Iraq on the Brink

The bombing of the al-Askariya shrine in Samarra may be a turning point, it seems to me. It could be the spark for a full-scale civil war; or it could be a moment for the Sunni Arabs to realize the evil of the Jihadists in their midst. I'm alarmed that the shrine is apparently where the "Hidden Imam" that dominates Ahmadinejad's theology sought refuge centuries ago, and where he is supposed to return. It's like a Protestant bombing of St Peter's. Apparently, Samarra has already seen a rift between Sunni locals and al Qaeda maniacs:

"In September, Sunni rebels in Samarra joined an unprecedented condemnation of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda in Iraq after the execution of a leading cleric in nearby Ramadi.
'It is really quite surprising that something like that has happened in Samarra,' says [Alastair Northedge, a Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the Sorbonne in Paris who has just completed an archaeological survey of Samarra]. 'The people there have a a very, very powerful sense of community identity, they know how to act in their best interests.'
'If you look at the resistance situation in Samarra, there are two general sorts: there are local fighters and there are al-Qaeda fighters and foreign jihadis,' said Professor Northedge. 'I'm absolutely certain that this is not the local people from Samarra, they would not have blown it up.'"

Here's hoping the civil war will not be between the Shi'a and Sunnis, but between the Sunnis and al Qaeda. I'm not that optimistic, though.