Left: General John Abizaid, photo courtesy AP
(Washington, DC) General John Abizaid, the head of US Central Command, publicly acknowledged today what many have long assumed: Iraq could descend into civil war.
"Sectarian violence probably is as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington. "If not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war."
Abizaid said that the ongoing violence diminishes prospects for reducing US troop levels in Iraq, which currently stand at approximately 133,000.
Abizaid noted that the top US priority is to secure the Iraqi capital, and said that the battle for Baghdad is at a "decisive" stage.
"It is clear that the operational and tactical situation in Baghdad is such that it requires additional security forces, both US and Iraqi," he said.
The general's assessment increases the likelihood that the war in Iraq will be a millstone around the necks of congressional Republicans in the fall elections.
Whether the Democrats will take advantage of the declining support for the war - and President Bush - remains to be seen. This observer is skeptical that either party has a vision for the future beyond their immediate electoral goals.