Last updated on: 6/6/2008 10:07:00 AM PST
Should the sectarian violence in Iraq in 2006 and 2007 have been described as a civil war?



PRO (yes)

Iyad Allawi, PhD, former Interim Prime Minister of Iraq, stated in a Mar. 19, 2006 BBC News article titled "Iraq in Civil War, Says Former PM":

"It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as [sic] 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."


Mar. 19, 2006 - Iyad Allawi, PhD 



The US Intelligence Community, a federation of executive branch agencies and organizations that conducts intelligence activities, in its Jan. 2007 National Intelligence Estimate titled "Prospects for Iraq's Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead," stated:

"The Intelligence Community judges that the term 'civil war' does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa’ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term 'civil war' accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements."

Jan. 2007 - US Intelligence Community 



Colin Powell, MBA, former US Secretary of State, stated in a June 10, 2007 interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press:

"I have characterized it as a civil war even though the administration does not call it that. And the reason I call it a civil war is I think that allows you to see clearly what we’re facing. We’re facing groups that are now fighting each other: Sunnis vs. Shias, Shias vs. Shias, Sunni vs. al-Qaeda. And it is a civil war. The current strategy to deal with it, called a surge—the military surge, our part of the surge under General Petraeus—the only thing it can do is put a heavier lid on this boiling pot of civil war stew."

June 10, 2007 - Colin Powell, MBA 



James D. Fearon, PhD, Geballe Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, stated in a Mar./Apr. 2007 Foreign Affairs article titled "Iraq's Civil War":

"As sectarian violence spiked in Baghdad around last Thanksgiving, Bush administration spokespeople found themselves engaged in a strange semantic fight with American journalists over whether the conflict in Iraq is appropriately described as a civil war...

...[T]he administration worries that if the U.S. public comes to see the violence in Iraq as a civil war, it will be even less willing to tolerate continued U.S. military engagement. 'If it's a civil war, what are we doing there, mixed up in someone else's fight?' Americans may ask...

In fact, there is a civil war in progress in Iraq, one comparable in important respects to other civil wars that have occurred in postcolonial states with weak political institutions."


Mar./Apr. 2007 - James D. Fearon, PhD 



Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, stated in an Oct. 16, 2006 blog titled "Is There a 'Civil War' In Iraq?":

"The AOL short version of the Merriam Webster dictionary defines civil war as 'a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country' The Webster's New World Dictionary, 3rd College edition, defines it as 'war between geographical or political factions of the same nation.'

The level and sources of violence in Iraq has clearly reached the level where they clearly meet this definition. The trend data issued by the Department of Defense in its August Quarterly Status Report are provided in the attached analysis...They show a roughly 10 to 12-fold increase in sectarian violence over the last year, as well as a steady trend towards more violent civil war...

This is a civil war."


Oct. 16, 2006 - Anthony H. Cordesman 



Cable News Network (CNN) and Opinion Research Corporation conducted a poll of 1,009 adult Americans, dated Sep. 22-24, 2006 (with a margin of error for results based on the total sample was ± 3% and for results based on half-samples was ± 4.5%) which showed:

 
Yes, civil war
No, not civil war
No opinion
Do you think Iraq is currently engaged in a civil war, or do you not think Iraq is currently engaged in a civil war?
65%
29%
6%


Sep. 22-24, 2006 - Opinion Research Corporation 
CNN 



CON (no)

Nouri al-Mailiki, MA, Prime Minister of Iraq, was quoted by the Associated Press in an Aug. 27, 2006 International Herald Tribune article titled "Suicide Bomber Attacks Iraq Newspaper":

"The violence is not increasing...We are not in a civil war. Iraq will never be in a civil war...The violence is in decrease and our security ability is increasing."

Aug. 27, 2006 - Nouri al-Maliki, MA 



William J. Fallon, MA, former Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), stated in a Mar. 27, 2007 Cable News Network (CNN) interview with CNN anchor Kyra Phillips:

"Fallon: The idea that the whole country is at war with one another I think is absolutely not true. But there are some zeolots here that will stop at nothing and they don't care how many men, women, or children they'll kill or maim.

Phillips: And you don't think there's civil war?

Fallon: No. I don't think it's a civil war. There are factions that are fighting one another.

There are small factions that are fighting one another, small factions."


Mar. 27, 2007 - William Fallon, MA 



Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense, and Peter Pace, MA, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated in a Mar. 14, 2006 Department of Defense news briefing:

"SEC. RUMSFELD: ...Do I think we're in a civil war at the present time? No.

(To General Pace.) Do you?

GEN. PACE: I do not, sir."


Mar. 14, 2006 - Donald Rumsfeld 
Peter Pace, MA 



William Kristol, PhD, Co-founder and Chairman of the Project for the New American Century, in a July 15, 2007 FOX News segment, stated:

"We're not in a civil war, this is just not true...American troops are out there attacking al-Qaeda. They're attacking some elements of the Shia militias. They're doing other things, helping with reconciliation. They are not in the middle of a civil war. It's not true."

July 15, 2007 - William Kristol, PhD 



Sami Ramadani, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at London Metropolitan University and a political refugee from Saddam Hussein's regime, stated in an Apr. 9, 2007 International Socialism article titled "Sami Ramadani Interview: 'Iraq Is Not a Communal War'":

"I am still of the opinion that the sectarian conflict in Iraq—between the forces I have described—is not yet the dominant factor among the masses in the streets. If there was a communal civil war in the streets, towns and cities of Iraq, that would be a very serious development.

I do not think we are anywhere near this stage. Indeed, the people’s hostility to the governmental parties and the occupation, and the historical absence of mass sectarian hostility have all combined to prevent large-scale communal strife and violence."


Apr. 9, 2007 - Sami Ramadani, PhD 



Dan Darling, Counterterrorism Consultant at the Manhattan Institute for Policing Terrorism, in a Mar. 1, 2006 ThreatsWatch.org article titled "Sectarianism, Violence, and the Future of Iraq," stated:

"...[I]t should be understood that the nation is probably not yet on the verge of civil war, as can be seen from the fact that despite all of the valid concerns that have been raised as to the involvement of the militias in the recent violence, the individuals and political factions to which these individuals owe their allegiance are still, at least publicly, devoted to the political process, including the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr...

...[T]he major difference between Iraq and other nations that have endured civil wars is that currently all of the major political factions inside Iraq are interested in continuing with some form of political participation..."


Mar. 1, 2006 - Dan Darling 



Opinion Research Business, a British market research company, conducted a poll of 5,019 Iraqi adults on Feb. 10-22, 2007, (with a +1.4% margin of error) that showed:

Iraq is in a state of civil-war
27%
Iraq is close, but not yet at/ some way from/ will never get to civil war
61%
Don't know/ refused/ no answer
14%

Feb. 10-22, 2007 - Opinion Research Business