The bombing at the Golden Mosque has not instigated civil war in Iraq
After the daytime curfew designed to limit sectarian violence in the wake of the demolition of the dome of the Golden Mosque was lifted in Baghdad, the city returned to ‘normal’, a relative term as Baghdad is a dangerous place to begin with. Reuters lists the Developments in Iraq for February 27, and the picture it paints is just another day of the insurgency in Iraq. It’s less than optimal but far from civil war.
The Reuters report also highlights a high tempo of operations by military and police forces in Iraq. Iraqi television reports the Interior Ministry’s Wolf Brigade arrested al Qaeda leader Abu al-Farouq al-Suri (the Syria) along with five other terrorists in the city of Ramadi. al-Farouq is described as “a senior Zarqawi aid” however he is a virtual unknown.
Evan Kohlmann warns we should be skeptical of Iraqi government statements at this time as “the political pressure on the Iraqi government to prove its control of the security situation might move it to make claims of success in matters of importance to Americans.” While this may be the case with Abu al-Farouq al-Suri, it is unlikely the operational details are being inflated. I personally saw the system used by Coalition forces to track ‘events’ across Iraq, and with American Military Training Teams embedded in Iraqi units, it is highly unlikely these statistics are being falsified.
Both Mohammed at Iraq the Model and Zeyad at Healing Iraq provide updates on the situation in Baghdad and the aftermath of the six days of violence in the city. They intimate the situation in Baghdad is stabilizing, and both share the opinion the police forces of the Interior Ministry are worthy of contempt, while the Iraqi Army units performed well during the crisis.
It should be remembered that 2006 has been dubbed “the year of the police” by the Coalition – meaning the main focus of Coalition efforts will be on training and integrating the police forces. Some police units are said to be wholly comprised of elements of the Shiite Badr and Madhi militias, and their performance during this crisis should be scrutinized by the Iraqi government. The Sunnis are talking about returning to the negotiating table to form a unity government. One of the Sunni’s sticking points has been the status of the Interior Ministry and the composition and control of the police battalions. Expect this issue to remain in the forefront.
The Iraqi politicians have the opportunity to prevent future problems such as those which occurred in the aftermath of the destruction of the golden dome by insisting on the disbanding of the militias and reforming and reorganizing the Interior Ministry battalions. If these reforms can be implemented the power of Sadr, and by proxy Iran, will diminish.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.