Saturday, April 08, 2006

A bloody mess

Patrick Cockburn, from today's Independent:

A cruel and bloody civil war has started in Iraq, a country which Bush and Blair promised to free from fear and establish democracy. I have been visiting Iraq since 1978, but for the first time, I am becoming convinced that the country will not survive.

He continues, narrating yesterday's developments with an obvious sense of despair:
Three suicide bombers disguised themselves as women yesterday and, with explosives hidden by long black cloaks, killed 79 people and wounded more than 160 when they blew themselves up in a Shia mosque in the capital.

One bomber came through the women's security checkpoint at the Buratha mosque in northern Baghdad and detonated explosives just as worshippers were leaving at the end of Friday prayers. Two other bombers took advantage of the confusion to blow themselves up a few seconds later, killing the people who were trying to escape.

The savage attack, the worst for months, came almost exactly on the third anniversary of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by American and British armies on 9 April 2003. The war was portrayed at the time as freeing Iraqis from fear but Iraqi officials have told The Independent that at least 100 people are being killed in Baghdad every day.

The slaughter of Shia Muslims in the Buratha mosque will probably lead to revenge attacks against Sunni Arabs whose community harbours the Salafi and jihadi fanatics who see the Shia as heretics, as worthy of death as Iraqi Christians or American or British soldiers. Ever since the bombing of the Al Askari shrine in Samara on 22 February, the Shia militias have retaliated whenever Shias are killed.

The bombing of the mosque, a religious complex linked to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, pushes Iraq well down the road to outright civil war between Sunni and Shia Arabs.
There's more: "I have been covering the war in Iraq ever since it began three years ago and I have never seen the situation so grim"; "I was in Lebanon at the start of the civil war in 1975. Baghdad today resembles Beirut then"; "Iraq has become the most dangerous place in the world."

Coming from someone as experienced as Cockburn, this is very worrying.