World News and Trends: Iraqi sectarian violence leading to civil war?

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Iraqi sectarian violence leading to civil war?

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The top U.S. military commander in the Middle East told Congress . . . that 'Iraq could move toward civil war' if the raging sectarian violence in Baghdad is not stopped. 'I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I have seen it,' Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee" (Associated Press, Aug. 3).

Americans may not appreciate the differences in the various Islamic sects in the Middle East and how their differences not only separate them, but make them mutual enemies. "Shiite and Sunni are going to have to love their children more than they hate each other," said General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who also told the panel, "We do have the possibility of that devolving into civil war" (ibid.).

Many Westerners mistakenly perceive all Muslims to be alike, but they are not. Just as in traditional Christianity, Islam has a variety of beliefs and practices. The two largest sects are the Sunnis and Shiites, yet there are more and all these may be further divided.

As different as the Islamic sects are, they are not denominational, and when the call to prayer goes out, mosques accept all Muslims since their services are very similar. Still, the increased sectarian violence brewing in Iraq now could lead to civil war or be a stepping stone to a future Islamic caliphate, possibly under the prophesied "king of the South" (Daniel 11:40 Daniel 11:40And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
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), that could unite Muslims from Indonesia to Morocco. (Source: Associated Press.)