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Monday, July 24, 2006

Civil War in Iraq Probably won't be Limited to Iraq - Foreseeing a Broad Middle Eastern Conflict

(Keywords and tags: , , , , , , it's not so much a question of when between and will begin - it's a question of where it will spread)

Israel's attacks on Lebanon are sucking up all the oxygen in the news, especially news from the middle east. It may be the most important event in the region at the moment. But it also may be that the war in Iraq will have farther reaching consequences to the region by redrawing the map.

It's now pretty much undeniable that Iraq is fighting a civil war. Coalition forces have become irrelevant - as I've said before, peacekeepers who fail to keep the peace.

The Belfast Telegraph reports:

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, meets Tony Blair in London today as violence in Iraq reaches a new crescendo and senior Iraqi officials say the break up of the country is inevitable.

A car bomb in a market in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad yesterday killed 34 people and wounded a further 60 and was followed by a second bomb in the same area two hours later that left a further eight dead. Another car bomb outside a court house in Kirkuk killed a further 20 and injured 70 people.

“Iraq as a political project is finished,” a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: “The parties have moved to plan B.” He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. “There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west,” he said.

The regional consequences of an Iraq divided into sectarian nations are pretty clear - new alliances embolden old rivals. As their numbers swell, each sect will claim a resurgence of support for their own causes. Ongoing civil war in Iraq will destabilize the entire region. In the best case scenario, nations will be at cold war. In the worst, a borderless civil war will spread throughout the region.

The balance of middle eastern power hasn't been disrupted by the removal of Saddam Hussein, so much as it's been eliminated. The neocon theory that Iraq would become a staging ground for spreading democracy looks as foolish as it always was. Take wishful thinking, add a pinch of good intentions, and a big dollop of willful ignorance, and you've got the Bush administration's foreign policy.

Who would've thought that whackin' the hornet's nest would be a bad idea?