What’s the word on the street in Baghdad?
Just three days after U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticized what he believes to be “exaggerated” and one-sided press coverage of apparently sectarian violence in Iraq sparked by the Feb. 22 attack on a Shiite mosque in Samarra, U.S. military intelligence reported that “most Iraqis increasingly fear an all-out civil war will begin soon.”
“In fact, the entire group believes that Iraq is at least in a state of low-level civil war and most believe that the country is one assassination or Samarra-type event away from all-out civil war,” it stated.
That suggestion is contained in the March 10 edition of the “Baghdad Mosquito,” a daily collection of “open source intelligence” culled from Iraqi newspapers, as well as rumors from a group of “knowledgeable” Iraqis.
The group polled by the Skeeter staff suggests Iraqis are not encouraged.
“In unanimity the group responded that the crisis is not over. The primary reason for this is, as (of) last week, … there are those on both sides of the sectarian extremes that continue to inflame the situation between Shiites and Sunnis. They specifically mentioned (Abdul Aziz) Al Hakim and (Moqtada) Al Sadr on the Shiite side and Harith Al Dhari on the Sunni side,” the document states.
According to the bulletin, one of the rumors making the rounds is that U.S. Central Command Chief Gen. John Abizaid’s expectation that more shrines would be attacked before the violence is over “prove that these attacks are part of an American plan.”
“Some Iraqis believe that President Bush called Shiite and Sunni figures after the Samarra attack not to ensure stability but to ensure that the U.S. plan of starting a civil war is carried out,” states another rumor reported by the Skeeter.
A civil war would allow the United States to bring back Saddam Hussein, a prospect the Skeeter suggests many would welcome.
“A majority of Iraqis believe that America is creating the chaos in Iraq in order to bring back Saddam. Most Iraqis now believe that this would be better because under Saddam they at least had security and services,” states the document.