The Middle East correspondant of the Independent newspaper Robert Fisk shares his Middle East knowledge with ABC Reporter Tony Jones

TONY JONES: Well, Robert Fisk is one of the most experienced observers of the Middle East and in his latest book, 'The Great War for Civilisation - the Conquest of the Middle East', he draws on almost 30 years of reporting from his base in Lebanon to look at the forces which have shaped current events and conflicts Robert Fisk, thanks for being there.


TONY JONES: Now, unless you've changed your position in recent days, the one thing that you and President Bush agree on is there's not going to be a civil war in Iraq.

ROBERT FISK: Yeah, I listened to Bush. It made me doubt myself when I heard him say that. I still go along and say what I said before - Iraq is not a sectarian society, but a tribal society. People are intermarried. Shiites and Sunnis marry each other. It's not a question of having a huge block of people here called Shiites and a huge block of people called Sunnis any more than you can do the same with the United States, saying Blacks are here and Protestants are here and so on. But certainly, somebody at the moment is trying to provoke a civil war in Iraq.

Someone wants a civil war. Some form of militias and death squads want a civil war. There never has been a civil war in Iraq. The real question I ask myself is: who are these people who are trying to provoke the civil war? Now the Americans will say it's Al Qaeda, it's the Sunni insurgents. It is the death squads. Many of the death squads work for the Ministry of Interior. Who runs the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad?

Who pays the Ministry of the Interior? Who pays the militia men who make up the death squads? We do, the occupation authorities. I'd like to know what the Americans are doing to get at the people who are trying to provoke the civil war. It seems to me not very much. We don't hear of any suicide bombers being stopped before they blow themselves up. We don't hear of anybody stopping a mosque getting blown up. We're not hearing of death squads all being arrested.

Something is going very, very wrong in Baghdad. Something is going very wrong with the Administration.

Mr Bush says, "Oh, yes, sure, I talk to the Shiites and I talk to the Sunnis." He's talking to a small bunch of people living behind American machine guns inside the so-called Green Zone, the former Republican palace of Saddam Hussein, which is surrounded by massive concrete walls like a crusader castle. These people do not and cannot even leave this crusader castle.

If they want to leave to the airport, they're helicoptered to the airport. They can't even travel on the airport road. What we've got at the moment is a little nexus of people all of whom live under American protection and talk on the telephone to George W Bush who says, "I've been talking to them and they have to choose between chaos and unity." These people can't even control the roads 50 metres from the Green Zone in which they work.


ROBERT FISK: There's total chaos now in Iraq.

Article Continued in http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2006/s1582067.htm

Also see - Is the Civil War in Iraq being promoted by the U.S ? http://expage.com/civilwariraq

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