Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yesterday's bombing, tensions in Nineveh

A spate of deadly attacks killed more than 25 people in Iraq today and left more than 60 wounded, in a worrying escalation of violence as the exit of American troops from the country's cities draws nearer.
Three attacks happened in Baghdad, where a car bomb killed five people and injured 20 in the usually peaceful Karrada neighbourhood.
In the Shia area known as Sadr City, a roadside bomb detonated next to a minibus, killing three students on their way to sit exams, and leaving bloodied textbooks among the debris. In addition, in Shaab in north east Baghdad, a woman and small child were among three people killed in an attack on a police patrol.

The above is the opening to Alice Fordham's "Fresh Iraq attacks kill more than 25" (Times of London) which is in contrast with the Times of New York, always one to down play violence in Iraq, and Marc Santora's "7 Blasts Around Baghdad Kill at Least 24" and we'll note this from Santora's article:

A suicide bomber exploded a car outside a city council meeting in Abu Ghraib, a town west of Baghdad, after passing at least one Iraqi checkpoint. The blast killed at least 4 people and wounded 10, including the three American soldiers, who had just arrived to participate in the meeting, according to United States military officials. Iraq's Interior Ministry put the death toll at seven.

Yesterday's snapshot
did not include the US soldiers in the Abu Ghraib bombing (Reuters: "A suicide bomber detonated himself outside the Abu Ghraib municipal council building in west Baghdad, killing seven people and wounding 13 others, police said."). Richard Boudreaux (Chicago Tribune) observes that the death toll of the last three days finds "over 100" Iraqis killed.

Liz Sly and Caesar Ahmed's "In Nineveh, tensions between Iraqi Kurds and Arabs simmer" (Los Angeles Times) explores the continual hot spot of Nineveh Province (where, last summer, the assault on Iraqi Christians began -- this is the assault that came to a head in November 2008):

Fresh tension in the area comes from the Kurds' refusal to accept the authority of the region's new Arab governor, Atheel Najafi, unless they gain positions in Mosul's city council, currently controlled by Najafi's Hadba coalition.
When Najafi tried to visit Bashiqa last month, protesters armed with eggs and tomatoes thronged the road to block his path, and peshmerga guards at the checkpoint telephoned Iraqi security forces in Mosul to warn the governor to stay away.
Najafi says he will not negotiate unless the Kurdish militia withdraws from Nineveh territory and allows the Iraqi army to take control. He also vowed to return Arabs to the area, which Kurds reclaimed after the fall of Saddam Hussein's Arab nationalist regime.
The dispute mixes constitutional issues with ancient feuds over ethnicity, land and resources. As U.S. forces prepare to scale back in Iraq, the potential for trouble is real, said Joost Hiltermann of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

Sunday we noted
Father Tim Vakoc who passed away Saturday night from wounds received in a May 29, 2004 Iraq bombing. AP notes that Father Tim is "believed to be the first military chaplain wounded in Iraq".

Hurt Locker

That's the poster for Kathryn Bigelow's amazing film The Hurt Locker which opens in Los Angeles and New York Friday and opens July 10th in San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Oahu, Portland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Minneapolis, Denver, Toronto and DC. Christy Lemire (AP) reviews the film today and observes, "'The Hurt Locker' is by far the most effective film yet on this subject - and what's ironic about that is, it doesn't even feel all that specific to the Iraq war. Its insights and reach extend far beyond what's happened there over the past several years."

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's assistant Mohammed Ridha al-Gouraifi tells the New York Times, "We considered what happened in Iran as an internal affair. The Hawsa will not meddle in the internal affairs of any country." If only the press were made up of Hawsa. The quote appears in Alissa J. Rubin's "Clerics Silent on a Turbulent Election" in this morning paper. From the article:

The closest that Mr. Gouraifi, the grand ayatollah's assistant, came to criticizing the Iranian government's hard-line view was when he was asked whether the marjaiah would remain silent if the Iraqi government used violence to try to impose its will on the people.
"If that happened, of course we will talk," he said, "because this would be in our country."

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alissa j. rubin