I heard Aaron Schachter, the host of the PRI/BBC radio show The World, refer to the current sectarian violence in Baghdad as "ethnic cleansing" (the remark should be achieved here.) The NYT correspondent he was talking to corrected him, and said it should be called "sectarian cleansing" since all of the participants are ethnically Arab.
I vote we continue to use the phrase "ethnic cleansing" on the grounds that it is more important for our terminology to accurately reflect the enormity of the situation by reminding us of past war crimes than it is to remember whether the Sunni and Shi’a in Baghdad are both Arab. I just hope that we don’t have to start bringing in other fun terminology like “genocide.”
In other senseless violence news, I was wrong when I said that the continued US presence in Iraq amounted to siding with the Shi’a in a civil war, since the Shi’a lead the government. It now appears that we are demanding that the Shi’a leader, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, step down because of the violence against Sunnis and have even conducted a raid on a building that was at least in part a headquarters for al-Jaafari’s political party (via comments in Unfogged). So we are not siding with the Shi’a. We actually have no allies in Iraq at all. Yippee. But the real fun is in the description of the scene after the raid: "A reporter visiting the mosque on Monday saw blood stains in rooms and on rugs that had been hauled into the courtyard, bullet-pocked walls and even a chunk of human brain in a pool of blood on the tile floor of an office used by a Shiite political party, the Iraq Branch of the Islamic Dawa Party."