Monday, February 05, 2007

Just another day in the life and death of Iraq XXXVIII

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Sunday was quieter than Saturday, the death toll less, but the violence continued:

  • "Four people were killed and 20 wounded Sunday when a car bomb exploded near a bus station in the town of Khalis, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Baquba."
  • In Baghdad..., gunmen, bombs and mortar attacks killed 14 people and injured 46 more."

Overall: "The Iraqi Interior Ministry estimates that about 1,000 people have been killed throughout Iraq in the past week due to gunbattles, drive-by shootings and bomb attacks."

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Meanwhile, according to the BBC, Prime Minister Maliki has "vowed to put an end to attacks like Saturday's deadly truck bombing in Baghdad, which he blamed on followers of ex-leader Saddam Hussein": "We reassure the population that we will put an end to these crimes." (A government spokesman claimed that "half of the attacks in Baghdad were carried out by extremists who came from Syria".)

Saturday's suicide bombing was carried out by Sunni insurgents against Shiites. Is Maliki, a Shiite close to Moqtada al-Sadr, vowing to put an end to Sunni attacks or to all attacks? And what would his reaction had been if Saturday's attack had been carried out agaisnt Sunnis by, say, Sadr's Mahdi Army?

The sectarian violence in Iraq is a civil war and Maliki's government in Baghdad is itself sectarian. To the extent that it supports the U.S. (and Bush's surge), it does so only insofar as it can ally with American forces against the Sunnis, insofar as it can use the U.S. in its civil war against the Sunnis. As long as the U.S. remains an occupying force in Iraq governed by Maliki and his allies, it operates, wittingly nor not, as an instrument of sectarianism. Either it fights both sides, including the government on one of those sides, or it sides with one side (the Shiites) against the other (the Sunnis). Either way, it has been sucked into a civil war from which there is no easy escape.

All the more reason not to be there other than to protect refugees and to battle al Qaeda and other terrorist elements.

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