A Brief History of US Efforts to Promote Civil War in Iraq
by William Van Wagenen
Proposals suggesting an immediate US withdrawal from Iraq, or even of setting a timetable for withdrawal, are consistently met with the objection that a sectarian/civil war will immediately erupt between Iraq’s three main ethnic groups, the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds. Those who object to a US withdrawal contend that the US military is the only obstacle preventing the unleashing of centuries old ethnic and religious hatreds between Iraq’s various peoples. To withdraw would be morally unacceptable, leaving Iraq to collapse into chaos and even genocide. We have an obligation, the logic goes, to stay the course and help Iraq’s different ethnic groups reconcile their differences and create a peaceful, stable democratic state.
Such a view is incorrect however. The US military presence in Iraq has caused ethnic discord rather than prevented it, as the US has consistently supported the most sectarian parties in return for their support for the occupation, while attempting to eliminate the nationalist armed opposition, whether Sunni or Shia, who strongly oppose the occupation and whose ideologies promote ethnic unity. Additionally, there are so many armed groups in Iraq, of varying ethnicities and ideologies, that to describe any military or political actors in Iraq as simply “Sunni” or “Shia” obscures the true dynamics of the conflict, especially given the fact that much of the violence has been Sunni against Sunni and Shia against Shia. In fact, as Raed Jarrar points out, much of the intra-Iraqi violence has been between the so-called “separatist” parties on the one hand, and the “nationalist” parties on the other.1
In Iraq, the “separatist” parties advocate splitting Iraq into three parts, with each ethnic group controlling a portion of the country through a system of federalism; the Kurds in the north, the Sunnis in the west, and the Shia in the south. The separatists include the four main political parties constituting the US-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, also known as the “Green Zone parties.” These include: the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (KUP) led by the current president of Iraq, Jalal Talibani, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), the Dawa party (a Shia party led by Al-Maliki), and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) a Shia party led by Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim (previously known as the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution or SCIRI). Each of these parties has their own militia, many members of which have been incorporated into the Iraqi Army and police. Strange as it may seem, these pro-US parties are also close allies of Iran. The top leadership of SIIC and Dawa, including Hakim and Maliki, spent the two decades before the 2003 war in exile in Iran, while their militias received training from the Iranian Revolutionary guards. The most famous of these militias is the Badr Organization, the militia of the SIIC party. The Kurdish leadership, particularly Jalal Talabani, is also friendly with Iran.2 In addition to the pro-US separatist parties must be added Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which, unlike the other separatists, opposes the US presence, but also has a sectarian outlook and is seeking a partition of the country to establish an Islamic state in the Sunni dominated west of Iraq.
In contrast to the separatists are the nationalist parties, both Sunni and Shia, which strongly oppose the US occupation and consider “expelling the occupier” as a central duty. These groups do not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, favor a strong central government, and condemn the “sectarian” policies of the pro-US parties, such as federalism, which they view as an attempt to partition the country. Additionally they oppose US attempts to pass the “New Oil and Gas Law,” which will privatize much of Iraq’s oil industry.3
On the nationalist Sunni side are the resistance groups engaged in armed struggle against US forces. Though also religious in their orientation, these groups speak of targeting the “occupiers” and their “agents,” rather than “infidels” and “apostates,” as AQI does. Some of the more prominent Sunni nationalist resistance groups are Ansar al-Sunna, the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI), the Mujahideen Army, the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance (JAMI), the Rashideen Army, and the 1920 Revolution Brigades.
As of mid-2007, these groups had coalesced into two main coalitions, namely the Front for Jihad and Reform (Jabhat Al-Jihad wa Al-Islaah), and the Front for Jihad and Change (Jabhat Al-Jihad wa Al-Tagyeer).4 Harith Al-Dhari, secretary general of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMSI), is widely considered the spiritual father of many of the nationalist resistance groups. Al-Dhari’s grandfather helped lead the Iraqi Intifada, or uprising, against the British occupation of Iraq in the 1920’s.
Al-Dhari has strongly condemned the US occupation since the invasion in 2003, openly calling for armed resistance. Additionally, he has consistently condemned the killing of civilians, including of Shiites and Christians, resulting from terrorist operations generally attributed to AQI. Al-Dhari has chosen to condemn instances of killing civilians specifically, rather than condemning AQI itself, due to the belief among many Sunnis that in fact the U.S. intelligence agencies carry out many of the bombings attributed to AQI. Al-Dhari stated in 2007 that, “We – and others like us that recognize the legitimacy of resistance and the right of nations to resist against their enemies and occupiers – believe that resistance should be against the occupying enemies and their obvious agents that cooperate with, support, and fight with the occupiers. Those who target innocent and peaceful Iraqis from all sects, denominations, and faiths are condemned criminals that trespass against Islamic Jurisprudence (Shari’ah) and are outside the law and the national values. They are like the enemies and occupiers of the homeland regardless of to which sect or faction or faith they belong.”5
On the nationalist Shia side is the Sadr Movement and its accompanying militia, the Mahdi Army, both led by Muqtada Al-Sadr. Sadr is a young Shia cleric who inherited a religious network of charities and mosques from his father, the martyr Mohammad Sadiq Al-Sadr, a famous Shiite cleric allegedly assassinated by Saddam Hussein in 1999. After the fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003, the huge Shiite slum in Baghdad known as Saddam City was renamed Sadr City, and is where Sadr has strong support. Sadr has strong nationalist credentials because he remained in Iraq despite the killing of his father (and uncle and brothers) by Saddam, while other Shiite political and religious leaders took exile in Iran (such as Maliki and Hakim as mentioned above).
When the US invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003, there was no sign of intense sectarian hatred between Sunni and Shia. Feelings of nationalism and brotherhood were strong. Intermarriage between ethnic groups was common. The Baath party itself included many Shia, even though Saddam held most top government positions for Sunnis, particularly those from his tribe and hometown of Tikrit.6 Though the days after the invasion were chaotic, as a result of looting and attacks by the nascent resistance against occupation targets, there was no significant sectarian violence. Resistance to the US occupation in Baghdad centered on the Abu Hanifa mosque in the Sunni district of Adhamiya.7
Though publicly denying the existence of a legitimate insurgency, US commanders realized that the attacks on US forces after the end of major combat were gaining strength, and that American efforts to halt these attacks were clumsy and ineffective. Army and Marine units began indiscriminately detaining large numbers of Iraqis, while US interrogators were told to use increasingly brutal and sadistic methods in order to obtain better intelligence about future attacks, though these techniques were largely unsuccessful as well.8 In 2004, the inability of the US to defeat the fledgling insurgency led the Americans towards a policy of “Vietnam-ization,” namely beginning to train a new Iraqi army and police to take over the fight against the anti-occupation resistance groups. The New York Times Magazine reported that:
“Until , the United States military tried to defeat the insurgency on its own, with Iraqi forces playing only a token role. The effort did not succeed. For every Iraqi detained by G.I.’s, 10 more seemed to join the insurgency, thanks to questionable American tactics: shooting at the whiff of a threat, yelling at civilians, detaining Iraqis indiscriminately, placing hoods over the heads of detainees. With insurgent attacks becoming more frequent and also more gruesome in the spring of 2004, American generals realized that they needed to create, or find, effective Iraqi forces.”9
This strategy introduced the first aspects of civil war, pitting Iraqis willing to collaborate with the American occupiers against those Iraqis who were fighting against the occupiers. Initially, however, the strategy was a failure, as locally recruited and newly trained Iraqi troops sent to lay siege to Falluja in April 2004, in order to defeat the resistance groups centered there, deserted en masse, leaving the assault of the city to the Marines. Nir Rosen reported from Falluja that, “The American-trained Iraqi Army had mutinied, refusing to fight in Falluja on the grounds that they had joined to defend Iraq, not kill Iraqis.”10
By this time, co-operation and mutual sympathy between the Shiite Mahdi Army and the Sunni resistance reached its apex. Both groups had a common nationalist agenda to liberate the country from occupation. For example, the Sadr movement declared in early 2004 that they “reject the American presence in Iraq. . . and demand the withdrawal of occupation forces and the establishment of a timetable for the date of their exit from the country.”11
Sadr put his words into practice by sending fighters from his Mahdi Army to cut US supply lines near Abu Ghraib, in an effort to help the Sunni resistance groups defend Falluja from US forces laying siege to the city.12 Mahdi Army clashes with American forces intensified that summer when CPA head Paul Bremer shut down Sadr’s official newspaper, and when US forces killed several Iraqi civilians in the subsequent pro-Sadr demonstrations. Fighting in Najaf, primarily in the city cemetery, between US forces and the Mahdi Army was particularly intense. Sunni resistance groups sent fighters in support of Sadr, causing a known pro-insurgent Sunni website to comment that, “the Sunnis were the first to stand with Sadr and his followers in the battle of Najaf.13
This nationalist spirit soon began to deteriorate however, as the Americans adopted a new strategy, namely bringing in Iraqi Army units composed of Shiites from the south of the country to help fight alongside US troops in the Sunni province of Anbar. This introduced the second, or sectarian, aspect of civil war, namely Shia fighting against Sunni, and laid the foundation for the future sectarian hatred now taken for granted in Iraq by the western media. The two pro-Iranian Shia parties, Dawa and SIIC, lacking significant popular support, were eager to join the US-installed government and incorporate their militias, particularly the Badr Organization, into the newly formed Iraqi security forces. The sectarian civil war deepened as Badr Organization-dominated Iraqi army units fought alongside US troops to suppress the Sunni uprisings throughout Anbar province, in cities such as Falluja, Ramadi, Hit, and Haditha. US general Barry Mcaffrey defended the use of Shia Iraqi police and army units in Sunni Anbar province, stating that, “It’s not likely that you’re going to recruit an Iraqi police commando battalion of Sunni Muslims to put down the insurrection in Fallujah.” Mcaffrey did not expect such tactics to result in civil war, but noted that this was “risky business.”14
The US attempted to smash the anti-occupation Sunni resistance groups in preparation for the Iraqi elections in January 2005. After the second siege of Falluja in November 2004, Sunni anger at the US was particularly high, resulting in a Sunni (and Sadr) boycott of the elections. This boycott left Sunni’s and nationalist Shia under-represented in the US-backed Iraqi government, allowing it to be dominated by the pro-Iranian Shia and Kurdish parties, giving the government an unmistakably “sectarian” character.15
The Sunni resistance groups now began to speak of two occupations, namely the American occupation, and the Iranian occupation. The American occupation consisted of the 130,000 US troops in the country, while the “Iranian occupation” consisted of the new US-backed government and security forces, controlled by the pro-Iranian parties Dawa and SIIC. The Sunni resistance began to refer to pro-Iranian Shiites within the government as “Safavids” a pejorative word for Iranians harking back to the historic Safavid Empire based in modern day Iran, which had invaded Iraq centuries before.
Another significant factor in the rise of sectarian hatred was AQI, whose militants flooded across the Iraqi border from neighboring Arab countries after the 2003 invasion in order to fight the Americans. In addition to attacking US troops, AQI militants began carrying out brutal bombings against Shia civilian targets, such as markets and religious festivals. AQI militants hated the Shia partly because those from the Dawa and SCIRI parties were collaborating with the occupation, and partly because AQI’s religious ideology labeled the Shia infidels for their veneration of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein. AQI militants became known as “Takfiris” or “those who excommunicate,” because of their declaration that anyone, and especially Shiites, who did not adhere to AQI’s version of Islam were not true Muslims. This hatred of Shiites was something the indigenous Iraqi resistance groups did not share, as they focused their efforts on attacking US troops and their collaborators, while refusing to distinguish between Sunni and Shia. As the death toll of Shia civilians targeted in AQI attacks mounted, however, many Shia in Iraq, including the nationalist followers of Muqtada Al-Sadr, began to view most Sunnis as “terrorists,” failing to distinguish the actions of AQI from the actions of the other Sunni resistance groups. At the same time, in an effort to maintain unity, the Sunni resistance groups were not vigorous enough in condemning AQI, even though they disagreed with AQI’s brutal tactics.
In 2005, with the US realizing that it now faced a popular Sunni insurgency, it turned to the “El Salvador option” of using death squads to break the resistance groups. The Times of London reported that, “The Pentagon is considering forming hit squads of Kurdish and Shia fighters to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency in a strategic shift borrowed from the American struggle against left-wing guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago.16 John Negroponte and James Steele, veteran overseers of the dirty war against leftists in El Salvador that killed roughly 70,000 civilians, were sent to Iraq as the new US Ambassador to Iraq and military advisor to these newly formed commando units respectively.17
US advisors organized these death squads as Iraqi Ministry of Interior commando brigades, consisting primarily of members of the Badr organization.18 These special commando units began abducting and killing Iraqi’s opposed to the occupation, and their operations increasingly took on a sectarian character, targeting primarily Sunnis. The “Wolf Brigade” was the most feared of these special commando units, and became known for abducting, torturing, and killing Sunnis.19 By the summer of 2005, scores of Sunni corpses were turning up each month on the sides of roads or in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, often with “bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills. Many have simply vanished.”20
Despite many attempts by Sunni and Shia religious authorities to stress unity and brotherhood regardless of religious sect, the violence resulting from US recruitment of the pro-Iranian Shia parties into the new Iraqi security forces to fight anti-occupation Sunnis and the brutal targeting of Shia civilians by the Sunni AQI, was enough to tear apart the fabric of religious and ethnic coexistence in Iraq. Finally in February of 2006, with the bombing of the Askari mosque in Samarra, allegedly at the hands of AQI militants, popular anger took over, leading to all out sectarian war. Members of the Shia Mahdi Army began attacking Sunni mosques and violently cleansing neighborhoods of Sunni residents.
Harith Al-Dhari, speaking for the nationalist Sunni resistance, condemned the bombing of the shrine, implying that it was destroyed by Iraqi government forces loyal to the pro-Iranian Shia, and refused to blame Sadr himself for the violent response of the Mahdi Army, stating that, “the masses, who attacked and sabotaged Sunni mosques on the second and third days, did not adhere to the calls by Shiite religious authorities because they were driven by their emotions. In addition they were directed by some parties who took advantage of the masses’ outrage.” To calm the situation, Al-Dhari stated that the “Al-Sadr trend met with other national forces participating in the anti-occupation Iraqi National Constituent Conference to act quickly to contain the problem” and that the Association of Muslim Scholars had made bi-lateral agreements with the Sadr movement.21
The US-backed Shia parties in the Iraqi government (Dawa and SIIC) countered this call for restraint among the anti-occupation nationalist groups, however, by pushing Mahdi Army supporters in the ranks of the Iraqi police and army to take revenge. Awan newspaper reports that, “during the sectarian war which broke out powerfully in February 2006, and especially within Baghdad, the Shia parties encouraged the Sadr movement to take revenge against the other sect [Sunni] and continued to push [the Sadr movement] toward it so that the Mahdi militia participated in the ugliest sectarian killing Iraq has seen in previous centuries. The government of Jaafari and Maliki, and the ministers who are followers of Hakim were applauding Sadr and providing him with government cover for the Mahdi Army to be transported in police cars and carry official papers and licenses for them and weapons.”22 Sunni resistance groups responded by defending their own neighborhoods, while killing or expelling the Shia residents in areas under their control. As a result of this intense new stage of sectarian violence, Sunnis began to see even the nationalist Shia Mahdi Army as “Safavids” and part of the “Iranian occupation.”
By the time of President Bush’s “surge” in early 2007, most of the ethnically mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad had been cleared of the minority ethnic group, leading to a drop in the levels of violence, as the two warring communities were now basically separated. Intra-Sunni violence increased as AQI began assassinating leaders of the Sunni resistance groups for refusing to pledge allegiance to Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, the emir of AQI. Those assassinated by AQI included several leaders of the Islamic Army, and a commander in the 1920 Revolution Brigades who was also the nephew of Harith Al-Dhari of AMSI.23 Some Sunni resistance factions and tribes, already disillusioned with AQI’s targeting of civilians and extremist interpretations of Islam, began responding to AQI attacks “in-kind.”24
As the Sunni conflict with AQI continued, growing Iranian influence over the US-backed Iraqi government caused some Sunnis began to see the “Iranian occupation” as more dangerous than the American occupation. The US took advantage of this mood to try to expand its network of collaborators. It formed “Awakenings Councils” consisting of Sunni tribes and former resistance fighters, whom the Americans provided with weapons and $300 per month in salary per fighter, in exchange for ending attacks against US forces and fighting against AQI. This caused a split in the Islamic Army, one of the most prominent resistance factions, between those who insisted on continuing to fight the Americans and those who joined the Awakenings Councils, who argued for a temporary truce, or hudna, with the Americans in order to counter the Iranian threat.25 This split in the Islamic Army was accompanied by allegations that the 1920 Revolution Brigades had begun collaborating with American forces to fight Al-Qaeda, and that several Brigades units had therefore formed a new organization called Iraqi-Hamas, in order to continue fighting the Americans.
Despite the bad blood between Sadr and the Sunni resistance factions, Sadr did not abandon his nationalist agenda, and continued to demand a timetable for the withdrawal of American occupying forces, which was rejected by Prime Minister Maliki and the other Shia parties in the government. Sadr (and the Fadhila party) responded by withdrawing their support from the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the main Shiite bloc and ally of Iran in the Iraqi Parliament. Further, Sadr considered a political alliance with two Sunni political parties, the Sunni Accord Front, and the Dialogue Front led by Saleh Al-Mutlak.26 In addition, Sadr organized his own national reconciliation conference, which was attended by the 300 Sunni and Shia tribal sheikhs, and which called for a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces from the country.27
With Sadr challenging Washington (demanding a US withdrawal), and challenging Tehran (withdrawing his support from the pro-Iranian bloc in parliament, undermining Maliki), the stage was set in early 2008 for the US to initiate the third stage of the civil war, namely pitting Shia separatists against Shia nationalists. On March 25th, and shortly after visits to Baghdad from Dick Cheney and Iranian President Ahmedinejad, Prime Minister Maliki ordered the Iraqi Army to begin military operations to disarm Mahdi Army elements in Basra. Despite Iraqi government claims that the operations simply targeted militias operating “outside the law,” in practice the operations targeted Sadr’s Mahdi Army only. The Iraqi Army operations in Basra received US backing in the form of air strikes and a simultaneous siege on Sadr City, which became necessary when over 1,000 Iraqi soldiers refused to fight, apparently out of sympathy for the Mahdi Army.28 The fighting spread to Kut and Hilla as well, where US air strikes and raids killed 100 on March 27th.29 Iranian support for the attacks came in the form of pronouncements by Iranian state television stating that the Iraqi government offensive was justified since only government forces should be armed.30 On April 23rd a Sadr spokesperson stated that in the previous three weeks, US and Iraqi forces had killed 400 and injured 1720 in Sadr City alone.31
When asked why Mahdi Army elements were being targeted, the Sadr representative gave a simple answer: “The most important reason for the escalation in the positions against the Sadr Movement was the announcement of [our] intention to participate in the elections for provincial councils,” which the Sadr Movement is widely expected to win in many of the Shia provinces.32 Sadr gains in the provincial elections would be disaster for the US, as it would weaken the hold of its allies over the Iraqi government (Dawa and SIIC) and bring to power an anti-US party demanding the withdrawal of US forces, much like Palestinian elections brought Hamas to power in Gaza.
The US-backed attacks on Sadr were accompanied by accusations by the Bush administration and elsewhere that Iran was supplying elements of the Mahdi Army, the so-called “special groups,” with weapons to attack US troops. This was in spite of the fact that Iran’s closest allies in Iraq are US favorites Maliki, Hakim, and Talabani. All of these pro-US Iraqi politicians gave Ahmedinejad a warm welcome when he visited Baghdad, while Sadr and the Shia religious establishment in Najaf refused to meet him. The Sunni Kurdish Peshmerga had to provide security for Ahmedinejad during his visit to Baghdad due to fears that Shia police in the Ministry of Interior loyal to Sadr could not be trusted to protect him.33
Further, when Maliki and the US began operations against the Mahdi Army, Iran officially blessed the attack, as mentioned above, stating that, “The Islamic Republic of Iran provides the strongest support to the Iraqi government and the political process and thus it is illogical to accuse us of supporting terrorist groups there.”34 The Wall Street Journal accusation that, “Iran is engaged in a full-up proxy war against it in Iraq. Iranian agents and military forces are actively attacking U.S. Forces and the government of Iraq,” is useful because it plays on Sunni fears that Sadr is an Iranian agent, thus preventing national reconciliation and a united Shia/Sunni front against the occupation. Perhaps more importantly, it provides justification for a possible US military strike against Iran, since the American public is likely to support such a strike only if they think Iran is killing US troops.35
Because of the violence of the past few years, the Shia nationalist factions and the Sunni nationalist factions are still embittered against one another. Whether they can put past grievances behind them and unite to expel the Americans and remain independent of Iranian influence is unclear. American forces, however, have methodically fomented sectarian divisions through their attempts to recruit Iraqi parties to support the US presence, and through their use of these parties to suppress the nationalist, anti-occupation resistance groups, whether Sunni or Shia. Because the US has been the cause of so much sectarian division in Iraq, it is impossible to imagine that a continued American presence in Iraq will foster any kind of national unity that can allow Iraq to once again be a nation where differing ethnic groups can live peacefully with one another. Rather, if the US presence continues, Iraqi society will continue to fracture, leading to warlordism and civil war for decades to come.
Special thanks to Badger, who blogs at http://www.arablinks.blogspot.com, for calling attention to many of the articles I referenced in this article.
1. Jarrar, Raed, “The Iraqi Civil War Bush and the Media Won’t Tell You About,” Foreign Policy in Focus, March 24th 2008. Accessed online at: The Iraqi Civil War Bush and the Media Don’t Tell You About. Jarrar blogs at Raed In the Middle Blog.
2. The Kurds protested strongly, when in late 2006, U.S. forces raided the Iranian embassy in the Kurdish city of Arbil and detained an Iranian diplomat suspected of directing Iranian intelligence operations.
3. Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) News, Fatwa: It is Forbidden to Approve “Law of Oil and Gas.” July 5,2007, accessed online at http://www.Heyetnet. org/en/.
4. “Yaqeen News Agency interview with Nasser Al-Deen Al-Husni, Official Spokesperson of the Front for Jihad and Transformation,”10/07/2007, accessed online at http://www.yaqen.net/?p=1207 .
5. Killing Innocent Civilians is not Jihad. Interview with Harith Al-Dhari, Secretary General of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMSI), accessed online April 9, 2007, http://heyetnet.org/en/content/view/198/34/.
6. Raed Jarrar points out in the article cited above that, “The myth that the former Iraqi government was a “Sunni-led dictatorship” was created by the U.S. government. Even the Iraqi political regime was not “Sunniled,” let alone the rest of the public sector. A good way to debunk this fairy tale is through a close look at the famous deck of cards of the 55 most wanted Iraqi leaders. The cards had the pictures of Saddam, his two sons, and the rest of the political leadership which most Iraqis would recognize as the heads of the political regime. What is noteworthy is that 36 of the 55 were Shiites. In fact, the two vice presidents were a Christian and a Shiite Kurd.”
7. For a history of the early development of the insurgency, see the film “Meeting Resistance.” http://www.meetingresistance.com.
8. Lagouranis, Tony. Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator’s Dark Journey Through Iraq. New American Library, New York, NY, 2007.
9. NYT Magazine, “The Way of the Commando” by Peter Maass, May 1, 2005.
10. Rosen, Nir. In the Belly of the Green Bird, Free Press, New York, NY, 2006, pg. 144.
11. Sadr Al-Iraq Al-Thalith; Ahdafuhu, Mawaaqifuhu, Mashru’uhu, pg. 8,9. Al-Sayyid Muhassan Al-Nuri Al-Musawwi, Markaz Wali Allah lildirasaat waltawjih walirshad, 2004, my translation.
12. Rosen, Nir. In the Belly of the Green Bird; The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq. Free Press, New York, NY 2006, pg 158.
13. Accessed online at http://www.76news.net/news.php?id=7491, my translation.
14. Ethnic divisions threaten cohesive Iraqi army, analysts say. The Dallas Morning News, Nov 30, 2005. By Richard Whittle.
15. Chehab, Zaki. Inside the Resistance: The Iraqi Insurgency and the Future of the Middle East. Nation Books, New York, NY, 2005.
16. El Salvador-style ‘death squads’ to be deployed by US against Iraq militants, The Times, January 10, 2005.
17. NYT Magazine, “The Way of the Commando” by Peter Maass, May 1, 2005.
18. Anbar Province and Emerging Trends in the Iraqi Insurgency, by Mahan Abedin, Global Terrorism Analysis, the Jamestown Foundation, volume 3, issue 14, July 15, 2005.
19. New York Times, Q&A: Iraq’s Militias, June 9th 2005.
20. Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings, By Dexter Filkins, New York Times, Nov. 29, 2005
21. Al-Zaman newspaper, March 14, 2006.
22. Awan newspaper, March 27, 2008, my translation.
23. Al-Qaeda loses an Iraqi Friend, Time Magazine, May 14th 2007.
24. Al-Arab newspaper, Jan 1, 2008, summarized at arablinks.blogspot.com.
25. Al-Hayat Newspaper, Feb. 26, 2008.
26. Awan Newspaper, March 27, 2008.
27. Aswat Al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq), March 24, 2008.
28. Al-Qabas Newspaper, March 27, 2008.
29. Al-Hayat Newspaper, March 28, 2008.
30. Iran backs Iraq’s crackdown on ‘armed groups.’ Tehran Times, April 24th, 2008.
31. Aswat Al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq) Newspaper, April 23 2008.
32. Al-Hayat, March 27 2008, my translation.
33. Al-Qabas Newspaper March 5, 2008.
34. Iran backs Iraq’s crackdown on ‘armed groups.’ Tehran Times, April 24th, 2008.
35. The Second Iran-Iraq War, by Kimberly Kagan, Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2008.