View Full Version : Hows that Iraq Civil War going?

03-05-2006, 05:51 PM
Don't they read our papers, or watch CNN? It should be in full swing by now.
New York Post Article (http://www.nypost.com//postopinion/opedcolumnists/64677.htm)

03-05-2006, 06:12 PM
It is true. They are pivoting on the razor's edge. Iraq might fall towards civil war, or it might be scared out of one, thanks to the bombing of that dome.

At this point, from what I have read, no one can say for sure. We can only hope that even the more hardcore amongst them will realize that chaos is unpredictable, and serves no one's interests.

But there are powerful interests, outside Iraq, for chaos. Iran, for one, for obvious reasons. Bin Laden and his cursed band of idiots.

But, Brian, the article you posted has some stuff that stretches credulity:

And no hostility toward our troops. Iraqis went out of their way to tell us we were welcome. No hostility? Can US soldiers patrol without body armour and air backup, outside well-defined "safe" routes?

03-05-2006, 07:21 PM
Ralph really goes native doesn't he?

If reporters really care, it's easy to get out on the streets of Baghdad. The 506th Infantry Regiment - and other great military units - will take journalists on their patrols virtually anywhere in the city. Our troops are great to work with. (Of course, there's the danger of becoming infected with patriot- ism . . .)

I'm just afraid that some of our journalists don't want to know the truth anymore.

03-05-2006, 07:22 PM
Civil War...ummm.
Sounds like the Muslims are winning...but both sides seem to mosque their actions... :rolleyes:

[ 03-05-2006, 07:23 PM: Message edited by: uncas ]

03-05-2006, 07:46 PM
Mosque of the Red Death by E.A. Poe? ;)

Anthony Zucker
03-05-2006, 08:43 PM
The reporter's opinion would be more credible if he took his tour thru town without hiding in an armed convoy.

When he walks thru neighborhoods alone wearing a "USA" sweatshirt and lives to write about it; then I'll be impressed.

03-06-2006, 06:41 AM
Instead of using the administrations tactics of saying what something isn't, here's a starting point saying what is.


The shrine attack underscored two fundamental problems in today's Iraq:

Such attacks can occur because of a profound lawlessness that has existed almost from the moment U.S. forces removed the Hussein regime in April 2003

The perpetrators can successfully push the buttons of sectarianism because the postwar political process has deepened the rift between Sunni Arabs, who formed the mainstay of the ousted regime and now fear discrimination and marginalization, and Shiites, who form the majority of the population

03-06-2006, 06:49 AM
I'm surprised we haven't heard from Ann here lately. Here's another opportunity for her to proclaim the triumph of the Bush doctrine and sneer at the weenies, like she did after the last election, which turned out to be more or less meaningless. It hasn't started yet, ergo it never will, ergo there's no problem, ergo we were right.

03-06-2006, 07:01 AM
not a civil war, not nation building but "stuff happens".


So here is why I left Iraq: For no crime at all but being a Sunni, I was arrested by the ministry of interior's intelligence body and detained for a couple of weeks. I made my way out of detention after they couldn't prove anything against me and couldn't make me confess of crimes that I hadn't done: They weren't able to make me say the name of "my terrorist cell" or "where its funding came from." I was labeled "terrorist" the moment I entered there, even before they started to interrogate me. But as I said, since they couldn't get any information out of me, they freed me for a few thousand dollars.
"Sunnis feel it is unsafe for them to remain in the country because they are being persecuted by the Badr and Sadr militias."
After paying them what they wanted, I left the prison, and under threats from them and other militias, I left Iraq.

03-06-2006, 07:50 AM
It's not a civil war, it's the Frontline In the Global War on Terror, FGWOT, or figwat where one can argue against the perception of civil war.
I wonder how often the author of the NYP article visited the morgues in Bagdad?



HUMAN rights abuses in Iraq were as bad now as under former dictator Saddam Hussein, former United Nations official John Pace said yesterday.

Mr Pace, who last month left his post as director of the human rights office at the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, said the level of extra-judicial executions and torture was soaring.

Morgue workers were being threatened by both government-backed militia and insurgents not to properly investigate deaths.

"Under Saddam, if you agreed to forgo your basic right to freedom of expression and thought, you were physically more or less OK," Mr Pace said in Sydney.

"But now, no. Here, you have a primitive, chaotic situation where anybody can do anything they want to anyone."

He said the scale of atrocity under Saddam was "daunting", but now no one was safe from abuse, not even Sunni Muslims and members of Saddam's Ba'ath Party.

" It extends over a much wider section of the population than it did under Saddam," he added.

Mr Pace, now a visiting fellow at the University of NSW, spoke as sectarian tensions in Iraq pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

While in Baghdad, he visited a morgue once a week and regarded it as a "barometer" of the level of violence in the country.

He said about three-quarters of the several hundred bodies brought to the morgue each month were categorised "gunshot wound" as the cause of death.

03-06-2006, 01:44 PM
language works.

"it's a civil war",,"is not", "is too", "is not",,

"ok, it's a low grade civil war".."is not",,"is too"

"it's a guerilla war",,"is not","is too"
"ok, it's an insurgency",,
"is not,,it's dead enders, saddamists and Al Qaeda"


BAGHDAD, March 5, 2006 — - As Pentagon generals offered optimistic assessments that the sectarian violence in Iraq had dissipated this weekend, other military experts told ABC News that Sunni and Shiite groups in Iraq already are engaged in a civil war, and that the Iraqi government and U.S. military had better accept that fact and adapt accordingly.

"We're in a civil war now; it's just that not everybody's joined in," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.

"It's our failure to understand reality that has caused us to be late throughout this experience of the last three years in Iraq," added Nash, who is an ABC News consultant.

Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told ABC News, "If you talk to U.S. intelligence officers and military people privately, they'd say we've been involved in low level civil war with very slowly increasing intensity since the transfer of power in June 2004."

03-06-2006, 02:00 PM
Lots of room to spin reality. It's not a civil war with drummer boys and muskets. It's not a civil war like Yugoslavia. It's not a quagmire. It's not like Vietnam.

When one starts hearing arguments why something isn't like something you're familiar with,,like the word "is",,you can't help but wonder if they're hiding something.

Team B collateral lives on.


[ 03-06-2006, 02:00 PM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

Osborne Russel
03-06-2006, 03:39 PM
I'm trying. I've been trying all week. The other day, I drove another 30 miles or so on the streets and alleys of Baghdad. I'm looking for the civil war that The New York Times declared. And I just can't find it . . .. It could be that my background as an intelligence officer didn't give me the right skills.
Could very well be. The good kind of intelligence officer finds that there are WMD’s when there are none; and no civil war when there is one. How do we know this guy is the good kind?

All day - and it was a long day - we drove through Shia and Sunni neighborhoods. Everywhere, the reception was warm. No violence. None. And no hostility toward our troops . . . So what did I learn from a day in the dust and muck of Baghdad's less-desirable boroughs? . . . If reporters really care, it's easy to get out on the streets of Baghdad. The 506th Infantry Regiment - and other great military units - will take journalists on their patrols virtually anywhere in the city.

Wow, all day long in an armored column and no one fired a shot at it. That’s some journalism, yo. Getting behind the appearances.

03-06-2006, 03:58 PM
I guess there are journalists and then there are journalists: Bob Woodruf was in an armored column when he got shot.

03-06-2006, 04:01 PM
Wasn't it Francis Bacon who said, "It is a poor journalist, who observing only a day in Baghdad concludes there is no civil war"?

John of Phoenix
03-06-2006, 04:38 PM
Call it what ever the F#@& you want.

"Stay the course", is going to get you more of what you alreay have - dead GI's, a bleeding treasury and more swarming terrorists.

03-06-2006, 05:02 PM
It's interesting that the writer castigates journalists for not going to morgues/hospitals. If you dig into hospital stories you'll find more than one instance of gov't soldiers, militia or whoever barging into hospitals so their wounded get care priority over other patients,,with staff and doctors threatened with guns and some patients tossed out. As a "former intelligence officer" I bet the writer knows why journalists don't often go into hospitals.


He said about three-quarters of the several hundred bodies brought to the morgue each month were categorised "gunshot wound" as the cause of death. "Nearly all were executed and tortured," Mr Pace said.
Mr. Pace said both the government-backed militias and the insurgents warned morgue workers not to properly investigate deaths. He told The Guardian that Faik Bakir, the director of the Baghdad morgue, had to flee Iraq for fear of his life after he reported that more than 7,000 people had been killed by death squads in recent months



There was confirmation of widespread anecdotal evidence this week when Fakir Bakir, the director of the Baghdad morgue, fled Iraq after threats to his life for revealing publicly that more than 7000 people had been killed by Shiite death squads made up of freelance units of the new Iraqi security forces.

John Pace, the outgoing head of the UN human rights office in Iraq, backed Mr Bakir, saying that the killings had been going on since long before the Samarra crisis.

"The vast majority showed signs of summary execution. Some had their hands tied behind their backs; some showed evidence of torture, with arms and leg joints broken by electric drills," he said.

Mr Pace argued that many of the killings were carried out by Shia militiamen brought into the ranks of the police and other security services run by the school-teacherly Bayan Jabr, Iraq's controversial Interior Minister. He is also a leading figure in the powerful Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

Mr Pace named as the principal culprits the Badr Brigade, SCIRI's Iranian-trained and funded 20,000-strong militia, which has taken over much of the police force.

The hijacking of the new US-trained and funded security services as sectarian enforcers is seen by many analysts as indicative of a likely escalation of sectarian violence — despite lip-service calls for calm from political and religious leaders.

[ 03-06-2006, 05:13 PM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

Osborne Russel
03-06-2006, 06:13 PM
Gandhi tried and succeeded, for awhile, to persuade the Hindus and the Muslims that their common interests were more important than their rivalry. Ultimately even Gandhi failed. Something tells me Bayan Jabr is no Gandhi.

Come to think of it, I know someone who ended sectarian strife in Iraq -- Saddam Hussein. He didn't do it the Gandhi way, though.

I guess when we win we should do a Mt. Rushmore deal somewhere in Iraq with Saddam, Gandhi, and Dubbya.

03-06-2006, 09:46 PM
Going fine.


03-07-2006, 07:38 AM
It's a bit more complicated than "when they stand up, we'll stand down",,just as the motivation for pre-emptive war is something other than the threat of "wmd" from Iraq.

[URL=http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/03/06/news/military.php]http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/03/06/news/military.php[/ URL]

For much of the war in Iraq, U.S. military commanders have said their most important mission here was to prepare Iraqi security forces to take over the fight against the Sunni- led insurgency. But with the threat of full-scale sectarian strife looming larger, they are suddenly grappling with the possibility that they have been arming one side in a prospective civil war


[ 03-07-2006, 08:14 AM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

Osborne Russel
03-07-2006, 11:53 AM
Originally posted by LeeG:
they are suddenly grappling with the possibility that they have been arming one side in a prospective civil war . . .They are grappling with it suddenly because no one could imagine there was more than one side. The military was properly avoiding diluting its strength in useless preparation for half-wit nation-building liberal one-worldism. What they need isn't middle east specialists and Arabic speakers, what they need is cutting-edge technology for the battlefield of tomorrow.

[ 03-07-2006, 11:55 AM: Message edited by: Osborne Russel ]

John of Phoenix
03-07-2006, 12:14 PM
Elizabeth Vargas (ABC News, 2/28/06): What is the policy if, in fact, a civil war should break out or the sectarian violence continues. Are you willing to sacrifice American lives to get the Sunnis and the Shiites to stop killing each other?

Bush: I don't buy your premise that there's going to be a civil war.

See? Don't worry. Be happy.
Create your own reality.

Elsewhere, in a parallel universe... Majority in U.S. Fears Iraq Civil War (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/06/AR2006030600369.html)

03-08-2006, 08:33 AM
Bring 'em on, fewer Iraqi terrists ready to storm the Whitehouse.


An American military patrol investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle found 18 bodies late Tuesday in an abandoned minibus in west Baghdad, Iraqi police and U.S. forces said. The victims -- all men -- had been handcuffed, blindfolded and either hanged or shot to death, police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq said.

[ 03-08-2006, 08:34 AM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

03-08-2006, 09:59 AM
Rumsfelds take on the non-civil war criminal attrocities mentioned above. The man has an interesting mind where abstract negatives have as much reality as concrete positives..truly weird

"It isn't as though there simply have been a series of random errors on both sides of issues," Rumsfeld said. "On the contrary, the steady stream of errors all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists and to discourage those who hope for success in Iraq."

http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/03/08/ir aq.main/index.html (http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/03/08/iraq.main/index.html)

However, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, while criticizing media coverage of the war Tuesday, told reporters at the Pentagon he didn't think there was a civil war in Iraq.

"They want just the opposite," Rumsfeld said of the Iraqi people. "And they've demonstrated the courage to show that they want just the opposite."

Rumsfeld slammed reporters, saying many of the stories following recent sectarian violence were exaggerated. (Watch as Rumsfeld disputes talk that Iraq is headed toward civil war -- 1:19)

"It isn't as though there simply have been a series of random errors on both sides of issues," Rumsfeld said. "On the contrary, the steady stream of errors all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists and to discourage those who hope for success in Iraq."

The defense chief touted the Iraqi security forces, saying the army and police have shown leadership that "has to be seen as encouraging despite the apparent unwillingness of some to accept it."

Rumsfeld acknowledged that violence is slowing Iraq's progress and that militias pose problems for the government, but he said the number of attacks hadn't increased substantially.

"I think that these things go in bursts, and the burst has passed," he said. "And it's been handled pretty well. And there will be another burst at some point down the road, simply because that's the nature of that part of the world and the situation."

[ 03-08-2006, 10:02 AM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

03-08-2006, 10:15 AM
Rumsfelds a smart guy but his style of managing the message sounds as solid as any alcoholics denial mechanisms. It's a behaviour that meets a need but that doesn't mean the need meets overall security issues. Rumsfeld was a big proponent of SDI,,and while there are some amazing anti-missle technologies for theater defense there's no functioning intercontinental ABM system,,even though "a system" is deployed and $75billion spent on it's development.
9/11 changed everything,,,and some things didn't change at all.

John of Phoenix
03-08-2006, 10:40 AM
Well, if anyone knows the difference between a “series of random errors” and a “steady stream of errors”, it has to be Rummy.


Osborne Russel
03-08-2006, 02:33 PM
Stayin' the course,
on a steady stream . . .

03-08-2006, 07:43 PM
blatant c&p from Christopher Albritton,,I can't find
Alan Hydes article from Ralph Peters "what civil war?"..so here goes.

Ralph Peters: Sucker or Liar?

BAGHDAD — I’m sorry for not posting more. Still some latent server troubles. But I have to address an issue: Ralph Peters, who is currently traipsing around Baghdad with the 506th Infantry Regiment, is, to be blunt, full of **** .

He’s currently a favorite of the pro-war set, who say we reporters have “agendas” to undermine the troops and get our civil war on, ‘cause, you know, that makes Bush look bad… or something.

(A quick note on the above link: it’s all conservative publications. Why is it I, a professional journalist, get tarred with a “liberal” brush when I have never, ever written for Mother Jones, the Nation or Granta, etc. But polemicists who spend the all their energies cranking out pieces for the National Review, Front Page and the New York Post somehow don’t get called “conservatives” but instead are “truth tellers”? Such a mystery.)

Among the claims in his slanderous column: “The Iraqi Army has confounded its Western critics, performing extremely well last week. And the people trust their new army to an encouraging degree.”

The Iraqi Army — and police, for that matter — stood by while Shi’ite militias ran rampant through Sunni neighborhoods. They only took up the security positions when the Shi’ite clerics, including Moqtada al-Sadr, had already calmed down the worst of the violence. That’s not “performing extremely well,” unless by “extremely well,” you mean not confronting the enemies and keeping your head down until it’s safe to come out. That’s usually called “hiding.”

He also says we western reporters don’t get out on the streets, which is patently untrue. I don’t get out as often as I’d like, but I do get out. My colleagues at TIME, who look much less western than I do, get out much more. And, unlike Peters, we don’t travel with a big-ass armed convoy under the protection of the U.S. military.

He then further slanders Ellen Knickmeyer, of the Washington Post, when he says, “Did any Western reporter go to that morgue and count the bodies — a rough count would have done it — before telling the world the news? I doubt it.”

Well, actually, Ralph, I know Ellen. And yes, she did go down to the morgue. While there are many issues with her story, what is undeniable is that she risked a hell of a lot more than you did when she put her life in jeopardy to go down there.

Then he says, “If reporters really care, it’s easy to get out on the streets of Baghdad. The 506th Infantry Regiment — and other great military units — will take journalists on their patrols virtually anywhere.” Well, no, they won’t. Some reporters I know are having trouble getting embeds because they’re not the “right” reporters. They don’t write the “right” kind of stories — meaning they don’t follow the military’s playbook.

It’s more than a little churlish to say, “We’ll take you anywhere, as long as you’re not too liberal/French/whatever” and then turn around and criticize those you refuse to take with you as cowards. If they situation is so rosy, Mr. Peters, why on earth do I need to embed in the first place? Believe me, I’d much rather travel around without a military entourage. You tend to get more truthful answers from Iraqis when they’re not surrounded by soldiers with big guns, after all.

Then, this guy with a “background as an intelligence officer” goes on to say there’s no civil war because, by gosh, he sure didn’t see any thing like that. And the Iraqis cheered the Americans!

Let me try to paint the picture a little more clearly, Mr. Peters: When Sunnis cheer the Americans, it’s not because things are rosy, it’s because they’re more scared of the Shi’ites than they are of you. Sunnis in Baghdad I’ve spoken with have told me they would rather be arrested by the Americans than by the government forces, because at least now the Americans won’t torture you as badly. They have no love for Americans, they just know who is best able to protect them from their neighbors.

Yesterday, the general in charge of the Iraqi Army division in Baghdad was killed by a sniper while he was on patrol. An investigation has been opened because there are suspicions he was killed for being Sunni by one of his Shi’ite troops.

To be blunt: We are as close to full-scale civil war as we’ve ever been. We are one more bombing, massacre or atrocity from a national bloodletting. But even if that happens, there will be ebbs and flows. Just because people aren’t curled up in the fetal position under their beds all the time doesn’t mean there’s not a war on of some kind. In Lebanon, for 15 years, people went to the beach, cafés, bars and, in general, tried to live a normal life. For long stretches, a neighborhood would be calm. And then the shells would come, or a running street battle would break out and civilians would go running inside to hide. The violence would eventually pass, like a breaking wave, and they would come out into the light. That’s the way war works, and that’s what’s happening in Baghdad right now.

Finally, two things: Mr. Peters says he has a background in intelligence. And he says he’s been hitching rides with this unit, rather than being assigned to it. He also makes what may be an unintentionally ironic comment when he criticized Iraqi stringers: “The Iraqi stringers have cracked the code: The Americans don’t pay for good news. So they exaggerate the bad.”

First of all, the Americans do pay for good news. They have in the past, when American officers wrote stories and paid local papers to run them. These happy tales invariably painted a rosier picture than was warranted.

Secondly, Gen. George Casey, commander of U.S. troops here, told reporters in a news conference three days ago that the pay-for-play program was on-going. “We were operating within our authorities and responsibilities,” he said, and added that he had not received an order to stop the program. “And, right now, based on the results of the investigation, I do not intend to in the near term.”

Thirdly, just what is Mr. Peters doing here? A former intelligence officer, riding around Baghdad, painting a rosy picture? I may just be assuming stuff here — hell, if Ralph can do it, so can I — but is Mr. Peters one of those story-planting Americans? Was he out getting material and pictures? And has he taken his skills at writing happy stories to the American public?

Peters’ little yarns sure sounds nice, but he sounds either desperately clueless or willfully blind. Officials in the American embassy, at least, are very worried that civil war is upon us, and it’s surely no coincidence that Casey has a reputation for not wanting to hear bad news. And so Peters continues to think because he rolls around in an armored convoy and no one takes a shot at him, there’s no civil war. As someone I’m sure he admires once said, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Rant over. For now

03-08-2006, 08:10 PM
How embarassing,,it was this thread that had the Ralph Peters article,,jeez,,,here's more non-civil war incidents. Maybe it's only four provinces where security is bad,,the four that have half the population and where Bagdad is located.


03-08-2006, 08:17 PM
more on the non-civil war. Ironic that the militias are deemed a destablizing yet organic military force in the post-invasion environment but the use of private militaries/contractors are deemed necessary for the doctrine of pre-emptive war using the smallest US force.


03-08-2006, 08:17 PM
Well, if you can imagine god is true, anything you imagine can be true. It really works, right? ;)

03-09-2006, 02:01 PM
Manage those figures. Read Ralph Peters comments about the Bagdad morgue,,then read some real journalism in the link below.

"A few days ago, a wild claim that the Baghdad morgue held 1,300 bodies was treated as Gospel truth. Yet Iraqis exaggerate madly and often have partisan interests. Did any Western reporter go to that morgue and count the bodies - a rough count would have done it - before telling the world the news? "

I doubt it.


[ 03-09-2006, 02:05 PM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

03-09-2006, 02:06 PM
Awfully early to be gloating over the civil war/non civil war isn't it? As I recall, we'd just about won the war he day before Tet. Revelling in the media's mistakes won't be good for the country in the long run. Some say it was a civil war back in 2004.

[ 03-09-2006, 02:07 PM: Message edited by: troutman ]

03-09-2006, 02:19 PM
no gloating or reveling,,,looking for facts.

Chris Coose
03-09-2006, 04:33 PM
"Also responding to Byrd's question, Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, suggested that Iraq has been moving in the direction of civil war."



03-09-2006, 04:42 PM
Abizaid,,he'll have to say it at the American Enterprise Institute with President Cheney presiding before I believe it.
Gotta love Rumsfeld, when they stand up and starting killing each other in ernest, THEN we'll stand down.

"If Iraq were to plunge into all-out civil war the U.S. military would depend on Iraq's own security forces to deal with it "to the extent they are able to," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday."

[ 03-09-2006, 04:44 PM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

03-09-2006, 04:48 PM
"to the extent that they were able to" What does that mean. I head him say it and he had that same "stuff happens" tone. The VP still looms like a formidable presense but Rumsfeld seems more and more befuddled.

03-19-2006, 04:23 PM
Some thoughts on the matter by a prominent member of the "defeatist liberal media": ;)

But more than any presidency in living memory, George W. Bush's will be judged by a single problem -- Iraq, where on May 30 the war will be twice as long as was U.S. involvement in World War I. Today the impotence of Iraq's quasi-government is prompting ethnic recleansing: The government is too weak to prevent private groups from pursuing coercive reversals of Saddam Hussein's various ethnic cleansings. And in the absence of law and order, Iraqis seek safety in sectarian clustering.

Maples delicately says that although Iraq is not "at this time" in a civil war, "the underlying conditions" for such a war "are present." But civil wars do not usually begin with an identifiable event, such as the firing on Fort Sumter, or proceed to massed, uniformed forces clashing in battles like Shiloh. Iraq's civil war -- which looks more like Spain's in the 1930s -- began months ago.
Conditions in Iraq have worsened in the 94 days that have passed since Iraq's elections in December. And there still is no Iraqi government that can govern. By many measures conditions are worse than they were a year ago, when they were worse than they had been the year before.

Three years ago the administration had a theory: Democratic institutions do not just spring from a hospitable culture, they can also create such a culture. That theory has been a casualty of the war that began three years ago today.

03-19-2006, 04:28 PM
Here is what a local thinks of the whole situation. If I were in his shoes, I'd think I am in the middle of a civil war...

BTW, notice that American troops are met with relief, not hatred, by the average man in Iraq. They are not at fault. Their political leaders are, for breaking the rusty wire that held the cork, that kept the anger in.

BAGHDAD, Sunday, March 12 -- A sudden whizzzzzz . . . KABOOM sent me flying from the couch where I was dozing off, watching TV.

"What was that?" my father asked from the hallway.

"Probably a mortar round," I replied. "A close one."

"Good. They're lobbing mortars at us now. What's next?" he said and went back to his bedroom.

It's almost 9 p.m., a dangerous time to go outside. Neighborhood watch teams -- young men brandishing AK-47s, pistols, RPGs and even sniper rifles -- set up checkpoints around this time. Many were referred to as the "Mujahideen" or insurgents in the past. Now, they are considered defenders of our predominantly Sunni district against Shiite death squads and militias.

I tried to stay interested in the Steven Seagal action flick on TV, but my focus kept shifting to the occasional rumble of mortar shells outside. After a while I went upstairs to use the Internet.

Just as I set foot in my room, an intense barrage of gunfire erupted on our street. Not good. My cell phone was ringing; it was a friend who lives down our street. "It's an American patrol," he al most whispered. "I can see Humvees from where I am. And it looks like they have Iraqi police with them."

What is going on?

"Keep your head down for God's sake. We'll talk later."

I went to check on my younger brother, Nabil. He was playing his guitar to a Metallica tune, oblivious to his surroundings. His room has a better view, but it's not wise to stick one's head out of a window when Americans are nearby. The street was dark enough, but everyone knows they have night vision goggles. A sniper bullet in the head is not a fun prospect so I lay low and tried to listen.

I did hear radio transmission from an Iraqi police vehicle, and what sounded like an American soldier shouting. The gunfire had ceased by now, probably after the local vigilantes had realized it was Americans, not militias or Interior ministry forces entering our territory. The vehicles moved away after a while, and the alarm level dropped.

No point in trying to figure out what happened. It could wait for the morning, when people would give you different versions of the incident. Most of the time no one has an idea. Two days ago, there was a similar firefight and neighbors claimed that 40 vehicles carrying black-clad Shiite militiamen had attempted to enter our district but were fended off.

I checked around the house once again, to fasten locks and bolts on the doors, and called it a night.


"The street is blocked," my taxi driver proclaimed as we approached my stop near a bus station in the Bab Al-Sharjee district in central Baghdad. "No problem. I'll get out here," I told him, forking over his fare. He grunted, and shifted into reverse.

I skulked along the remaining 300-meter stretch of street that was lined on both sides with dozens of Interior ministry troops, some in khaki and some in plainclothes, a sign that an official's motorcade will be passing by.

The entrance to the Interior and Oil ministries, as well as the Baghdad Police Directorate was right behind me. This street is the main route taken by security officials to the ministries' complex from the Green Zone, and a favorite location for bombings.

I usually just take a deep breath, light a cigarette and keep on moving, sticking as close as possible to the wall, until I reach my destination. Much to my dismay, though, I found a police pickup vehicle parked in front of the bus station. A crowded bus station is already a juicy target for suicide bombers; a crowded bus garage with a police patrol nearby is an added attraction. But one has to shrug those thoughts aside; otherwise we would all be clinically crazy by now.

Thankfully, the minibus didn't take long to fill up with passengers -- a couple of ladies in abayas with two very noisy kids, a mechanic, a laborer (from the looks of him), an old man flipping through a newspaper, two nondescript young men, and me, the suburban dentist. Our destination: a district on the outskirts of the capital.

We passed through countless checkpoints manned by Iraqi troops. This time, the soldiers just waved us through. But sometimes they stop us, inquire about our destination, or they ask for our IDs. I stopped carrying mine some time ago; it gave out too much information, such as tribal, regional and sectarian background. You never know when you might end up at the wrong checkpoint. I just use my neutral work ID now.

We noticed several American Humvees blocking the street. Maybe there was a roadside bomb ahead. Our driver lurched up onto the sidewalk and tried to squeeze through, but an American soldier yelled at him to go back, pointing his weapon at us. Without a second thought, the driver took us down a side road. Uh oh, I thought. This is where the bodies of executed, blindfolded young men turn up every other day. In one case, bodies were found in a minibus, just like the one I was in.

Any other day, I would have given up and gone home, but I needed to get my salary as soon as I could, because I can't rely on being able to get to work every day in the upcoming week. Preparations for the Arba'een religious anniversary are underway, and this road will be blocked to traffic to accommodate the hordes of Shiite pilgrims heading on foot to Karbala.

The detour worked, and I did get my salary. But the way things are here, you never know.


We were engrossed in morning preparations at work when a colleague called our attention to the latest "episode" of Saddam's trial -- a form of cheap entertainment for many Iraqis against the backdrop of dreary events in Baghdad. At least it's the one thing that Iraqis of all backgrounds agree upon.

Colleagues rushed, tea mugs in hand, to take a look at the TV screen. Our clinic director wasn't amused, watching his employees leave their posts, but he didn't protest. After all, there are no drugs in our pharmacy to prescribe, my dental chair hasn't been fixed for months -- and even if it was, there are no anesthetics for patients.

I generally cringe at the thought of another session of the trial, but in this case, it was a welcome relief from the emptiness of the daily routine.

Iraqis have lost all hopes for any real justice in this god-awful country. People here have long been accustomed to taking justice into their own hands -- or forgetting it altogether. That is one thing that hasn't changed much.

"They should just lynch him and spare us this farce," one patient remarked. His comment sparked a heated debate among other patients. I've heard all the arguments so I try not to listen.

Iraqis are divided over everything. They can't even agree over a dictator who ruled them with a fist of steel for 30 years. Saddam oppressed all who opposed him even-handedly, regardless of their sectarian backgrounds; but Iraqis have not been so even-handed in their opinions about his oppression.


My neighbors suggested we go out for lunch today. They are a young couple living just across the street, with two kids, a girl and a boy, ages 11 and 5. I often spend time with them in the evening during the curfew, or around tea time. Normally, we just chat about daily news, or share gossip on the comings and goings in our neighborhood over trinkets and cigarettes, with the children fooling around in the background.

I learned from my neighbor's wife that a stray bullet injured her mother's cousin during the firefight in our street three nights ago. It went right through her window and shattered her collarbone. It was tragic, considering that her son was killed just a few months ago by kidnappers after the old widow failed to collect his ransom of $50,000.

We discussed the issue of Abu Ghassan who lives next door to them. He decided to take his family and relocate to Syria after threats from criminals. Abu Ghassan is a very well-to-do businessman and a car battery dealer. His lavish lifestyle brought him unwanted attention in our area, and it took him one failed kidnapping attempt to decide to sell everything and leave.

It was an excruciating scene, watching neighbors of a lifetime carry their suitcases early at dawn to board a SUV to Syria.

Being forced to leave your home is not a trivial affair. The last three years have witnessed scores of Iraqi professionals and businessman leaving to Jordan, Syria or Egypt, a second exodus of Iraqis far more alarming than that of the 90s. The country is slowly being stripped of its intelligentsia, and I fear that soon we will be left only with fanatics inside.

Following the Samarra bombing, many Shi'ite inhabitants of Sunni dominated areas north and west of Baghdad were forced to leave. In the south, a once sizeable Sunni community in Basrah, Nasiriya, Hilla and Samawa is diminishing day by day. Kurds in the north have regressed back behind their borders, further isolating themselves. Iraqi society is falling apart.

It seems that the barrage of bombings, assassinations, detentions and abductions is not enough, so we need one more thing to worry about.

And yes, we were discussing these pleasant issues over lunch. It was a splendid meal of Iraq Masgoof (roasted fish) on a refreshing sunny day at the bank of the Tigris, in the comforting company of family and friends.


If there is any advantage of the Iraq war, it would have to be the endless stream of national and religious holidays. There was a daytime curfew today because of the opening parliamentary session, and not much activity is expected during the next week as the Shi'ite Arba'een holiday, or the 40th day commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, will be taking place.

The new parliament was sworn in today. Our bickering politicians agreed to disagree yet again, and this time it was over the oath. I sometimes can't help but wonder if it was the war that has left us so divided, or have we been that way all along.

The family stayed indoors for most of the day. At least for my mother it was a relief. She constantly worries and calls us on our phones when we are out to work or school, asking us if everything was okay where we were, when we would return and how.

I imposed my own daytime ban on news channels. Last thing I need is a headache. Instead, we watched a good old rented sci-fi movie.

In addition to regular and fixed holidays, it is possible to make up your own without the need to take leave. Better still, you can do it from the comfort of your bed, citing an unexpected security incident as an excuse.

Like sometimes I don't feel like going to work. I just oversleep. The phone rings and wakes me up at 11 am.

"Where are you, Dr.?" my boss inquires. "We were expecting you. You know the Directorate might send someone for inspection today."

"Oh, I apologize, Dr.," I reply, trying to sound as wakeful as I can. "I'm on the Canal highway, and there seems to be an American roadblock. I'm not sure I'm going to make it to the clinic today."

"I see. Let me know if you can -- Bye."

And it's back under the sheets for me.

Many have mastered that useful trick. Personally, I use it sparingly because, very often, I actually do get caught up in roadblocks.

People who need to make a living from day jobs, such as laborers, grocers and taxi drivers, are not impressed with the frequent daytime curfews and holidays. Business is already suffering much because of deteriorating security, power and fuel shortages.

But lazy civil servants such as myself can lay back and enjoy the fruits of "liberation."


A quiet day, which left me to ponder a question that haunts me: We Iraqis continue to live between the hammer of terrorists and the anvil of American, British and Iraqi security forces. But what kind of a people are we to respond by killing our own?

03-19-2006, 04:37 PM
close, very close, not really, maybe


03-19-2006, 04:42 PM
Give it back to Saddam.....

03-19-2006, 04:46 PM
can't give what we never had..

www.back-to-iraq.com (http://www.back-to-iraq.com)

March 19, 2006
Nothing "civil" about it...

BAGHAD — Regular readers know I think we’ve been in a low- to medium-grade civil war for some time, with the Feb. 22 Askariya bombing a huge step toward open conflict. Well, read this by Nir Rosen, who used to write for TIME before he went on to bigger and better things. Nir’s a smart guy. Here’s an early, key point he makes:

…Sunnis were killing Shia civilians, and Shia, often under official cover, were retaliating. I asked Haidar if the rumors I’d heard were true — that the Ministry of Interior had been infiltrated and dominated by the Badr Organization Militia, the military forces of the radical Shia Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution, or SCIRI. Yes, he said, and added that Ministry of Interior members affiliated with Badr were assassinating Sunnis throughout Iraq. Sunni officers were being removed and replaced by unknown Shias.

This jives with my own reporting on this, which will be published tomorrow on TIME.com.

Osborne Russel
03-19-2006, 04:55 PM
Originally posted by paladin:
Give it back to Saddam.....Anyone who stays in power in Iraq for more than a year or two will be quite like Saddam.

It would have been cheaper just to buy him out.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-19-2006, 06:53 PM
Iyad Alawi seems to think there is a civil war going on.

John Reid says there is not.

Alawi was the interim Prime Minister of Iraq.

John Reid is the UK's Secretary of State for Defence.


03-20-2006, 08:33 AM
Never fear - the Big Dick says that there is no civil war:

Meanwhile, Cheney said that Iraq is progressing toward establishing a functioning democracy. He pointed out that Iraq has gone from the brutal rule of Hussein to negotiations to form a government in three years. In addition, he said, the United States is making substantial progress in training Iraqi security forces, who he said are leading about half the missions in Iraq.
But CBS anchor Bob Schieffer bluntly challenged Cheney on his own string of prognostications, such as his pre-invasion assertion that U.S. troops would be welcomed in Iraq as liberators and, 10 months ago, that the insurgency was in its "last throes."

Cheney replied that those statements were "basically accurate and reflect reality," but that public perceptions of Iraq's progress are being skewed "because what's newsworthy is the car bomb in Baghdad."


See? It is all the fault of the liberal media. Now if only those "last throes" would hurry up and be done with...

This guy would be too funny... if he were not the President of Vice of a hyperpower. :eek:

Chris Coose
03-20-2006, 08:44 AM
The fat lady is singing her balls off and dubbya and crew are humming to their own propaganda opera.
They have their ladder up against the wrong building. Almost everybody is pointing that out and they just sing their own tune.
It is a comedy to watch these tree stooges deny the fat lady's song.

Wild Wassa
03-20-2006, 08:59 AM
It is obvious that Brian W doesn't want to give the Iraqis credit for killing 50-60 of their countrymen 'every' day ... it is not a civil war really ... so I will not deprive the US Administration of the credit that they so rightly deserve for this attrocity.

Only a jolly old 'not a civil war really' is worth spending 250 billion dollars on? The casualties don’t matter … they would probably only end up on dole cues anyway? 17,000 wounded is that all?. It is only 17,000 wounded isn’t it? The pharmaceutical companies will profit from the ongoing medication requirements for these disfigured people?

250 billion dollars is only wasted if it is spent on education, health, social welfare and reforms, housing the homeless, spending on utilities and infrastructure, like essential repairs to bridges, fixing levy banks and rebuilding damaged cities and even increasing the research spending on alternative energies ... this would only be a tragic waste? Has 'dubya actually got a domestic policy?

I think that the US taxpayer is very generous democratizing Iraq ... and cheap at double the price? I hope you are getting real value for your money boys? ... and this is one war the US won't lose?

"It is a tired Administration" so some say ... I feel really sorry for them. Could it be time for 'dubya to take another holiday? How many holidays has 'dubya taken lately? Do you think that continually believing his own bullshi-t is tiring for 'dubya?


[ 03-20-2006, 09:41 AM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]

03-20-2006, 01:18 PM
Just saw your Leader giving a speech. Apparently, Iraq is looking real good... as seen from Cleveland.


03-20-2006, 01:24 PM
Could it be time for 'dubya to take another holiday? How many holidays has 'dubya taken lately?

Warren...not that I am disagreeing but, he probably has taken fewer than congress or the Senate.
I still hear Sen Dodd referring to the hours congress and the senate actually works in a week.
He said (paraphrased ) We go in on Tuesday and are out by noon on Thursday...perhaps it is time we put in a 40 hour week like most American working people.

I gotta hand it to him. At least he was honest.

[ 03-20-2006, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: uncas ]

03-20-2006, 01:51 PM
Could it be time for 'dubya to take another holiday? How many holidays has 'dubya taken lately?

Nope. But it is time for another tax cut. Dubya just explained how a tax cut is the solution to the $19,000 that this war is costing each US household. I must say I couldn't quite follow his reasoning.

I guess it is time for them to grab what they can while they are still in power, and leave the rest of y'all with the repair bill...


Alan D. Hyde
03-20-2006, 03:02 PM
Every tax cut so far has resulted in increased revenue.

That which is taxed, is discouraged.

All of us--- with respect to our investments--- and some of us--- with respect to our earned income--- can to some extent choose whether or not to expose more dollars to taxation, or to do something else...


[ 03-20-2006, 03:25 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

03-20-2006, 03:14 PM
That, taken to the extreme, results in reductio ad absurdum.

In other words, if taxes are eliminated, then revenue will rise to infinity.

Obviously the formula is not so simple. There is an optimal level of taxation. Perhaps one sign that such a level has been reached is when borrowing starts to become too heavy a factor in government revenue. ;)

Keith Wilson
03-20-2006, 03:20 PM
Every tax cut so far has resulted in increased revenue.Empiricism in action! Eventually, after every tax cut, revenue increased. Therefore the tax cut resulted in increased revenue? Does this perhaps belong in one of the the science and religion threads?

[ 03-20-2006, 03:21 PM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]

03-20-2006, 03:22 PM
Every election has also resulted in increased revenue.

Therefore, elections should be held every year, and no country would have a deficit...

John of Phoenix
03-20-2006, 03:26 PM
With a nine TRILLION dollar "budget" we need every penny we can lay our hands on.

03-20-2006, 03:31 PM
Alan, isn't it time to post another c&p about how well things are going in Bagdad?

John of Phoenix
03-20-2006, 03:55 PM
"It is unfortunate that we are in civil war," Iyad Allawi, Iraq's former prime minister, told BBC news Sunday. "We are losing each day an average of 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is." Nothing but sour grapes that former prime minister Allawi guy.

03-20-2006, 04:08 PM
but it's only in four provinces

Chris Coose
03-20-2006, 05:08 PM
Originally posted by John Teetsel:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> "It is unfortunate that we are in civil war," Iyad Allawi, Iraq's former prime minister, told BBC news Sunday. "We are losing each day an average of 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is." Nothing but sour grapes that former prime minister Allawi guy.</font>[/QUOTE]God and dubbya knows what civil war is.
The whining bastard (Allawi)ought to watch out. He could lose his job and life from either side now.

edit: Go check out the CNN poll. 91% say dubbya has done a crap job PRing the Iraq deal.

[ 03-20-2006, 05:11 PM: Message edited by: Chris Coose ]

03-21-2006, 09:08 AM
Nope. No civil war here. Just another one of those last throes...

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- About 100 insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns stormed a police station in Diyala province Tuesday, killing at least 15 officers and freeing about 30 detainees.

Insurgents also seized police weapons and radios and destroyed at least 20 cars, including a number of police vehicles.

You know, stuff like this happens all the time in peacetime.

03-21-2006, 09:09 AM
But Americans may be, at long last, waking up...

Over the last seven years, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press has played a game of word association as part of its regular presidential polling, asking, "What one word best describes your impression of George W. Bush?" No options or suggestions are offered. The latest results — from a sample of 710 people done in March — aren't good for the President. Until this month, the word most associated with President Bush had always been "honest." Now the leading answer is "incompetent" (given by 29 people), followed by "good," "idiot" and "liar." "Honest" has slipped to 5th, tied with "Christian."

03-21-2006, 10:19 AM
Originally posted by Alan D. Hyde:
That which is taxed, is discouraged.That's why I firmly support the Death Tax.