Iraq: Civil War By Any Other Name

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NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says that Iraq is not "on the edge" of civil war: It is already enmeshed in one.


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw have ended a two-day trip to Iraq. They were there to put pressure on Iraq's politicians to form a new government. While the political stalemate continues, NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr has noticed a change in the violence in the country.

DANIEL SCHORR reporting:

More and more, especially since the bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra on Feb. 22, Iraqi violence seems to be turning inward. According to data compiled by the Brookings Institution, American fatalities were down to 30 for all of last month. This while the number of Iraqis killed, police officers, soldiers and civilians, was up to 75 a day. Failure so far to form a united government undoubtedly contributes to this internal strife. It's become customary to speak of being on the edge of a sectarian civil war. On the edge may be an understatement. Ruel marc Gerecht of the American Enterprise Institute speaks of Baghdad as a killing zone where Iraq's leaders can safely gather only under U.S. protection. And in the New Yorker magazine this week, George Packer, who has spent considerable time recently in Iraq, writes extensively about the prospect of a civil war added to an insurgency. And a more chilling prospect if American forces withdraw. Packer paints this picture.

Killings on a larger scale than anything yet seen. Baghdad and other mixed cities would be divided up into barricaded sectors and a civil war in the center of the country might spread to a regional war. Iraq in the hands of militias and terrorists manipulated by neighboring states would threaten the Middle East and the U.S. for many years. This is a specter that haunts American and British diplomats as they try to patch together a government. Scary? You bet.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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