Monday, July 29, 2013

UN: Iraq is bleeding

Today the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) issued a statement from the acting head Gyorgy Busztin (Martin Kobler has been moved to the Congo, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has yet to name a successor to be his envoy in Iraq).  In his statement Busztin decries the violence, "I am deeply concerned about the heightened level of violence which carries the danger that the country falls back into sectarian strife. Iraq is bleeding from random violence, which sadly reached record heights during the Holy month of Ramadan."

Not only does Iraq Body Count counts  831 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month through Sunday and  violence continues to slam Iraq.

Duraid Adnan (New York Times) counts 15 car bombings throughout the country with a death toll of 46 and over a hundred left wounded.. Kareem Raheem (Reuters) reports the death toll from the car bombings has already reached 60. The car bombings in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kut, Samawa and elsewhere were not the only acts of violence in Iraq today -- nor were they the only acts of violence that resulted in loss of life.  For example, the National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 person was shot dead in Baquba.  As if often the case when Iraqi violence gets significant press attention, the press tends to focus on areas with a high volume of deaths.  That's why 28 deaths spread out around the country with 2 here, 3 there, etc -- especially with the bulk outside of Baghdad -- rarely results in intense press coverage and why the rising death toll tends to creep up on (and surprise) many press outlets.

Yang Yi (Xinhua) notes, "Monday's bombing spree came after 14 people were killed in attacks across the country on Sunday.  Last week, dozens of gunmen stormed Taji and Abu Ghraib prisons, respectively north and west of Baghdad, in an attempt to free prisoners."  For the BBC, Rami Rhuayem addressed the violence today (link is video).  Excerpt.

Rami Ruhayem:  It's been going on for a long time but, as you said, this is a marked increase in violence.  And this time it appears it might be on the verge of causing political problems.  You might think it should have caused political problems a long time ago, but actually the government has been able -- with a very complex range of tactics -- to deflect blame and to escape the kind of public anger directed against it  which such violence would cause in other places.  However, now -- and after the prison break just over a week ago in which hundreds of prisoners -- high value, dangerous prisoners -- escaped -- there were cracks within the government and people were asking "Why?"  Which is your question and which I cannot answer but which the government is now under increasing pressure to answer: Why can you not stop all these car bombs from entering Baghdad when you know that people are trying to do this?   How come you cannot guard high-value prisons when you know that people are trying to get the prisoners out? 

Deutsche Welle observes that tensions have been mounting for some time in Iraq as evidenced by the ongoing protests, "Protests broke out in Sunni-majority areas at the end of 2012 and are still ongoing. Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority has argued that the Shiite-led government was failing to address its concerns, instead marginalizing and targeting their community with unwarranted arrests and terrorism charges."   Arthur Bright (Christian Science Monitor) points out:

The string of car bombs is just the latest event in Iraq's ongoing sectarian conflict, which has flared in recent months. The BBC reports that April, May, and June of this year each saw more than 700 people, mostly civilians, killed in Iraq, with a high of some 1,045 dead in May, according to United Nations figures. July has already surpassed the 700-dead mark, with Reuters putting the tally at 810 so far. Iraq Body Count, an independent watchdog tallying the conflict's death toll, put July's total at 831 before today's attacks.

All Iraqi News notes the Sunni Endowment has condemned the attacks as has the European Union.  And credit to US Ambassador Robert Beecroft and the US Embassy in Iraq for immediately releasing a statement condemning the violence:

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the brutal terrorist attacks that killed and injured dozens of innocent Iraqis across the nation today. We deplore the senseless loss of life caused by these attacks and offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims, and hope for the quick recovery of those injured. The United States stands firmly with Iraq in its fight against terrorism.

Not long ago, a self-righteous prig in the media was mocking the statements such as the above.  'What good do they do?' huffed the idiot.  Well they don't do you much good, but they're not aimed at you.  They acknowledge an attack, they express condemnation and this is aimed at the Iraqi people the same way, for example, statements immediately following 9-11 were aimed at the American people to let them know that they were not alone.  The statements do matter.  They especially matter when there are repeat attacks and people, such as the Iraqis, see France and England repeatedly condemn the attacks while the US is silent.  That has been the case for some time.   It sends a message to the Iraqi people and its a message in conflict with the 'aid' (military and diplomatic) that the US continues to send supposedly to improve Iraq.

Will Iraq come up in the State Dept press briefing today?  It generally does not.  When it does, the press tends to be asking about Iran or Syria.  Despite the huge death tolls in Iraq of the last months, Iraq really hasn't been seen as a topic to explore in the briefings -- despite the billions of US tax dollars the State Dept is now given each year to spend in Iraq.

Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) plays Socrates as he provides answers to a series of questions he asks himself:  We'll note this one.

Q: What are the political implications of the attacks for Iraq?

Maliki doesn't even lead a unified Shiite bloc in government. The political movement of the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr frequently opposes Maliki's initiatives, and Maliki appeared to blame the Sadrists for assisting the Al Qaeda jailbreak in a television address. He said the guards who collaborated with the attackers were directed to do so by a militia linked to Mr. Sadr.
That claim is evidence of deep political tensions inside Iraq that have been threatening to boil over for months.

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Jobs" and Kat's "Kat's Korner: Ebony Bones' Sonic, Nocturnal Mystery Tour" went up yesterday.

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