Sectatian violence does not a civil war make, and has anyone heard from Zarqawi lately?
As further sectarian violence surfaces in Iraq, the predictions of civil war increase. Over the past few days, scores of bodies have been uncovered in the Baghdad area, many showing signs of torture and execution-styled murders. In an attempt to improve the standing of the Iraqi Police, an agreement has been struck for the Iraqi Army and police forces to conduct joint operations. This is a clear indication the Interior Ministry is under pressure to clean up its police forces, as well as an admission that the Iraqi Army is viewed in a far better light by the Iraqi people than the police forces.
But sectarian violence, while a troubling and a destabilizing development, does not equate to civil war. Many established democracies are rife with sectarian strife, including India, the Philippines and Indonesia. This isn’t intended to excuse the killings in Iraq, but it should be understood that there are very real problems throughout the world in established democratic countries. al Qaeda is attempting to stir up sectarian violence and create the conditions for a civil war, but the political process, while frustratingly slow, is moving forward and the Iraqi Army and police forces, while far from perfect, have not cracked.
While the focus is on the sectarian strife in the major population centers, a real civil war is occurring inside Iraq – between al Qaeda and their erstwhile Sunni allies. A representative from the newly created “Anbar Revenge Brigade” claims to have killed “20 foreign fighters and 33 Iraqi sympathizers,” including “a number of the Arabs including Saudis, Egyptians, Syrians, Kuwaitis and Jordanians.” Unlike prior inflated claims, these numbers should be considered reasonable. Strategy Page reports numerous sensitive al Qaeda documents have been found, including a “death list” and “many of the names on the list are of Sunni tribal and religious leaders who have been less than enthusiastic in their support for al Qaeda. Sadly, a number of those on the list have already been slain.” It is these tactics which have spurred the creation of the Anbar Revenge Brigade.
In the atmosphere of open warfare between al Qaeda and the Sunnis, questions are beginning to arise about the whereabouts of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. SITE Institute’s Rita Katz notes that since the Mujahideen Shura Council was formed in Iraq last month, Zarqawi has been virtually silent; “A few days after the council was established, Al Qaeda in Iraq ceased to post communiqu
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