Scale of violence in Iraq shows no sign of abating, British security firm warns

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The Independent Online

The scale of violence in Iraq shows no sign of abating and the country may slide into all-out civil war, a leading security firm has warned in a special report.

The company, Pilgrims, employs a large number of former British military personnel. Part of the problem, says Pilgrims, is that the US-British coalition forces had, in the past, "systematically understated the extent of the resistance they were facing".

"Washington has chosen to emphasise the role played by foreign elements in the insurgency," the report says. "This has allowed them to portray the insurgency as a magnet for al-Qa'ida supporters rather than an Iraqi-led phenomenon which might undermine US claims of local approval for the reconstruction project."

Pilgrims envisages a "steady unravelling" of the situation. "In the absence of any credible leadership . . . the various centrifugal elements will continue to pursue their own agenda . . . rendering unlikely the possibility of finding a single, national approach to the Iraq problem," the dossier says.

While stressing that Iraq has not yet slipped into civil war, the report says it is being kept at bay only through the efforts of religious leaders. Mark Whyte, Pilgrims' director, added: "Going by the number of attacks being carried out, there is no evidence that the security situation is getting better."

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