Iraq’s civil war nightmare

For the families of the people who have died since the invasion in 2003, or the thousands more who have been maimed, or those who have been kidnapped, it probably does not matter much what sort of war is going on in Iraq.

The fact is that there has been a war there now for the best part of three years, and that it has brought them pain.

But everyone in Iraq – and across the Middle East – knows that a full-blown civil war would be much worse.

After the attack on the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, Jalal Talabani, the President of Iraq, was worried enough to go on television to warn how dangerous such a conflict would be.

Iraq does not have a civil war, but it has the makings of one.

Long before the golden dome of the mosque in Samarra was destroyed there were serious incidents, involving big loss of life, between Iraq’s different communities.

All sides have suffered, but the Shia have lost thousands of people in hundreds of sectarian attacks.

The only good thing is that responsible leaders have recognised the danger, and have not allowed their country to slide into the sort of nightmare Lebanon went through in the 15 years after 1975.

Civil war could lead to the break-up of the country, and would export even more instability and violence across the wider Middle East and beyond.

That is why most Iraqis, of all sides, do not want one – and why some extremists do, and are trying as hard as they can to make it happen.

Click the headline for the full story from the BBC.

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