Last night on CBS, Katie Couric asked Condoleezza Rice if she believes “the civil war in Iraq is likely to deteriorate significantly over the next few months.” Rice responded that Iraq is not a civil war because “the Iraqis don’t see it that way.” Rice added, “it really doesn’t help to speak about their circumstance as a civil war, in terms that they don’t speak about their circumstances.” Watch the interview:
Actually, top Iraqi military officials believe Iraq is in a civil war. From McClatchy, 8/04/06:
“This is a civil war,” said a senior adviser to the commander of the Iraqi Army’s 6th Division, which oversees much of Baghdad.
“The problem between Sunnis and Shiites is a religious one, and it gets worse every time they attack each other’s mosques,” said the adviser, who gave only his rank and first name, Col. Ahmed, because of security concerns. “Iraq is now caught in hell.”
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi says Iraq is in a civil war. From the BBC, 3/19/06:
It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more.
If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is.
Average Iraqis appear to share this view:
The top U.S. military commander for the Middle East, Gen. John Abizaid, told Congress on Thursday that the violence in Baghdad “is probably as bad as I have ever seen it,” and went on to say that the country could be headed toward civil war.
Nearly all of the dozen Iraqis who work for McClatchy Newspapers’ Baghdad bureau — evenly split between Shiite and Sunni Muslims — reached that conclusion long ago.
Their observations have trickled out day by day in the scores of conversations colleagues have with one another about their lives and difficulties. Their experiences of the last month reveal a capital city that’s disintegrating into chaos.
Prime Minister Maliki, of course, agrees with the administration that Iraq is not in a civil war. But his beliefs should not be conflated with the entire Iraqi people.
COURIC: According to a study released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the civil war in Iraq is likely to deteriorate significantly over the next few months regardless of the actions the Bush Administration may pursue.
RICE: Well, with all due respect to the CSIS, which is a great institution, the Iraqis don’t see it that way and we don’t see it that way. This — the Iraqis see that they have extraordinarily difficult problems. They see that they have sectarian violence. They see that they have to deal with those who are operating outside the law and killing innocent people. But it really doesn’t help to speak about their circumstance as a civil war, in terms that they don’t speak about their circumstances.