Civil War in Iraq

"But by the end of 2003, close observers of Iraq were seeing in the conflict a localized, sectarian element that was separate and apart from Arab or Iraqi nationalist stirrings against the United States as occupier. For three decades, W. Patrick Lang has been an Arab specialist in the U.S. government, in positions including intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency and the first professor of Arabic language at West Point. Now a consultant in the private sector, Lang has visited Iraq some 20 times over the years. Less than a year after the U.S. invasion, "it became clear," Lang said in a recent interview, that a civil-war-like conflict was under way. (Stanford political scientist Laitin says he would backdate the onset of civil war, more formally, to the point of legal transition from foreign occupation to self-rule: the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government in June 2004.)

At the root of the civil war, Lang says, are Sunni Arabs contesting for control of an Iraq in which Shiite Arabs feel newly empowered. Like Bosnia under the Austro-Hapsburg Empire, Lang says, pre-invasion Baathist Iraq was a kind of "ecumenical melting pot." And even though Sunnis were largely in control, secular Shiites occupied important posts in institutions like the police force, the civil service, the universities, and the army. It was "a pressure-cooker approach to forming national identity," Lang says, and "we interrupted this process of amalgamation…. By taking the lid off this pressure cooker, we have allowed these various elements to resolve themselves into their basic form." Some 20 cities and towns around Baghdad, once mixed, are segregating along Shiite and Sunni lines, according to a recent New York Times count. "  National Journal

Pat Lang

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6 Responses to Civil War in Iraq

  1. Geoff says:

    What is ‘civila’?

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Thanks pl

  3. fbg46 says:

    Slightly OT, and with apologies to those who have seen the below in other ‘comments’ sections over the past six months:
    The following points seem to be clear:
    1. We have lost the war in Iraq. Setting aside that we never should have invaded in the first place, we lost in Summer 2003 when we disbanded the Iraqi Army. The time to do anything about that is now long past. The Unforgiving Minute has come and gone. The civil war that Col. Lang has alluded to is upon us.
    2. Our military, particularly the Army and the USMC, are close to broken if not already there. The troops have had it and God only knows what shape the equipment is in; probably every track and wheel in every unit throughout the world has been to some degree cannibalized to keep the stuff in Iraq running. That is a practice which can only go on for so long.
    3. We are actually losing two wars in Centcom — Iraq and Afghanistan — and both for the same reasons; not enough troops on the ground.
    4. Regardless of what nonsense the incompetent thugs who people this Administration say, we are leaving Iraq; they just want to say we are not while pulling out based on a domestic political timetable.
    5. “Getting out now” is military – ese for “getting out in good order and with enough force protection so that the last battalion in country doesn’t have to fight its way out.” In other words, no matter how many times the accusation “cut and run” is leveled against a Jack Murtha, what is really being said is that we should be out by some point in ’07 — which is going to happen anyway (see Item No. 4).
    Therefore, a proposal:
    1. Within the next 90 to 120 days, take alot/all of the regular Army and USMC light infantry/air assault/ SF forces in Iraq and reposition them on the Afghan – Pakistan border. Their missions: capture/kill as aQ types as they can lay their hands on on either side of the border and stabilize Afghanistan.
    2. The remaining forces in Iraq — regular armor/armored cav/light armor recon/mech infantry units and all Reserve and NG units are: 1) immediately moved out of the cities into the desert (the cities are eating us alive) and then, within six or so months, relocated from the desert to Kuwait in the east and temporary basing in Jordan in the west.
    Their missions are to rotate in country so as to keep training the Iraqi forces, and to act as a Quick Reaction Force if/when the Bandini well and truly hits the air supply.
    When the rotation dates for the Reserve and NG units hit, they are sent home and not replaced. When the rotation units for the regular units hit, they are sent to wherever they are needed/to rest and re-fit and not replaced.
    Eventually, say in about a year to 1 1/2 years, we would be down to the equivalent of two or so brigades in Kuwait — about what we had there before this fiasco began.
    This plan does nothing for the civil war in Iraq — its’ too late, we’ve made too much of a mess and have unleashed forces beyond our comprehension (as some of us were saying before the invasion, Don’t think of RVN, think of RVN with suicide bombers).
    But it may allow us to salvage Afghanistan and kill the enemy that actually attacked us on 9/11.

  4. fbg46 says:

    My only thought re: troops in Jordan was that they’d be there for maybe a year –ideally we should pull all troops into Kuwait, but, given that the location of where most of the trouble is — Al Anbar, Ramadi — in in the west, the flying times, etc., make it impractical for a force located exclusively in Kuwait to play a meaningful QRF role. I’m guessing that alot of the training goes on in the west as well.
    Maybe Plan B is to put the “interim” forces in the northern, Kurdish part of Iraq instead of/in addition to in Jordan.

  5. Jake says:

    I don’t like the idea of withdrawing troops out into the desert along the Iraqi/Syrian desert. Mainly because we would be ceding control of the supply lines to the bad guys. As it stands, we barely control the supply routes as it is. The bad guys don’t even necessarily have to attack the supply convoys, although that’s almost certain to happen. One of the scenarios I foresee would be to have the Iraqi Police (read sectarian militias) set up roadblocks to check the ton-mile paperwork or some such, decide the paperwork isn’t kosher and impound said convoy. Hence the poor grunts stuck out in the boontoolies run out of food, fuel, water, ammo, spare parts, etc., etc., etc. Granted the Military Airlift Command could alleviate this to some extent. But on the other hand Goering said the Luftwaffe could resupply von Paulus at Stalingrad. And we all know how well that worked.

  6. Serving Patriot says:

    In my more cynical days, I believe that our politically motivated (domestic that is) administration will do the following:
    1) proclaim an electoral victory in the upcoming elections (everyone particiaptes = real democracy)
    2) immediately begin withdrawing combat and CSS forces
    3) establish 2-3 “airpower” bases at isolated Iraqi AF bases manned and defended in the 30K troops (total) range
    4) use airpower as on-call firepower for selected Iraqi govt forces (a la the Northern Alliance – SOCCOM team in 2001)
    5) pond the heck out of whomever this alliance deems as hostile (which is most everybody on the ground and in the cities)
    6) continue and expand the dis-info campaign against US and world publics that we are “returning with honor” from Iraq; show only “success stories” of the new Iraq (where the Iraqis do the fighting against each other assisted by heavy US airpower)
    7) hold a victory parade in DC around Labor Day ’06 as the last of the 120K troops rotate home
    8) campaign vigorously as the party of VICTORY against Democrats in ’06 midterms while painting them as parties to coawardice
    9) coast to an easy election victory that solidifies BushCo control over govt thus avoiding an embarrassing impeachment program (and consequent pardons)
    10) look to Syria and/or Iran as the next target for the “American Empire”
    Then again – only on my cynical days…

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