23 februari 2006


Is Iraq heading for civil war? (Update 7464)

The question comes to mind after yesterday's bombing of the Al Askari mosque in Samarra. Here are a few posts that reflect on the bombing:

From Bill Roggio:

- stepping back from 'civil war' in Iraq

- Iraq "Civil War" Sitrep II

- Iraq "Civil War" Sitrep

- An ebb in fighting

- Looking for Signs of Civil War in Iraq

- Dome of the Golden Mosque Destroyed

From Iraq The Model:

- The shrine crisis...words that need to be said

- Curfew extended in Baghdad and three other provinces

- Holy Shia shrine bombed in Samarra

- In the aftermath of the shrine attack...

From The Belmont Club:

- Two reports from Iraq

- Zeyad reports from Baghdad

- Is the storm building?

- Storm clouds over Baghdad: part 2

- Storm clouds over Baghdad

- Disappointment in Samarra

From Publius Pundit:

- The politics of Iraq's shrine attack

(The comments are equally interesting)

Answer: too early to tell (but I don't think so), let's first find out whodunnit. Al Qaeda (most likely) or (as some - wildly - speculate) Iran, Sadr, Saudi-Arabia... The following days will be very important.

PS. Bill Roggio thinks that the bombing of the Al Askari mosque and the attack on the Saudi oil installation are part of a coordinated effort by Al Qaeda. More may be yet to come. Fellow Flemish Brigant thinks that the two attacks mark a shift in Al Qaeda's strategy for winning the hearts and minds.

If I'm not mistaken previous attacks against Shia targets were aimed at persons or at a mixture of persons & buildings/symbols. For instance the Karbala blast mentioned above: Shia Shrine + 60 people. Perhaps there is a change of targeting: predominantly on buildings and less on persons. The Askara blast seemed to have been an attack whereby the number of possible shia casualties was not the main element but rather the Shrine itself. It is a more dedicated targeting on emotions & ethnicity; which can result -and seems to be resulting- in a heavier backlash and retaliation (sectarian violence).

One of the Iraqi insurgents problem; common with Al Qaeda is its targeting of muslim people or lack off diminishing collateral damage.

It is or was a mayor fault in the psychological element of their war. If you want to be acceptable within a greater population then you're not supposed to blow their people up in tiny bits and go tell them that they're 'martyrs' or somewhat equal to the infidel (saying it was ok to blow them up). It could be more psychological fruitful to engage specific targets and not mass population targets. Basically its a 'winning of their hearts & minds' strategy more adapted to the situation.

Perhaps this explains why there was an attempt to hit a Saudi Oil refinary yesterday; instead of attacking a hotel/compound with westerners/people. Such an attack would have hit the Saudi State and the West (but also the rest of the world economically); but would (perhaps) be more acceptable for Muslim people as it didnt target the Muslims as a population but it targeted the infidel and a 'corrupt' Saudi government. It would form attacks that sell better in an international context; but in the Iraqi context would be used to create internal instability and thus gaining grounds towards their objectives ('Vietnamisation' of Iraq).
# posted by Peter Fleming @ 9:19 p.m.


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