The commander of the 6th Iraqi Army Division was killed today in a terrorist attack in western Baghdad, military officials in Iraq reported.
Maj. Gen. Mubdar Hatim Hazya al-Duleimi was returning to his headquarters after visiting Iraqi soldiers in Kadamiyah, northwest of Baghdad, when his convoy came under small-arms fire.
Although not running around screaming about how the sky is falling, Murdoc also isn’t really buying all this “there’s no civil war in Iraq” talk.
To clarify, I think “there’s no civil war” is technically inaccurate, though “there IS civil war” isn’t saying what most people would expect it to say. If you’re talking about a nation-flattening army-on-army full-scale conflict, then those claiming there’s no Iraqi Civil War and there isn’t going to be one are, of course, correct.
But it seems pretty clear to me that the Iraqi civil war (notice the lack of capital letters) has been going on pretty much non-stop since the summer or fall of 2003. As the shock and awe following the American conquest of the country began to wear off, the various factions who had long been at each others’ throats unsheathed the knives and slapped a mag into the AK-47.
So while we’re not going to see a massive Sunni-Shiite war with tanks and artillery and such, this low-intensity struggle between pro- and anti-government forces is going to continue for quite some time. Generations, maybe.
The spectacular moments are going to be days like that when the mosque in Samara was blown to smithereens, or like yesterday when an important government general was killed. There will be more days like this, and some of them will be worse.
Obviously, the thing that makes a Civil War, one such as the (hopeful?) critics of the Iraq campaign constantly wring their hands about, impossible is the lack of significant outside support for the anti-government forces. They don’t have the resources and luxury of building their own modern army, so they’re left to fight with roadside bombs and their dad’s AK-47. The only outside help of any consequence comes from terrorist groups, and we’ve seen enough red-on-red between Iraqi insurgents and outside terrorists to know that this sort of alliance is shaky at best, and it usually doesn’t go over well with the civilians.
Tribal chiefs in Iraq’s western Anbar province and in an area near the northern city of Kirkuk, two regions teeming with insurgents, are vowing to strike back at al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni-led group that is waging war against Sunni tribal leaders who are cooperating with the Iraqi government and the U.S. military. Anbar tribes have formed a militia that has killed 20 insurgents from al-Qaeda in Iraq, leaders said.
Separately, more than 300 tribal chiefs, politicians, clerics, security officials and other community leaders met last week in Hawijah, about 35 miles southwest of Kirkuk, and “declared war” on al-Qaeda in Iraq. In a communique, the participants vowed “the shedding of blood” of anyone involved in “sabotage, killings, kidnappings, targeting police and army, attacking the oil and gas pipelines and their transporters, assassinating the religious and tribal figures, technicians, and doctors.”
Sounds like someone’s mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it any more.
And what’s interesting is that the group’s leaders are opposed to the US military presence in Iraq. They recognize that until things settle down the Americans will stay, they realize that the Americans are having trouble rooting out all the terrorists and insurgents, and they’ve decided to do something about it.
Potentially trouble? Sure. And it’s important to make sure things don’t get out of control.
But in a lot of ways, the struggle between the new order and old in Iraq is the wider Muslim struggle in microcosm. And with US and Coalition troops in the mix, it’s similar to the wider global war, as well. The forces we fight, in Iraq and elsewhere, are basically insurgents against the modern world. And while there’s hope that some will soften their stance and decide to give living freely and peacefully a chance, I suspect that many of them feel backed into a corner by the 21st century and are going to go out fighting. And they intend things to end with a bang, not with a whimper.
I don’t like to say that there’s not going to be civil war in Iraq. I think not only is there one already, but that it’s a necessary step. But I also don’t like to say that a civil war in Iraq is the worst thing that could happen.