News

Iraq Faces Disintegration According to British Think Tank

Iraq is beset by, not one, but numerous civil wars and insurgencies, society is breaking down increasingly along ethnic and sectarian lines, and the central government is largely powerless and ineffective. That is the assessment of a report issued by the prestigious Chatham House research center in London. VOA's Sonja Pace has details from the British capital.

The report is titled, Accepting Realities in Iraq, and it portrays an Iraq wracked by civil wars and violence and beset by a breakdown of the society's fabric and social cohesion.

The manager of the Middle East program at Chatham House, Michael Lowe, tells VOA the various strategies set out by both Britain and the United States have not worked, including the current U.S. military surge.

"This is partly because there is not a clear and honest acceptance and understanding of the very harsh realities, which are current in Iraq, chiefly of the level of breakdown of Iraqi society, the regionalization of the country and the sheer number of conflicts going," said Lowe. "There is not one civil war, there are at least seven, if not eight, wars taking place in Iraq today."

There are differing views on the situation in Iraq. Speaking in Baghdad, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said he is encouraged by political and security developments. He said there has been no reversion to widespread sectarian violence and political leaders are working hard to resolve contentious issues.

During a joint news conference with President Bush in Washington, British Prime Minister Tony Blair looked for the upbeat.

"There are the majority elements in each of the main communities, whether Sunni or Shia or Kurd, who actually want to live in peace with one another and want a future for that country that is not marred by terrorism and sectarianism, and we of course want to see that happen in the interest of that country and the interest of the stability of the wider region and the world," said Blair.

But, the Chatham House report leaves little room for optimism. It says that while the number of civilian deaths in Baghdad has dropped since the military surge, the activities of al Qaida and other groups have continued unabated and violence in other parts of Iraq has increased.

Another reality mentioned by Chatham House is the shift of power away from the central government to the regions and a society increasingly fragmented along ethnic and sectarian lines.

Robert Lowe says the argument can be made that Iraq has already broken up.

"The Iraqi government carries little authority outside the Green Zone in Baghdad, huge swathes of Iraqi territory are effectively run by local powers, whoever holds military and indeed economic power in specific localities, whether it be in Basra in the very south or in the Kurdistan region on the very north," he added. "Because of the breakdown of Iraqi society and the polarization of identities, whether they are sectarian or ethnic, power in Iraq is now devolved to the regions and this has left the country fragmented and perhaps even shattered."

Lowe says it is unclear whether that fragmentation can be turned around.

The Chatham House report, written by Middle East expert Gareth Stansfield, says these harsh realities must be accepted if efforts to avert the failure and collapse of Iraq are to have any chance of success.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs