When the first intifada broke out in Israel, in 1987, the Arabs used rocks, molotov cocktails, hand grenades, and rifles. That same year the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka began a fifteen year campaign that employed suicide bombers.

When the second (al-Asqa) Intifada began, the Palestinians adopted the tactics of the Tamil Tigers. During the most deadly year of the Second Intifada, 2002, there were forty-two seperate suicide bombings that killed 228 people.

By way of comparison, as of July:

The numbers in Iraq alone are breathtaking: About 400 suicide bombings have shaken Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003, and suicide now plays a role in two out of every three insurgent bombings. In May, an estimated 90 suicide bombings were carried out in the war-torn country — nearly as many as the Israeli government has documented in the conflict with Palestinians since 1993.

So, in one month (May) Iraq experienced nearly as many suicide bombings as Israel has experienced since the Oslo Accords were signed, and in that one month Iraq had over twice as many suicide bombings as Israel suffered in all of 2002.

:::flip:::

Nothing has improved since May. Yesterday:

A suicide bomber driving a minibus pulled alongside a convoy of elite Iraqi commandos in the capital Sunday and detonated his explosives, killing 10 people in a spray of burning metal, witnesses said.

The powerful explosion rattled windows miles from the stretch of highway in the eastern neighborhood of Ghadeer. Blood from the dead and injured soaked bread in roadside stalls…

Iraqi officials provided no immediate count of the casualties. Witnesses said they saw at least 10 charred bodies, the majority of whom were commandos, part of a highly trained Interior Ministry protection force.

A suicide car bomber attacked a police checkpoint guarding several government ministries as Iraqi employees arrived for work this morning, killing at least seven policemen and three workers, police said.

The blast, which occurred at about 7.50am, also wounded 10 policemen and eight government employees, said police Captain Nabil Abdel Qadir.

The employees were just arriving for work at Iraq’s oil ministry, irrigation ministry and national Police Academy… link

There seems to be an endless supply of young people, mostly men, who are willing to sacrifice their lives (with absolute certainty) in order to kill other Iraqis. Some of the attacks are targeted at the fledgling new government, some of them are aimed at rival clans or religious leaders, are based on sectarian hatred, or are just meant to terrorize the population and make the government look impotent. A very small percentage of suicide bombings are aimed at American or British forces.

This Muslim-on-Muslim suicidal violence is something new. There has been some sectarian violence in Pakistan, but nothing so sustained nor so capable of drawing a limitless number of bombing volunteers. Iraq is in the grips of a civil war.

And it is not as simple as saying that the violence is a result of Sunni Arabs being alientated from the new constitutional process, or the new government. Various Shi’a factions are now in open warfare with each other throughout the south. The Shi’a dominated government has been carrying out a low level war with popular Shi’a leader Mustaqa Al-Sadr. And:

In other violence yesterday, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed himself and at least five visitors to a Shiite religious shrine in Musayyib, and a bomb planted on an abandoned bicycle exploded among shoppers on a street in Hillah, killing one. Eight people died when mortar shells struck their homes in Samarra. In Baghdad, gunmen held up an armored Finance Ministry convoy, killed two guards, and escaped with $850,000. Seattle Times

And:

Iraqi gunmen on Monday murdered five teachers and a driver at a primary school as United States forces released more than 500 prisoners from the notorious Abu Ghraib jail.

In the school attack, 10 gunmen dressed as police officers dragged the teachers from their classrooms at the Al Jazeera Primary School in Muwalha, south of the capital, took them to an empty classroom and shot them, police said. link

The killing and insecurity is not limited to any insurgency to make the U.S. and Britain leave. Much of it is just rank criminality: bank heists, kidnapping, robbery, revenge, etc.

It’s no longer a risk that civil war will break out. This is a civil war. It is a society without security, without jobs, without services, and without any improvement in sight.

The Bush administration is holding out hope that the Iraqis will ratify their constitution on October 15th, and that elections will follow. They hope that this process will lead to a lessoning of the violence. But there are no independent analysts that agree with them. If anything, the constitution will continue to divide Iraqis.

The important questions for America now are what we can hope to accomplish by staying, what is likely to happen if we leave, and how will effect our interests in the region and the supply of oil and gas.

I can envision an argument that says we cannot afford to leave Iraq to its own devices without risking destabilizing the world economy through a major disruption to the energy supply.

We need to get serious about prognosticating what the Kurds, the Turks, the Persians, the Syrians, and the Saudis will do after a U.S. pullout.

It’s possible that we could restore order with a much larger force, but Bush doesn’t have the credibility to raise such a force either domestically, or in the region. He has lost Iraq by destroying it’s central government. He doesn’t have the political capital or the will to fix it, if it can even be fixed.

But still, before we pull out we need to assess, to the best of our ability, what the fallout will be.

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