Robert Fisk talking about Iraq on the SBS Dateline program last night:
Someone wants a civil war. Some form of militias and death squads want a civil war. There never has been a civil war in Iraq. The real question I ask myself is: who are these people who are trying to provoke the civil war?Fisk then casts doubts on whether al-Zarqawi is still alive:
Now the Americans will say it's Al Qaeda, it's the Sunni insurgents, it is the death squads... Many of the death squads work for the Ministry of Interior. Who runs the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad? Who pays the Ministry of the Interior? Who pays the militia men who make up the death squads? We do, the occupation authorities.
I'd like to know what the Americans are doing to get at the people who are trying to provoke the civil war. It seems to me not very much. We don't hear of any suicide bombers being stopped before they blow themselves up. We don't hear of anybody stopping a mosque getting blown up. We're not hearing of death squads all being arrested.
Something is going very, very wrong in Baghdad. Something is going wrong with the Administration.
You know, al-Zarqawi did exist before the American Anglo-American invasion. He was up in the Kurdish area, which was not actually properly controlled by Saddam. But after that he seems to have disappeared.Then Fisk really starts to sound like a Conspiracy Theorist:
We know there's an identity card that pops up. We know the Americans say we think we've recognised him on a videotape. Who recognises him on a videotape? How many Americans have ever met al-Zarqawi?
Al-Zarqawi's mother died more than 12 months ago and he didn't even send commiserations or say "I'm sorry to hear that". His wife of whom he was very possessive is so poor she has to go out and work in the family town of Zarqa. Hence the name Zarqawi.
I don't know if al-Zarqawi is alive or exists at the moment. I don't know if he isn't a sort of creature invented in order to fill in the narrative gaps, so to speak.
What is going on in Iraq at the moment is extremely mysterious... I don't believe we've got all these raving lunatics wandering around blowing up mosques. There's much more to this than meets the eye... Somebody is operating these people. I don't know who they are. It's not as simple as we're making it out to be...Fisk says that if the Shiites and Sunnis can come together, as they did in the 1920s in the insurgency against the British, then Iraq will again be united and the USA will be finished in Iraq. The implication is that it is in the occupying power's best interest (from a die-hard neo-con perspective, anyway) to keep the two sides fighting each other.
Is it really the case that all of these Iraqis that fought together for eight years against the Iranians, Shiites and Sunnis together in the long massive murderous Somme-like war between the Iranians and Iraqis - suddenly all want to kill each other? Why? Because there's something wrong with Iraqis? I don't think so.
What I'd like to know is who is running the Interior Ministry? Who is paying the Interior Ministry? Who is paying the gunmen who work for the Interior Ministry? I go into the Interior Ministry in Baghdad and I see lots and lots of armed men wearing black leather. Who is paying these guys? Well, we are, of course...My own suspicion is that there are now two separate forces at work within the US government, and working via their proxies in Iraq: there are those who realise the game is up and are working towards a politically face-saving pullout, and then there are those in the "parrallel government" who will do everything possible to keep their original empire-building plans on track.
We need to look at this story in a different light. That narrative that we're getting - that there are death squads and that the Iraqis are all going to kill each other, the idea that the whole society is going to commit mass suicide - is not possible, it's not logical. There is something else going on in Iraq...
I would think Bush and maybe Condi Rice may be in the first group, while Rumsfeld and Cheney are most definitely in the second. Most importantly, I don't think the first group has any idea what the second group is doing. Hence the confusion over the USA's ultimate goals and strategies in Iraq.