Thursday, August 16, 2012

Iraq slammed by violence

RT notes a wave of violence (bombings and shootings) have slammed Iraq today and offers a photo essay of some of the damage.  In less than an hour, the reported death toll has climbed from 8 to 22 and may climb further.  At least nine cities have seen major violence.  Kareem Raheem, Mustafa Mahmoud, Jamal al-Badrani, Fadhil al-Badrani, Ali Mohammed, Barry Malone and Patrick Markey (Reuters) note that while no one has claimed credit for today's violence -- it may be the work of one group or of many groups and individuals -- the Islamic State of Iraq has been taking credit for recent violence (following the announcement of their Breaking The Walls campaign) and "It has been reinvigorated by the inflow of fighters and cash into neighboring Syria, providing a morale boost and some extra arms and cash, security experts say. Iraqi insurgents are vowing to retake territory lost during a long war with American troops."  And such a move -- retaking territory -- would explain why some of the al Qaeda in Iraq that is now a part of the Free Syrian Army is reportedly buring weapons (see yesterday's snapshot) to prepare for the "after" if President Bashar al-Assad is driven out of power.  July 22nd, the Islamic State of Iraq released an audio recording announcing a new campaign of violence entitled Breaking The Walls which would include prison breaks and killing "judges and investigators and their guards."  (They also threatened to attack America on US soil.) Regardless of which individual or individuals are behind today's attacks, it is a bloody day in Iraq.

al Bawaba reports, "In the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk (north), four car bombs exploded between 08.15 and 09.30, killing one person and injuring 20 others, according to a police official and Dr. Wali Karim from the main hospital in the city. Many members of the security forces were among the wounded, added the two sources."   Xinhua reports, "In addition, gunmen with assault rifles attacked a police checkpoint at an intersection just west of Baquba, killing one policeman and wounding another, the source added. Meanwhile, a member of the government-backed Awakening Council group was gunned down by gunmen near his house in Aswad village, some 9 km north of Baquba, he said." Near Baquba, Alsumaria reports, MP Hussain Kazhim Mahmud declared that his bodyguards were attacked today by 30 gunmen in three cars outside his Khalis office resulting in one assailant being killed and two of his bodyguards being injured (he is part of the Sadr bloc in Parliament).  Salam Faraj (AFP) reports, "In Al-Garma, near the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah west of Baghdad, four policemen were killed and three others wounded in a shooting at a checkpoint, according to police Major Enes Mahmud and Dr Omar Dalli at Fallujah hospital. As emergency responders and civilians rushed to the scene, a roadside bomb exploded, wounding three others."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "A car bomb exploded outside a real-estate building in northeastern Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing six people and wounding 32 others, police said.  Also Thursday, a car bomb exploded on a busy road in al-Taji district on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, wounding nine people, police said." Alsumaria reports the Tikrit police disarmed a car bomb at noon today but a Salahuddin Province home bombing resulted in the death of the wife of Mushtaq Ahmed al-Jaffar and left him and three of their sons injured.  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) counts 22 dead.

BBC News notes of today's violence throughout Iraq, "Many of the attacks targeted security personnel." Police, soldiers, Sahwa.  There are 15 more days in the month but already August has been a violent one.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 206 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.


In addition, AFP notes, "Turkish warplanes bombed areas of north Iraq" targeting the PKK.  Hurriyet provides these details, "Military sources said four F-16 warplanes that took off from an airbase in Malatya at around 11:30 p.m. struck four locations around the Kandil Mountains based on intelligence gathered on the ground moments earlier, Doğan news agency reported."  The PKK are Kurdish rebels based in the mountain area of northern Iraq who fight for an independent Kurdish state.  Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."

Saturday, Al Mada noted that Iraqiya is calling for Nouri to release the imprisoned who have not been found guilty and to do so in the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan.  This follows Imam Mahmoud al-Issawi's call during Friday prayers for the government to release the detainees being held who have not been found guilty.  In the 2011 protests that took place throughout Iraq, this was a repeated demand and Nouri led people to believe in February 2011 that his 100 days (give him 100 days and he'll fix everything!) would result in this.  It never did.  And he's been silent in the face of the calls from Imam Mahmoud al-Issawi and Iraqiya.  Today Alsumaria reports that Nineveh Governor Ethel al-Nujaifi announced the release of 18 detainees.  al-Nujaifi, the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, may have especially enjoyed making that announcement when Nouri has no similar announcement to make.  The two are political rivals and back before Nouri spent all his days trying to hold onto his post of prime minister, he repeatedly attempted to force al-Nujaifi to step down as governor. 

Al Mada reports that Azad Barawari, high ranking member of the Kurdish Democratic Party, has stated that US Vice President Joe Biden has called both Nouri and KRG President Massoud Barzani urging them to resolve their differences.  (It's not that hard but Nouri would have to implement the Erbil Agreement.  Joe needs to quit pretending there are two sides to this.  There are not.  Nouri wanted a second term as prime minister but didn't win the votes needed -- his slate didn't.  And the White House wanted Nouri to have a second term.  So the White House brokered the Erbil Agreement which gave him a second term in exchange for certain concessions.  He did not honor the contract, he broke it.  Until it's implemented, the KRG should continue to object and resist.  They honored the contract.  They are not in the wrong on this. They are not the ones who need to make efforts.  Nouri is the thug he is because the US government has spent 7 years appeasing the tyrant.)  The article notes Nouri's State of Law is blaming the violence on others including Iraqiya (the political slate that won the 2010 elections).

On the issue of representation, Ali Hussein (Al Mada) has a humorous column taking on Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh's assertion that all the government official vacation days are not harming the economy at all.  Due to heat most recently, which led to the closures of the offices of Nouri's Cabinet each Thursday -- it is open today.  Hussein hails the "belated economics expert" al-Dabbagh.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) does a news report on the government's 150 days of holidays that have been approved.  MP Amer Hussein, who serves on Parliament's Economic Committee, states these holidays negatively impact the economic and that they cause the interruption of government services.  Al Mada also reports that some citizens are angry about all the holidays for officials including taking a week off for Eid al-Fitr.

Today's violence isn't the only security issue Nouri's got to address. All Iraq News notes that Iraqiya's Kirkuk chapter, via Abdul Jabar Abu,  is calling on the government to investigate the various attacks on Iraqi leaders including members of Iraqiya and he stated that it appears that there is a campaign of liquidation.   Alsumaria notes that the Turkmen Front  is stating that the government has not done enough to protect them or to find and prosecute those who have kidnapped at least 700 Turkmen since 2003 in Kirkuk alone.

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