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BBC not to follow NBC is describing Iraq conflict as ‘civil war’

The BBC is not following NBC in describing the conflict in Iraq as “civil war”. The fighting there, says Jon Williams, the BBC’s word new editor, “defies simple categorisation”.

He writes in the broadcaster’s Editors blog that Harvard professor Monica Toft believes Iraq meets all six of the objective criteria she has identified as being shared by all modern cvil wars . But Williams wonders if using the term civil war “really aids out understanding”.

There are, he maintains, at least two other dimensions. “In Anbar province, the violence in places like Fallujah and Ramadi is driven by the original insurgency against the US-led occupation. Anbar is a Sunni stronghold – the targets, by and large, are not Shia Muslims, but American servicemen and women. Further south, a third battle emerges – fighting between rival Shia militias,” he writes.

He arrives at the view that, “there is no single picture in Iraq – no single term can do justice to the complexity of what’s going on there.”

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