Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Civil War
America's Debate > Archive > Assorted Issues Archive > [A] International Debate
Google
Wertz
With the Kurds and the Sunnis vying for control of Kirkuk and the ongoing conflict between Sunnis and Shi'ites - the bombings in Karbala and Baghdad, for example - suggestions of civil war in Iraq have been murmured for months (including such sources as Gen. Abizaid, Richard Lugar of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the CIA).

Almost a year ago, I posted the following in another thread:
QUOTE
Has anyone given any serious thought to partition? Iraq is, after all, a thoroughly artificial creation, just as Yugoslavia was - and all that has held it together since 1958 is a series of military despots like Saddam Hussein. As a "republic", it has never really had much more definition than the borders of the surrounding countries. Will the Kurds, the Shi'as, and the Sunnis ever form a cohesive "nation"? Unlikely.

Would it make more sense to create three separate states (with, perhaps, three different forms of government)? Granted, there could still be tensions between such states, but at least they could be mediated by international bodies - but there wouldn't be the prospect of ongoing civil insurrection within the current, capriciously concocted country (such as that with which Hussein himself had to contend), which could mean a permanent presence by international (or coalition) bodies.

In the year since that was posted, little seems to have changed. If anything, tribal tensions have only increased and are contributing to the ongoing violence, perhaps more than any perceived "terrorist" insurrection.

Is all-out civil war in Iraq inevitable?

Should partitioning of the country be considered as a possible option?
Google
turnea
QUOTE(Wertz @ Sep 12 2004, 12:01 PM)
Is all-out civil war in Iraq inevitable?

Should partitioning of the country be considered as a possible option?

1. The prospect of civil war has been raised about monthly since before the invasion. There were times in Iraq when the country was perhaps closer to civil war then it is now and my answer has not changed.

Not likely.

Top Shia clerics have already pointed out that they suspect a plot by Al-Qaeda to perpetrate acts of violence to spark sectarian conflict. This is a theory to which I also subscribe (I posted my evidence in another thread, I'll dig it up if necessary).

They have also pointed out they won't be goaded into so foolish an action.

The Sunnis have enough trouble to deal with, without sparking trouble with the most powerful forces in the country.

The fight over Kirkurk and other parts on northern Iraq is a bit more serious, there has and continues to be violence. However, I believe a political settlement can be reached since the major Kurdish parties seek high standing in the new government. Even if it gets worse, it's likely to be local.

As for partition, I would caution against it. Better to not re-enforce ethnic antipathy by separating the country as if by admission that the groups cannot live together in the same country.

Sectarian violence has been much lower than some predicted and I think a unified Iraq would be better able to provide for it's people.
Wertz
QUOTE(turnea @ Sep 12 2004, 01:38 PM)
Top Shia clerics have already pointed out that they suspect a plot by Al-Qaeda to perpetrate acts of violence to spark sectarian conflict. This is a theory to which I also subscribe (I posted my evidence in another thread, I'll dig it up if necessary).

As it seems everything from the Oklahoma City bombing to George Bush choking on a pretzel is now being blamed on al-Qaeda, I wouldn't mind a link (if it's not too much trouble). I don't doubt that this has been promoted by by some Shi'a clerics, but I'd like to see what their evidence is.

QUOTE
Sectarian violence has been much lower than some predicted and I think a unified Iraq would be better able to provide for it's people.

I think it's difficult to gauge how much of the violence is sectarian and how much isn't. Any act of violence is now presumed to be terrorist-inspired "insurrection". That said, I don't think we'll see the real civil strife in Iraq until after their elections. A lot will depend on the structure of the new government and its constitution.

QUOTE
As for partition, I would caution against it. Better to not re-enforce ethnic antipathy by separating the country as if by admission that the groups cannot live together in the same country.

But maybe they can't - maybe they shouldn't. Which reinforces antipathy more, locking two wet cats in the same cage or putting them in separate rooms? Most national boundaries - at least those which are not totally artificial - are based on differences of language, ethnicity, religion, or tribe. And boundaries which don't recognize such differences - say in Basque territory or Rwanda or, oh... Israel? - are fraught with trouble. Why should Iraq - which was an artificial construct from the outset - be any different? It's another Yugoslavia - and, to my mind, sectarian violence at least is guaranteed.
loreng59
QUOTE
Is all-out civil war in Iraq inevitable?

Should partitioning of the country be considered as a possible option?

I feel that Iraq is not going to last without continued massive outside intervention. The US can not and should not stay much longer. The country will implode shorter after the US starts to leave.

As to what the world should do, absolutely nothing. Let the people there sort it out. A partition is going to happen no matter what. If the US remains, they will be blamed and be targets. Get the targets out and let them handle the situation.
turnea
QUOTE(Wertz @ Sep 12 2004, 04:02 PM)
As it seems everything from the Oklahoma City bombing to George Bush choking on a pretzel is now being blamed on al-Qaeda, I wouldn't mind a link (if it's not too much trouble). I don't doubt that this has been promoted by by some Shi'a clerics, but I'd like to see what their evidence is.

Well here's the best one I could find just yet, I think I may have more, but this is pretty clear.
QUOTE
US officials in Iraq say they have uncovered what they believe is a plot by a militant linked to al-Qaeda to foment sectarian violence there.  
  
The Americans seized a memo thought to be from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a suspected Jordanian militant.  
  
The message laments the failure to expel US troops from Iraq - but suggests igniting the Shia-Sunni conflict could rescue the resistance. .. 
"There is clearly a plan on the part of outsiders to come into this country and spark civil war, breed sectarian violence and try to expose fissures in the society," US military spokesman Brigadier-General Mark Kimmit told a news conference in the Iraqi capital on Monday....  
The 17-page document, parts of which were seen by the New York Times, was apparently intended for the al-Qaeda leadership and is believed to say attacks on Shia targets could create a backlash against the Sunnis.  
  
This, in turn, would radicalise the Sunnis, driving fresh recruits into al-Qaeda's ranks.  
  
"If we succeed in dragging them [the Shia] into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis who are fearful of destruction and death at the hands of the Shia," the document reads.

US reveals 'al-Qaeda Iraq plot'

QUOTE(Wertz)
But maybe they can't - maybe they shouldn't. Which reinforces antipathy more, locking two wet cats in the same cage or putting them in separate rooms?

I understand were you are coming from, but my hope is that since we are not dealing with cats, but reasoning human beings who have seen much more than their share of war and division, such differences could be overcome. They share more than say the Israelis and Palestinians...

Considering the difficulty in deciding who gets what territory if they were to split up, I think it best to leave things alone. An Iraq with two major oil sectors, both north and south, may also be better able to provide for the Iraqis.
bucket
Partitioning the country..well I wouldn't exactly use those words but I have always been in favor for allowing the people of this region to dictate their political desires. The Kurds have been living years now as their separate own nation..they are no longer a part of Iraq..and I don't feel that have been for over 12 yrs.
If Iraq is to reman the country we see drawn on the map on our nightly news it will have to be kept as such by western powers..Iraq is what it is today because of western powers. Saddam invaded Kuwait because he believed Kuwait was a part of Iraq. Saddam invaded Iran because he believed Iran was a part of Iraq...and yet every time the western world stepped in to enforce their borders...so what is Iraq? When were the people of Iraq ever free to decide this for themselves?

All this talk of a strong Iraqi identity..I don't believe it..at all. I don't think Kurds feel more Iraqi than they do Kurdish..and I don't feel the Sunnis feel more Iraqi than they do Sunni or the Shiites more Iraqi than they feel Shia...no way. What I do feel they recognize is that they have strength united against an enemy and I feel America believes this too and that the current reunification..because it is not liberation it is unification we are now working on..as this country has been divided for years... Its unification is needed to help battle regional enemy forces. Without question I think Iraqis fear being swallowed up by Iranians and Islamics a lot lot more than they do by Shias or Sunnis.

If Iraq fractures now we have lost the war...if in the future we prevent her natural dissolution then we failed liberating the people of Iraq.
Robin_Scotland
Iraqi stability is something find hard to imagine. I would agree that intervention from the US and her allies inside Iraq is maintaining some sort of shape for now, and also agree that they cannot stay much longer. Eventually, Iraq will have to fully take care of itself, and I'm sorry if I sound a tad pessimistic when I say I don't think it is ready for such a task.

Civil war in Iraq is one likely path, eventually leading to one side showing its influence over the others. Although the Sunnis and Shi-ites have their problems, and that this may in the future lead to another conflict of interests with Iran, I would be inclined to be more worried about the Kurds - and in particular their desire to separate and form a recognized Kurdistan state.

I think we all know Turkeys stance on Kurdistani separation. The north of Kurdistan is within Turkeys borders, and there are some 20 million Kurds living in the country. Remember how quickly Turkish troops moved into northern Iraq after the coalition invasion? There is certainly tension there.

Civil war could lead to far greater complications than just those limited to Iraq, it could effect other parts of the Middle East and even lead to international conflicts. Thats just one outcome of course; perhaps Iraq will find stability, and maybe civil war is not inevitable.

To prevent a civil war through partitioning is going to touch on the same issues with Turkey. This situation is far more complex than people seemed to realise back in 2003. Sure, Saddam was a bad guy, but harsh dictatorial rule kept the place together. It would be sad to see the West continuing to carve up the Middle East, but at the same time pulling out and leaving Iraq in the mess it is in will be met with as much if not more criticism. I don't think there is any way out for the Coalition now; Iraq is the new Vietnam, no doubt about it in my mind. Iraq has three main paths it can now take: partitioning, civil war, or installing a new hard line leader. I just can't see the fourth path, the one with everyone holding hands and singing songs of peace, ever happening.
crashfourit
Is all-out civil war in Iraq inevitable?
Not unless the three sides don't want to compromise.

Should partitioning of the country be considered as a possible option?
Sorda hmmm.gif One possible solution it to have a Federal Government and have semi-autonomous politician unites bellow it (in the U.S. 'states') and give each major ethnic group an equal number of 'states'; each with an equal representation on one house. In addition the other house would directly linked to the Iraqi people. The Iraqi Federal government would then be limited and most, if not all, domestic functions are reserved for the 'states'. This could be a fourth path, but it will be shaky, and it will take some effort on all three sides.
turnea
QUOTE(bucket @ Sep 12 2004, 10:00 PM)
When were the people of Iraq ever free to decide this for themselves?

When working democratic infrastructure is set up they will be, then is they should choose to divide, by all means let them I for one don't see it as very likely

perhaps the Kurds may push for a separate country, but three separate states will never happen folks. mellow.gif
QUOTE(bucket)
All this talk of a strong Iraqi identity..I don't believe it..at all. I don't think Kurds feel more Iraqi than they do Kurdish..and I don't feel the Sunnis feel more Iraqi than Sunni
They don't really have to in order to get along, they simply need to desire a peaceful, secure and prosperous nation. These divisions exist in other Middle Eastern countries as well...
QUOTE(Robin Scotland)
Iraq is the new Vietnam, no doubt about it in my mind. Iraq has three main paths it can now take: partitioning, civil war, or installing a new hard line leader. I just can't see the fourth path, the one with everyone holding hands and singing songs of peace, ever happening.

In all due humility tongue.gif

I would suggest you look harder, the first two you mentioned are far less likely than successful democracy in my estimation.

Iraq as the new Vietnam, well I hope that watching the situation closely from a variety of sources would instill some doubt. I have been doing so since the war began, I find the idea of Iraq as Vietnam as rather humorous. laugh.gif

I believe crashfourit I on the right track when he suggest allowing Iraq to exist as a federation of local governments but I think a strong central government is also need, one that could enforce political rather than violent solutions.
Robin_Scotland
My comments on Vietnam are, I hope you realise, related to how long this is going to go on for (with ot without the presence of active US troops), and the damage it will do to the current US administration when it is reviewed in the future. I do not think that Iraq is going to settle into a stable democracy anytime soon with all ethnic tensions settled, or that attacks from terrorist factions will have stopped a year from now.

I think you will have to agree that no US conflict has created quite as much backlash from the world and its own citizens since Vietnam. Take into account that, while by no means comparable to the death toll of the Vietnam conflict, US soldiers and Iraqi civilians continue to die on a fairly regular basis 18 months after the conflict apparently ended. Not a good start.

Comparisons can be drawn in terms of popular culture and popular music, as well as in public opinion and horror stories from the front. In that respect, Iraq is George W Bush's Vietnam. Perhaps it will be more clear when he is out of office and his leadership can be more closely scrutinized - but all the same, it is irrelevant to this particular debate.

However likely democracy is in Iraq (keeping in mind that democracy itself does not prevent civil war or continued terror attacks), I still maintain that I find a stable (non corrupt) Iraqi democracy a very difficult pill to swallow at this time. Personally, I cannot see civil war happening either, nor partitioning - mostly because the situation is far too difficult to read.

Still, it has only been just over a year since Iraq was won. Taking into account the tense relations of the different ethnic groups in Iraq, which have become more tense over the years of Saddams rule, and how can you not expect further trouble? These groups will not simply get along with each other when democracy gives them the freedom to fight for independence - remember that it was the third option I listed (harsh dictatorial rule) that kept everyone in line. There have been ethnic, religious, political etc conflicts of interest within countries for centuries: and many of those conflicts of interests continue today. In my opinion, stable democracy is a long way off, and therefore it is impossible to estimate its likelihood of success.
Google
Rupertvdb
http://edition.cnn.com/2004/US/09/17/us.ir...ntel/index.html

Bush doesn't seem to think so. Despite some officials ceding the fact that things aren't going quite so well as they would hope.
I personally don't think it is inevitable because it is always possible that the various groups involved can come to a reasoned and agreeable position.

But inevitable is a strong word. 'Probably' is my position, the general elections scheduled for January seem fairly rushed, with whole regions of Iraq in 'terrorist' hands and the chances of a result even being recognised being so low I think that the forced route Iraq is taking shall help spark a civil war rather than prevent it.
Vermillion
QUOTE(turnea @ Sep 16 2004, 02:15 PM)
I would suggest you look harder, the first two you mentioned are far less likely than successful democracy in my estimation.

Iraq as the new Vietnam, well I hope that watching the situation closely from a variety of sources would instill some doubt. I have been doing so since the war began, I find the idea of Iraq as Vietnam as rather humorous. laugh.gif

I agree with you, the compairason of Iraq to Vietnam is not really fair: there is no slow deployment of troops thus turning a conflict into an undeclared war, there was no recognised and significant local government lending its support to the cause, there is no need for the brutal jungle-style warfare necessary in Vietname.

No a MUCH better parabole for the new Iraq is Soviet Afghanistan, the parallels there are striking. Massive interventioj on a nation that had supposedly transgressed international law, subsequent abandonment of the initial justification for the war, establishment of a friendly if powerless government, highly publicised 'acts of kindness' such as liberation of women and building of schools by the Russians, slow but growing resistance to the clearly long-term occupation of the country, anger over abuses of local prisoners and captives by Russians... heck, there is even the support given tio the local insugents by shadowy groups supplying arms and trainign, if not actual man, then it was the CIA, now its Al qaeda.

Yes, the parallels between the current situation in Iraq and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan are astonishing.
popeye47
QUOTE


Is all-out civil war in Iraq inevitable?



I wouldn't say for sure, but that is one of the options in the following article.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial...ths_about_iraq/

QUOTE


IT SHOULD not be surprising that a classified National Intelligence Estimate completed late last month projects three scenarios for Iraq over the next year and a half that range from dicey to disastrous -- from fragile stability to civil war among Sunni Arabs, Shi'ites, and Kurds.



and TURNEA

Could it be possibly true that you may have made a incorrect assumption about an UNLIKELY CIVIL WAR.

Civil war being one of the possible scenarios in Iraq, it is a vision of hell. And the Bush adminstration acts as if it's a model kitchen. The president and vice president brag about liberating Iraqis and reassure us that they are stopping terrorist violence at its source and inspiring democracy in the region by bringing it to blood-drenched Iraq.

But what they haven't mentioned is that they have known since July that their rosy scenarios are as bogus as they WMD's. Thats when the president received a national intelligence estimate that spelled out "a dark assessment of prospects" for stability and governance in Iraq in the next 18 months. Worst -case estimates include civil war or anarchy.

QUOTE


Should partitioning of the country be considered as a possible option?





Yes I believe "partitioning of the country" is more of a possibility than democracy proclaimed by the President.

I good example was Yugoslavia, that was dismantled in the 1990's into different countries, which came after ethic cleansing on behalf of the dictator in power during this period.

I am not saying it is the same example. But iit is a good example

Try as we may, we are not going to turn Iraq into a model democracy. The Sunnis don't want democracy. The Shiites don't want a democracy. The Kurds don't want a democracy. The Kurds don't want a democracy.


The Saudis do not want a new democracy as a neighbor. Nor do the Kuwaitis. Nor do the Syrians. None of the countries in that region with despotic rulers want us to succeed. And don't think for a moment they're above slipping terrorists into Iraq to kill Americans.

After WWI the Turks were promised a autonomous state.

QUOTE


After the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty was ratified, the most pressing issue confronting the newly established constitutional monarchy was the question of boundaries, especially in the former Ottoman wilayah of Mosul, now known as Mosul Province. The status of Mosul Province was complicated by two factors, the British desire to gain oil concessions and the existence of a majority Kurdish population that was seeking independence apart from either Iraq or Turkey. According to the Treaty of Sevres, concluded in 1920 with the Ottoman Sultan, Mosul was to be part of an autonomous Kurdish state. The treaty was scrapped, however, when nationalist leader Mustafa Kamal (1881-1938--also known as Atatürk) came to power in Turkey and established control over the Kurdish areas in eastern Turkey. In 1923, after two failed British attempts to establish an autonomous Kurdish province, London decided to include the Kurds in the new Iraqi state with the proviso that Kurds would hold government positions in Kurdish areas and that the Kurdish language would be preserved. The British decision to include Mosul in Iraq was based largely on their belief that the area contained large oil deposits.



So much for the British being concerned about the welfare for the Kurds. At least the Kurds should have a independent state or nation.

As for the Sunni and Shiite, they have never gotten along and probably never will. Is there a solution?
overlandsailor
As I understood it, wha feels like forever ago, the original plan was to create a confederate government in Iraq. Split the country in 3 With the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi'ites ruling themselves in their own states. And having a central government that was merely a tool to use when dealing with foreign relations and international trade.

It seems like a good idea to me, but then again I am a major proponent of states rights in America.

I understood, back in the beginning of all this that this Confederation was the focus of the White House reconstruction plan. It seemed like a good one, allowing the individual peoples to control their lives as they see fit. Unfortunately, it seems that this pan fell out of favor (if it ever existed at all) with the administration.

I think a Confederate Model is the way to go. It allows the country to come together for trade and defense while allowing the individual power groups to maintain their power over their people, allowing each culture to flourish as they choose.
turnea
QUOTE(Vermillion @ Sep 17 2004, 11:53 AM)
Yes, the parallels between the current situation in Iraq and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan are astonishing.

Of course you neglect to take into account the vastly different capabilities of support that the CIA and a number of other groups could give the mujahedin which dwarfs (to put it lightly) any support Al-Qaeda could offer on every level.

The Afghan resistance was a real military threat to the Soviets, the resistance in Iraq kills enough to have propaganda value, but strategically they stand no chance.

Of course that will have little effect on chances of civil war, which since power structures in each ethnic group at well as the vast majority of the population don't want one...
is still highly unlikely
QUOTE(popeye47)
Could it be possibly true that you may have made a incorrect assumption about an UNLIKELY CIVIL WAR.

Possible, unlikely. laugh.gif
bucket
QUOTE
When working democratic infrastructure is set up they will be, then is they should choose to divide, by all means let them I for one don't see it as very likely

perhaps the Kurds may push for a separate country, but three separate states will never happen folks.
Why do you act as if this is such a far fetched idea? This is one of the major reoccurring themes in Iraqi history, political turmoil, tribal war, social conflict..I think it is safe to say this is a far more likely scenario the Iraqis will offer ..I think a peaceful democratic nation-state is the least likely.

QUOTE

They don't really have to in order to get along, they simply need to desire a peaceful, secure and prosperous nation. These divisions exist in other Middle Eastern countries as well...

But when have they all gotten along..when did they forge this nation state unity? Firstly to defeat what they felt was a colonization..and secondly when they were forced to under great violence and restriction of a military state..is America willing to do either of these?..I think that question has already been answered.
And what other ME country do you have in mind as comparison?

QUOTE
I agree with you, the compairason of Iraq to Vietnam is not really fair: there is no slow deployment of troops thus turning a conflict into an undeclared war, there was no recognised and significant local government lending its support to the cause, there is no need for the brutal jungle-style warfare necessary in Vietname.

No a MUCH better parabole for the new Iraq is Soviet Afghanistan


You think the Iraqis see thse comparisons too?...especially the bulk of the insurgents who happen to be uneducated and poor...do they see these correlations also? I seriously doubt Iraqis are all abuzz about how similarly they view this is to what happened in Vietnam or Afghanistan..so much more so than they would ever view this war in the context and mindfulness of their OWN history. I disagree completely with all of these comparisons..I think it resembles mostly Iraq's own past..with the British mandate. There are not parallels in this comparison..there is actual time line extensions..continuations of the same conflicts, the same groups and the same struggles. It took over 35 yrs for the British to fail..now that they convinced the Americans to have another go at it ..how long do you think it will be for failure to occur again..or will we finally succeed?

In my opinion the only manner in which we will succeed will be for us to not stand in the way of Iraqi dissolution.
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Sep 17 2004, 02:05 PM)
As I understood it, wha feels like forever ago, the original plan was to create a confederate government in Iraq.   Split the country in 3 With the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi'ites ruling themselves in their own states.  And having a central government that was merely a tool to use when dealing with foreign relations and international trade.


I like the confederate state idea. I agree that splitting the country up into seperate states under a central government would be prudent, and likely a far better option than splitting it up into separate nationstates. I can't imagine why they abandoned that idea.

There are some potential irreconcilable problems I see with the nationstate partition solution. The Sunnis and Shiites are not exactly completely separated into their own zones. THere are roughly a million Shiites living in what would be the country of Sunnistan, around Baghdad. Would they be relocated? Would they go without the use of force, or would that turn into some sort of reenactment of ethnic cleansing as went on in Kosovo/Bosnia?

Then, there’s the oil. most of Iraq's population is around Baghdad but the oil is in the north and south. Would the Sunnis in Baghdad stand for an unequal split of resources? Would the Shiites and Kurds share the proceeds from those resources? Doubtful.

And I have the same reservations mentioned by Robin Scotland regarding making Kurdistan an officially autonomous entity…I was under the impression that Turkey threatened to use force in that case (the Kurds in their country have been demanding the same). Have they agreed to play nice? Is that threat gone?
turnea
QUOTE(bucket @ Sep 17 2004, 07:52 PM)
Why do you act as if this is such a far fetched idea?  This is one of the major reoccurring themes in Iraqi history, political turmoil, tribal war, social conflict..I think it is safe to say this is a far more likely scenario the Iraqis will offer ..I think a peaceful democratic nation-state is the least likely.

I would hesitate to count the scenario that is supported both by the major-power-brokers in Iraq as well as the vast majority of the people as the least likely. ermm.gif

I say three states is unlikely (nigh unto impossible, really) for a number of reasons.

1. The Kurds may be well separated from the rest of society but Sunni and Shia cohabitate in central Iraq especially in Baghdad. Getting them to separate out into groups is not going to work (Saddam did it in Kirkuk, but he used methods we would not).

2. Iraqis do have a sense of national identity (the Kurds again a possible exception) they would likely not support to dissolution of their state.

3. The massive difficulty that would be involved in figuring out who gets what, if you want to start a civil war, there's the way to do it.

QUOTE(bucket)
But when have they all gotten along

...in large part they get along now, it ain't broke and fixing it would be a nightmare.
bucket
QUOTE
I was under the impression that Turkey threatened to use force in that case (the Kurds in their country have been demanding the same). Have they agreed to play nice? Is that threat gone? 

No it is not gone..but it is why I feel Bush has been so pushy about Turkey joining the EU..as insurance. I think Bush made special promises to the Kurds and I think after what Turkey did in regards to this war..their "needs" are less likely to carry weight. With Turkey in the EU ...America and Uk could safely allow a Kurdish state knowing Turkey had new restraints, economic incentives and moral obligations to behave.

QUOTE
I  would hesitate to count the scenario that is supported both by the major-power-brokers in Iraq as well as the vast majority of the people as the least likely.

And what exactly is the most likely scenario we have seen the US project for Iraq's near future? And I am not talking about the things our president proclaims on the campaign trail..in reality what does our intelligence feel is the most likely scenario? Too bad we are all not allowed access to that NIE report or at least a President with enough courage to be a little more honest with us on what is awaiting around the corner. A peaceful democratic nation-state in Iraq is a long long time off. I would be curious to see any current scenarios supported by..." both the major-power-brokers in Iraq" that states otherwise. And..Both? As in there are only two? have you forgotten about Iran..I know she does not fit in well with the peaceful democratic nation-state..yet that is her purpose.

How can we expect to hold elections in a country in which we can not even walk down the streets in many of their cities let alone ask them to participate in a little game we like to call democracy? How are we going to get the people in Sadr city to vote? Fallujah? Mosul? and how will we ever have legitimacy (the lack of which is a very common theme in things like this) without out their participation?


QUOTE
I say three states is unlikely (nigh unto impossible, really) for a number of reasons. 
 
1. The Kurds may be well separated from the rest of society but Sunni and Shia cohabitate in central Iraq especially in Baghdad. Getting them to separate out into groups is not going to work (Saddam did it in Kirkuk, but he used methods 


I never claimed it would be three states..who knows. The only way to ensure such strict divisions is to enforce them...once again by Western powers. Dissolution has nothing to do with "getting them" to do what we think is best. I purposefully chose that word.

QUOTE
 
2. Iraqis do have a sense of national identity (the Kurds again a possible exception) they would likely not support to dissolution of their state.

Yes true I already pointed this out Iraqis have had a history of being united under their national identity.. in a throwback to Nazism..that is the heart of Arab nationalism..and the Iraqis feels this sense of identity most in the face of an invader..who will this invader turn to be? Who inspires this ideal of Arab nationality more?

QUOTE
3. The massive difficulty that would be involved in figuring out who gets what, if you want to start a civil war, there's the way to do it. 


As if the difficulty of getting them to all cooperate in a democratic nation-state is not massive.

QUOTE
...in large part they get along now, it ain't broke and fixing it would be a nightmare.

I don't understand this comment. They obviously are not getting along well right now and they certainly are not getting along well with us..and doesn't that matter for our success in Iraq? Over 1800 Iraqis killed in just the past 3 mo alone (source). And it is broken..and we broke it..we promised to bring liberty and and a free and democratic state to Iraq..we MUST fix this..we can not allow it to remain the broken violent state it is now..but you are right fixing it is going to be a nightmare.
Vermillion
QUOTE(turnea @ Sep 17 2004, 11:13 PM)
Of course you neglect to take into account the vastly different capabilities of support that the CIA and a number of other groups could give the mujahedin which dwarfs (to put it lightly) any support Al-Qaeda could offer on every level. 
 

No, I don't. Regardless of the 'capacity' of the CIA to give aid, the aid they gave was relatively limited, they provided at first only basic logistical support and training for some of the Mujahadin commanders, later in the conflict they supplied stingers to combat the USSR helicopter threat, thats about all. Al Qaida has provided training, weapons, tactical advice and even local commanders. What is the 'comparative' value? Well nobody knows, but certainly the aid Al Qaida has given Iraqi insurgents in the last year is comparable to the aid the CIA gave to the Mujahadin in their first year of the struggle.

QUOTE
The Afghan resistance was a real military threat to the Soviets, the resistance in Iraq kills enough to have propaganda value, but strategically they stand no chance. 


Really?

Soviet losses in the ten years of the Afghanistan war:
-14,453 Dead,
-37,000 Wounded

US Losses in the first 18 months of the Iraqi resistance:
-1,033 Dead
-7,033 wounded.

Projected death rates over 10 years, assuming casualty rates do not increase: (which they have been, steadily, since the handover of power)

-7,000 dead
-47,000 wounded

That is, remember, assuming no increase in death rate, which is unrealistic considering the increase in death rates every month since the US handed over power.

So in fact, the US is suffering MORE casualties on average then the Soviets did in Afghanistan, though more wounded and fewer dead due to improved protective technology.

I am sure the USSR had no idea they would be in Afghanistan for so long either, but once the civilmwar started, and the abuses of Afghani prisoners in Soviet jails became public knowledge, then the resistance just continued to grow, dispite the attempts of the legitimate but impotent Afghan government to stop it.

Still think there is 'no comparason'?
Hobbes
Vermillion,

While I won't argue the statistics, I think this is an apples to oranges comparison...especially over a 10 year period. At no point was the Soviet Union trying to install an independent democracy. As such, there was always strong incentive for resistance fighters to continue. Also, there was little incentive for the creation of effective internal security forces--this would have just been another potential force the Soviet's would have had to deal with. Both of these factors are, I think, very relevant to any comparison between Iraq and Afghanistan. I would further add that Afghanistan has never really had a history of a strong central government, while Iraq has one of the oldest and longest...thereby making the creation of such a government not nearly as big a leap.
Vermillion
QUOTE(Hobbes @ Sep 20 2004, 05:52 PM)
While I won't argue the statistics, I think this is an apples to oranges comparison...especially over a 10 year period.  At no point was the Soviet Union trying to install an independent democracy.

No, they were trying to support an independent domestic government. The unelected leader Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan was removed in a coup by the unelected leader Nur Mohammed Taraki. His regime, bloody and short, was ended by another coup months later by Hafizullah Amin. Amin invited the Soviet Union to assist him in the protection of his new communists state against rebels, and the USSR agreed.

No, the USSR was not trying to establish in independent democracy, but they were invited in by the legitimate government. At least, as legitimate as any of the governments that preceeded it. As for the US 'trying to install an independent democracy', well, we shall see.

QUOTE
As such, there was always strong incentive for resistance fighters to continue.  Also, there was little incentive for the creation of effective internal security forces--this would have just been another potential force the Soviet's would have had to deal with.


Again, that is not the case. The local Afghan military, those loyal to Amin, fought alongside the Soviet forces against the mujahadin, a loose group of rebels that operated in the mountains of the country. The new Communist state also opened schools, hospitals, and gave rights to women, many of the exact same PR measures the US is involved in now. Resistance in Afghanistan was limited in the first year, but slowly grew as it became clear the USSR had no intention of leaving the country in such a chaotic state.

QUOTE
Both of these factors are, I think, very relevant to any comparison between Iraq and Afghanistan.


I agree, and in both cases the two situations are very similar, thus strengthening my compairason.

QUOTE
I would further add that Afghanistan has never really had a history of a strong central government, while Iraq has one of the oldest and longest...thereby making the creation of such a government not nearly as big a leap.


Again, this is not the case. Firstly, Afghanistan came to its communist government entirely on its own. Secondly, Afghanistan enjoyed a lengthy period of political stability under a strong government between 1933 and 1973, when the country was under the rule of King Zahir Shah. That is a LONGER period of a central strong government then Iraq has had in the modern era.


A quick study of the history of the Afghanistan war will show the similarities between it and Iraq are in fact huge, from general theme down to minutae, including those things above you thought were differences.
turnea
QUOTE(Vermillion @ Sep 20 2004, 12:46 PM)
No, I don't. Regardless of the 'capacity' of the CIA to give aid, the aid they gave was relatively limited, they provided at first only basic logistical support and training for some of the Mujahadin commanders, later in the conflict they supplied stingers to combat the USSR helicopter threat, thats about all.

It seems to me it made a big difference...
QUOTE(Wikipedia)
In mid-January 1980 the Soviets relocated their command post from Termez, on Soviet territory to the north of Afghanistan, to Kabul. For ten years the Soviets and their Afghan allies battled the mujahedin for control of the country. The Soviets used helicopters (including Mil Mi-24 Hind gunships) as their primary air attack force, supported with fighter-bombers and bombers, ground troops and special forces.

Later on..
QUOTE
At the same time [about 1985-6] a sharp increase in military support for the mujahedin from the United States and Saudi Arabia allowed it to regain the guerilla war initiative. By late August 1986, the first FIM-92 Stinger ground-to-air missiles were used successfully. For nearly a year they would deny the Soviets and the Kabul government effective use of air power.

Fat chance of the insurgents in Iraq pulling that off.
The donor's list for the mujahedin was much more umm, star-studded.
QUOTE
These various groups were supplied with funds to purchase arms, principally from the United States, Saudi Arabia, People's Republic of China, and Egypt. Despite high casualties on both sides, pressure continued to mount on the Soviet Union, especially after the United States brought in FIM-92 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles which severely reduced the effectiveness of Soviet air cover.

Conveniently, a formula was readily available for minimizing the humiliation of reversing a policy in which enormous political, material, and human capital had been invested.

Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
QUOTE(Vermillion)
Al Qaida has provided training, weapons, tactical advice and even local commanders. What is the 'comparative' value? Well nobody knows, but certainly the aid Al Qaida has given Iraqi insurgents in the last year is comparable to the aid the CIA gave to the Mujahadin in their first year of the struggle.

Perhaps...
But the USSR didn't lose its war in the first year. I sincerely doubt Al-Qaeda will be able to offer much more support than they are now, which would putting the insurgents in a losing position.
QUOTE(Vermillion)
Still think there is 'no comparison'?
I never said their was none, clearly there is (and congragulations on a well-researched argument). I simply say that the comparision does not indicate the same outcome, not yet anyway.
QUOTE(bucket)
And what exactly is the most likely scenario we have seen the US project for Iraq's near future? And I am not talking about the things our president proclaims on the campaign trail..in reality what does our intelligence feel is the most likely scenario? Too bad we are all not allowed access to that NIE report or at least a President with enough courage to be a little more honest with us on what is awaiting around the corner. A peaceful democratic nation-state in Iraq is a long long time off.

Best not to assume that simply because the intelligence report in classified it is full of bad news. Despite a sound-bite from a lone government official that formed the headlines over this, most characterize civil war as a "worst-case" scenario.

A civil war by the way which if it occurs would be very different from the one you seem to expect. Which leads to my next and possibly most important point.
QUOTE(bucket)
I don't understand this comment. They obviously are not getting along well right now

I think this misconception is the main problem. The primary cause of violence in Iraq right now is not sectarian conflict. So finding a solution by separation of ethnic/religious groups is simply answering the question no one asked, so to speak.
QUOTE(bucket)
How can we expect to hold elections in a country in which we can not even walk down the streets in many of their cities let alone ask them to participate in a little game we like to call democracy? How are we going to get the people in Sadr city to vote? Fallujah? Mosul? and how will we ever have legitimacy (the lack of which is a very common theme in things like this) without out their participation?

With the exception of Fallujah (and the inclusion of Ramadi and other western cities), from what I've seen it is very possible. The vast majority of Iraqis say they plan to vote, security will have to be tight, but democracy has the mandate of the people, the violent minority will simply have to be held at bay.

The first elections might be highly dangerous, but they won't be sparsely attended. They will have legitimacy.
bucket
Vermillion...

I can understand the other posters reluctance to accept your claims that the current Iraq war compares greatly to the past Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
There are a few major factors missing such as the influence, support and financing from America and her allies...Iran or Al qaeda make very poor comparatives. Also the fact it was a war within the cold war which again compares little to the war on terrorism.
I think it is far more beneficial for us to view this war and compare it to the past wars in Iraq...we really have no need to go out looking for other alternative conflicts to make comparisons and foresee possible outcomes..we have a rich history with war in Iraq itself and as I already mentioned in my last post to you...isn't the British mandate enough ? Why do you need to find others?

Yet I do feel those in disagreement to you here on your beliefs that the Afghan war has "huge" comparatives to the current Iraq war are being a little unfair because I do feel there is a very unspoken underlying theme the two share...Iran. Many speculate that the main tactic for the Soviets invading Afghanistan was to help prevent an Islamic fire in Eurasia...and Afghanistan happened to be the soft target. Again I feel this is the underlying and again unspoken reasoning behind the invasion of Iraq..and Iraq was also the soft target thanks to 12 yrs of sanctions ..yet the stakes have been raised as it is now a nuclear Islamic power we are hoping to extinguish.

Turnea..
QUOTE
Best not to assume that simply because the intelligence report in classified it is full of bad news. Despite a sound-bite from a lone government official that formed the headlines over this, most characterize civil war as a "worst-case" scenario. 
 
A civil war by the way which if it occurs would be very different from the one you seem to expect.  

Yes and what is said to be the best case scenario? And why are you focusing only on the civil war outcome? Because I never claimed or foretold that civil war was imminent..as I personally feel it isn't... so please stopping trying to put words in my mouth Altho. I have no problem supporting the idea that Iraq will be plagued with political turmoil, tribal war and social conflict... as it is the current situation in Iraq.

QUOTE
I think this misconception is the main problem. The primary cause of violence in Iraq right now is not sectarian conflict. So finding a solution by separation of ethnic/religious groups is simply answering the question no one asked, so to speak.

Ok I have asked several times for some sources or something, anything supporting your claims now I really would wish you would provide something this time that supports the idea that the current violence, political turmoil and warring is not sectarian conflicts. This assertion seems to completely ignore not only the basic make-up of Iraqi society but it's history and specifically one of the MAIN reasons we claimed as a compelling reason to invade this country. Are you going to tell me that the past 25 yrs under Hussein's rule Iraq was not divided along ethnic and religious lines and that mass amounts of atrocities were not being committed on Iraqis who were not of a particular religious or ethnic heritage? It was a country being violently and sadistically ruled along ethnic and religious lines..a small minority was ruling over a large majority ..and now we have freedom..and naturally comes retaliation. South Africa was very fortunate to have Mandela who asked the people to rise up and accept one another..unfortunately for Zimbabwe they have Mugabe who has pushed forward hatred and retribution as the focus for his country and it's results have been devastating.
Iraq has had no Mandela step forward..instead she has had many Mugabes gorging on that anger.

QUOTE
With the exception of Fallujah (and the inclusion of Ramadi and other western cities), from what I've seen it is very possible. The vast majority of Iraqis say they plan to vote, security will have to be tight, but democracy has the mandate of the people, the violent minority will simply have to be held at bay.


Great I don't doubt that many Iraqis feel that way...as I feel many Iraqis wish to live in peace and not commit suicide by blowing themselves to bits taking 60 or so of their countrymen with them...or chopping off heads of foreigners there to help reconstruct their country. It only takes a small minority to successfully terrorize the populace as a whole...and the holding at bay has not been working well.
Ptarmigan
When Britain formed Iraq from the remenants of the Ottoman Empire (yay, I love the way in which my country seems to have meddled in everything!) really it took a bunch of disparate people and bunched them together under one administration.

I see no reason why a system of one Iraq, which is essentially an idea imposed by Britain 80-odd years ago is still relevant today. The Kurds would rather be independent and the Sunnis fear a Shia majority in elections.

Let it be federalised, with most of the power remaining with the 3 states. That way Iraq would never be powerful (which is good or bad depending on your p.o.v) - but there would be a lower chance of civil war ten or fifteen years down the line when the troops leave.

Federalisation works extremely well in America, Switzerland, Germany etc.

Problems would be Turkey objecting to too much Kurdish independence, but then they have to behave themselves if they want to join the EU (of course this puts the onus on the EU to accept them) & Iran seeing a weak neighbour and forming an alliance with the Shias in Iraq to dominate the whole place.

However, the state of affairs 10 or 15 years down the line in Iran may be somewhat better than they are today.
turnea
QUOTE(bucket @ Sep 21 2004, 08:19 AM)
Ok I  have asked several times for some sources or something,  anything supporting your claims now I really would wish you would provide something this time that supports the idea that the current violence, political turmoil and warring is not sectarian conflicts.

Sorry, I think I simply didn't really understand what you were asking. I believe that the current violence in Iraq is not caused by sectarian divisions for a number of reasons.

1 The targets- In general not sites closely affiliated with any one group. Police stations, water facilities, oil pipelines. Not temples, not heavily Shia or Sunni neighborhoods like Sadr city or Al-Mansour .

2.The outward communications- The insurgent's messages usually tend to be ransom demands that don't relate to any one sect. Just money, a release of prisoners, change in law, or some political goal.

3.The inward correspondence- A big one. I posted a link early in the thread I think I'll repeat here.
QUOTE
US officials in Iraq say they have uncovered what they believe is a plot by a militant linked to al-Qaeda to foment sectarian violence there.  
  
The Americans seized a memo thought to be from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a suspected Jordanian militant.  
  
The message laments the failure to expel US troops from Iraq - but suggests igniting the Shia-Sunni conflict could rescue the resistance. ..  
"There is clearly a plan on the part of outsiders to come into this country and spark civil war, breed sectarian violence and try to expose fissures in the society," US military spokesman Brigadier-General Mark Kimmit told a news conference in the Iraqi capital on Monday....  
The 17-page document, parts of which were seen by the New York Times, was apparently intended for the al-Qaeda leadership and is believed to say attacks on Shia targets could create a backlash against the Sunnis.  
  
This, in turn, would radicalise the Sunnis, driving fresh recruits into al-Qaeda's ranks.  
  
"If we succeed in dragging them [the Shia] into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis who are fearful of destruction and death at the hands of the Shia," the document reads.

US reveals 'al-Qaeda Iraq plot'

So some of the attacks that are seemingly sectarian violence are likely the machinations of terrorists, intent on driving the country into chaos.
My final point backs this up.

4. The posture of the "likely suspects"- If there were sectarian conflict, I for one would expect it to be fomented in the different mosques of Iraq, this apparently is not the case
QUOTE(Rajiv Chandrasekaran @ Washington Post)
Several Sunni and Shiite clerics have been killed since Saddam Hussein's government was toppled. The most notable was the car-bomb assassination last August of Ayatollah Mohammed Bakr Hakim, one the senior-most Shiite leaders in Iraq. Despite these killings, Sunni and Shiite leaders have not turned on each other. Many of them blame outside agitators, including Abu Musab Zarqawi, for trying to spark a sectarian war. One positive sign that is that, thus far, we haven't heard of religious leaders preaching violence against other sects. The messages from most mainstream mosques here, both Sunni and Shiite, is one of religious unity.

Iraq: Live from Baghdad

More on points #2-3 below:
Is Al Qaeda stoking Sunni-Shiite civil war?
Shiites heed clerics' call for calm

So, most of the violence in Iraq is not sectarian conflict, civil war on that basis is unlikely and therefore fragmentation would to more harm than good.
bucket
Turnea..sorry for my delayed response just very busy currently.

I think you and I just have different views on what constitutes sectarian violence. As all your examples of al Qaeda's role in Iraq's violence, to me, just further acknowledges the sectarian aspect of it all.

Although several of the AQ examples of violence you have used for example are also believed to have been infighting amongst Iraqis. ..as the assassination of Hakim. Also not to mention Khoei's murder which just happened to take place in the Imam Ali Mosque, the violent clashes amongst the Mahdi army and the Badr army and of course all the trouble Muqtada has caused in Najaf and Karbala...all of which have centered in and around religious holy sites and mosques.

As for the demands voiced by the hostage takers some have been very dogmatic in nature too. The French headscarf removal being one. The nature in which non-muslims and muslims are treated in these situations and of course the demand all women be released.
turnea
QUOTE(bucket @ Sep 27 2004, 08:18 AM)
I think you and I just have different views on what constitutes sectarian violence.  As all your examples of al Qaeda's role in Iraq's violence, to me, just further acknowledges the sectarian aspect of it all.

...but Al-Qaeda is not particularly representative of any one sect. The leaders of both the Sunni and Shia as well as the vast majority of the population oppose violence against one another. How could that be sectarian violence?
QUOTE(bucket)
Although several of the AQ examples of violence you have used for example are also believed to have been infighting amongst Iraqis. ..as the assassination of Hakim. Also not to mention Khoei's murder which just happened to take place in the Imam Ali Mosque, the violent clashes amongst the Mahdi army and the Badr army and of course all the trouble Muqtada has caused in Najaf and Karbala...all of which have centered in and around religious holy sites and mosques.

Yes, but except for the assassination of Hakim, all are suspected to be linked to in-fighting within the Shia community. Again, not sectarian violence.

Just because the violence happened around some sects holy site doesn't mean it was an attack on the sect. Sadr is a Shia as well, his issues had nothing to do with sectarian differences.
QUOTE(bucket)
As for the demands voiced by the hostage takers some have been very dogmatic in nature too. The French headscarf removal being one. The nature in which non-muslims and muslims are treated in these situations and of course the demand all women be released.

This applies to muslim vs. non-muslim issues, but signified no divided among Sunni or Shia.

When I say sectarian violence, I mean fighting of one sect against another. That sort of violence is not widespread enough to spark civil war or to force fragmentation of the country.

The Shia, Sunni and Kurds are getting along with each other plenty well enough to co-exist in the same nation.
bucket
Turnea I suppose we are going to disagree no matter what either of us say...as I feel we each view sectarian violence in Iraq differently.

I unquestionably feel the infighting amongst the Shiites in Iraq is sectarian..those who wish for a more secular government (Sistani) and those who wish for an Islamic based govt (Muqtada)

I also wonder about how you separate things...claiming the beheadings on demands for women to be released, headscarf bans lifted and others as being one that is divided amongst muslim vs. non-muslim..how are these acts ..these beheadings.. not an affront to other Muslims? Isn't this in itself sectarian violence on part of the Islamists against not just the non-muslim world but all believers of Islam as well?

I also feel AQ without question represents a Muslim sect..a very fanatical, bigoted, extreme and I believe a very separated view from the actual teachings of Islam.

You didn't really address the points I made..which is essentially Iraqis have never had a strong sense of citizenry. With exception in the face of what they perceived to be an invading force and under forced and violent dictatorship. Yet in reality when did they ever express this citizenship openly and peacefully?
Will we have to enforce this "duty" on them again? As Iraq is a Western creation do the people of this region feel this duty to remain united? Or if and when they finally regain their ultimate freedom and liberation will they finally be released from our demands?
turnea
QUOTE(bucket @ Sep 27 2004, 08:18 AM)
I think you and I just have different views on what constitutes sectarian violence.  As all your examples of al Qaeda's role in Iraq's violence, to me, just further acknowledges the sectarian aspect of it all.

Perhaps, but I think I've give it another go anyway (when at first you don't succeed, check if you have anything better to do and then go from there laugh.gif )

OK, perhaps we have differing definitions of sectarian violence. However, I think we are still able to see that the examples of sectarian violence you point out miss the point of the thread.

To put that in the form of a question (I'll take armchair political science for $500 tongue.gif):

If the sectarian violence going on in Iraq is not between the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds, what then would be the reason for separating them into states based on geography/sect?
QUOTE(bucket)
You didn't really address the points I made..which is essentially Iraqis have never had a strong sense of citizenry. With exception in the face of what they perceived to be an invading force and under forced and violent dictatorship. Yet in reality when did they ever express this citizenship openly and peacefully?

Seeing as they have been under these to states are far back as most in Iraq can remember I don't think it is the right question to ask. If I'm not mistaken polls show that most Iraqis oppose the fragmentation of Iraq (the Kurds being the major exception). I don't have my usual set-up at the moment, but I'll edit in the exact figures later.

What they feel now, is what's important.
This is a simplified version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Invision Power Board © 2001-2021 Invision Power Services, Inc.