Iraq’s Holy War increasingly sectarian…

In the Guardian on Saturday Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reported from the Sunni held areas of Baghdad. Even for those of us with memories of the wild hysteria of early seventies in Northern Ireland, this is of a different order. In areas like Baghdad it seems, the Americans are no longer the enemy. The Shia militia, wound up in their turn by the brutal actions of ‘Al Queda’ death squads, are a constant threat. He also maps the brutality/banality of the war time economics of defending your patch.

Like every man of fighting age, Rami was required to take part in his local vigilante group, guarding the neighbourhood at night or conducting raids or mortar attacks on neighbouring Shia areas. But he paid $30 a week to a local commander and was exempted.

According to Rami and other commanders, funding for the insurgents comes from three sources. Each family in the street pays a levy, around $8, to the local group. “And when they go through lots of ammunition because of clashes,” Rami said, “they pay an extra $5.” Then there are donations from rich Sunni businessmen, financiers and wealthier insurgent groups. A third source of funding was “ghaniama”, loot which is rapidly becoming the main fuel of the sectarian war

‘A business’

“Every time they arrest a Shia, we take their car, we sell it and use the money to fund the fighters, and jihad,” said Abu Aisha. The mosque sheik or the local commander collects the money and it is distributed among the fighters; some get fixed salaries, others are paid by “operations”, and the money left is used for ammunition.

“It has become a business, they give you money to kill Shia, we take their houses and sell their cars,” said Rami. “The Shia are doing the same.

“Last week on the main highway in our area, they killed a Shia army officer. He had a brand new Toyota sedan. The idiots burned the car. I offered them $40,000 for it, they said no. Imagine how many jihads they could have done with 40k.”


  • Ingram

    At last some good news.

    It is certainly better to have them killing each other and view the occupying force as a necessitity to stop one all mighty blood bath.It is reassuring to hear a Sunnis commander say the Allies are no longer the enemy!

    That is what happened in the NI conflict albeit on a much smaller scale. The allies will play on this aspect and and with time take the edge off the terrorists by playing one side off with another.Exactly what happened in NI.The abilty to manipulate the terrorists is key to this conflict.

    It is a well worn and tested Modus Operandai. It will take time and a lot of casualties but it will reduce the exposure to risk of both the allies national interest and theie security forces.

    Nice to see some positive News eminating from this shit hole.


  • Crataegus


    What is the long term goal and what is the likely outcome?

    As far as I can see this will lead to the breakup of the country and the increased influence of Iran. In this region I would not have put Iraq top of the list of problems that is until we went in disturbed the hornets’ nest. Its hateful regime was stable. Pakistan is a more problematic country and there is a fair bit of Saudi cash funding all sorts of strange groups. Also the influence of China grows with the passing of each day and it is in direct competition for resources.

    We have created a vacuum and opportunity for extremists, it is less than clever.

    We are low on allies in this region. I think we have completely screwed up.

  • smcgiff

    This has been a civil war for months now.

    Mmm, perhaps the word should be “uncivil”?

  • Ingram


    What is the long term goal and what is the likely outcome?

    The long term aim is a different one for both principal allies.

    1. UK. The aim was to support the USA and remove an evil dicator.To secure the safe passage of the Northern Oil reserves.The Sourthern oil supplies are likely to be more contentious.

    Those goals have been broadly been achieved and a phased UK withdrawl will I think be effected within 2 years, with a small presence remaining in a few key areas.

    2. USA. They were and remain principaly determined to secure Oil security in the NORTH.The USA I believe would like to occupy long term secure bases within Iraq for some time to come.

    Today it also see`s a major threat eminating from IRAN. I have no doubts whatsoever that IRAN will be attacked within 2 years.

    In summary.

    Not a good position. My gut feeling is it will get far worse before it gets better.

    In the MOD the No1 scenerio for a Nuke conflict was and remains the middle east.


    If we can contain this problem to a Iraq civil war then that will be a major success.



  • Crataegus


    I have no doubt that it will get a lot worse there are too many with a vested interest in financing the unrest. The sooner we are out of there and the quicker we reduce our dependence on oil the better. As for Iran large country, population 70 million, money would be better spent supporting the more moderate factions. It is a divided country, if we go in there one thing we will do is unite opinion against us. There has got to be a better way of doing things.

  • abucs

    Western allied presence dismantling the state and safeguaarding oil supplies ?

    Iraqi terrorists killing eachother for local power and security ?

    No connection i suppose ?

  • Ingram



    This variable that was not evident prior to the Iraqi conflict. The move by the Iranian people with the appointment President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not easily forcasted.

    Iran today has a major influence in Iraq and is clearly wanting to build a Bomb.

    Israel, will not allow that to happen.

    One way or another Iran will be stopped.


  • abucs

    Which one of those two ways involves blowing the shit out of the Iranian people and then labelling them terrorists ?

    I want no part of that.

  • andy

    with you there.
    “manipulating the terrorists” here means persauding them to kill scores of innocent civilians.
    There have been rumours about the Americans being behind some of the random car bombings…. I thought it was abject nonsense but could fit into the type of strategy hinted at by Martin above.

  • abucs

    That’s terrible andy.

    I would very much like to think it’s nonsense too. Unfortunately i suspect neither of us can be confident that it is nonsense.

  • Ingram


    It certainly has occured in the British sector, Dont know about the American sector. It happened in NI and it will happen in Iraq, that is absolute certainty.It is a well worn M/O


    The Iranian people have the ability to moderate their Government. Failure to do so will result in them being attacked.

    You have to be cruel to be kind.


  • kadenza

    I have always assumed that the “civil war” element of the Iraq War was sparkplugged by the US and UK armies. They were in the shit and only a civil war can provide the cover to get out if needs be and/or to justify there longer term presence if needs be. Either way a stiking big war suits there strategic needs, although present political PR disadvantages in the short to medium term.

    I imagine that if the level of sectarian violence in Iraq continues for the next couple of years that public opinion will forget that the US/UK are occupiers and will be “recall” them being there to keep the peace.

    The power play is depressingly familiar and time trusted tactics.

  • Ingram

    Dictionary Dave.

    You should join your mate comical Pat and Comical Ali.


  • andy

    By the british sector are you referring to the two SAS types held in the Basra police station last year?
    The only sources I had were from Syrian security services – hardly unbiased.

    Dictionary Dave
    I think you’re being a bit harsh on the Guardian. A lot of people blamed McGurks on the Provos initially.. because the Army told them to.

    As well as that – regardless of any false flag efforts, the fact is that the “Heroic Sunni resistance”, composed as it is of ba’athist totalitarians and religious fundamentalists, have been slaughtering civilans indiscriminantly since shortly after the conflict began.

  • Harry

    “The Shia militia, wound up in their turn by the brutal actions of ‘Al Queda’ death squads, are a constant threat.”

    ‘Al Queda death squads’? Do you really believe this horseshit Mick?

    Funny how we never hear that the people killed on any given day were blown up by an american helicopter gunship – always seems to be car bombings against civilians by those bad people the insurgents.

    Of course, the brits and the americans installing a government which is the main player in rounding up and killing civilians in order to foment inter-communal strife has nothing to do with it. Nor is the current division of Baghdad to the east and west along ethnic lines anything to do with the brits and the americans blowing the shit out of the people under the guise of ‘insurgents’. Nor is the divide and rule strategy in any way funded and promoted in every way by the yanks and the brits.

    Sure weren’t the Iraqis just dying to start killing one another. Lucky they have the brits there help keep the warring factions apart and keep the peace!

    Plucky Tommy and his fair play – sure what would you do without it?

    Remind you of anywhere?

  • Ingram


    No, I am refering to my conversations with some of those soldiers involved in Iraq.