Personally, as an analyst I am not one of those who insists that Iraq is on the brink of civil war, in the wake of the bombing of the al-Rawda al-Askari shrine. However, the Americans have proved incapable or unwilling to provide security.
If indeed the Americans - and the Iraqi government - are committed to providing peace and preventing civil war, it must be asked what exactly are they doing to achieve this end?
When we examine the situation more carefully it becomes apparent that only the Americans and the Iraqi government can facilitate civil war, not the Sunni and Shia peoples in Iraq who have lived together in peace for centuries.
Let us first consider the bombing itself: entry points into the city of Samarra have been limited for some time, meaning, theoretically, that the few remaining in use should be more secure.
The sheer magnitude of the Samarra bombing assumes some quantity of munitions to carry out the attack; how did these munitions make their way into the city without being detected?
Also, it would take considerable time to apprehend and hold the guards protecting the shrine, place and arm munitions in a deliberate manner to blow off the dome of the building and then get away. The ability for such an attack to occur suggests that the security of important Iraqi sites is either ignorantly overlooked or intentionally ignored.
"The occupiers have created this. There is only one solution to what is going on Iraq: The occupiers must get out".
Reza, South Africa
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile the level of sophistication of the Samarra bombing with that of the local resistance fighter planting IEDs roadside. Once again considerable work was required, which suggests greater probability of the attack being stopped.
We are all familiar with the degree to which the green zone has been fortified and despite countless attempts to attack it, the green zone remains relatively secure.
Recalling the museum disasters, the burning of historical libraries and the overall environment in Iraq, not securing such an important shrine is simply inexcusable.
Bush administration and Western journalists have repeatedly accused Syria of employing such tactics in Lebanon to perpetuate their military existence in Lebanon which lasted from 1976 to 2005.
By inexcusable I am not referring simply to another example of American mismanagement; I mean rather that after three years of occupation and innumerable experiences American negligence is nothing short of conspiratorial.
If on the one hand the Bush administration has no idea what it is doing and yet insists that it does, it is guilty of fraud. On the other hand, if this administration knows what needs to be done yet refuses to do it, it is guilty of negligence and the violation of international law. In either case it is at the cost of Iraqi lives.
Why should the Bush administration continue to be permitted to present itself as central to Iraqi security? Bush has continually repeated his "commitment" to remain in Iraq "as long as the Americans are needed to secure the country" the problem is the Americans have as yet not provided any security.
Violence that appears to be sectarian was introduced into Iraq with the American invasion and has steadily increased with their continued presence. It is clear that the American and Iraqi security strategies are facilitating this kind of violence in a variety of ways or are too incompetent to stop it.
In addition to fraudulence and negligence there are the circumstances of the bombing itself to consider; there has been, as yet, absolutely no evidence to link anyone to the attack.
American analysts quickly blamed non-Iraqi fighters or former Baath elements, arguing that it is actually Muslims who want to see violence in Iraq and, therefore, the Americans must remain.
On the Iraqi street, of course, the perception of events is quite different and many would argue that Israel or the United States carried out such an attack to maintain civil discord at a politically convenient time.
At this moment it is impossible to determine who carried out the attack, however let us consider the options and the implications for civil war.
Violence that appears to be sectarian was introduced into Iraq with the American invasion and has steadily increased with their continued presence.
Iraqi resistance fighters have made it abundantly clear that they condemn any attack on Iraqi (holy, historic or otherwise) sites or civilians. Public statements by Iraqi groups notwithstanding, logical analysis does not support a theory suggesting that Iraqis carried out the attack anyway.
First, chaos perpetuates the "need" for foreign troops to maintain security and, second, sectarian conflict would undermine a national opposition movement to end the occupation. It simply does not make sense for movements that oppose the occupation to attempt to ignite a civil war.
The Americans, on the other hand, created the general possibility for civil war in Iraq the moment they entered, in particular by way of the principle of sectarianism upon which the American strategy was built.
Every American official, commander, adviser or analyst involved in the occupation insisted on discussing Iraq in terms of Sunni, Shia and Kurd from day one. The Americans have no doubt created a framework for sectarianism and, many would argue, may in fact be responsible for directly ensuring the perpetuation of sectarianism in the country.
The supposed sobriety of Western analysts inhibits a frank discussion of possible American (or Israeli) involvement in sectarian instigation.
What is most interesting in this regard, however, is that the Bush administration and Western journalists have repeatedly accused Syria of employing such tactics in Lebanon to perpetuate their military presence which lasted from 1976 to 2005.
When prominent leaders in the region accuse the US of doing the same thing it is dismissed as conspiratorial. The clear double standard —motivated by an anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism — has perverted the overall reality of the Middle East in the Western media, preventing any objective analysis.
Every American official, commander, adviser or analyst involved in the occupation insisted on discussing Iraq in terms of Sunni, Shia and Kurd from day one.
What is most problematic about this is that it has committed the American people to a fantastic war that bears no resemblance to reality; as long as a considerable part of the American people are committed to the war in Iraq, the troops will remain and as long as troops remain the violence will continue.
The Iraqi people are not in a position to favor civil war; as has been pointed out repeatedly by many, Iraq has a long history of integration and openness. I would argue that the audacity of the al-Rawda al-Askari bombing, an attack designed to touch a sensitive nerve within Iraqi society, demonstrates a sense of desperation on the part of those attempting to start a civil war in a country where it is difficult to begin one.
Although the few days after the attack were indeed tense, the violence remains sporadic; there has been no concerted effort on the part of the various communities in Iraq to engage in conflict. In fact it has been quite the contrary, respected figures such as al-Kubaisi, al-Sadr, al-Khalassi, and al-Dari have all encouraged unity and joint prayers.
These respected figures have demonstrated their political independence over the last three years while those supported by the Americans have shown themselves incapable of providing unity. It seems that the further one is from the American agenda and operating apparatus the clearer the possibilities of unity become.
Laith Saud is an Iraqi academic researcher and a lecturer in the United States.
The opinions expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position or have the endorsement of Aljazeera.