Mortar Shells Kill Dozens Of Shiites

Mortar Shells Kill Dozens of Shiites in East Baghdad
Iraq to take over Dhi Qar Province

Reuters reports political violence throughout the country, which left at least 67 dead and dozens wounded.

In the single biggest incident, Mortar shells slammed into a Shiite neighborhood in East Baghdad, causing a building to collapse on inhabitants and killing at least 50 (a number sure to rise as the building is excavated).

See, it really doesn’t matter that much if the number of overall attacks falls in Baghdad. What matters is how angry sectrian groups are with one another. I sympathize with the difficulty the US and Iraqi militaries have in combatting such random mortar attacks. How could you really stop such things if someone is determined to carry them out? But the rage among Shiites will certainly produce reprisals, and a downward spiral of hatred that is ethnically cleansing Baghdad.

I was talking to my taxi driver today, who is an Iraqi Shiite and a recognized ceramics artist who taught in art school in Iraq but doesn’t have good enough English to do that here. I asked him where he was from. He said his family is from Babil but he grew up in Baghdad. I said, where? Karrada? He said, no, al-Mansur, near Ghazaliyah. I said, I thought those were mostly Sunni areas. He replied, well, they are now. He thought the only chance of stopping the violence before 20 years was to go ahead and partition the country into three but to make sure there is an over all Federal government that shares out the petroleum receipts equitably with all three. I guess Senator Biden has some Iraqi supporters. I don’t think that would be a good idea. Just remember East Bengal in the original Pakistan.

Al-Hayat says that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki [Ar.] has announced that Italian and Romanian troops will turn the southern province of Dhi Qar, with its capital of Nasiriyah, over to Iraqi security forces in September. Dhi Qar would be the second province where the Iraqi government has regained its sovereignty. The first was the small sleepy southern province of Muthanna. The second was scheduled to be Maysan, but the looting of the base from which the British recently withdrew near Amara will not have inspired confidence.

“The Iraqi Army” in the South seems to include a lot of local tribal levies. The tribes of the Middle Euphrates are especially loyal to Grand Ayatoollah Ali Sistani. That is, they may be a kind of third party militia rather than really a national army.