September 24, 2013

Civil War In Iraq: A Matter of When?

In July, Geoffrey Ingersoll wrote an article for the Business Insider called, "Why Iraq Is On The Brink Of Civil War." An excerpt:
"Iraq's massive prison break made big headlines, but Baghdad has worse problems than 500 escaped jihadis.

Namely, looming civil war.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — a partisan Shi'ite — tried to blame Iraq's sectarian unrest on the Syrian Civil War, but Iraq's problems run far deeper than that.

Now the country is on the brink of total dissolution, the Kurds are acting autonomously, and the rise of Sunni and Shi'ite militias is more akin to 2006 than to 2013. Just this past Saturday, 11 car bombs detonated in Baghdad, bringing the year's death toll to 2,700."
The Shiites and Sunnis could fight each other, as they have in the past, or, if they were smarter, they would get together and gang up on the Kurds along with the Turks, the Islamic Republic, and Saudi Arabia's al-Qaeda, all of whom seek to unjustly deny the Kurds a nation of their own.

There are differences of opinions among the clerical leadership of Iraqi Shiites about any looming war with the Kurds. Last August, Jalal al-Din Ali al-Saghir, a leading Iraqi Shiite cleric and an influential political leader, called the Kurds "rogues" and "renegades" in a religious sermon posted online and said that the mythic saviour of the Shiites will fight them.

But the Marja, the highest legal and spiritual body in Shi'a Islam, issued a fatwa in December 2012 that prohibited fighting against Kurds. Here is an excerpt from the article, "Iraq: Top Shi’ite Clerics Issue Fatwa against Fighting Kurds" by Margaret Griffis that was published in on December 7, 2012:
"Iraq’s top Shi’ite clerics warned Iraqis that a war involving the Kurds is not in the best interest of the country and therefore prohibited by them.

The Marja in Najaf issued a fatwa declaring fighting against the Kurds religiously prohibited. They further warned that no soldiers would be considered martyrs if they died under those circumstances. The Shi’ite clerics also criticized Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for not consulting them before implementing maneuvers that could only increase tensions between the central and Kurdish governments. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani himself asked everyone "to be patient and stay away from a war that could only harm the Iraqis.”

The Marja are the highest religious authority in charge of Iraq’s Shi’ite community. Several days ago, Kurdish lawmaker Ali Hussein Faili urged the council of ayatollahs to make such an edict in the hopes of preventing a civil war between Iraqi army troops and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters."
Cooler heads prevailed last December.

But it's doubtful that such a religious measure will hold because there still remains a deep passion for war and its honours and spoils. 

So, is a civil war likely?

In May, an Iraqi politician said that "the civil war has already started."