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21 December 2011


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Lord Curzon

The Night of the Long Knives springs to mind, with the caveat that these are Maliki's supposed allies and not from within his own party - but let's look at that for a moment: who would he bump off from within his own ranks as a potential threat to his rule?


What is the current demographic split between Sunni and Shiite in Iraq?

The Twisted Genius

Mission freaking accomplished!



Who knows? So far as I know there has not been a real census for many years. It is claimed by the Shia arabs that they are about 50% of the population of the country. Tthe sunni Arabs are said to be about 25% but they dispute that. The Kurds are 90% Sunni. there are minorities of Turkomans, Persians, Yazidis and Christians. Who knows! pl


I'm not sure the relevant metric is demography - it's relative ability to apply power to affect the question at hand ... and in this I think (naively, I will admit) that the Shiites have the upper hand.

Although I guess it will be interesting to see who among the various Shia candidates ends up on top; right now I wouldn't put much money on Maliki as such.

William R. Cumming

Supposedly 600,000 of the 1 million Christians in Iraq before the 2003 invasion have left their homes permanently or for other countries.



I don't think he has a popularity contest in mind for future elections. pl


Decades ago when I was in school, I did a directed independent study course on the Russian revolution. At that time I settled upon WP's Primary Principle of Political Activity for cases of broken polities where rules of law and morality have vanished. The Primary Principle is simply that the most ruthless win.

Over the years, I have tested this principle in observations of dozens of upheavels, wars, and societal contests and it seems to be a sound principle. The corrolary of the WP's Primary Principle is that the outcome will be dictated by the character of the most ruthless. If "the most ruthless" is a group and not an individual, then the outcome will be dictated by the character of the group, otherwise, by the character of the single most ruthless one.

The question when applied to the future of Iraq is who is the most ruthless now?. Who is willing to bring Iraq down for the sheer lust for power--or, is there still enough law and morality left in the country to promote a non-chaotic outcome and make the Primary Principle inapplicable? Is Maliki willing to do more genocide against the Sunni or the Sunni against the Shia?

Clearly the US is no longer ruthless, it being worn and exhausted and Cheney is out of power. My guess is that the worst is yet to come for the Iraqi people. Is some sort of civil substance left in Iraq? Or Will it be in the words of Col. Kurtz, "The horror...the horror.." So, as an amateur, I ask what do you professionals think the odds are one way or the other? My amateur view is years of chaos before it can be decided who is the most ruthless.

Green Zone Cafe

Speaking about ruthlessness, eight or nine bombs have gone off in Baghdad between 0630 and 0850.

Medicine Man

While the Shia majority in Iraq has the advantage in population and political clout, I would not discount the chances of Sunni minority in a potential conflict. They were well represented in the Baathist army, have plenty of weapons, money (or will get plenty from neighboring countries), and expertise both as insurgents and counter-insurgents. They will also likely have a lot of latitude to operate in the Anbar province, where the people have a special understanding of what it meant when Saddam was destroyed. There is certainly the potential for a stalemate.

What I'm not sure about is where the Kurdish fall into the picture. Is there still a strong disagreement between the Sunni Arabs and Kurds regarding the status of Kirkuk? Or is it possible that they'll align against Maliki if he starts big-footing his way around?


There will be no major civil war in Iraq. You can count on it.

First, civil wars tend to be fueled by generational dynamics. Civil wars don't just happen out of the blue. The current Iraqi populations have been living in and out of war since the 1980's. They are burnt out.

Secondly, the most important Sunni country in the region (Turkey) has no incentive to see the Sunni's south of their border (the Kurds) win. So if a major civil war was to occur and the balance of power started to shift to the Sunni's, both Iran and Turkey would intervene to make sure that doesn't happen.


It looks like civil war is on the cards. There was an immediate reply to Maliki's move on Thursday morning: 14 blasts across the Baghdad in the early morning.
The Sunnis are not going to accept being eliminated and have enough foreign supporters to go the distance.
If Maliki thinks he can win now by being ruthless, things will get very ugly very quickly.
This is US magic: wage a war of occupation, spend ridiculous amounts of money you don't have, have lots of people killed/maimed/orphaned/traumatized for life on both sides, keep at it for 9 years and then hey presto, have a Saddam 2 in place. You just can't make these things up...

anna missed

As a (possible) subtext to Maliki's adventurism, isn't there also a political opportunity made available to him to couple his political opponents to the recent local movements in Basra, Anbar, and Diyala provinces to become autonomous from federal oversight? That in fact his adventurism can easily be portrayed (politically) as a good faith attempt to preserve federal Iraq.


Renewed Civil War is my prediction.


With Maliki having a long period before this day to plan and get his ducks in a row, why should he wait. With our so called super-sized diplomatic mission with plenty of attached military contract overseers to sell/give weapons to the government of Iraq will these contracts keep moving forward now that Maliki is attempting to be the new head clansmen? I can't see Biden having the huevos to say no more anything, your a bad man for not being like us.

Maliki knew this day was coming, so the question is how much of the Iraqi army can he control, how heavy is his stock of good weapons, how big is air force? How long can Maliki press and all out action of control? The Kurds have money/oil, but are disliked by the Turks and many others, so their ability to repulse Maliki and his tribe will be significant, but can it be sustained?

This whole outcome was too predictable. What we can't predict is the result of the coming civil war. With the U.S. Treasury and political will drained for further adventures unless we get to do Iran for the Neo-Conmen and the Israeli lobbies, I can't see U.S. boots returning to Iraq.


Soup: money from Saudi Arabia will easily make for lack of Turkish support. On the other side, well, Iran (duh!).

There is a large, previously dominant, now effectively disenfranchised minority. There are powerful neighbours, who don't like each other, supporting different factions... It actually looks like the perfect situation for a long, drawn out civil war. Maybe a simpler version of Lebanon ("simpler" because there are only two or three sides).


The Iraq War has been truly harmful to the US democracy. The US corporations continue enlarging the army of mercenaries which dishonor the honest soldiers and prepare the ways for torturing and killing inconvenient civilians everywhere with impunity:

Private Military Contractors Have Impunity to Torture by Laura Raymond

The Moar You Know

4500 lives, at least 10 times that injured for life, 9 years and for what? Saddam part 2?

There's not a hell deep enough for the architects of our misadventure over there.


toto said...

It actually looks like the perfect situation for a long, drawn out civil war. Maybe a simpler version of Lebanon ("simpler" because there are only two or three sides).

Is the situation in Lebanon benefiting Saudi? Or Turkey for that matter? Civil war or not, the Iraq case may be as close to a check mate as one gets.. What westerners and anti revolutionary miss is, by creating chaos, bombings, divisions, etc. they further erodes their position in the area.

Green Zone Cafe

That is an interesting idea. I heard that Maliki was going to send his SOF to the Kurdish Region to get Hashemi. Talk about shit hitting the fan.

It was quiet from 9 am on, but another bomb just went off at 1959 Baghdad time.

William R. Cumming

Is there any sentiment for partition of Iraq either in the country or elsewhere? Same for Afghanistan?


Twelve "Well coordinated" blasts during the morning rush hour according to Al Jazeera.


This looks like a shot across the bows of Maliki by the Sunnis.

Is it possible that both Shia and Sunni want civil war?

What might the Iranian reaction be?


WRC: Three Sunni majority provinces (or so they seem), Salehuddin, Anbar and most recently Diyala, have expressed a desire for autonomy, an option that is expressly allowed for the make glorious great nation of Iraq constitution. After Diyala's provincial council narrowly voted to demand a referendum on this matter in October, Maliki dispatched federal troops (overwhelmingly Shiite) to the province. The Diyala governor and a few other legislators fled to Kurdistan, where Hashemi is now keeping them company.

I don't fully understand the legal niceties, mostly because I don't feel i need to. Maliki has made it clear that he won't allow this (and the Sadrist's have an even tougher anti-federalism line than he does) and it won't happen.

There is also a quixotic lobbying effort here in the US by Chaldean/Assyrian exiles and Americans demanding US support for a carved out autonomous Christian province in Ninevah (which will neither get administration support, nor accomplish anything if it does).

De facto partition of Kurdistan will prevail for the foreseeable future (though what Maliki and his possible successors will do about Kurdistan once they've managed to kneecap their rivals is worth thinking on).

Biden was once a huge fan of partition, if memory serves. Not sure it was ever possible, but that ship appears to have sailed.

William R. Cumming

Thanks DanM!



It is, I think, increasingly clear the presence of US forces served as a bulwark against Maliki's move. Something in his calculus of risk was enough to influence the timing until after December 18. But what exactly is unclear. Does he not fear the US military's return? Why not? And what was discussed at the White House just 10 days ago between Maliki and the President? I'm guessing Maliki's needed to be able to look into the President's eyes for himself before making the move against Hashemi. And we know whatever he took away from that meeting, it was not sufficient to dissuade him from his decision to act.

Depressing stuff.
I think Colonel it will not 'work' and, as today's swift and violent response shows, will lead to civil war.

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