Irakere forlater nå «blandede» områder og rømmer over til sine «egne», enten frivillig eller under trusler. De tror det blir borgerkrig. Hatet er nå sterkt både på grunnplanet og på toppen. Det ser dystert ut for Irak.

Hva kan amerikanerne gjøre? Et forhold som blir lite kommentert i norske medier er hvordan nabostatene tar parti for ulike grupper i Irak. Araberstatene støtter sunniene og Iran støtter shiaene. I tilfelle full konflikt vil den ikke bare være verbal. Iran spiller en dobbeltrolle, de iranske lederne er både konstruktive og støtter destruktive krefter. Det er et høyt spill. Skulle det bli borgerkrig kan det få store følger for Iran.

Al-Qaida har hele tiden forsøkt å fremprovosere borgerkrig. Angrepet på Samarra-moskeen i februar ser ut til å ha vært en milepæl.

A recent AP-Ipsos Poll found that an overwhelming majority of Americans think a civil war is likely in Iraq. Iraqis by and large share that assessment. The dozen Iraqis interviewed for this article, Sunnis and Shiites, have bleak expectations. Many are afraid and increasingly reluctant to see their names or their pictures in print.

«There is no security right now, and I don’t expect things to get better,» says Tahrir Aboud Karim, 25, an abstract painter who has laid down his brushes and taken up arms to defend his largely Sunni neighborhood against roving Shiite militias. «I’m an artist, so I have a sense of what people need. When things were peaceful in Iraq, the people were lacking beauty, so I painted. Now the people need security, so I have become a soldier.»

Karim vokter en veisperring ved inngangen til boligområdet på 1.500. Det minner sterkt om borgerkrigslignende tilstander når området deles inn i soner, med egne vaktmannskaper. Militsene gjør hva de vil.

On the other side of Baghdad, more than 50 Shiite families from nearby villages have turned the classrooms of the Al-Shahid Al-Jazairi elementary school in the Shiite neighborhood of Shoala into a refugee camp. They sleep on the school’s cracked tile floors, atop dust-colored mattresses donated by neighbors, and cook with kerosene camping stoves.

Mohammed Hussein, a 32-year-old Shiite shopkeeper from the Sunni-dominated suburb of Abu Ghraib, near the infamous prison, has taken shelter here. The day after the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra, he says, he found a notice pasted to the door of his women’s clothing store in the Abu Ghraib market.

«We have information that you are engaged in suspicious activities and have cooperated with suspicious people,» the notice read. «You have 48 hours to leave.» It was signed by a group calling itself the Mujahedeen Brigades. Hussein collected his family and fled that same day.

«Now I don’t have anything,» he says. «I had to leave all the goods in the store, and all my furniture in my home. It’s not safe to go back to get them.»

At least 10 other Shiite families fled Abu Ghraib that same day, he says. Hussein, once content to live among Sunnis, is now vowing to fight his erstwhile neighbors. «I don’t have the money to buy guns, but if they try to attack me again, I will fight even if I have to use stones,» he says.

Når naboen blir fiende har man tatt et langt skritt mot borgerkrig. Betingelsene er nå til stede: militsenes overgrep sørger for mer hat.

Such stories can be found on both sides of the Shiite-Sunni divide, as the respective sects consolidate their territory and expel potential enemies. Until last week, Abu Abdallah lived in Diwaniya, a largely Shiite provincial capital south of Baghdad. Abdallah, a Sunni, fled when Shiite militias loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began attacking the city’s Sunni residents.

«They raided our mosque, and killed or kidnapped many of the worshipers and guards,» he says. «They started to raid our homes and kidnapped whole families at random.»

The 36-year-old father of two fled Diwaniya with his family and the clothes on their backs. They moved in with relatives in the west Baghdad neighborhood of Baya. Once a mixed neighborhood, Baya is increasingly a Sunni-only do2_kommentar.

«Anyone who says this war has a solution is wrong,» says Abdallah, his family’s recent ordeal etched in sunken, blood shot eyes. «This is truly a civil war now. There is only hatred, envy and a blood-thirst for revenge.»

Eiendomsprisene i de sikre områdene i sør har steget astronomisk, fordi folk vil ut av Bagdad og til byer som Nasariya.

Prisen på våpen har også steget. Før fløt markedet av Kalasjnikover. Nå har det tørket inn.

Ordinary Iraqi families getting ready to fight