February 22, 2006
|A "Critical Moment For Iraq"||Iraq|
Iraq took a giant step toward all-out civil war today with the bombing, in Samarra, of one of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines, followed by reprisal attacks on scores of Sunni mosques. Canadian Press:
Insurgents detonated bombs inside one of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines Wednesday, destroying its golden dome and triggering more than 90 reprisal attacks on Sunni mosques. The president warned that extremists were pushing the country toward civil war.
With the gleaming dome of the 1,200-year-old Askariya shrine reduced to rubble, leaders on both sides called for calm and many Shiites lashed out at the United States as partly to blame.
The unprecedented spasm of sectarian violence seemed to push Iraq closer to all-out civil war than at any point in the three years since the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
"We are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq's unity," said President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd. "We should all stand hand in hand to prevent the danger of a civil war."
U.S. President George W. Bush pledged American help to restore the mosque after the bombing north of Baghdad, which dealt a severe blow to U.S. efforts to keep Iraq from falling deeper into sectarian violence. [...]
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, called the attack a deliberate attempt to foment sectarian strife and warned it was a "critical moment for Iraq."
No one was reported injured in the bombing of the shrine in Samarra.
But at least 19 people, including three Sunni clerics, were killed in the reprisal attacks that followed, mainly in Baghdad and predominantly Shiite provinces to the south, according to the Iraqi Islamic Party, the country's largest Sunni political group.
Many of the attacks appeared to have been carried out by Shiite militias that the United States wants to see disbanded. [...]
The new tensions came as Iraq's various factions have been struggling to assemble a government after the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections.
The Shiite fury sparked by Wednesday's bombings, the third major attack against Shiite targets in as many days, raised the likelihood that Shiite religious parties will reject U.S. demands to curb militias. [...]
In the hours after the attack, more than 90 Sunni mosques were attacked with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, burned or taken over by Shiites, the Iraqi Islamic Party said.
Large protests erupted in Shiite parts of Baghdad and in cities throughout the Shiite heartland to the south. In Basra, Shiite militants traded rifle and rocket-propelled grenade fire with guards at the office of the Iraqi Islamic Party. Smoke billowed from the building. [Emphasis added]
Martin van Creveld, one of the world's leading military thinkers, has called Bush's war "the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them."
And it's a long way from over.
Who said it? "There are no ethnic divisions in Iraq."
Posted by: Dave Moorman at February 23, 2006 09:56 AM