"The Country Is Bleeding"
Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 08:39:01 PM PDT
It was less than a week ago that U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad stated that "the country is bleeding," though he insisted that the violence was not yet a civil war. Recent developments in Iraq reveal the country isn't just bleeding--it's hemorrhaging, and unfortunately, it appears there is little doubt that Iraq is suffering from an all-out civil war.
Politically, the process of forming a unity government has stalled. After meeting for just a half hour last week, the Iraqi leaders have failed to make substantial progress towards forming a government. While Bush and Rice make excuses about how difficult the process of forming a government can be, Democrats are calling on the administration to show some leadership and tell the Iraqis to either get their act together or lose our support.
On the security front, what is occuring in Iraq is nothing short of "sectarian cleansing," as one Kurdish member of the Iraqi Parliament put it. The New York Times reports "security is deteriorating by the hour." Thirty beheaded Iraqis were found today. Bodies are being found by the dozens and car bombs continue to explode. The leading Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr narrowly escaped getting killed in a mortar attack on his camp. American forces clashed with members of his militia today in/near a mosque (reports differ), killing 17 or 20 "insurgents." The police claim 22 bystanders died and al-Sadr's aides claim 18 innocent men were killed (after allegedly being tied up and shot). More on this story from the New York Times here. As the confusion and chaos escalates, Shiite politicians are accusing the U.S. of a "massacre." The incident, according to one source, has "injured the whole political process."
American forces also found a secret prison where prisoners were secretly held and apparently tortured by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. They arrested 40 policemen in the raid. An Iraqi police major was also arrested for heading up a death squad. The militias are out of control. Ambassador Khalilzad stated that "[m]ore Iraqis are dying today from the militia violence than from the terrorists."
The country is bleeding. In the heart of Baghdad, Shiite and Sunni militias are already fighting for control over districts, with scores of Iraqis killed as a result:
"The fighting will only stop when a new balance of power has emerged," Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader, said. "Sunni and Shia will each take control of their own area." He said sectarian cleansing had already begun.
Many Iraqi leaders now believe that civil war is inevitable but it will be confined, at least at first, to the capital and surrounding provinces where the population is mixed. "The real battle will be the battle for Baghdad where the Shia have increasing control," said one senior official who did not want his name published. "The army will disintegrate in the first moments of the war because the soldiers are loyal to the Shia, Sunni or Kurdish communities and not to the government." He expected the Americans to stay largely on the sidelines.
The American plan, according to Donald Rumsfeld, is indeed to stay on the sidelines as the Iraqi Army we trained disintegrates and the Iraqi people we promised to protect from terror see terror firsthand in their streets and in their homes. As reports stream out from Iraq, it appears that what we feared and hoped to never see is finally occurring: a complete breakdown in order, and an all-out civil war in Iraq. At last word, the Iraqi leaders are debating on having the entire Parliament chose Iraqi's new Prime Minister, in the hopes that the sooner a government is formed, the sooner the infighting in their country stops. Can a stabilized political process stop the chaos before it reaches a tipping point? Is the country already there? Can the bleeding, for the sake of Iraqis and our troops in harm's way, finally be stopped?