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CentCom Commander Changes Outlook On Future of Iraq; Now Suggests Civil War Is Possible

By Faiz Shakir

"CentCom Commander Changes Outlook On Future of Iraq; Now Suggests Civil War Is Possible"

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Today, Gen. John Abizaid, the Commander of the U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iraq may be on the brink of a civil war, noting that the violence in Baghdad was worse than at any point since he assumed command in July 2003. Watch it.

LEVIN: The British ambassador made the following assessment. According to USA Today, the British ambassador to Iraq — it’s Mr. Patey I believe — P-A-T-E-Y — has warned that Iraq is descending towards civil war and he said it is likely to split along ethnic lines and he has reported as predicting that Iraq’s security situation could remain volatile for the next 10 years. Do you agree, General, with the ambassador from Britain to Iraq, that Iraq is sliding toward civil war?

ABIZAID: I believe that the sectarian violence is probably is as bad as I’ve seen it in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war.

Just four months ago, Abizaid was asked a similar question by Sen. Levin, and he responded that that Iraq remained “a long way from civil war.”

LEVIN: [Ambassador Khalilzad] said that “Iraq is in a crisis, the country is bleeding and moving toward civil war. “I’m wondering if you agree with those sentiments.

ABIZAID: Senator Levin, I’m not going to comment on anything that Ambassador Khalilzad said. I’ll give you my impression about where we stand with regard to moving toward civil war. I think that Iraq remains a long way from civil war. [Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, 3/16/06]

Accepting Abizaid’s evolving statements, Iraq has descended “a long way” into more and more chaotic violence in just the last four months. “Stay the course” has gotten us into this problem, it’s not going to get us out.

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