Iraq’s Coming Civil War


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The real showdown isn’t between Baghdad and Istanbul, but between Tehran and Istanbul. Turkey’s ruling Islamists crawled into bed with Iran, but the relationship is turning sour. The flashpoint is Syria, which is Iran’s puppet and which Turkey is doing its best to replace with the rebel Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey’s hosting of the Friends of Syria conference of countries looking to overthrow the Syrian government and replace it with the Brotherhood, led to Iranian accusations of Zionist collaboration and furious over an Iranian refusal to come to Istanbul, Erdogan accusing it of dishonesty.

Iran’s strategic response has been to move the time wasting talks over its nuclear program to Baghdad, a reminder that it is a step away from controlling Iraq’s oil and gas, which Turkey is dependent on. But Iraq’s largest oil export line runs out of Kirkuk which will be a major target in any Kurdish independence bid. Kirkuk has Iraq’s second largest oil reserves, after Shiite Basra, and has seen ethnic cleansing before. It will see it again.

Baghdad and the Kurds are already fighting over Kirkuk’s oil, with the Kurds pulling the plug on oil exports.  Baghdad has tried to intimidate Exxon out of oil exploration in Kurdistan while trying to replace it with the friendlier British Petroleum. BP has close ties to Iran’s oil industry and backdoor connections to Iran’s government, making it a natural choice for Baghdad. BP was originally the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and more trusted in Baghdad and Tehran. But not in Kurdistan.

The first shot in Iraq’s full scale civil war will likely be fired in Kirkuk. Everyone knows it’s coming, the only question is when. Barzani’s pivotal speech indicated that he hoped to solicit support from Shiite militias of the Sadr and Badr Brigades. Muqata Al-Sadr has reciprocated by endorsing Kurdish rights to oil exploration. These gestures however are only temporary. The Kurds have fought the Sadrists before over Kirkuk and will again. The Kurds were ethnically cleansed in favor of Shiite Arabs under Saddam’s divide and conquer program and since the liberation, the Kurds have been steadily pushing out the Arabs. The Sadr and Badr brigades have fought each other and everyone will fight the Kurds over Kirkuk.

Iraq is above all else dysfunctional. Alliances even within ethnic and sectarian groups are momentary and quickly vanish. The Sadrists may be Shiites, but they want to protect their own corrupt fiefdoms, and a strong Maliki federal government threatens that. But that hasn’t stopped Shiite militias from threatening to ethnically cleanse Kurds from Baghdad, while accusing the Kurds of using checkpoints to keep Arabs out of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The stakes in the conflict are not just local, but regional. Under Maliki relations have sharpened with Sunni Gulf states, all of whom have a stake in bringing him down. And that drives funding to Al-Qaeda which is leading the bloody local campaign against the Shiites. The Saudis and Kuwaitis might find a splinter Al-Qaeda Emirate acceptable if it kneecaps a Shiite Iraq and that risks turning Iraq into the next Afghanistan.

America has been counting on the Kurds for stability, but their patience is running out and so is our influence. The Kurds have a limited interest in the sectarian conflicts except as a way of carving out their own state. That is what they wanted all along and they have been patient about it. Their best tactic is dividing Iraq as much possible, pitting Sunnis against Shiites and Shiites against Shiites, Iran against Turkey, until their enemies are too busy fighting each other to stop them.

Together the Shiite Arabs, the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds are bringing down Iraqi federalism and together with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey they are ushering in a full scale civil war.

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  • truebearing

    And Joe Biden just told us about Obama's "victory" there. Joe couldn't be wrong, could he? I guess Iraq will now have its "spring" and add to the roiling instability of the Middle East.

    Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, etc are all primed for chaos, with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood scheming for control. Oil prices will be stratospheric in no time once this pot boils over, and then the economies of the US, Europe, and China will be threatened.

    It sure was timely of Obama to strangle our domestic production with lies and regulation. It seems that all of the pieces are moving inexorably toward an Armageddon-like scenario.

  • Schlomotion

    When Turkey "crawled into bed with Iran" they had to ask Israel to move over.

  • al kindi

    ''How the West had Lost'' should be the headline, not civil war in Iraq as the writer dreams. People in Iraq had passed that 'civil war' hurdle back in 2006-2007 when the Samara Askariya shrines were blown by Wahhabi terrorists in 22 Feb 2006 and again in 13 June 2006.

    The New Middle East project designed by the neo-cons more than two decades ago had fallen into parts. The US is licking its wounds created the neocons led by Bush Jr who altogether sucked America of a net ONE trillion dollars. This TRILLION was booted by Bush Sr. and Bush Jr during 12 years of hard work making fools of more than 300 million Americans who are ompotent to topple the capitalist system sucking their blood.

    Good luck

    • ProgDestroyer

      Al, you started your post so well, but it ended in flaming delusion. Next you'll be barking about "blood for oil", which as statements made into policy go, I wish it were true. I have served in Iraq and bought into the bush story-line that by replacing Saddam with democracy we would be changing the dynamic in the region. Sadly his minions didn't think beyond phase one and we had a mess on our hand. The notion that this was some kind of jewish conspiracy is lunacy at best. As to the money spent, why don't you whine about the 10+ trillion dollars spent on the "war on poverty" that has wrought more damage at home than was done in Iraq? Socialism and its other evil twin Islamism are the biggest enemies to the forces of liberty and freedom. Wake up Al.

  • al kindi

    ompotent = impotent

  • http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/ JWing

    This is a rather typical western misread of the current situation within Iraq.

    1st who believes in a united Iraq? The Iraqi people and most political parties. Poll after poll of Iraqis shows no desire to break Iraq apart. Not only is that supported by Premier Maliki's State of Law, but the Sadrists, the Supreme Council, elements of Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya, and be default the Kurdish Coalition.

    2nd the recent statements by the Kurds about Maliki becoming a dictator are not a real threat to the ruling coalition, because at the same time the Kurds have said again and again that they want political negotiations to end the current crisis, not a move against the premier or to declare Kurdish independence. Instead, the Kurds are stepping up their rhetoric to push their own regional goals, namely over Kurdish oil exports, a new oil law, etc. This is a tactic that they have employed in the past. That's also the basis for the dispute over the Kurds ending exports and the disputes over Exxon signing a deal with Kurdistan.

    Finally, the last time that the Sunni population to take up the gun they were thoroughly defeated by the Shiite militias and the Iraqi government. They were cleansed from many sections of Baghdad and the surrounding regions. With that idea fresh in their minds there would be few who would be willing to take up the gun against the government once again.

    Not only that, but besides the stories about constant bombings in Iraq all the figures of attacks and deaths are going in a downward trend. See for example this article and corresponding charts: http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/04/which-d

    3rd

  • al kindi
    • Amused

      anything that comes from the mouth of Fisk , is nothing more than biased bull shheeet .

  • Chezwick

    The Turkish-Iranian split over Syria is based on a single fault-line: the Alawite religion of the Assad clan….as part of the broader Shia-Sunni divide.

    Britain effectively used Shia Persia against the Sunni Ottomans for centuries in its geo-political chess match. It's called divide-and-conquer. Iraq is ground-zero of the Shia-Sunni schism. Prolonged conflict there is not necessarily inimical to Western interests.

  • crackerjack

    So now Bush's desaster is to be placed before Obama's door? LOL.

    That Bush's Iraq escapade would end in civil war and a fragmentation of the country is exactly what all critics predicted. As we recall, Horowitz, Pipes, Spencer, Glick, Steyn, etc thought otherwise. Apparently they were wrong.

    Now the same figures are pushing for a similar escapade against Iran. The condition is known as political-autism.

    • kongMing

      When Bush left office Iraq was pacified . Obama’s self fulfilling destiny caused this.

      You offer no reasonable alternatives to the complex problems at the time which include a bribed UN. History shows sanctions and weapon inspections fail horribly as shown in North Korea and Iran. If Saddam, Udai, and Qusai were still alive we would be looking at a nuclear/chemical showdown between them and the Ayatollah with 300,00 soldiers caught in the middle all for the supposed luxury of allowing Hans Blix to play peek-a-boo with institutional rapists.

      • Amused

        WHAT ! BUsh left WHAT pacified ???? Oh boy another REVISIONIST , just what we need around here ….join the club . From the time of the Clinton Admin , wehad absolute AIR SUPERIORITY over the skies of Iraq .It was EFFECTIVE in preventing slaughter of Kurds in the north and Shia in the south . For those with selective memory , these were called no-fly zones .When the Chinese tried to sell and install advanced fiber optic radar/anti-aircraft installations , they we promptly DESTROYED by U.S. Air power . What do you think would have happened if Chemical or Nuclear weapons had been detected ?

  • Marty

    The coming disintegration of iraq is not a bad thing. iraq is a failed state and fake country anyway. Its dissolution into three or four statelets will keep it weak and the iranians will find it that much more difficult to control. They will be opposed by the kurds, arabs, and sunni muslims who hate and fear them as much as they do one another. The United States should (but probably won't) support the creation of Kurdistan as a counter to turkey and iran. The kurds in these last two countries would want to join a new Kurdistan and would then cause the unraveling of both iran and turkey, two more fake countries. A Kurdish ally, democratic and militarily strong and with oil, would welcome American air bases and, hopefully, recognize Israel, another military and political ally and democracy. Where is the downside to this scenario?

    • Schlomotion

      It is mendacious to to wrest control of Iraqi territory from Saddam, hang him, bomb all the infrastructure, place embargoes, foreign controls on resources and a puppet dictator in place, and then declare it a "failed state." Under those criteria, the failed state is America.

      • Ghostwriter

        You seem to have forgotten that Saddam murdered his own people by the thousands. Get your history straight before you post more inane twaddle here.

        • Schlomotion

          His own people? You mean the Kurdish Separatists? By that metric, Israel builds concentration camps "for its own people."

  • http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/ JWing

    Marty,

    The idea that Iraq is a "fake" state is actually a "fake" western concept. Iraq is based upon three former Ottoman provinces that were connected together for hundreds of years. The current borders of the country are almost the same exact borders as those three governorates. The idea that the West simply came along after WWI and carved everything up and made up their own arbitrary borders is from 60s anti-colonialist writers. Again, look at all the polling done of Iraqis and they want a united country. If they believe Iraq is a country why can't you?

  • Amused

    Since when , is there a " Post Withdrawal Bloodbath " ???? This has been going on for decades . Saddam was slaughtering Kurds and Shia for years . I guess the author chooses to forget the gassing of the Kurds and the slaughter of 300,000 shia under Saddam . SUNNI vs SHIA …GET IT ? ….and well BEFORE both Gulf Wars , DURING both Gulf Wars , and after we got smart enough to get the hell out of there .
    LOL…and the author assigns BLAME to Obama's troop pullout ????

  • Attila The Hun

    Iraq and the entire ME map are the result of WWI spoils of war. When it was drawn the victors disregarded all ethnics, religious, tribal and geographical divisions in order to protect their own interests i.e oil. Finally after a century the entire ME is being unraveled, thanks to unrealistic 100 years of USA/UK foreign policy. No USA president can control or stop the incoming sand storm. Sooner rather than latter someone will start the fireworks. The question is who? I don't believe the Kurds are foolish enough to start a civil war in Iraq, at he same time they are willing to help start one in Syria and Turkey. They know very well that they have no friends in the region. The soo called friendship between the Iraqi Kurds and The Turks is a farce. The Turkish goal is to pacify the 20 million Turkish Kurds in their mist. and the Kurdish goal is buy time until they garner enough international support. At the end of the day all America can do is step back and watch the fireworks. Anyone who will get involved will get much more than bloody nose.

  • http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/ JWing

    Attila The Hun, once again you are repeating a Western myth that the Middle East's current boundaries were made up by the European powers after WWII. May I suggest you look up the provincial boundaries under the Ottoman Empire and compare them to the present boundaries. Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, etc. have almost the EXACT SAME boundaries then as now. Here is a map of the three Ottoman provinces that became Iraq, Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Notice that the boundaries are almost the same. Also that Kuwait was its own kingdom and has basically the same boundaries as well.
    http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2011/02/iraq-is

    • Attila The Hun

      If you know Turkish you should know that VILAYET means state/province . Under the Ottomans each province was semi autonomous as the map in your link shows. The ottomans governed their empire as a kind of semi federation. UK and France are responsible of combining the three Iraqi provenances into one Country when they should have been three differed independent states..

  • http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/ JWing

    Those three provinces were also known as Mesopotamia under Ottoman rule for a long time showing that they were connected. Therefore the inclusion of all three in modern day Iraq had precedent. Not only that but Iraqi history books emphasize the country's ancient tradition dating back to the birth of civilization. Finally, Iraqi opinion polls show again and again that they consider themselves a people and a country and do not want to break it up. If Iraqis think that Iraq is a state with a vast history, why can't you?

  • Steve Chavez

    OBAMA MADE A DEAL WITH IRAN! He said, "No attack by U.S. or Israel if you don't cause chaos in Iraq by arming and aiding insurgent attacks, unleashing Al-Sadr, and causing religious and ethnic violence until I AM I ELECTED AGAIN. BY THAT TIME YOU WILL HAVE YOUR NUKE WHEN NOTHING WILL EVER BE DONE TO YOU. 'Wipe Israel off the map?' Fine with me."

  • Amused

    Go seek professional help Chavez . You're so full of sheet it's coming out your ears , you delusional paranoid .

    • mrbean

      Why do you take one and sit in it!

      • Amused

        mr .bean go get a room with Chavez and get a double appointment for the shrink ,sheethead.

  • Stuart Parsons

    Gentlemen, don't blame Obama or anyone else, blame the real culprit MUHAMMAD I say again Muhammad.

  • BLJ

    Obama is a boob. He is a frigging community organizer. What else would you expect?

  • Amused

    wooooooo…a community organizer !!!..so THAT means he's a commie , a socialist A NAZI AND, he wants to destroy America , destroy Israel ,and TAKE OVER THE WHOLE WOOOOOOOORLD !!!!

    BLJ ..YOU MIGHT WANNA JOIN MR BEAN AND CHAVEZ IN THEIR GROUP THERAPY SESSION.

  • Amused

    WOW "a community organizer " !! and that must mean Obama's a commie/marxist bent on destroying America and Israel and wants to tsakeover the whole world!!! BLJ you need to join Chavez and mr.bean in their group therapy session .

  • ObamaYoMoma

    As the Obama Administration tries to hammer together an American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the body count from his disastrous retreat from Iraq is swiftly rising.

    Although it wasn't intended as the Obama administration (like the Bush administration was as well) when it comes to defending and protecting America from the scourge of Islam is completely incompetent, I wouldn't exactly label the increasing body count in Iraq as being disastrous. In fact, the higher the body count and the longer the jihad the better it is for the West.

    Apparently, the writer, like Obama and GWB too, doesn't understand the true nature of the threat that the free world faces emanating from Islam. Not surprising as most of his articles exhibit this sort of disconnect as well.

    A united Iraq died a few days after the withdrawal.

    There never was a united Iraq and there never will be a united Iraq, as Sunnis and Shi'as are eternal mortal enemies, regardless of what non-Muslim unbeliever occupiers do. Just like all non-Muslim unbelievers are also the eternal mortal enemies of all Muslims, Sunni and Shi'a alike.

    Western troops have left leaving behind a power vacuum that Iran is swiftly filling up.

    Had GWB not been a loon when it came to Islam, as soon as Iraq was swept for WMD and Saddam was captured in early 2004, the USA would have pulled out of Iraq ASAP hoping at the same time that the gigantic power vacuum we left behind would have led to a massive bloody jihad between the different factions that would have sucked in both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

    Then with Iran and Saudi Arabia both distracted and preoccupied with fighting jihad in Iraq, the USA would have acted to first obliterate the ruling Mullah regime of Iran and eliminate its nuclear weapons program. Followed closely by obliterating the Saudi regime, occupying the Saudi oilfields, and confiscating their enormous unearned oil wealth. Had GWB did that instead, the stealth global jihad being waged against the West by the Islamic world perpetually and primarily via covert and deceptive non-violent jihad would have been defeated.

    While Obama urged Barzani to work within the Iraqi Constitution,

    That's utterly hilarious! The blind leading the blind!

    including issuing visas through the US Consulate in Erbil, allowing Kurds to bypass Baghdad.

    The USA should not be granting visas to any Muslims under any circumstances whatsoever. During the Cold War, did the USA grant visas to Communists too? Islam is not a religion, it is a supremacist theo-political totalitarian ideology that aims to take over the world for Islam, very similar to the way Communists aimed to take over the world for Communism.

    The flashpoint is Syria

    The jihad in Syria is a Sunni and Shi'a conflict. The USA should stay out of Syria and instead do all it can behind the scenes to help facilitate that jihad and to make it last as long as possible. Indeed, the bloodier and the longer it last the better for the West.

    And that drives funding to Al-Qaeda which is leading the bloody local campaign against the Shiites.

    Actually, the so-called AQ in this case is nothing more than the proxy of the Sunni Islamic world. In other words, they aren't so-called radical Muslims (Islamists) as this clueless writer no doubt believes.

    Together the Shiite Arabs, the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds are bringing down Iraqi federalism and together with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey they are ushering in a full scale civil war.

    And if the USA is smart, it will not only help to perpetuate that bloody civil jihad for as long as possible, but it will also capitalize on it to finally defeat the scourge of Islam. Alas, it is only wishful thinking as our political elites on both sides of the political divide are as ignorant and blind of the true threat of Islam as the incompetent writer of this article.

  • Gee

    Why did the US stay in either country? The populations of both hate the West.

  • Schlomotion

    I am not going to "prove it" because you know it's true and you are being petulant. It's enough that I say it and that enough people know it's true already. I am not functioning on a deductive reasoning system for your entertainment. Your second point demonstrates that no proof is good enough for you anyway.

  • Amused

    your point ?

  • Schlomotion

    Thanks for the recap of recent history that I lived through.