Monday, November 27, 2006

Anatomy of a Civil War: Writer Nir Rosen on Iraq's Descent Into Chaos

With Amy Goodman


"In his latest article, "Anatomy of a Civil War: Iraq's descent into chaos", Rosen writes, "Shia religious parties such as the Iran-supported Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (its name a sufficient statement of its intentions), or SCIRI, controlled the country, and Shia militias had become the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army, running their own secret prisons, arresting, torturing, and executing Sunnis in what was clearly a civil war. And the Americans were merely one more militia among the many, watching, occasionally intervening, and in the end only making things worse. Iraqis' hopes for a better future after Saddam had been betrayed."

NIR ROSEN: Well, step into any of the top hotels in Amman, Jordan and you are likely to find people who are affiliated with the resistance, because they use Jordan as a safe haven. So many of the leadership does, wealthy people who sponsor the very many different groups of the resistance, but -- and they've been making these demands for a couple of years now, impossible as they are. And the Americans have been meeting unofficially in Iraq and outside Iraq, people from the resistance. And a year ago there were meetings in Cairo between the Iraqi Government and member of the resistance. And none of this has ever amounted to anything, because Shias own Iraq now. Sunnis can never get it back. There's nothing Americans can do about this.

So, for Sunnis, whether these reports are true or not, for Sunnis to ever imagine that they could ever regain power, that the Baathists could ever be restored to power, that Americans actually matter in Iraq anymore is naïve in the extreme. Iraq is Shia now. They have the majority, the security forces, they have the militias. What you are going to see in Iraq I think, in Baghdad especially, is a virtual genocide of the Sunnis. And the Americans are going to be unable to stop that.

As for the Bush and Maliki meeting, I think both Bush and Maliki are absolutely irrelevant in Iraq. Neither one of them has any power. Maliki has no militia to speak of. Bush has militia, the American army, one of the many militias operating in Iraq. But the American Army is lost in Iraq, as it has been since it arrived. Striking at Sunnis, striking at Shias, striking at mostly innocent people. Unable to distinguish between anybody, certainly unable to wield any power, except on the immediate street corner where it’s located. So, it just doesn’t matter.

And the idea of a strong man is also, sort of a bit too late. The strong man would have to have his own militia, and his own popular support. Well, the only people who have that are Muqtada al-Sadr, who has the Madi Army, some of the Kurdish militias in the north, or Abdul Aziz Hakim, who has the Badr Brigade. And, we’re certainly not going to hand Baghdad over to the Kurds because the Shias would slaughter them. And we already handed Baghdad over and much of the country to the Shia militias. So there is no strong man solution.

There is this romantic idea lately that you could have a coup and replace the Maliki regime with somebody else, because Iraq has a history of coups. But, Iraq’s history of coups, occurred when Baghdad was the only large city in the country, and you could simply switch leader in Baghdad and you’d have a new leader. Now you have about 10 or 12 city states in Iraq: Mosul, Baghdad, Kirkuk, Basra, Amara, Ramadi, each one is disconnected from other, each one controlled by its own militias. You could put anybody you wanted in Baghdad, it just wouldn't make a difference outside of Baghdad. And the guy you put in Baghdad would have to have power in Baghdad, which means street power, which means Muqtada al-Sadr. "

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