Yesterday, Mohammed Ali al-Hassani became the second governor in southern Iraq to be assassinated this month. Martha notes Megan Greenwell's "Governor Assassinated In Iraq's Oil-Rich South" (Washington Post):
The assassination appears to be part of a larger pattern of increasing violence between rival Shiite factions in Iraq's oil-rich south, which has few Sunni residents. Like the governor of Qadisiyah province, who was killed by a roadside bomb Aug. 11, Hassani was a member of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. That group has been fighting the Mahdi Army, Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia, for control of the region, where the U.S. military has a minimal presence.
Control of Muthanna province was handed from British to Iraqi security forces last year. But continuing violence and political tensions among Shiite groups there present challenges for U.S. commanders seeking to steadily improve security in Iraq as a whole before a key report scheduled to be presented to Congress on Sept. 15.
Top military officials have consistently said that bringing a permanent end to sectarian violence will require political stability. That goal has proved elusive as political parties continue boycotts of the national government and provincial governors become targets of violence.
In the New York Times, Stephen Farrell offers "Governor of Iraqi Province Assassinated:"
The security forces of Mr. Hassani, the governor, fought heavy street battles with the Mahdi Army last month when the Mahdi Army tried to seize high buildings close to police compounds, and the police drove them out. Three policemen were killed in the fighting.
Mr. Hassani took an uncompromising stand, saying: "We will not negotiate with the militias, as they are outlaws. We will work to impose law and order in the city."
The death of Mr. Hassani follows that of Khalil Jalil Hamza, the governor of neighboring Qadisiya Province, who was killed with his police chief, Maj. Gen. Khalid Hassan, by a roadside bomb on Aug. 11 as they returned to the provincial capital, Diwaniya, 50 miles north of Samawa. The province has also been the site of running battles between the police and Mahdi Army militiamen.
The violence has alarmed politicians and security officials, who immediately imposed a curfew in Samawa until further notice.
Because it is the second assassination this month it is getting a great deal of attention. Today.
There has been no 'progress' in Iraq and each week something more disastorous happens which can lead something equally tragic, equally horrible seeming so long ago. For instance, last Tuesday in northern Iraq multiple bombings led to mass fatalities. Though many in the news media have gone on to other stories, Lelia Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) files "Smell of death permeates ruined Yazidis villages" which examines the still mounting death toll and the sect targeted:
The pungent smell of the dead hangs low in this village, and not even the colorful headdresses the men have wrapped across their faces can keep it out.
"Come here," a man shouts from atop a pile of rubble, summoning help from other men who are digging through the debris. His shovel has hit something. The digging quickens and dust fills the air. Then a lifeless arm appears, and soon the top half of a woman has been uncovered. The remains are placed in a pink floral comforter and carried off.
Nearly one week after four bombs blew apart this village and a neighboring one, Sheikh Khadar, the dead are still being recovered, adding to the toll that already had made last Tuesday’s bombings the deadliest terrorist attack since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
At least 354 people are confirmed dead and 80 more are known to be missing. The toll of the wounded stands at 600. Half of those are in serious condition, and many aren't expected to survive. On Sunday, 10 more bodies were discovered in the rubble of what used to be Tal al Azizziyah's core. A bulldozer beeped constantly as it pushed through the rubble. American Humvees, absent until last week's explosions, rolled along the dirt roads.
For most of the survivors, there's no doubt why their villages were targeted.
"The problem is we are Yazidis,” said one man as he stood among the remains of what had been at least 150 clay houses, now reduced to nothing more than broken shards. "We go to Mosul and Tal Afar, the Arabs and Turkmen try to kill us. …We didn't stand against anyone. What is our fault?"
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