Iraqi Civil War, Official Start Date
It's been obvious for a long time that Iraq would devolve into civil war. As in, it was almost a foregone conclusion even before "the Coalition Forces" invaded. Right up until the bombing started, Saddam didn't fear a US invasion. He still had his forces prudently positioned against Iran, Kurdish separatists, and domestic Shiites.
For those of you who watch the news and see the subject brought up by airbrushed morons or artfully avoided by people with stars on their shoulders, you can stop now. The need for debate ended on Saturday. I had hoped to kick off the civil war myself by announcing it this week, but the Kurds beat me to it. The Iraqi civil war officially started on Saturday, September 2nd, 2006, when Massoud Barzani (the be-toweled dude pictured above) passed down an edict to stop flying the Iraqi state flag. I mean, look at Barzani. Isn't he just a big teddy bear? Go ahead, give him a big hug. Remember Fort Sumter, in the War Between the States? First thing the Southerners did was take down the Stars and Stripes and run up Ol' Dixie. I realize the nattering nabobs of networktivity have to fill a lot of airtime, but the case is closed. The Kurds just said they're no longer part of Iraq.
The neat thing about this is, Kurdistan has the most oil in Iraq, and also the closest thing to a real army. They're sure going to need both. The fulcrum of the conflict is in Kirkuk. That's where the oil nexus is and where the serious war will start. Logic dictates the US will back the Kurds to keep Turkey and Iranian proxies (amongst others) from invading them, but logic has been having an off decade, so you never know.
Update: I'm totally psyched. Somehow, a very knowledgeable commenter re: Iraq came here and wrote something very true:
The Kurds are taking their time. They're saving up billions of dollars, building a massive military force, and de-Arabising the north. When the time comes for them to declare independence--and according to a referendum in which 80% of Iraqi Kurds participated, 98.7% do indeed want independence--they will do so, and there is nothing anyone will be able to do to stop them. There will be no fighting because the Arabs would have no means of doing so.
The rest of the comment also correctly notes I make it sound like rejecting the flag happened all at once. It didn't. And agreed, the Arabs have no means of fighting the Kurds army-to-army. But that doesn't mean that fighting hasn't already occurred, or won't keep occurring, on less classical terms. My main assumptions are that the Kurds will take the oilfields west of Kirkuk in the short term, an act which meets my definition of a Civil War. As does a Sunni yet again blowing up the oil pipeline which crosses the Kirkuk province. In the long term, everyone around the Kurds will covet what they have, and I believe over time they face a tough go of it against Turkey and possibly Iran, with a lot of continuing low-level guerilla conflict against Sunni Arabs, and probably Shiites. In military terms, if you can't get the oil you deny it to your enemies, and it's much easier to blow up pipelines and facilities than it is to protect them. It kind of depends on your definition of Civil War, but the Kurds are now aggressors, and have been since they signed an oil drilling deal without anyone's approval last December.