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The Sectarian Specter In Iraq, Cont'd

Eli Lake has an important and troubling scoop this morning: 

A report to be published this month by the U.S. government's prestigious National Defense University warns that the Iraqi army and police are becoming pawns of sectarian political parties -- a trend that it calls "a recipe for civil war."...

The paper, made available to The Washington Times, carries particular weight considering its author.

Mr. al-Jabouri was the police chief and later the mayor of Tal Afar, a city in Ninevah province, in 2005 and 2006 when he and then-Col. H.R. McMaster waged a counterinsurgency campaign that became the model for the strategy that was successfully employed in 2007 and 2008 throughout Iraq. In a March 20, 2006, speech, President Bush singled out Mr. al-Jabouri, saying the U.S. was "proud to have allies like Mayor Najim."

 As I've mentioned here before, some smart Iraq-watchers believe that sectarianism--Shiite vs. Sunni violence--has played itself out, and are now more concerned about the volatile Kurdish north, where disputes about land and oil still fester. But this report is further evidence that we may not have the luxury of focusing on the Kurds--a point underscored by a new series of terrible bombings near Baghdad today.

All of which comes just as credible analysts are talking about sending another 45,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

--Michael Crowley