As the war in Iraq drags into its fourth year, Iraq is on the brink of a full-blown civil war and few politicians are calling for an exit strategy. Since late February, Sunnis and Shiites have been attacking each other and the death toll in Iraq, especially for innocent civilians, has skyrocketed.
Sunni insurgents bombed the Golden Mosque in Samara, one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam. After the mosque was bombed, brutal attacks occurred. Morgue officials told The Washington Post that more than 1,300 Iraqis died during the week that the mosque was bombed in late February.
The article, which was published on Feb. 28, provided chilling descriptions of horrific attacks. Innocent Iraqis were shot, knifed and left to bleed. Others were suffocated with plastic bags over their heads.
The troops tried to instill curfews after the mosque was bombed, but the curfews did not decrease the violence.
A civil war in Iraq is also worrisome because it has the potential to spill into other countries in the region and destabilize the Middle East. John Negroponte, who was a former U.S. ambassador to Baghdad and currently serves as national intelligence director, warned of the catastrophic consequences a civil war could have.
“If chaos were to descend upon Iraq or the forces of democracy were to be defeated in that country.this would have implications for the rest of the Middle East region and, indeed, the world,” Negroponte said at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on global threats on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
Though democracy does not seem to be thriving in Iraq like Negroponte thinks, he is right about the danger of a civil war. If Iraq’s neighboring countries become involved in a broader Shiite-Sunni conflict, it could create war throughout the region and turn countries against each other.
The Bush administration has been silent about the possibility of a civil war. Officials keep stating that troops are making progress in Iraq, and like usual, administration officials have yet to offer an exit strategy or a solution to stop the violence.
The civil war occurring can be blamed on the administration. After Saddam fell, disorder and the insurgency swept through the country. Administration officials had no plan for Iraq post-Saddam. They also did not have a strategy on how to unite Shiite and Sunni Muslims, even though they knew the groups have a long history of conflict. Administration officials have also been quiet about how many Iraqi troops are actually ready to take over their country.
The president’s motto has been “as Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.” No one is sure if Iraqis are ready to stand up yet. Even if they are ready, can anything actually stop a civil war? Even with U.S. troops in the country, the bloodshed is still happening.
At this point, the Bush administration must put more pressure on the Iraqi government and Iraqi forces to pull the country together. The United States can not stay in the country forever, especially since the occupation feeds the insurgency and worsens the violence.
Brian Fanelli is a senior majoring in comparative literature with minors in creative writing and journalism.