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Cry Me A Riverbend II

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Let's Talk About Civil War

You know what surprises me most? Iraqi bloggers -- those living in Iraq, that is -- rarely (relatively) speak directly of civil war. In America right now, if you watch the talking-head programs, you would think a civil war in Iraq is annual occurrence marked with anticipation by everyone, like Marti Gras in New Orleans ("Are we going to have a civil war in Iraq?" "Can we do anything to prevent a civil war among Iraqis? "How long do you think it will take for a civil war to develop in Iraq?").

Riverbend spoke of it last month, however. Guess who she blamed? Foreign Islamists? Ba'athist recalcitrants? Hmmm....I see you've never met our Riverbend:

We've been avoiding discussing the possibilities of this last week's developments… the rioting and violence. We don't often talk about the possibility of civil war because conferring about it somehow makes it more of a reality. When we do talk about it, it's usually done in hushed tones with an overhanging air of consternation. Is it possible? Will it happen? Sunnis and Shi'a have always lived in harmony in Iraq and we still do, so far. I'm from a family that is about half Shi'a and half Sunni. We have never had problems as the majority of civilized people don't discriminate between the two. The thing that seems to be triggering a lot of antagonism on all sides is the counterinsurgency militia being cultivated by the CPA and GC which will include Chalabi's thugs, SCIRI extremists and some Kurdish Bayshmarga.

What can I say, but Ha ha ha. As typical for Riverbend, it is attempts to arrest terrorists (who have stated their intention to foment a sectarian civil war) that are to blame for any violence or civil war.

For about a week the unrealists in the West became attached to a jag that having elections would lead to a civil war. That one is almost as rich as anything Riverbend could come up with.

Riverbend is an exception. Most Iraqi bloggers who will openly analyze the possibility of a civil war, tend to be those most optimistic about the new Iraq and they typically do not consider a civil war an odd's favorite. Which brings us to Mohammed's most recent post at Iraq the Model. He takes apart the theory that the a civil war in Iraq is inevitable or that elections will lead to them. This is his conclusive point:

I want to say that I think what happened in Palestine yesterday and what happened in Afghanistan before that proves that if the people really want to have elections, then they can do it and it's another indication that we're moving on the right track here and it's another accomplishment for the ongoing change in the region.

Ali at Free Iraqi, taking on the financiers of the terrorist side in the War of Iraqi Liberation says:

"They bet for a long time on a civil war in Iraq or isolating Iraq from the international society, but Iraq came back to the political arena stronger than before the war and there are no real signs for civil war yet (and in my mind there won't be any). "

I love the Mohammed and Ali, but I'm not certain too much optimism in this case is a good thing. I'm more like Hammorabi. He believes in the new Iraq but he's not so sure a civil war isn't quite possible. Even better, he agrees with me about the motive of those pushing to have the elections postponed:

At last those who think that civil war may happen in Iraq are not very wrong but the possibility of it is happening without election is more than after election and this is why the terrorists are pushing to prevent the election...

...Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski forgot about what will happen if the civil war resulted in the terrorists becoming strong inside Iraq whether with or without controlling the power especially if the USA pulled! It will certainly be the worst disaster for the region since the WWII and will give birth into another 11 Septembers in many areas regional and abroad.

I said Riverbend is an exception. Well Faiza is an exception too. Most of the time, it's the same ol' Faiza with her bitching that America has harmed Iraq so much by getting rid of Saddam. And, then, out of nowhere...it becomes clear that she is not for chaos and she knows who the chaosmasters are:

And there are some who want to start a civil war between the Iraqis, especially between the Sunni and Shi’aat. It didn’t work between the Muslims and Christians. Nor between the Arabs and Kurds. So, the last card remains, between the Sunni and Shi’aat.When we are at the shop, and some people come in, Iraqis, somehow the talk would run around to the topics of the new government, the Sunni, the Shi’aat, and the conflict would almost start to loom ahead, then I usually stop, cut the talk with a laugh, and say: well, well, that is enough, no Sunni, and no Shi’aat, we are Iraqis, and Muslims, right? I usually get the answer: Right. We all laugh, and that would be the end of it.I do hope the Iraqis would remain with these kind hearts, good intentions, and love for each other, and so be able to cross this crises.

I tell you, I'm crying tears of joy to read this again. Then, again, maybe she thinks America is the one trying to start a civil war.

About the same time, Rose speculated about the terrorists and their goals to drag Iraq into a civil war:

The Iraqis have strong bonds between them, in spite of religion or ethnic differences, we all work together, have neighbors from other religions, visit each other and respect our differences. my neighbors are shias, my best friends are Christians and Kurds and I’m Sunni, but we all have good relations between us. I’m afraid of those who are trying hard to tear us a part, for me I don’t think they will succeed but I’m sure they are from outside Iraq, and they want Iraq to separate into several parts or maybe drag it to civil war.
also today, my father told me that he is afraid from a civil war, he said that those who are doing these things they know exactly what they are doing. I tried to tell him it’s impossible but he said no, they will succeed in making a civil war and then divide Iraq to peaces. I still don’t believe in this, The US will not allow this to happen because it will mean that they have failed in everything they fought for.

I wish I could believe with Rose that only foreigners want to see an Iraqi civil war. I will also say that if it is only some fraction of the Sunni Arabs who support the terrorists, then there will be no civil war, and the terrorists will lose. But if the Kurds, choose adamantly to secede from Iraq, I believe it will launch a chain of events that will require US troops to retreat to Jordanian border and watch as Iraq tears itself to pieces. The most dangerous thing for Iraq is for the Sunni terrorists to attempt to strike a deal with the Kurds..."you support our independence drive, and we'll support yours."

Should the US withdraw troops? Riverbend, Raed, and Khalid say they should. Every other Iraqi blogger I've read who lives in country states emphatically that a US pull-out would precipitate a civil war and that that would be a bad thing. Only Riverbend states openly to prefer civil war to U.S. troops....hmmm...I wonder who she thinks that would benefit? The Jarrar boys leave to us to infer it.

Rana Imad at the BBC Iraq Log says:

I don't think that the withdrawal of the American forces would be wise. It would make the situation much worse...In my opinion, if they leave now a civil war could follow in Iraq.

Neurotic Iraqi Wife agrees:

But once those troops leave Iraq, then believe me, the atrocities and the barbaric activities will escalate even more. People will start killing each other, and yes a civil war will break out. Iraqis who have been brainwashed by Saddam, and by religeous fanatics will take the opportunity to slay everyone that says NAY to them. This process is already taking place now.....

There are some Iraq bloggers who are more ambivalent about the troops leaving. Samir Ali at the BBC's Iraq log portrays the schizophrenic POV that seems so common among so many Iraqis and simply makes me crazy:

I worry that if the Americans leave there will be civil war; all that we Sunnis want is a definite time schedule for them to leave and a government that involves all Iraqis. I think the Americans want to stay here for a long time.

If the Americans want to stay a long time, why would the Sunnis worry about the Americans leaving? The first fear is not unfounded, Samir. Americans are so anxious to pull out their soldiers from Iraq, their palms sweat.

They are like a man that has mortgaged his house to finance a friend in a high-stakes poker game when the friend is not doing so well and has asked for extra cash. He wants to answer, "No, just give me what's left of my money and I'm out of here." But if he does, he will lose his house. So the man will loan his friend more money and the US will keep the troops their until the new Iraqi government can defend itself. But as soon as the man's friend has won his money back, the man will take it and go. And as soon as Iraq will not collapse when the US troops leave, the troops will be out of Iraq. That seems so obvious to me.

Don't worry about the Americans staying too long. Do everything you can to build up your country before the American public gets bored with building new democracies and turns to other things.

During the liberation of Fallujah, Zeyad at Healing Iraqi spoke of civil war as though it were inevitable (he hasn't mentioned it since though):

What is worse is that the first chapter of the future Iraqi civil war is currently being written. The Sunni armed groups have made no secret this time of their true intentions. According to them, the Iraqi NG's are now just infidel 'Kurd and Shi'ite' militias taking their revenge against the peace-loving Sunnis. The Association of Muslim Scholars issues fatwas calling Iraqi security forces 'apostates' because "Iraqis should not be fighting Iraqis under the occupation". This fatwa implies that if the occupation ends tomorrow then it would be okay for Iraqis to kill each other then, since that has always been the case over the last three decades.

On the subject of a civil war, Raed seems believe (as closely as I can discern a rational thought in that sad scattered mind) that civil war in Iraq is inevitable:

Iraq is really going through a critical time, and any of these clashes can turn into civil war easily, especially with the mistakes of the US administration in Iraq like putting Kurdish peshmerga against Arab fighters, and Shia Iraqis against Sunni Iraqis. I used to say this 20 months ago, and I'm still repeating it. The real war in Iraq didn't start yet. The real bad time didn't start yet.

Typical for Raed, it is hard to determine what he is getting at. I think he's saying that the real war in Iraq will start after all the Iraqis rise up and cast out the infidels (secular infidels I'm sure Raed would stipulate) and choose their new National Leader who is more of a phenomenon than a person. But your guess is as good as mine, and he's welcome to comment here and clarify what the hay-dees he's talking about.

(Note to self: Calling an evil thug "more of a phenomenon than a person", absolves you of assigning critical moral judgments to that evil thug. After all, how can you expect a phenomenon to answer for its crimes?)

And in October, after those ING heroes were murdered by Zarqawi's group, Ferid the Great expressed amazement that there was not a civil war considering how the Arabic media was playing the coverage.

Kurdo, a few weeks ago was reminding everyone that elections of themselves will not end the terrorist attacks, make all Iraqis happy with the government, or solve all of Iraq's problems:

Elections are not some magic-sticks that could touch Iraq and make it as safe as heaven. I remember in 1992 before the Kurdistani general elections, we had this view of Kurdistan after the elections. A free, organised, democratic, western style country. There was even [a] TV series called "After the Parliament". In these TV programmes, they used to show Kurdistan as a (arms-free), democratic, prosperous country. In the shows, a few people were saying "When is this going to happen"? The answer and the end of the show was "Dwaii Parlaman" "After electing the Parliament".

But, after the elections, Kurdistan turned into hell. A bloody civil war that continued for about 7 years devastated the country.So anyone thinking that this Iraqi election is going to make things anything better, should stop thinking about that now. Yes if you are George W. Bush or Tony Blair, it will help a lot. But if you are some poor Iraqi family then forget it about it.

Kurdo is right. Things still could blow-up after the elections. The Kurds could declare independence. The Sunni Arabs could turn in en masse to support the terrorists or Ba'athists or anyone who could promise that they would not have live as equals among the Kurds, Turkomen, and Shi'a. Well, the Kurds declaring independence is the most realistic danger.

But this time we have something in our corner that the Kurds did not have in 1992. Then, Kurds did not appreciate that their democracy could fail (although even the U.S. had a very bloody civil war and it had a couple of rebellions shortly after the War For Independence from Britain).

Now, we have the very bracing danger of an impending civil war. Fear of the Abyss is a useful virtue to get everyone to keep his eye on the ball. The more Iraqis remember that a civil war could realistically occur and that it would be the very worst thing that could happen, then the more likely it won't happen.

I've said before that while I'm not superstitious, talking about something too loudly and too often can cause it to occur. But in this case, I think the civil war story is something useful for Iraqis to tell each other regularly right now.


  • Tsk, tsk, tsk. No, pace Kurdo and others, the Kurds *will not*--because they *cannot* and *KNOW* they cannot--declare independence.

    We are their guarantors; BUT with the proviso that they remain within Iraq, with a large degree of autonomy. They do not have the legal standing to declare independence and ANYWAY it would do US so much harm that we can say and *for sure* have said to them, "If you declare independence, you will face Turkey, Iran, and Iraq ALONE. You may have the *right* to independence, but we do not have the obligation to support you if you do."

    They OWE us. And more importantly, they *depend* on us. They know it and they won't jeopardize everything when they can get so much without independence itself. Equal rights inside a free Iraq, autonomy as an established fact, and the continued support of the US for that situation. They are sitting pretty as the power brokers between Shia and Sunni Arabs who will both court them to get somebody else on their side. And they are already playing that back-and-forth balancing game, the smart fellows.

    The Kurdish leaders know that and the hotheads like Kurdo know it in their bones as well. There won't be any Kurdish declaration of independence; depend on it.

    Jeff Kantor

    By Blogger Jeff, at 8:53 PM  

  • Jeff,

    I think the *leaders* of the Kurds know this. But they are playing a dangerous game in simultaneously nurturing the hope for independencen in their people and blaming the U.S. for it not occurring. People do not always act in their own self interest (ala Afghanistan and Iraqi Kurdistan in the 1990s).

    The Kurds might still do something devastatingly stupid, which would be heartbreaking since of all the Iraqis it is the Kurds that most hold Americans' hearts.

    By Blogger CMAR II, at 5:21 AM  

  • Trust me the kurdish thing is just typical arab mindset of blaming everyone else but themselves. Everyone can see who are that are commiting the crimes and murders in iraq. And coicidentally how comes its the areas that are protected by the "evil" peshmerga (that of course in that narrow mindset will start the civil war) are the safest areas in iraq.

    By Blogger Dilnareen, at 1:08 PM  

  • Dilnareem,

    In the case of Riverbend, anyone working to improve the Iraq is part of the problem. So if she named someone as "triggering" a civil war, I'd take that as a sign that they're being effective in quelling the violence.

    She won't be happy until her family has the power to once again set her up with that cushy crappy IT job and when she can once again dig her heels into those "extremist" Shi'a common people and...the Kurds? who are they?.

    By Blogger CMAR II, at 1:40 PM  

  • well no i didn't mean riverbend there, it's just the same thing i see in every debate and read in every "intellectuals" editorial i mean bad enough seeing it in arabic the english ones are even more scathing especially the ones that use middle eastern comspiracy theories as their source and never bother checking them.

    By Blogger Dilnareen, at 1:55 PM  

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