Baghdad Archbishop Warns of Civil War

Conflicts Multiply Over Constitution

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BAGHDAD, Iraq, SEPT. 2, 2005 ( The archbishop of Baghdad warns that there are «serious risks» of civil war in Iraq.

In comments to Vatican Radio today, Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman said that tensions are rising as the Shiites and the Sunnis fight over the future constitution.

«We are in great chaos,» the archbishop explained. «We really live in a lawless country. Many realities that seemed to have died have reappeared with force, such as tribalism and fanaticism.

«They are really strong realities today. We are still in great chaos, but perhaps this word does not express the daily tragedy of the situation.»

The archbishop continued: «The chaos is fueled, in fact, by violence, which I would not describe as ‘blind,’ as it seems to be very well planned and, therefore, perverse.»

There are «serious» risks of civil war, «but I think many political leaders are aware of this and are doing everything possible to avoid» it, he said.

«A new effort is needed to help this population reconcile with itself, with its past, with its problems, and to encourage a new culture and a new mentality,» said the prelate.

Democracy «might come soon, but it might never come,» continued the archbishop.

«I think the problem of democracy is one that goes beyond a constitution, beyond elections themselves,» noted the archbishop. «Democracy is the political expression of a philosophy, an anthropology, a culture, and I think it is necessary to continue to make many efforts.

«There are those who don’t want democracy, not because they are against it as such, but because they are against those who are building it.

«Therefore, there are internal and international political problems, but the social and anthropological background must really be re-examined.»

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