Civil War in Iraq?

Swopa rounds up evidence—okay, more like the barest of hints—that the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra yesterday may have been the work of militant Shiites looking to provoke some serious sectarian warfare. It’s not impossible, I guess. And it certainly appears to be working, with Shiites and Sunnis battling it out all across the country. Quite obviously a lot of different groups in Iraq have a lot of different motives for edging the country closer to civil war, and it seems like that will only become increasingly easier to do as time goes on.

Meanwhile, it was only a few days ago that Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad threatened to withdraw aid from the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government if it insisted on engaging in sectarian warfare with the Sunnis. And now top Shiite leaders are blaming Khalilzad for encouraging the insurgents with that statement all while… engaging in sectarian warfare. So what will the U.S. do? President Bush sounds like he’s planning to back the Shiite government and oppose the “terrorists” while calling for “restraint” on all sides. But this doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you can really finesse in this way. Juan Cole says this is an “apocalyptic day.” Very bad.