By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
March 15, 2007 – Some areas in Iraq are involved in a civil war, according to a report titled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq" that the Defense Department released yesterday. The quarterly report to Congress goes on to agree with the January 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, however, that the term "civil war" does not adequately convey the complexity of the conflict in Iraq or the fact that different parts of the country have different challenges.
Most of the information in the report is from January, before the new joint Iraqi-coalition strategy had time to gel, DoD officials said.
"Some elements of the situation in Iraq are properly descriptive of a 'civil war,'" the report says. It notes that ethnic and religious lines have hardened in Iraq, the nature of the conflict has changed and the number of refugees from the fighting has increased.
Militias continue to stoke the ethnic divide between Shiia and Sunni Arabs, the report says. Militias, al Qaeda in Iraq and associated groups have used indiscriminate bombings to murder vast numbers of innocent Iraqis in an attempt to deepen ethnic and sectarian divides. "An Iraqi-conceived and -led Baghdad security plan is the centerpiece for addressing the escalating violence," the report states.
The report details the different nature of conflicts in different parts of Iraq. It says the conflict in the northern part of the country is characterized by sectarian tensions, insurgents launching extremist attacks and competition among Kurds, Arabs and Turkomen. The violence in the north is concentrated in Kirkuk, Mosul and Tal Afar.
Sunni Arab insurgents and al Qaeda in Iraq are the main problems in Anbar province to the west, according to the report. An encouraging sign in the province is the emergence of local sheikhs who are leading recruiting efforts for Iraqi security forces in the region.
In Baghdad, Diyala and Balad, the violence is centered on sectarian divisions and competition for resources. Crime also enters the violence equation in Baghdad.
In the Shiia-dominated southern part of the country, tribal rivalries and factional divisions dominate the violence.
The picture in the country is complicated by Iranian and Syrian support for insurgent groups in Iraq, the report said.
Attacks in Baghdad, Anbar, Salah ad Din and Diyala provinces account for roughly 80 percent of the attacks in Iraq. The other 14 provinces in the country have comparatively low levels of attacks.
Coalition forces attract the majority of attacks, the report says, but Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians suffer most of the casualties. The United Nations issued a report saying that insurgents, death squads and terrorists killed or wounded roughly 6,000 Iraqis in December, the report states.
"The total number of attacks on and casualties suffered by coalition forces, the (Iraqi security forces) and Iraqi civilians for the October through December (2006) reporting period were the highest for any three-month period since 2003," according to the report.
Baghdad is the center of gravity for the struggle in Iraq, the report says. In January, there were about 45 attacks a day in the capital city.
Surveys say the vast majority of the Iraqi people continue to reject violence. "More than 80 percent of the population rejects violence against the government under any circumstance, and more than 90 percent rejects attacks against women and children," the report states. "However, two-thirds of Iraqis express a sense that conditions for peace and stability are worsening, and the population is roughly split on whether the government is moving in the right direction to quell the violence."
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