Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Only 2 away from 800 violent deaths in the month of May

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 789 violent deaths so far this month.  With three days left to count and only 11 deaths needed to hit 800, hitting 800 is pretty much a sure thing.  Alsumaria reports 1 police officer was shot dead today in Mosul.  National Iraqi News Agency reports that a bombing in Hibhib today has claimed 7 lives and left thirteen injured, and a home invasion in Abu Ghraib left 1 military officer dead.  That's 9 and the day's still going.  (If you count the 2 Iraqi security forces killed on the border Iraq shares with Syria today, you've got your 800.)

Abu Ghraib wasn't only the location of a home invasion today, it was also, Alsumaria reports, where a Sunni male and a Shi'ite female married and declared their love a protest against sectarianism.  Kitabat calls them Iraq's Romeo and Juliet -- let's hope not, that didn't end pretty.  (This should go without saying, but Juliet and Romeo  both die.  Of course, if it went without saying, they wouldn't be comparing a young married couple to Romeo and Juliet.)  While the young couple tried to appeal to the Iraqi spirit, National Iraqi News Agency reports State of Law MP Hassan Sinead is screaming that terrorists and Ba'athists are terrorizing Iraq and doing so with the aid of Jordan and Turkey.  When everything is falling apart, always count on Nouri and his State of Law to make them worse.  Al Mada reports Nouri's insisting that the satellite channels are responsible for the violence.

On Air Force One yesterday, White House spokesperson Jay Carney addressed the press and declared of Iraq, "We have an important and ongoing relationship with the government of Iraq and the Iraqi people.  We engage with the government on issues all the time.  And it’s something that we continue to monitor and continue to provide advice on both with Iraq and with countries in the region.  This is a matter that I know, from having worked with him on it, the Vice President remains concerned about and focused on." 

As we noted on Friday, this was going to explode in the White House's face.  And it did. Last week Biden made calls to KRG President Massoud Barzani, Speaker of Iraqi Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (a Kurd, a Sunni and a Shi'ite -- the three ways then-Senator Joe Biden wanted to divide up Iraq) .   Apparently, no one in the press can read Arabic or else cares to follow the Iraqi press.  If they had, they would have realized that for weeks now, the hottest rumor (even hotter than Nouri's supposedly worked out a deal with Jalal Talabani's wife Hero Ibrahim Ahmed for her to take over as President of Iraq) has been that the US government still is trying to split up Iraq into three regions.  So the calls were going to be seen as confirmation of that.  It was a huge mistake.  And since the calls?  The Iraqi press can't stop reporting on the rumors that The Godfather of Division (as US Vice President Joe Biden is now known) is trying to split up the country.

Now it's spread beyond Iraq.  Iran's Far News Agency reports today:

"These terrorist actions are aimed at paving the ground for dividing Iraq based on a plot called Joe Biden's plan," Adnan al-Miahi told FNA on Wednesday.
He blamed Baathi and Takfiri groups for the recent hike in terrorist blasts in Iraq, specially Baghdad, and said these events are taking place on the basis of a plot hatched by the US vice-president to disintegrate Iraq and link its western part to the Syrian front to extend al-Qaeda activities in Syria.
In relevant remarks in April, a senior Iranian legislator rapped the US and its regional allies for supporting terrorist groups and unrests in Iraq, warning that they plot to divide the Muslim country into three states.

Maybe the White House will finally pay attention since the article's in English?  They really need to get Arabic speakers in the White House.  Adnan's last name is usually spelled al-Mayahi.  And he belongs to what?  State of Law, that's right.  Where division can be sewn, you will always find Nouri's State of Law.

On the topic of splitting Iraq up, Daoud al-Ali (Niqash) weighs in:

Over the years since the US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein, there has often been discussion about whether it would be a good idea to split Iraq up, mainly dividing the country into the two sects of Islam that make up most of the population: that is, Sunni and Shiite Muslim.

And every now and then the idea has seemed a credible solution to Iraq’s troubles, when violence between the two sects and other ethnicities has continued to threaten the general public’s well being and lives. Now is such a time too – and mainly because of the protests comprised mainly of Sunni Muslim demonstrators in certain parts of the country.

The Sunni Muslim protestors say they are discriminated against and marginalised by the current Shiite Muslim-led government in Baghdad, headed by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.

Recently things became even more tense when Iraqi army forces, acting on behalf of the Shiite Muslim-led government, turned on mostly Sunni Muslim protestors in Hawija in the north of the country, killing around 50 demonstrators. Since then there have been a number of deadly incidents around the country.

Recent events in Iraq indicate an escalation [of sectarian tensions],” Harith Hassan, an Iraqi political researcher, wrote on his personal blog. “The increased tensions may lead to the failure of the current political process and the increased levels of violence could ignite a new civil war. Social divides in the Iraq would become even more established. All this would put an end to any opportunity for peaceful coexistence.”

The United Kingdom's Foreign Officer Minister weighed in Tuesday on the violence:

Speaking after a series of bombings in the Iraqi capital, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said:
I am deeply saddened by yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Baghdad, which indiscriminately killed and injured dozens of civilians, including young children. The British Government utterly condemns these attacks, which follow a number of horrific incidents across Iraq in recent weeks.
Terrorism has no place in Iraq’s future. All parties in Iraq should stand united against it. Last week I spoke to Foreign Minister Zebari to discuss the latest events and to offer my condolences for the recent violence.
It is important that alongside tackling terrorism, the Government of Iraq engages in genuine political dialogue that can address legitimate grievances, to prevent extremists from exploiting tensions within the country. The UK will continue to support Iraqis’ efforts to build a country that is democratic, stable and prosperous.

And at London's Royal United Services Institute, Ranj Alaaldin offers "The End of Iraq:"

Reconciliation and sectarian divisions in Iraq started to take a turn for the worse back in December 2011. Mr Maliki unexpectedly issued an arrest warrant against the then vice-president, Tarek al-Hashimi, who fled the country and has been in self-imposed exile since. The nature and circumstances in which the arrest warrant was issued made the issue of the warrant's legitimacy a side issue. Firstly, Hashimi was a political rival to Mr Maliki and, secondly, security forces pursued Hashimi immediately after the US withdrawal from Iraq. Mr Maliki was criticised for consolidating his grip over the country and taking it toward authoritarianism.
To add insult to injury for Iraq's Sunni communities, one year later, in the same month, Mr Maliki moved once again against a prominent Sunni representative of theirs. This time it was finance minister Rafi al-Issawi's turn, whose staff and bodyguards were arrested on terrorism charges.
The December 2012 move on Issawi may have been miscalculated. Iraq's Sunnis in the north-western provinces immediately responded by initiating 'Arab Spring' style protests, demanding an end to the discrimination, persecution and marginalisation of Sunni Arabs. The protests included hardline neo-Ba'athist elements and displayed anti-Shia slogans, as well as support for Al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI).
Nearly six-months on, the protests show no sign of abating. Last month, the relationship between protesters and the Iraqi government turned violent, after Iraqi forces raided a protest camp in Hawija (Kirkuk), leading to a clash that left at least fifty dead and others injured.
The Hawija incident may have been a defining moment: calls for revenge were coming across Sunni constituencies and united tribal, religious and political Sunni figures. Moderate figures have been sidelined as a consequence of the state's use of force. Some influential tribal sheikhs continue to threaten war and have established a 'tribal army' to protect demonstrators. The 'tribal army' has already gone head-to-head with the Iraqi army.

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