The Iraqi civil war drags on…

Iraqi Commander Killed in Attack

Not good:

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.

Like this: Iraqi Tribes Strike Back at Insurgents: In Turbulent Areas, Zarqawi’s Fighters Are Target of Leaders and a New Militia

Seems that

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.


  1. 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.’ But it’s all good, cuz we knew this would happen. And we have a plan. Mr. Plan, you can come out now. I think you might have a different opinion if you were an Iraqi national living in some workaday Baghdad burb on the necessity of a violent civil conflict. V

  2. I still don’t get it. What’s in it for some Iraqi person to pick up a gun and go shoot at government forces? Is it going to improve their sewage service, get them a job, make Iraq’s future brighter? Can these people just not stand the idea of their country emerging from the dark ages? What is it that makes them want to sustain unnecessary violence?

  3. V: No doubt my opinions would be different if I were an Iraqi in Iraq. And as a guy sitting in relative comfort at a computer, I’m certainly not the world’s foremost expert on this subject. That being said, what’s your take? You didn’t offer anything meaningful. Are you saying that conflict between the opposing factions isn’t necessary? Are you saying that because war is violent that war is never the answer? Are you saying that because things haven’t always gone a well as we’d like it’s not worth it? What are you saying? If you’re going to say something, please say something.

  4. V: Incidentally, the second link I gave directly addresses your ‘you might have a different opinion if you were an Iraqi national living in some workaday Baghdad burb on the necessity of a violent civil conflict’ point. There is already one group in Iraq who obviously believes that violent civil conflict is necessary. They demonstrate this belief not with words but by blowing things up and killing people. We call them ‘insurgents’ and ‘terrorists’. So at least some people in Iraq believe that violent civil conflict is better than the status quo. The link to the WaPo story highlights another group who thinks that violent civil conflict is necessary. They’re sick and tired of being killed and blown up, so they’re going to do something about it. And it ain’t growing apple trees and honey bees and snow-white turtle doves. It could just be that some Iraqis would look at what you say and respond ‘you might have a different opinion if you were an Iraqi national living in some workaday Baghdad burb on the necessity of a violent civil conflict’.

  5. Why not call this a ‘4th generation civil war’. Thats what it seems to be, no trenchs in Richmond but the general is still going to get sniped.

  6. I think when the administration talks about civil war, it really means the Civil War, as when 10% of the population served, and just counting military dead, roughly 2% of the population were killed. In Iraq, that would come to something like 400,000 dead Iraqi troops. Based on statistics from the leftist website Iraq Casualties, at 3,000 dead Iraqi security people a year, plus perhaps 3,000 dead terrorists, it would take 66 years for Iraq’s casualties to reach that 2% threshold. It only took 5 years for us to get to that point. I think Iraq has been going through a civil war. But it is not going through a Civil War of the kind our forebears encountered 140-odd years ago. And it is not going through the kind of civil war encountered in Rwanda not too long ago. Fact is that all guerrilla wars may not be Civil Wars, but they are all civil wars – in the sense that they involve two internal factions squaring off against each other. As to whether Iraqis are better off, I don’t think it has any bearing on why we’re there. We’re not in Iraq to make life better for Iraqis – we’re there to make the Middle East safe for America. That Iraqis are better is incidental to our presence there. Are Iraqis better off? Although I have no particular preference as to whether this becomes the case (other than a general good Samaritan type of view), I have to say that Sunnis who opposed Saddam, the Shias and the Kurds are definitely better off. Under Saddam, they were getting killed in larger numbers than they are now. The difference is that they used to die on their knees, after being picked up and tortured to death. Today, less of them die, and many of them die on their feet, either conducting missions against their former oppressors or shooting back at their ambushers. Dying isn’t a good thing, but if you have to die anyway, it is better to die while exacting a price for your death. The Sunnis who supported Saddam are definitely worse off. But they are at most 20% of the population. On the whole, I would say that Iraqis are better off. And that is why in the long run, Iraq will become fast friends with America. Just like Japan, Germany and Italy. And that is exactly what leftists are afraid of. The Evil Empire (i.e. Uncle Sam) will gain another ally.

  7. joseph: Why not call this a ‘4th generation civil war’. Thats what it seems to be, no trenchs in Richmond but the general is still going to get sniped. Nothing 4th generation about it. This is like every other guerrilla war that occurred in the 20th century. The Colombian guerilla war that broke out in the 1940’s and 1950’s killed about 200,000 people. That’s about 15,000 a year. The reason journalists are harping on about Iraq is that Uncle Sam is involved. The Vietnam War killed 1.5m Vietnamese troops on both sides. What is unusual about Iraq is that the guerrillas are so weak and the press corps is so strung out about incidents that aren’t any more remarkable than any other guerrilla war that occurred in the 20th century.

  8. I could be wrong, but this simmering civil war may just be the ticket to actually solving this mess. 1st off, the Sunni were never going to accept the US, and were the source of the insurgency and protectors of the terrorists. Conventional wisdom holds that it would take about a generation to put them down. Winning hearts and minds, takes a lot of bullets, time, and work. With the rise of, or threat of, the civil war – Shia death squads, started changing the Sunni’s minds set away from how evil the US is – too the realization of being outnumbered and outgunned. Suddenly the Sunni realize, that the American’s (evil as they are) are the only guys that would give them a chance to see a new sunrise. I see Iraq as a scale – Sunni on side, Shia the other and the US as the pivot point. (The Kurds – being opportunistic can play all sides like a fiddle)

  9. I am surprised that the city in the south of Iraq has not been mentioned. It was mentioned in passing in the news just after the golden mosque was bombed. There was an incident where both sides of the factions came out and had a peaceful protest, together, in one crowd, against the violence. I will try and dig up an article. I think the Iraqis are slowly getting tired of the violence. While certain leaders will get benefits from it, low level Iraqis have little to gain through violence. I think the hatred is dying down, just think, why did they need to bomb the Mosque? Clearly the hatred is no longer strong enough to destabilise the country.