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Civil war looms in Iraq, expert warns

7 April 2004

HAMBURG – Amid the rising violence by Shias and Sunnis in Iraq against the occupation forces, the threat of civil war is increasing in the country, a top German expert warned Wednesday.

Udo Steinbach, head of the Orient-Institut in Hamburg, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa’s radio service RUFA that for now, the Iraqis were rising in opposition to the Americans, but this could later lead to civil war.

“In any event, the situation is spinning more and more out of control,” Steinbach said, criticising the Americans for taking too long to return Iraq to a state of normalcy.

Now the radicals have “taken it on themselves to liberate the country”, he said, and for the time being, the Sunnis and Shiites were in a tactical alliance against the Americans.

“The common aim of expelling the Americans and the occupiers is what is welding them together,” Steinbach said. But afterwards, the scenario will change.

“I expect that there will be a civil war which will chiefly be waged between the Arab-Shiite majority, the Arab-Sunni minority, and then more and more, the Kurds,” he said.

The majority of Iraqis want a new order in their country, but this raised several questions – what kind of order, how many religions will it have, and who will rule – Steinbach said.

“They might possibly have to be addressed by force of arms,” he warned about the issues facing Iraq’s future.



Subject: German news