Is Al Qaeda stoking Sunni-Shiite civil war?
The point of this week’s deadly bomb attacks in Iraq may be to foment factional unrest, which could pit Shiite Muslims against Sunnis and even escalate into bitter civil war. So far Iraqi Shiites don’t appear to be blaming Sunnis as a whole for the explosions that darkened their annual festival of Ashura. Initial anger appeared directed at Americans, who Shiite leaders charged with failure to provide necessary security. But US officials and experts suspect the suicide bombings were the handiwork of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian Sunni linked to Al Qaeda who may be striving to jumpstart sectarian strife. At the least, fear of further attack could lead Shiites to expand their religious militia, further dividing the country even as it approaches the June 30 deadline for resumption of Iraqi sovereignty. “These [attackers], whoever they are … they’re just trying to create factional, religious, intercommunal strife to undermine what the US is doing,” says a former US intelligence official who works in the region. Full Story