Saturday, September 02, 2006


The latest Pentagon report on the Iraq war, issued Friday, says that the Sunni Arab insurgency has now been overshadowed by the battle between Shiite and Sunni militias.

That struggle, referred to as the “core conflict”, has the Pentagon quite concerned.

“Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, specifically in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population has increased in recent months,” the report stated.

Attacks have increased by 15 percent in the past three months and casualties among Iraqis surged 51 percent. According to the report, the increasing sectarian violence is being fed in part by interference from neighboring Iran and Syria.

Of particular concern is that the militias have become entrenched in various neighborhoods, especially in Baghdad, where they are seen as providers of security as well as basic social services.

The report said the U.S. is currently facing its greatest challenge since the war began in March 2003. “The security situation is currently at its most complex state since the initiation of Operation Iraq Freedom,” it read.

Though notably gloomy in its acknowledgment of the potential for civil war, the report said the current violence does not amount to that just yet and asserted that the momentum toward such a war can be stopped.

But just last week, a statement purportedly from al-Qaida’s Iraqi umbrella group urged Sunnis, who form the majority among the world’s Muslims but a minority in Iraq, to launch a holy war against Shiites.

Many Iraqis fear a divided capital, separated by the Tigris River in the middle as the sectarian boundary, resulting in a Sunni west and a Shiite east. Trying govern under those conditions would be nearly impossible for the fledgling government.

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