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Not Laughing Anymore

Iraq’s Bloodshed Spells Civil War
Officials see the latest violence, which claimed 130 lives, as a slide into a full-blown conflict.
By Borzou Daragahi
Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD — Retaliatory massacres by gunmen and bombers linked to rival Muslim sects have left more than 130 people dead across Iraq over the last two days, the latest casualties of what some politicians now are calling an undeclared civil war.

At least 57 Iraqis were killed Tuesday and scores more injured when a suicide bomber lured a group of day laborers to gather around his minivan with the promise of work before setting off explosives.

The bombing in Kufa rained blood, burnt debris and charred body parts on a small market across the street from the Muslim bin Aqil mosque, the main platform for radical Shiite cleric and militia leader Muqtada Sadr.

Since the start of May, attacks by Sunni Arab and Shiite Muslims have claimed the lives of more than 6,000 Iraqi civilians, according to a United Nations study and Iraqi police reports.

The blast, coming on the heels of mass murders and bombings attributed to Sadr’s Al Mahdi militia and its Sunni Arab enemies, brought the battle to the Shiite cleric’s doorstep, igniting fears of a fresh wave of reprisal killings.

“The message is clear, and the message confirms the sectarian differences,” said Fadhil Sharih, a leader of the Sadr movement. “It seems clear that it’s been moving toward the direction of civil war.”

U.S. and Iraqi government leaders have argued that the 150,000-strong foreign troop presence has kept the country from descending into full-scale civil war. But many Iraqi officials fear the threshold has been crossed.

“What is happening in Iraq is a disaster and a tragedy,” Adnan Dulaimi, a Sunni Arab leader, said in an interview.

“It’s bloodshed and killing of the innocents, killing the elderly and women and children. It’s mass killings. It’s nothing less than an undeclared civil war.”

Many members of Iraq’s political class spoke gravely of the massacres and bombings of the last few days, even as two U.S. Cabinet officials visiting Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone this week touted Iraq as a potential bonanza for private investors

The Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni Arab political group, warned Tuesday that “Iraq is witnessing a grave escalation in violence,” and called on Iraqis “to return to their senses instead of slipping into the abyss.”

The surge in violence has terrified residents of Baghdad and other mixed Sunni and Shiite areas. The Baghdad airport has been flooded with Iraqis of modest means seeking to escape even temporarily the country’s upswing in sectarian slayings.

According to a U.N. study based on Health Ministry statistics, 2,669 Iraqi civilians were killed in May and 3,149 were killed in June. And this month, the toll appears to be even higher, particularly in the Baghdad area that is the target of a sweeping security crackdown aimed at quelling the violence. U.S. and Iraqi troops had launched the sweep, to great fanfare, after a visit in mid-June by President Bush.

“Things are getting worse,” said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish lawmaker.

Even those who hesitate to call Iraq’s ongoing sectarian violence a civil war have begun saying that defusing the sectarian violence will require the international mechanisms used to mediate previous 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.”

The latest cycle of violence began with the July 8 bombing of a small Shiite mosque in the Jihad neighborhood of southwestern Baghdad.

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  1. Anonymous
    July 19, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    The world now sees what President Bush has known since 9-11. Islamic fascists, and the governments that support them, will be destroyed to the point that the world is once again free from terror. Any place, any time, and for as long as it takes we will protect ourselves and our allies to the demise of these insane, virgin seeking, low life assassins!
    Islam must and will be removed from the face of the earth. They will soon join the Nazis in hell! If Iran wants nuclear weapons, let’s give them to them. But not unexploded, if you get my drift!
    Don’t have the backbone for this? Pack your bags and move to Lebanon or Syria or Iran. You’ll be back with a changed attitude! In anticipation, we accept your apology in advance.
    For further background and enlightenment, go to chapter 16 of Genesis and read on.

  2. Bob from San Luis
    July 20, 2006 at 3:43 am

    Very brave of you to comment anonymously. Just put a name that you can use here, and maybe a dialog can happen concerning your viewpoints. Islam is not the problem, f-u-n-d-e-m-e-n-t-a-l-i-s-a-m is once again the problem of a given religion, not the majority of peaceful followers of that religion. Islam is about 600 years younger than Christianity; if you compare Islam to Christianity of 600 years ago, there could be some interesting parallels. Remember the Inquisition? Nothing justifies violence, either in the name of religion or not, so I am not trying to excuse the actions of the extremists who are attacking innocent civilians or even military targets; terrorism is wrong, period. As I mentioned on another thread, most of the insurgent attacks have been by Iraqis who are tired of not having working water, sewer and electricity services, or they can’t provide for their families. The actual terrorists who are attacking civilians are certainly evil, and will use any advantage or device to further their cause. One such attempt employed recently was an attack on men who were waiting around for any sort of work. Here is a link to the reporting of that story. As more of these type of attacks are carried out, more violence will occur against others who have a different view, whether religious or other, because each group perceives their violence as somehow protecting themselves. It is this same type of a whack-a-mole approach that has perpetuated the continued violence in the region for what, some 3000, or 4000 years? When the left tries to start a conversation about treating the cause of terrorism, the right throws out the response that we somehow want to give therapy or talk over the bad feelings the terrorists have. If one could have an honest conversation with an actual terrorist about why the believe as they do, we might learn something, but I am not advocating that. If we can uncover the network of terrorists financing, if we could intercept arms shipments, if we could learn of where they train, instead of trying to kill them all, perhaps we could capture, contain and/or dry up their funding and remove their ability to function. We certainly don’t need to kill more innocent civilians, we don’t need to help them recruit more followers, and the very idea of any nuclear response is beyond the pale. Military action alone cannot stop terrorism; we need to use intelligence assets, law enforcement networks and when appropriate, military backup for the larger operations.

  3. kirk in slo
    July 20, 2006 at 1:41 pm

    If the cause of the suicide bombings in Iraq is the lack of jobs and a broken sewer, does this mean the next battleground will be Los Osos?

  4. Anonymous
    July 20, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    Death to radical islam! Death to terrorism! Protect & defend Israel. Finish the great work in Iraq and pave Iran. Wal Mart would build there cuz of all the free parking!
    More people die on American streets due to gangs, drugs, and illegal immigrants than will ever die in the middle east. So I guess that also means death to gangs, drug dealers and illegal immigrants!
    Keep America strong and free! Buy a gun (or 3) and learn how to use em. It’s in the founder’s constitution. Or are you against that as well?

  5. Anonymous
    July 20, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    Hey Bob! Nobody in their right mind would ever attach their name to a comment given the vicious attacks we have all seen in here.

  6. Bob from San Luis
    July 20, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    To all who post anonymously here: I don’t care who you are and you certainly are entitled to your opinion; my point is that for a dialog to occur, there needs to be a little bit of recognition. If you attach some sort of name to your post, your comments can be distinguished among all of the other anonymous commentators; that is what I am trying to suggest. If you have a viewpoint that you feel makes a statement, that you have a point worthy of consideration, put a name on it, don’t chicken out. No one here is going to solve any of the world’s problems or be the catalyst for world peace. Have a great day, if you choose to.

  7. Anonymous
    July 20, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    Bob, we get your point loud and clear…that’s why we stay anonymous! We don’t want to be gragged through the mud by those that don’t agree, so they attack and smear as a method of justifying their stance. If things were more civil maybe that will change, but i doubt it anything will happen until we keep the house & senate in 2006 and the white house for 8 more years in 2008. Till then have an anonynously great day!

  8. Allan Comstock
    July 21, 2006 at 6:31 am

    Look at the venom being spewed on all these anonymous post; just not here, but on other blogs I’ve seen. People afraid to publicly take a stand. People beating up on one another simply because someone dares to express a political opinion which MAY be in the minority.

    What has happened to us? I thought Bush was going to be “a uniter, not a divider.”

    Has this country ever been so divided? I blame Bush and Hannity and Rush Limpdick. All they can do is spew hate.

  9. Bob from San Luis
    July 21, 2006 at 6:54 am

    Okay, I admit it, I miss Rich from Paso; a conservative who would speak from his heart, and was not afraid to put his name on his comments. I disagreed with most of what he said, but I respected that he commented here. Rich said he was going to stop commenting here, but would be reading. I hope he is doing well, and will come and comment here, when he can. Take care.

  10. Rich from Paso
    July 21, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    :::Sniff, sniff:::
    How sweet, Bob, misses me. I refrain from commenting because I got tired of repeating myself. You said it yourself, Bob, doing the same things over and over again expecting a different result is the very definition of crazy… and I’m not crazy, just tired of saying over and over again that Iraq will succeed. I knew that I was going down that road when I started posting links to the archives within this very blog to where I said the same things I said earlier. Even though Dave has no problem cutting and pasting every doom and gloom story that the New York Times feels fit to print (which is all of them), I think I have made my opinions on Iraq clear, but to recap: I was there, I know some of the people, it’s not as bad for soldiers there as the press makes it out, we saved hundreds of thousands of people from Saddam’s torture machine, al Qaeda was in Iraq, there are WMDs in Iraq, Iraq is a front on the War on Teror and creates a front on what I now believe is a 27 year war with Iran, everything that Bush said in 2003 and the timetable he set then has come to pass. That’s it, bye for now.

  11. Dave Congalton
    July 21, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Rich,

    Time out, pal. I do more than just “cut and paste every doom and gloom article from the N.Y.Times.” I don’t know which conservative blogs you have your head buried in lately, but look at the facts (1) 3000 civilians are being killed PER MONTH in Iraq; (2) Injuries are up 40 percent. (3) Iraq is in civil war, plain and simple.

    So please don’t try to cop out these tired arguments about liberal bias. And let’s not let Israel distract us from the plight of our troops in Iraq.

  12. Rich from Paso
    July 21, 2006 at 8:32 pm

    Okay, Dave, I concede that you don’t cut and paste “every” article spelling doom and gloom about Iraq. By my count, it was about five from the NYT, five from Washington Post and about 5 from AP. So, you’re right, I apologize for the mischaracterization. However, you are solely fixated on the 3,000 Iraqis murdered by terrorists and not any of the progress made in Iraq. I am not distracted by Israel’s actions in Lebanon any more than you are. I see Iraq and Lebanon as fronts in a greater war on Islamofascism. Still, it’s not a civil war in Iraq no matter what you and the New York Times may offer to the contrary. Just ask the Iraqis; I did.

    For the record: your blog is the only blog I actively participate on, Dave. The others I just read and chuckle.

    Thanks for caring.

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