“Insurgency” vs. “Sectarian Violence”

There is an attempt being made at present to distinguish between the two terms in the title of this post.

Without clarifying the difference it is simply asserted that Shia-Sunni fighting is one thing one thing and that the "insurgency" is another.   This is an assertion of a distinction without a difference. 

The "insurgencies"  in Iraq are variously:

-international jihadis who are all Sunni Muslims.

-local Iraqi Islamists (all Sunni Arabs)

-Tribals (Sunni Arabs)

-De-mobilized soldiers (overwhelmingly Sunni Arabs)

-Nationalists and Baathists (some Sunni Arabs and some secular Shia)

What are all these groups fighting for?  With the exception of the "Nationalists and Baathists"  who want to see the restoration of a secular and unitary state, the rest of them want to see the maintenance of the previous (a thousand years) disproportionate political power of Sunni Arab Muslims in Iraq.  The international jihadis would express this as a desire for Sunni Muslim control without a focus on the Arab part of the identity.

What is different in the present "sectarian violence?"  The Shia have now reciprocated in doing violence to their sectarian enemies.

That is the difference.

Pat Lang

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10 Responses to “Insurgency” vs. “Sectarian Violence”

  1. Some Guy says:

    You know, Colonel, the semantics surrouding Iraq have been just plain incoherent.
    1) Once the invasion was complete, the “mission” was “accomplished” but when violence did not end, the war was not over, only major combat operations.
    2) Iraq was a “central front” in the “war” on terror since day one and never stopped being that, so what has transpired there has been a war from the admin.’s point of view all along.
    3) Yet, Iraq was not an insurgency, it was sporadic violence by dead-enders. Or foreign jihadists. Or both, pick your favorite comment from the appropiate official. But it was still a central front in a global war.
    4) Then Iraq did have an insurgency, not just terrorists, but not a “civil war” even though, yes indeed, it was still a central front in a global war.
    5) Now Iraq is not in a “civil war,” just an unfortunate spate of sectarian violence, even though we must stay the course or lose on the central front in a global war.
    (My head hurts.)
    So, how can a nation be continuously the preeminent site of a global war but never a civil war, when most of the violence on that site has been at the hands of Iraqis and fellow Iraqis have always paid the highest price. Sectarian violence is up but Iraqis have been killing Iraqis and not just troops since the invasion.
    Are we supposed to believe that there is a war going on in Iraq but only when coalition troops are killed? That when Iraqis die the violence reverts to sectarian strife? And if that sectarian strife threatens the stability of Iraq, why is it not also part of a global war? And why cannot a global war be sited principally in a civil war in a specific state?
    Bush wants to call this a war when it suits him, or not when it suits him. The Appeals court that recently referred to Bush’s Clean Air revision as “Humpty Dumpty” reasoning could very well say the same thing about the twisted, willful semantics of defining Iraq as not civil war, but a deader-ender/insurgency/ violent sectarian front in a global war.

  2. Patrick henry says:

    All of these events..are now and have long been “‘Sectarian Violence ”
    in my opinion..
    it has been gowing out of the political violence of WW 2 and its aftermath when the nation of Isreal was re-established and the “Palestenian Problem “began..
    That immediately turned into “Sectarian Violence'”
    a`Religious War..
    A`Revolution That grew into Muslim Hatred for Jew..
    Sectarian..Exploited ..Unit-ing Muslims all over the M/E..
    They make it very clear this is a HOLY WAR..motivated by Religion and Zealots..
    we call them insurgents and Terrorists..
    They call themselfs Holy warriors..Martyrs..Fighters for the “Faith”
    They want to Destroy Israel and the Jews..
    The have attacked and declared War on the United States..bwecause we support Israel and because we are infidels..Christians..
    They want to unite ALL Muslims in a Holy WAR..
    Thier Sectarian Holy War..
    They kill thier Own..On religious Grounds..Sectarian..
    The Sunnis are desperate..They can see the Hand writing on the Wall..
    They know what the Shia will do..especially the Radical Shia ..when we leave..Iran announced a two year plan..
    Thats giving us time to Leave..Iraq..
    Are we to believe the IRAQI
    Shia Majority are going to ingnore Shia Iran..
    or Jeprodize thier security by confronting Iran to please the United States.or because GWB asked them too.I don’t think so..
    This is the Revival of the Persian empire..Secular..
    Yep..we can stay there as long as we can..now that Bush has Created His Front..drawn His line in the Sand..
    But it will never end..the Hatred and Rivalry is too deep..
    Its Secular..Tribal..Religious..
    A Revolution ..A Movement..a JiHad..
    yep..I think all we did was help Iran carry out thier Plan..Removed the Sunni obstacle for them..
    If iraq falls to Iran..
    These are Indeed Prophetic Times..as they Believe..
    And its Indeed “Secular”..
    With “Secular Results”
    The Only way I see thier Prophecys being Fufilled..is if the United States is no longer a threat to them..Gone..Removed..
    or Caught up in others conflicts..Korea..China..Taiwan..
    Or Involved in its own Domestic Disasters..
    I wonder what we have Given Birth to..Democracy..
    Or Disaster..??

  3. Patrick Henry says:

    I realize I have misused the word SECULAR..when all curret events I refered to..are Indeed..as Pat has Said..SECTARIAN..In all Aspects..
    SECT Violence..Rigid..

  4. CJ says:

    Pat –
    Whatever the label, to favorably alter the course of the war requires an appreciation of the reality of the situation. The administration has no inclination to admit knowing the reality, let alone addressing it. And is a massive strategic blunder – not to mention the failures of implementation that followed – a problem that can be solved in the first place? Doubtful, especially when there are so many groups unwilling to compromise and completely willing to burn the barn down if they don’t get their interests or grievances addressed. My outlook took another nose dive last week when David Brooks invoked your name on the News Hour in reference to early expert opinions that saw what was coming. When an administration shill and analytic genius like Brooks wakes up and smells the corpses, you know the situation is dire indeed.
    For the Iraqi’s sake, I hope we find a way forward. For our troops and strategic position, I hope we get out as soon as possible.

  5. Curious says:

    I’ve been watching the news. It seems the instability in Baghdad persist. This means:
    -The central government can’t control situation in Baghdad. (I have to assume, the fringe cities are all running on auto pilot now) Ripe for take over by local militia.
    -Talk starts to swirl about Baghdad decending into ‘Beirut’ like situation in the 80’s.
    -Bush phone call, senators visit, forcing whoever left from that fake election to form government. Seriously, even if they announce a new government tomorrow, who would listen to them? The current government from last election has effectively cease to exist.
    -At least the blood bath is not as bad as I fear. No big clans/guerilla/militias has declared any area to be their territory or threatened to kill rival leader.
    -Iran seems to be contained. They have no appetite to fight and Condi quit barking. Russia seems to do some good.
    This spring will be about Baghdad. That city is the heart of Iraq, if it falls to chaos, Iraq will have no center.

  6. jonst says:

    This mention, in the media, of
    what APPEARS, anyway, to be a fixed battle between shia and sunni strikes me a new, and significant, development in the situation http://www.hindu.com/2006/03/26/stories/2006032604371600.htm

  7. bh says:

    I have just read an AP report that US troops raided a “secret prison” run by “Interior Ministry personnel” today. As a US tax payer I am not too happy that we seem to be training “Interoir Ministry personnel” and then arresting them. This does not appear to be a good use of my tax dollars.
    This kind of situation indicates a singular failure of strategic focus when you train people who are supposed to be your friends and then you have to attack them.
    From the American military perspective, the insurgency/civil war debate is irrelevant if our “training” program is such a failure. To fight a war, you have to know who your friends and enemies are.
    The biggest problem, from the US standpoint, is that we have no natural allies in Iraq in the Shia, Sunni or Kurdish communities. Our alliances are always based on constantly shifting tactical maneuvers in politics or warfare.
    We may have a moral obligation to try to straighten out the mess we have created, but I don’t think we can at this point.

  8. Curious says:

    Things are about to spiral out of control.
    BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 26 — American and Iraqi government forces clashed with Shiite militiamen in Baghdad tonight in the most serious confrontation in months, and Iraqi officials said the fighting left at least 17 Iraqis dead, including an 80-year-old imam.
    The fighting erupted at a very combustible moment in Iraq, with sectarian tensions rising, leadership problems deepening, and dozens of mutilated bodies continuing to surface on Iraqi streets today.
    Another concern is that the clash could open an old wound, because the militiamen who were killed worked for Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who has already led several bloody rebellions against American forces.
    Security in Baghdad seems to be deteriorating by the hour, and it is increasingly unclear who is in control. Earlier today, the Iraqi Interior Ministry reported that American forces raided a secret prison and arrested several Iraqi policeman.

  9. Curious says:

    (winning heart and mind is definitely not going well.)
    Baghdad Governor Suspends Cooperation With U.S. Forces
    March 27, 2006 — Baghdad provincial Governor Husayn al-Tahan said he is suspending all cooperation with U.S. forces until an independent investigation is launched into the killing of 20 Shi’a, allegedly in or near a mosque.
    Speaking to reporters in Baghdad, al-Tahan said, “Today we decided to stop all political and service cooperation with the U.S. forces until a legal committee is formed to investigate this incident.”
    He said the inquiry panel should include representatives from the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi Defense Ministry, but not the U.S. military.
    Followers of radical Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr blame U.S. forces for killing the 20 Shi’a in and around a mosque in Baghdad on March 26.
    The U.S. military denies the charges, saying Iraqi forces backed by U.S. advisers killed 16 insurgents in an operation in the same neighborhood.

  10. Curious says:

    Call me paranoid but does this look healthy to you all?
    1. Russia says FU, we are not gonna go with security council route.
    2. pentagon report, Russia is giving information to Saddam. (And what good exactly will that report do, releasing it at this very moment to public?)
    3. Condi start going around TV saying, I am gonna ask the Russian about that report.
    4. and for topper. The Russians are cleaning up their big guns to see if it works. nice… I hope I am jsut being paranoid about Russia vs. neocon having a blinkmanship contest.
    Tu-95MS exercise
    Tu-95MS strategic bombers took part in an exercise, which included eight launches of cruise missiles. An official Air Force representative was reported as saying that the launches were part of a larger exercise, which lasted four days and involved 15 Tu-95 crews and 12 crews of Il-78 refuelling tankers (as well as Su-27 support planes). It is not clear, however, how many aircraft took part in the exercise or whether all launches were conducted last night, as the report seems to imply.

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