing the Jaish al-Mahdi (the Mahdi Army) from developing into a state within a state, as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon, will be a priority."
Lawrence Auster has pointed to the significance of the huge shift in position of war hawk Ralph Peters toward the view that Iraq is going to slide into full civil war. The hawks are starting to worry about what happens to their reputations should the decay in Iraq continue. Things aren't going to plan and defense of what Hillary Rodham Clinton just referred to as "happy talk and rosy scenarios" has gotten embarrassing.
Update: Nancy A. Youssef of the McClatchy Newspapers says the Iraqi workers at the Baghdad bureau agree Iraq is already in a civil war.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The top U.S. military commander for the Middle East, Gen. John Abizaid, told Congress on Thursday that the violence in Baghdad "is probably as bad as I have ever seen it," and went on to say that the country could be headed toward civil war.
Nearly all of the dozen Iraqis who work for McClatchy Newspapers' Baghdad bureau - evenly split between Shiite and Sunni Muslims - reached that conclusion long ago.
Their observations have trickled out day by day in the scores of conversations colleagues have with one another about their lives and difficulties.
Read the full article for stories of killings and ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 August 03 07:46 PM Mideast Iraq Ethnic Conflict|